Message from Rev. Richard ‘Bud’ Murphy, UUJF President
06-2020 Just Saying
The COVID 19 Pandemic has put a lot of human activity on pause. The pause gives us the opportunity to gain perspective on many aspects of our human existence. From an ecological perspective, even before this pause much had been written and spoken about the need for and the potential of a turning point, a change in the way we see our world and the impact of our decisions not only on one another, but on the health of our planet and all living things.
I read a book shortly after it was published entitledCulture Wars: The Struggle to Define AmericabyJames Davison Hunter, 1991. James Davis Hunter’s term Culture Wars has been used since to describe and often disparage the divisions that seemed to have gotten worse over the last 30 years. Wikipedia has an article that provides background on the topic of culture wars and its importance to all sides of the divide. Hunter labeled these seeming antagonists as Traditionalists and Progressivists. Hunter said that Progressivists arrived at their definition of reality through a process of consensus and Traditionalist arrived at their definition of reality through a reference to authority. Thus, the challenge of closing this divide, because it dealt with such a fundamental issue, the definition of reality. Progressivists can be viewed as too fluid; traditionalists as too slow to change.
While tolerance for ambiguity may be higher among Progressivists and lower among Traditionalists, we are thrust into a pause cloaked in ambiguity for all. Here at this threshold, UUJF makes an effort to be the change we desire. The work of our Board is grounded in the needs of those we serve and the needs of those for whom we serve. As justice seekers we strive to be collaborative and inclusive in the face of oppression and exclusion. We strive to be collaborative in our learning and in our decision making convinced that how we organize human energy is perhaps the most crucial determinant of our future and whether we will have one. Join us!Support us!
Finding the New Normal
Rapidly changing world and national events are shifting focus and attention from displaced refugees, gun violence, climate change and #MeToo to the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment and police brutality. Most of you will agree that underlying root causes for the above may be attributed to income inequality, oppression and racism, the role of local and national governments along with a deepening mistrust and lack of confidence in those who serve in positions of power.
How might UUs respond?
What are our priorities?
What role is there for local congregations and their Social Justice committees, of which many are struggling to maintain community ties and financial stability in spite of shelter-in-place restrictions?
Those of us in UU Justice Florida leadership roles are asking the same questions
How can UUJF support Climate Resiliency efforts in local communities and congregations? (See articles below)
Several Tampa Bay non-profit organizations/groups will be featured on Thursday, June 4, as we ask "How do local activists choose their battles and their alliances" during the Twin Viruses of Corona and Racism, and Climate Emergency. Also, "How is a societal breakdown an opportunity to heal and to challenge oppression?"
Topic: David Sinclair's Zoom Meeting
Time: Jun 4, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
The Climate Resilience Ministry, Jan Booher, director, is supporting community organizations that are being hurt disproportionately in central Florida and Bay County by COVID-19, the same communities unfortunately that have been advocating
for better weather preparedness. Hurricane season starts in June and the pandemic is still ever present. Read and use the link to see how a better Community-centered communications platform can inform, advocate and serve.
Martha Harnit, UUJF Board
Reaching Out to Strengthen and Unite Vulnerable Communities in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida (UUJF) is connecting and assisting Puerto Rican Maria Survivors in east Orlando area as a partner with The Episcopal Organization of Latino Assistance in Azalea Park with generous support from The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). To build community and empower the voices of Puerto Rican displaced families, UUJF and UUSC are facilitating a project designed to elevate the voices of the climate displaced as one important way to raise awareness and support for policies and legislation to address both the underlying climate change push factor and the inequities in emergency response that made trauma of loss and displacement manageable and eventually positive.
Better Shelter Unit as Food Distribution Center during COVID-19 Pandemic
These “pack in the back of a pickup truck” weather-tight shelters are designed to serve as a temporary home for displaced families or as service centers (on site interviewing, on-site medical services). In Azalea Park, a Better Shelter unit will be assembled to function as a food storage and distribution site at the Iglesia Episcopal Jesús de Nazaret. This church has become a virtual and literal center of support for the Climate Displaced People from Hurricane Maria.
