About the Author
Robin Nelson

Tar Sands Actions continue and YOU can still participate

Check out the press release from the Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day at the Inspired Faith Effective Action blog.

Also, read Rev. Craig Roshaven’s reflection on his arrest and how you can continue to support the efforts of the Stop the Tar Sands folk!

UUs are continuing to gather in DC to risk arrest, witness and support the protest, and sign petitions and call the White House to urge the Obama Administration (who has the sole decision making on whether or not the pipeline is approved) to Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline and to invest in clean energy instead.  Please keep these people in your thoughts and hearts and they witness based on their UU values.

143 arrested at Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day!

Over 300 people gathered today in Lafayette Park across from The White House to participate in the Tar Sands Action civil disobedience.Today was interfaith day.  The Key Stone XL Pipeline is something that will affect everybody in the United States and beyond our borders.  Rose Berger and Tim Kumfer brought together people from various faith traditions (Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Franciscan priests, and Unitarian Universalists) to show that faith communities are concerned about the environment, the inter-connected web of life, and the environmental injustices this pipeline will cause.

The day started out with a Jewish Song Service.  The leaders of this service explained to us that in Jerusalem, traditionally, the Jews and Muslims, gather to sign together in the square before going to their respective worship services and wanted this to be a reflection of that.  Singing happened for about 45 minutes – Rev. Craig Roshaven led the group in “We are a gentle angry people.”  This was followed by a short interfaith service.  Unitarian Universalists (UUs) were represented by Barbara Ford.

Then the rally started – Bill McKibben spoke as did James Hansen about how important this action was today and how brave people were being.  “What started out as a protest has become a movement” McKibben stated.  And all those there today and the previous 7 days are a part of this movement.

The group lined up in front of the White House, and, after “refusing to follow a lawful order”  (standing in front of the White House) around 143 people were arrested.  Today’s protest has become the largest day of arrests at the pipeline protest.

UUs were well represented among the protesters.  Approximately 40 people were there on behalf of their faith community.  14 UUs were arrested, while 11 others served as observers and support people, and one chaplain was present and available for pastoral concerns.With the faith community being so large, the tone for the protest was peaceful and involved lots of signing.  James Hansen, climate scientist, decided he wanted to be arrested with “religious folk” and gave a shout out to the Methodists.

The police systematically arrested the women and then the men, putting them into vans for transport to Anacostia Detention Center.  It was a long hard day for all involved.  UUs started their day at 9am and were all finally released (after post-and-forfeiting $100) by 3:18pm.  Most were tired, exhausted, and a bit dehydrated.  At the same time, they all seemed proud, changed, and glad that they represented their faith community and its values by witnessing for it.  Several UUs commented that they also appreciated seeing UUA staff support at the Tar Sands Action Rally.

I’ll be following up with individual stories over the next week or two so make sure you check back to learn more about what inspired each of the 14 arrested UUs to participate in this act of non-violent civil disobedience.

Hurricane Irene + Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day

Due to Hurricane Irene, this Sunday’s service at All Souls Unitarian Church has been cancelled.  The local electric utility, Pepco, has warned us that widespread power outages are likely.

If the power is on (it would be a good idea to call the restaurant to make sure they have power), we will meet for lunch at 1:30 p.m. as originally planned at:

Busboys and Poets
2021 14th St NW (near 14th & V)
Washington, DC
(202) 387-7638

If the power is out at Busboys and Poets, they will be closed. An alternate place to gather for lunch at 1:30 is the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel at 999 Ninth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. We will stay in the lobby or the hotel restaurant until 2:00 p.m. but if the hotel restaurant is closed, we may need to go elsewhere for lunch. We’ll leave a message with the concierge or the front desk.  Craig Roshaven will be wearing his yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt. This is located close to Mount Vernon United Methodist Church. See below for directions to that location.

