Author: Rob Dainow

Youth Taking Action with Rallies for CBC Leaders’ Debate on Climate

Vancouver Unitarians rallied once again in support of climate justice. This time it was on July 17 at CBC Vancouver. The rally was organized by Our Time, a national campaign of young people, in order to push the CBC to broadcast a federal leaders’ debate focused on climate change and a Green New Deal for Canada (see The Pact for a Green New Deal and What would a Green New Deal for Canada look like?).

A cohort of over 30 young persons lead the rally with speeches, songs, and cheers. We were several hundred in Vancouver and we were joined by many hundreds more in over 20 cities across Canada.

We were proud to stand with these committed and inspiring young people.

Vancouver Unitarians standing with the youth leading the July 17 rally to get a CBC federal leaders’ debate on climate and the Green New Deal

A Green New Deal for All – Cross Canada Tour in Vancouver

At least ten Vancouver Unitarians were among the 350 person sell-out crowd on June 21 at the Canadian Memorial Church to participate in the Vancouver stop of the Green New Deal for All cross-Canada tour.

All the presenters were passionate, well informed, and inspiring. It was a great event, part of the grass roots movement that started with over 150 town hall meetings across Canada – including a full house event with about 100 people at UCV on May 24.

Support for the Green New Deal (GND) is rising up across this country with the intention to become a powerful voice in the coming federal election.

The entire Green New Deal for All event was videotaped and is available online here. The table below shows the time for each presentation to help you navigate through this nearly 3 hour long video.

Intro slides 00 – 7:15
MC Anjali Appadurai 07:15 – 9:00
Chief Reuben George, Manager of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative 9:00 – 18:40
Green New Deal video 18:40 – 21:00
Anjali remarks 21:00 – 26:40
Youth-led chant 26:40 – 41:20
David Suzuki 41:20 – 1:04:30
Kanahus Manuel, Indigenous activist and spokesperson for the Tiny House Warriors 1:04:30 – 1:24:00
Harsha Walia, outspoken South Asian activist and writer, graduate of UBC Law 1:24:50 – 1:45:10
Youth-led chant 1:45:10 – 1:47:30
Kim Mortel, poet, spoken word artist, singer 1:47:30 – 2:10:10
Avi Lewis, Co-Founder (with spouse Naomi Klein) and Strategic Director, The LEAP 2:10:10 – 2:42:35
Presenters’ tribute 2:42:35 – 2:44:00

 

Redevelopment? Circle of Concerns Workshop

About 40-45 people attended the Circle of Concerns Workshop after the service on May 2, 2019 to share and explore their questions and concerns about the current UCV site redevelopment project.

This workshop was a followup event to the March 31 Listening Circle forum where at least 35 congregants gathered to share their questions and concerns. Issues raised at this fell into eight categories. There was considerable support at the forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. (See http://tinyurl.com/y65th8hn for more information about the Listening Circle event; you can find the 3-page report from that meeting here: Mar31 Sharing Circle report.

The May 2 Circle of Concerns Workshop is the followup to the March 31 Listening Circle forum.
The intent of all these activities is bring new voices to the redevelopment conversation. There is no intent or desire to create divisions or dissensions; on the contrary, we believe that we will make better decisions when we include all voices.

Here is a summary of the notes from the Circle of Concerns Workshop. (You can get an electronic copy of the full notes here: May 26 Circle of Concern minutes.)

Top 3 concerns

Participants at the Circle of Concerns Workshop identified their top 3 areas of concern from the 8 categories identified in the March 31 Listening Circle forum, with these results:

Concern

Weighted votes

Timing

59

Existential Threats

53

Vision

41

Ability to Complete

15

Site redevelopment

14

Affordable housing

13

During construction

9

Design elements

2

No concerns

0

 

Groups were formed to discuss the top 3 concerns.
Here are some selected comments from these discussions:

Timing

  • The combination of an interim minister and temporary meeting places in trailers will lead to losing congregants and it will harder to attract new people. It will be very hard to maintain our regular activities and social events. The timing sucks!
  • Everyone in this group felt very strongly that it is essential to have the new settled minister in place before undertaking redevelopment. It will be a recipe for disaster if we do not have strong leadership.
  • We will limit the number and perhaps quality of ministerial candidates if a redevelopment project is a front issue for the new minister. It will be a threat to the very existence of the church if we cannot get a satisfactory new minister.
  • Proceeding with redevelopment under these circumstances can create a lot of stress and can lead to an antagonistic, divisive, destructive atmosphere.
  • We should not see our current exploration of redevelopment as a failure if we do not proceed with it.

