Back after an amazing 2018 launch: create connections across generations!
The mystery only lasts a little while, but the friendship can be much longer.
Sign-up to be a Pal to someone older or younger than yourself—we would love to have everyone involved and will match any pair from different generations (roughly 20 years apart). To facilitate anonymity, each pair will be identified by a Canadian Civil Rights Activist with a corresponding “mailbox” envelope in the Hewett Centre Hall.
Celebrate May 5th after the service with a Mystery Reveal Party.
The calendar is an inclusive and comprehensive source of information for those who want to learn more about world religions. The Multifaith calendar facilitates understanding of these religious occasions and festivals important to our diverse cultural society, providing a basis for discussion and involvement. Buying a Multifaith Calendar also supports the religious education program.
Calendars are only $15 and 2 for $25. They make a great gift!
What are UCV kids doing with Social and Environmental Justice?
Justice work is integral to Unitarian Universalism; for many of us justice work—whether social or environmental—is spiritual work. When we take a good look at living the seven principles, we find that they call us to act for justice, equity, compassion, and democracy and we are called to take interdependence seriously.
We bring these values of justice, equity, compassion, and democracy into our children and youth programs through stories, games, activities, discussion, and outdoor explorations. Our upper elementary students worked with the CUC’s Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guide last year. We are looking for more opportunities to build relationship and learn about our indigenous neighbors. The Harry and UU Summer Theatre camp group chose to focus on “Waste” as the Horcrux (societal ill) they would fight, and we brought the Zero Waste Challenge to class in October under the theme of “Abundance.” We are continuing the challenge this month with “Courage.”
The UCV Youth Group is currently exploring a focus for an Environmental Justice action project. Zero Waste and fighting the pipeline expansion are top of their list. Stay tuned for more information from our Youth!
Justice Work Philosophy
My philosophy regarding doing social justice with children and youth is evolving. Sometimes we adults have a passion to bring knowledge and awareness of big issues to our kids; we want to make sure they are culturally, socially, and environmentally aware. I certainly have had this tendency with my own kids. However, I have recently noticed a sense of overwhelm in some of our middle elementary students. There’s a tendency to joke about wrecking the world which seems to be defensive humour in the face of very real problems. Adults are failing to protect the world, how are kids supposed to help? Why should they take on that burden? Where is the hope?
Erin Leckie, from Be the Change, sent me a 1998 article from Yes! Magazine by David Soebel after I talked to her about kids and hope. I was inspired by Mr. Soebel’s perspective. He has important points to keep in mind as we feel excitement around bringing justice work into our programming with children and youth.
What Shapes an Activist?
“If we prematurely ask children to deal with problems beyond their understanding and control, then I think we cut them off from the possible sources of their strength.”
“… there are healthy ways to foster environmentally aware, empowered students. One way to find the answer is to figure out what contributes to the development of environmental values in adults. What happened in the childhoods of environmentalists to make them grow up with strong ecological values? A handful of studies like this have been conducted, and when Louise Chawla of Kentucky State University reviewed them for her article, “Children’s Concern for the Natural Environment” in Children’s Environment Quarterly, she found a striking pattern. Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources: “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.” Not one of the conservationists surveyed explained his or her dedication as a reaction against exposure to an ugly environment.
What a simple solution. No rainforest curriculum, no environmental action, just opportunities to be in the natural world with modeling by a responsible adult.” –David Soebel, 1998 YES! Magazine
My takeaway goals for social and environmental justice with children and youth are:
Early Childhood: foster awe, wonder, and connection with the natural world/real people
Middle Childhood: Explore wider–neighborhood, city, learn about the world/people
Early Adolescence and up: Take initiative for Social Action–saving the world
Within this outline, any idea for action that a child brings up independently is worth exploring and supporting. We believe in our ideas and act on them, that is our 5th principle after all!
Where: Different events at different venues. Go to the link above and type in your city for local events or check out the following events:
At UCV, faith leaders and community from Metro Vancouver will gather for a meaningful, multicultural dialogue on the power of ‘spiritual activism’ to engender global peace, sustainability and harmony in the face of an uncertain future. Sat. Sept 8, 9:30am,-3:30pm.
Why: We need people to step up and let leaders know what we are already doing to prevent climate catastrophe. The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Sept. 12-14 needs to hear from the grass roots: us. https://globalclimateactionsummit.org/about-the-summit/ We need to join forces to fight the Kinder Morgan / Trudeau Pipeline Expansion (TMX). “
Who: Everyone who cares about the impacts of Global Warming.
Harry Potter Camp at Vancouver Unitarian campus was a huge success this summer. How do I know? Mainly because the kids were talking about “next year at Hogwarts” at the end of day one and were still talking about it at the end of the week. They also arrived each day with smiles and excitement bubbling up and together built a real sense of community. They worked through conflict and resolution as well as through games, classes, and creativity.
We had 20 attendees who came from the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, North Shore Unitarian, and others who were drawn to the “Hogwarts” page on the website. New friendships were formed, and old friendships strengthened.