Sunday, August 28th 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Mandatory Training: Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church at 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW, D.C. (Mt. Vernon Square Metro on Green/Yellow line) for Tar Sands Action training and legal briefing. (A meal will be provided.)

  • 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. The religious contingent will meet to strategize about Sunday. Please make yourself known to Rose Berger or Tim Kumfer as soon as you arrive.
  • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. will be the nonviolence training and legal briefing.

Monday, August 29th 10am Interfaith Tar Sands Action Rally we will start assembling around 9:45am.

Contact Information:  Craig Roshaven: CRoshaven@uua.org
Robin Nelson: RNelson@uua.org

How you can support the Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day!

Last week, Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, UUA Witness Ministries Director, and Barbara Ford, UUMFE member and past-President, asked UUs to join them in non-violent civil disobedience on the Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day .

Since then, a number of UUs have contacted Robin Nelson, UUA Environmental Stewardship Manager, to indicate that they will join Craig and Barbara in risking arrest. We are so excited to see the momentum for this movement building and encourage others to join and support us in whatever ways they can.

The Tar Sands Action started on August 20th and will continue until September 3rd.  On Saturday, August 20th 75 people were arrested and 50 of those were held over the weekend awaiting arraignment on Monday.  Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, and one of the driving forces behind the Tar Sands Action, passed along a statement from the central cell block where he was held since Saturday through Monday saying “Hello everyone! We don’t need sympathy, we need company. It’s clear to us that police were hoping to deter this action, and it’s equally clear to us the opposite will be the result.”

Terry Tempest Williams said this about Tar Sands: “The act of civil disobedience is the act of taking our anger and turning it into sacred rage. It is a personal and collective gesture of resistance and insistence….We can travel to Washington, D.C. mentally, create an image of support to those who can be there on the front lines physically…. We can participate in building this climate change movement, each in our own way, each in our own time with the gifts that are ours. We can become the fire of hopeful action that burns through corruption and complacency. We can be the river of concern that cools our sweltering planet. And we will be the voice of resistance that says yes to a more compassionate way of being in the world and face those who say no with the force of our steady gaze.”

Ways in which you can support Tar Sands Action Interfaith Day and the UUs who are participating:

  • Attend All Souls DC service at 10:15am on Sunday, August 28th where Tar Sands Action participants will be recognized.
  • Join Tar Sands Action folks for lunch after the service to show your support.
  • Attend the rally at Lafayette Park on Monday, August 29th around 9:45am to show support for those risking arrest.
  • Risk arrest by participating in non-violent civil disobedience on Monday, August 29th – a required interfaith gathering and training and legal briefing for our witness will take place on Sunday, August 28th from 4-9 p.m.
  • Sign the Stop the Tar Sands Petition. The petition will be delivered to President Obama during the Tar Sands Action.
  • Sign the Religious Tar Sands Petition.
  • Write an oped to  your local news editor. (Check out the editorial in Monday’s New York Times.)
  • Talk with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, congregation members, etc. about the Key Stone XL Pipeline and how it is a danger to our environment and get them to take action.
  • Make use of the End Big Oil subsides tool kit.
  • Make a donation to the UUMFE or become a member.  The Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) is a non-profit organization whose supporters envision a world in which reverence, gratitude, and care for the living Earth is central to the lives of all people.

 For Earth,

UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) Board
UUA Environmental Stewardship
UUA Witness Ministries

Nancy King Smith, Co-Chair UUMFE
Irene Keim, Co-Chair UUMFE
Barbara Ford, UUMFE member and past President
Terry Wiggins, Former UUMFE Treasurer
Pamela Sparr, Environmental Justice Consultant to UUMFE
Robin Nelson, UUA Environmental Stewardship Manager
Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, UUA Witness Ministries Director
Kat Liu, UUA Witness Ministries Program Associate
Rev. Terry Ellen, Executive Director of UUs for Social Justice
Jo Ann Bachar, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee
Linda S. Cooper, First UU Society in Burlington, VT
Lynn Dash
Wes Ernsberger, UU Congregation of Binghamton, NY
Celeste McCollough Howard, Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County, Hillsboro OR
Vincent Pawlowski, UU Congregation of North West Tucson, AZ