The church is in a COVID-19 hotspot in Zip Code 32822, where cases are continuing to rise. The profile of this community is one of the communities where UUJF's Climate Resilience Ministry is engaged in justice activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting our Black and Brown friends and colleagues, the poor, and the elderly. Food distribution has become critical in these communities, and the Better Shelter will be used on a circular drive on church property for drive through pick-up, so people do not have to enter the church, reducing risk of exposure.
UUJF welcomes Leah Booher, a Summer Intern from the UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ) Global Justice Summer Internship program. Leah is a Library Information Science graduate student at FSU, who has already met UUJF’s community partners in Bay, Orange, Sarasota and Manatee Counties in virtual meetings responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is assisting with the online work needed to support the tracking and mapping of COVID-19 cases in low income communities of color and maintaining the Resilience System Dashboards that serve as rapid situation reporting and community partner platforms. She is also assisting with the archiving and compilation of work product from community deliberations and Climate Action Planning in Orlando undertaken with the support of Organize Florida, and surveys conducted in Panama City in partnership with LEAD Coalition of Bay County.
This online work is hosted on the Whole of Society Resilience System collaborative platform which was initiated during the Clinton administration and has matured and adapted as technology and needs changed. The community dashboards, developed by Jan Booher of the Climate Resilience Ministry give community partners working together an online community presence, access to helpful data (ex. in a hurricane-storm survival and storm recovery information; during a pandemic, education, data, and outreach materials, and resource information). The dashboards are part of the Resilience System that is used to coordinate communications among all work groups collaborating to address community concerns.
As liaison to the Resilient American Communities Initiative, Director of the UUJF Climate Resilience Ministry, develops and manages dashboards for each participating community, teaches people in the communities how to track and map case data, map resources and COVID-19 testing centers, survey the community, and engage in grant-writing to secure resources for the community. Three community dashboards support the active communities in Florida. Intern support will assist with data management and mapping that is essential to support justice arguments for issues specific to each community.
See the three dashboards that give each community a place to share information, collect data, organize data that can inform and empower communities to assess community needs and communicate those needs with data and residents’ reports.
Note the organizations that are partners on the platforms. Help them to help the community.
To help the Intern initiative, contact Deva Jones at UU College of Social Justice.
To help the “Maria Survivors” initiative, contact Ana Maria De La Rosa at UUSC.
To support Azalea Park Food Distribution, Fr. José Rodriguez at Iglesia Episcopal Jesús de Nazaret
UU Churches in each area:
UU Fellowship of Bay County (Jo Shaffer)
First Unitarian Church of Orlando (Martha Harnit)
University UU Fellowship of Orlando
UU Church of Sarasota (Social Justice Committee - Nina Tortelli)
Manatee UU Fellowship
Does your congregation know of a zip code or neighborhood that could benefit from an online community organizational platform, data collection and analysis, food and shelter assistance that could benefit from a central hub of online community empowerment?
On Building an Arc - Will a Boca Raton neighborhood be the next community?
Jan Booher, director of the UUJF Climate Resilience Ministry, offered a Sermon at the UU Fellowship of Boca Raton on April 26, 2020. She speaks of her commitment to the Unitarian Universalist First Principle that calls on Unitarian Universalists to affirm and promote "the inherent worth and dignity of every person" and is a guiding principle of her life and a benchmark of goodness in the world.
Toward the end of her sermon Jan asks for data and computer people to step forward to work with a community in the Boca Raton area. Guided by the April CDC Recommendations for ways community organizations can help, she calls on fellow UUs to volunteer to work on the Resilient American Communities Resource platform initiative, explaining that the work requires vigilance and technical skills to track data and organize data in order to substantiate need.
This year’s General Assembly will be a 100% virtual event. The theme is Rooted, Inspired, & Ready! We are in touch with our theological roots, we are engaged in transforming our faith and we are fired up to take action in the wider world. Naomi Klein has been chosen to give the historic Ware Lecture.
Sign up for UU the Vote’s Weekly Updates. Keep up to date on adjusted election timelines, vote by mail advocacy, combating voter suppression efforts, and on-line and phone-banking voter registration, values conversations, and Get Out the Vote mobilization opportunities.