Vision

  • The vision is the base – we should start with a vision.
  • We need a formal statement of how this project will exemplify our UU values.
  • A compelling vision would have housing affordability and environmental concerns built in; the current design doesn’t reflect our ideals because the social and environmental benefits are modest.
  • We have a chance to make an architectural statement; need more imagination – invite artists and architects to come talk to us.
  • Landlording is a nightmare – and UCV would be at least indirectly in that role. Would we trust a management company to go by our values? Where do we stand in a tenant-landlord issue? How much would we intervene? How much Board involvement would there be?

Existential Threats

  • Do we have the volunteer capacity to carry out this project?
  • How will we get new members during the construction period (2-3 years)?
  • Will our younger congregants be able to sustain this project financially?
  • How do we continue ‘doing church’ during construction (2-3 years)?
  • We are muddling through financially and are kind of sustainable now, so may be wiser to not launch a redevelopment project now, but to instead focus on growing our membership.

How would you vote today?

Workshop participants were asked during the last part of the workshop to indicate on a spectrum of choices what their position is today with regard to the redevelopment project. The following table summarizes their responses.

No.

%

1*

1%

Will likely approve redevelopment project as is or with minor changes.
Will approve only if (check any and all that apply)

13

18%

It is clear that the project fits our values and vision.

13

18%

The project is delayed until we have a new settled minister.

9

13%

Environmental considerations are given higher priority.

8

11%

The design of the building is significantly changed.

8

11%

Can stay on campus and use sanctuary during construction (acceptable washrooms).

4

6%

Possible to create truly affordable housing and still have significant return to UCV.

4

6%

Members step u to volunteer to liaise with developers.

4

6%

Other methods to improve finances are unsuccessful.

2

3%

Hewett Hall is not destroyed. The new building is built elsewhere on campus.

6

8%

Will almost certainly not approve.

72

101%

* maybe

Next steps

  • Hold an open meeting monthly, with chairs in a circle to encourage equal participation.
  • Get input from others who have done similar projects.
  • Who would live here? Survey Vancouver Unitarians to see how many would rent or buy (co-housing)?

REDEVELOPMENT?? Update and next step

 

A small group of congregants who felt that their views, and perhaps the views of other congregants, were not clearly reflected in the current UCV redevelopment process and plans met together on March 1 to share their questions and concerns. They identified over 15 concerns and wondered how many others in the congregation had similar questions or concerns. The result was the Listening Circle forum after the March 31 service.

At least thirty-five people attended this Listening Circle forum. Some oppose the redevelopment project, but most are undecided and have some concerns or ambivalence about the current redevelopment project and process. At least five did not express any concerns about the project and several expressed confidence in the current redevelopment process and the redevelopment team.

The 3 page report from this Sharing Circle, based on the flipchart notes from the forum, identified eight categories of concerns that meeting participants shared. This report was presented first to the Board and then to the Redevelopment Committee. It is now being shared with the full congregation. You can get an electronic copy here [Mar31 Sharing Circle report], or a printed copy in the foyer of the sanctuary at Sunday services on May 12, 19, or 26, or in the office.

There was considerable support at the March 31 forum for a followup workshop to extend this conversation to include more congregants and to explore the concerns and issues in more depth. The Board supports this followup workshop.

Please join us in the Fireside room on Sunday, May 26 from 12:30 to 2:30 pm at a Site Redevelopment Circle of Concern Workshop to share any issues or concerns you have about the current redevelopment project and process and to explore these issues and concerns in more depth. If you cannot attend on May 26 but still want to be heard, please send your comments to Rob Dainow at rdainow@gmail.com or (604) 523-0123.