UU Church of Palo Alto readies solar panels

In their December 2006 Green Sanctuary Candidacy Application the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA) decided to raise money to pay for the increased cost of purchasing green electric power.
Also during that time they had congregation members writing carbon dioxide reduction pledges on colorful plastic leaves and hanging them on a small madrone tree in their courtyard. Now that the total pounds of CO2 saved is just under 100,000 the leaves are displayed on their bulletin board.
UUCPA is taking their green energy a step further; instead of buying green energy, they are going to make green energy.  UUCPA has installed new solar panels that they are ready to turn-on once the city of Palo Alto gives them the go-ahead.  The solar panels are on the roofs of two walkways, facing SE and SW. They will produce up to 12,000 watts.  We wish them good luck and hope they get the approval soon!UUCPA became an accredited Green Sanctuary on September 9, 2009.

Going to jail for peacefully disrupting an oil and gas lease auction?

That may soon be the fate of Tim DeChristopher. By peacefully participating in civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher now awaits his sentence.

Peaceful Uprising: Defending a Liveable Future Through Empowering Non-Violent Action is asking folks to Show your Support, Speak your Truth, and Take a Stand!

On July 26th 2011, climate activist Tim DeChristopher will be sentenced at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. On March 3rd, Tim was found guilty of two felony counts for participating in a peaceful act of civil disobedience. He could face up to ten years in federal prison, along with a $750,000 fine, for outbidding coal, gas, and oil companies as they attempted illegally purchase thousands of acres from the public.

First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City is standing in solidarity with Tim DeChristopher as he awaits his sentence.  Through their outreach work, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, has engaged other UU congregations (including):
First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, WI
Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, MA
Newark, New Jersey, Unitarian Universalists
UU Peace Fellowship in Raleigh, NC
Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northwest Tuscon, AZ
Prairie Circle Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Grayslake,IL
and Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE, Facebook page)
in standing in solidarity with Tim DeChristopher.

Today, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) has shared information about this debacle through the use of UUA social media.

How is it that participating in the American tradition of peaceful civil disobedience, a historical tool for social change,  a crime?

Peaceful Uprising asks folks to stand in solidarity with Tim DeChristopher and send the message loud and clear that:
We will not be intimidatedWe will not sit idly by as our government uses Tim DeChristopher as an example to deter other activists. We will not compromise when it comes to defending our right to a healthy and just world.”



Important up-coming dates for environmental activists

It’s time to put on your organizing hat and mark your calendars!

The Fall offers multiple events for those concerned about the environment to rise their voices and be heard on a larger scale by joining with others nationally and internationally to draw attention to issues that are important to us!

Green Sanctuary congregations, Unitarian Universalist congregations, and other faith communities are called to witness as well as take action to slow down, if not reverse, the trend of climate change.  We know that there are things that we can do as individuals, as congregations, and as a faith community. Take the opportunity on these dates to organize and raise our collective voice to show the world that we care about the environment, the Earth, ourselves,  as well as each other.

Each event has lots of ideas and tools for organizing – use them!  And share with us what you plan to do to make a difference.

September 14th – 15th
The Climate Reality Project
24 Presenters. 24 Time Zones. 13 Languages. 1 Message. 24 Hours of Reality is a worldwide event to broadcast the reality of the climate crisis. It will consist of a new multimedia presentation created by Al Gore and delivered once per hour for 24 hours, in every time zone around the globe. Each hour people living with the reality of climate change will connect the dots between recent extreme weather events — including floods, droughts and storms — and the manmade pollution that is changing our climate. We will offer a round-the-clock, round-the-globe snapshot of the climate crisis in real time. The deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality.  The Climate Reality Project is founded by Al Gore.