Theatre in Action
We approached the camp with the intent to create an immersive theatrical experience for the kids from which they could explore real, pertinent, issues and develop their own power, abilities, and agency. The kids reveled in the opportunity to let their imagination of the Hogwarts world come to life, being sorted into Houses, the decoration of the Great Hall, and the re-naming of rooms—Dormitory of Democracy, Room of Retirement, Chamber of Choice. They were initiated into a chapter of Dumbledore’s Army and, through dotmocracy, chose to focus on fighting the Horcrux of Waste. The theme of how to approach zero waste will be carried through our Sunday activities this fall.
Shape of the Week
Classes were held throughout the week, taught by both our local UCV Professors and local Guests:
Herbology—with Professor Kiersten, exploring the UCV gardens and grounds for “magical” medicinal plants and creating a healing salve from plantain and calendula with olive oil and beeswax.
Potions—with Professor Jannika, creating a Cold-Away Potion from echinacea and an Elixir of Euphoria from Orange Blossom Essential Oil.
Charms—with Professor Douglas, exploring acting skills through Professor Douglas’ own charms: Interiofocus (stilling the mind and focusing inward), Accion (finding personal power in action), and Connectisaurus (connecting with another person and working together).
Quidditch—with guest Quidditch players and Kidditch instructors from the Vancouver Vipers Quidditch Team.
Defense Against the Dark Arts—with guest artist and actress Professor Bailey, exploring how to face our fears through humour using poetry and spoken word.
Two Guest theatre artists turned the ground floor of Hewett Centre into Diagon Alley and made appearances as familiar ghosts Moaning Myrtle and Nearly Headless Nick. Together they delved into the complexity of what to do when public art lifts up one culture and ignores oppressions.
Patronus Workshop—with Professor McGonagall, exploring core aspects of their personality and identifying a strength of their own that brings something positive into the world.
The week ended with a Feast and Sharing with family and friends of all that they had been doing and learning—including spells, skits, games, and a haunted house of their own creation.
Among the activities the kids did who attended our first annual Hogwarts’ Summer Camp was a course in Herbology. All four houses made an echinacea tincture using plants from our garden, apple cider vinegar and mason jars. It’s “cooking” as we speak.
They also learned about medicinal “magical” uses of many of the herbs, flowers, and “weeds” in the garden. They made a salve from plantain leaves and calendula flowers using olive oil and beeswax.
Huge success overall. From the first day on, the kids were planning the second annual camp!
Those of us who tend a veggie plot on the north side of Hewett Hall are enjoying the produce–and enjoying sharing the abundance with others.
Two of our young families took over a plot (38″ square). Here are Jeonga, Goan and Haram with their first vegetable garden. They’re amazed at what’s come up including the tomato plant they didn’t plant! I love introducing people to gardening.
Photos: Mary Bennett with Goan and Haram in front of their plot.
Jeonga, Goan and Haram all pointing to their favorite vegetable
There is (at least) one more plot available for one of our families. Just send me a note or approach me on Sunday about it if your family would like to garden at UCV. It’s not too late to plant spinach–and some plants bought as starters!
May 6th dawned bright and warm. I felt a flutter of nervous excitement carrying armfuls of flowers to church, an unusual three block walk to get across the marathon using 49th street. This was the culmination of Vancouver Unitarians first experience with the UU Mystery Pal letter exchange tradition and I wanted to create a beautiful backdrop for it to unfold.
Twelve pairs ranging in age from 4 to 80 were matched up by at least one common interest and had spent the month of April exchanging letters, drawings, and emails not knowing the identity of their pen pal. As the orchestrater of the exchange I had the pleasure of hearing the excitement and curiosity as pals discovered their letters each week. I heard from parents how much their children were enjoying the exchange and from adults having fun comparing notes on how fascinating, bright, and fantastic their pals were. Everyone tried to guess who exactly their pal was of course. My own four-year-old wasn’t sure he wanted to participate because it would be scary to sit at a party with someone he didn’t know. He didn’t want to be left out though so I told him I would sit with him at the party. As it turns out…
The day of the Big Reveal.
I had tables set aside in the Hall Annex with flowers, fruit, and snacks that pals brought to share. Place settings were marked with the famous Unitarian Universalists that each pair had been connected through—find your famous UU, find your pal, eat and talk together. After the whole congregation worship service, “The Work We Do”, let out Pals started to find their place and find each other. My four-year-old who was sure he wanted me to sit with him? He chatted easily with his Pal for more than half-an-hour; a month of writing letters had taken away the layer of strangeness that he would usually feel with an adult not in the family.
I looked around at the smiles, conversation, and earnest engagement unfolding and found it nothing short of magical. I’m sure some Pals will stay connected more than others, but everyone found a new friend at church. The length of time Pals spent together that morning showed real, meaningful, personal connections were made during a time we often talk to the same people within our age or interest cohort each Sunday.
For all those who missed participating this time around, we will do it again next year!
The 2018 Earth Day Service was put on by the Environment Committee today. Guest speaker Aline Laflamme gave a moving, insightful sermon titled “All My Relations”. She spoke of the Indigenous view of what “relations” means as well as the responsibility that comes along with being part of a family that consists of all that is living and non-living in the world. The Daughters of the Drum performed Indigenous songs of thanks and prayer and, just to change things up a bit, rather than being read to, the Coming of Age kids read the Story for All Ages to the congregation!