“Irreparable Harm?” Creation of a documentary theatre piece

Did the protesters at the Trans Mountain facilities in Burnaby cause irreparable harm to Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, by delaying a few trucks for a few minutes on a few days in 2018? That’s what the BC Supreme Court believes. That’s why there’s an injunction barring anyone from coming within five metres of any site owned by Trans Mountain Pipeline. The 230 people who were arrested in 2018 for breaking that injunction have a different opinion as to who is causing irreparable harm to whom.

Most of those who were arrested and charged with criminal contempt of court for breaking the injunction have either pled guilty, or been found guilty by Judge Affleck – the same judge who created the injunction. These land and water protectors have made many impassioned speeches in court, trying to alert the judge to the harm that this pipeline expansion, if it proceeds, will cause to First Nations, and to the land and water that we all depend on for life. For that we have been labelled ‘sinister’, and told that by showing defiance of the law, we are inviting chaos and threatening civilization.

Several of the land and water protectors have formed the Sinister Sisters Collective to develop a documentary theatre piece about our journey through the BC Supreme Court. We are calling it “Irreparable Harm?” Using video footage from the arrests, excerpts from the court documents, and re-enactments, we will shine a spotlight on how our justice system treats those who are in opposition to the interests of large corporations.

We will be working over the summer months to compile the most dramatic moments of our encounters with the justice system. Our goal is to present a workshop in October, and then a full production of our theatre piece in the spring of 2020.

Stay tuned.

By Mairy Beam, arrested at the Kinder Morgan Burnaby Tank Farm gates on August 24, 2018, found guilty by Judge Affleck on Dec 5, 2018 and sentenced to serve 28 days of house arrest and 125 hours of community service.

Why I Love Transit

Why do I love transit?

It all goes back to my little red wagon and the joy of my body being powered by a force other than my own. With the wind in my hair I watched the world go by with a singular focus as my father pulled my weight with ease. When I board a bus or the skytrain I feel that wonder; the power of the wheel, the forward momentum, the ease of movement. I am a spectator of the world.

Sometimes I read or listen to music while riding. I have even been known to wear a headlamp for long rides at night in order to read in the dim light of the bus. If I am with someone we have the freedom to talk without interruptions. Often the conversation turns to long-term plans and ideas, the discussion of the journey of our lives paralleling the journey of the bus.

Sometimes I meditate or stare out the window catching a glimpse of Hollyburn Peaks, a bank of blooming cherry trees or a red-tailed hawk on a telephone pole. Sometimes I watch and listen to fellow passengers as I relish the diversity of cultures represented or the amazing ease of entry for wheelchairs and strollers on our kneeling bus.
Little kids love transit. When my own kids were small it was a time for asking questions, playing games and singing songs. Talking with other passengers seems natural with small children.

I have witnessed many small acts of kindness on transit like the Chinese grandma offering a banana to a hijab-clad mom to quiet her crying son, or an Asian man offering me his seat: “Not because you are old but because you are hot!” he joked. A friend tells me that once a bus driver got all the riders to sing happy birthday when he found out it was her birthday.

Some of the interactions are disturbing, of course, but I have a special transit radar that alerts me when things are brewing. I move to another section of the bus or another car on the skytrain when I sense something amiss. Or I sit and bear witness to a slice of life I would never encounter in a car.
What I am not doing on transit is:

  • Burning as many fossil fuels
  • Negotiating traffic jams
  • Enduring the persistent semi-conscious knowledge that at any moment I could kill someone or be killed by a hurling hunk of metal of which I am in control

I prefer the ease and sleek beauty of transit as I relinquish control and enjoy the ride in my enlarged red wagon which I share with a diverse community of people.

So if I say I am taking transit, please don’t offer me a ride. I have a car and could use it if needs be as I do when lack of time and energy dictate. Allow me my first choice: Transit.

By Mary Lage

Vancouver Unitarians protest NEB approval of TMX

At least 10 Vancouver Unitarians rallied around our Vancouver Unitarians banner and joined hundreds of others on Friday, Feb. 22, to raise our voices in protest to the National Energy Board report that recommended going ahead with the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.

We marched down Burrard Street and then along Georgia Street to the final rally on Georgia Street between the CBC and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
We were proud to be among the voices speaking out.

NEB rally, Feb 22, 2019