September 24th
Moving Planet: A day to move beyond fossil fuels.
Moving Planet will be a day to put our demands for climate action into motion – marching, biking, skating – calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels.  This event is sponsored by 350.org.  If you participated in 350.org Day in 2010 you’ll want to make sure that you do something on this day (the past two years it has been in October…note: this year 2011 it is in September).

October 1st-15th
EcoChallenge: Change begins with you.
The EcoChallenge is an opportunity to change your life for good. For two weeks every October, we challenge you to change one habit for Earth. You choose your challenge, we connect you with other EcoChallengers, and collectively we prove that small actions create real change.  This is sponsored by our friends at the Northwest Earth Institute who have provided discussion courses that are popular amoung UU congregations including but not limited to: Choices for Sustainable Living, Menu for the Future, and Voluntary Simplicity.

October 16th
World Food Day, a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-round action to alleviate hunger.

October 24th
Food Day, a national event committed to:

  1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
  2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to be agribusiness
  3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
  4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
  5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.

 November 3rd-4th
Interfaith Action to Protect Creation.
This interfaith day seeks to “awaken our nation’s leaders to the urgent need for immediate and effective action to address climate change.  As a people of faith our common teachings proclaim us to be caretakers of the land which we have been charged to respect and care for, this blessing of earth, and we are also compelled by our faith to be a voice with members of our human family who are most vulnerable, who suffer the most from impacts of climate change.”

10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

Interfaith Power and Light – A Religious Response to Global Warming is one of the many organizations that the Green Sanctuary Program encourages congregations to become involved with.

They do impressive work and we are proud to support it.  Today I was looking on their webpage and found “10 Things You Can Do Right Now!“.  You can check it out for yourself – its what we’ve been encouraging all along.

Some notable “things” are:

  • conduct a home energy audit
  • be an Energy Star congregation
  • stay informed.

Do you have other things that you would add to a list of “Things You Can Do Right Now”?

Chalice Lighting “Going Green Beyond Belief”

written by Robin Nelson and Rowan Van Ness

“Going Green Beyond Belief Chalice Lighting”

We call upon
the sacred of the everyday,
the mystery of life,
God, Holy One,
The Divine,
Spirit of Life,
Spirit of Love,
Creator of the Sun and Moon,
Gaia, Gracious God,

All around us faith communities are beacons of light, moving hearts and spirit.

Our people are transforming lawns into community gardens.
Our people are searching for truth about how our individual and collective actions affect us all. Our people are finding meaning in caring for the Earth.
Our people are standing up and witnessing what we believe in, and what is right and just.
Our people are working collaboratively to build the sustainable world we dream about.

In any one place, we may feel alone, unable to see the light of others.  When we step back and look into the night sky, may we see the brightness of the stars and think about our connections to a larger movement.

We know that even in hard moments, when the sky is dark, the stars are bright, guiding us toward the vision of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

We Unitarians and Universalists and Unitarian Universalists are part of a larger world community.  Let us see the light and feel moved to join people who are guiding the way.

For our blue boat home,
For our planet home,
For our Mother Earth,
For Gaia.

You can also watch the Chalice Lighting.

“Going Green Beyond Belief”

At General Assembly on Sunday, June 26th UUA President Peter Morales presented an short oral response to the 2011 Green Revolution in Religion Business Resolution.

Attendees were given bookmarks.  The front had the “Going Green Beyond Belief” logo and this quote about Environmental Justice:
“Despite the diversity of backgrounds and approaches, the environmental justice movement united around three ideas:

  • environmental problems are intimately entwined with social problems;
  • the current environmental framework exacerbates both environmental and social problems;
  • and the environmental establishment has neglected these relationships, in part, because of their elitism and exclusive practices.”                                                                                                                                        — Eileen McGurty

The back directed folks to go read the full report

“Going Green Beyond Belief”
The UUA President’s report
in response to the 2010
Green Revolution in
Religion Business Resolution

I encourage you read the full report.