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Before yesterdaySide With Love

We Have Sided with Love for 10 Years--Let’s Vote Love in 2020, Join us Jan 12th

13 December 2019 at 14:36

I hope this message reaches you surrounded by love. On December 12th, I sat bundled up, marveling at the last full moon of 2019 and this DECADE. I read in different astrological websites that this last full moon's powers, the Cold Moon's powers, encourages us to release the heaviness of the past, to honor the lessons we have learned and to prepare for what is to come in our lives, in our communities, and in the World. I welcomed the invitation with gladness. Under the direction of this Cold Moon, Side With Love celebrates a decade of confronting injustice, aligning with frontline communities and living a faithful witness. For 10 years, we have moved from behind the shadows and joined with frontline partners to proclaim that we embody a faith that demands us to do justice, to be love, and respect the inherent dignity of all.

The past decade has been a time of hope and harm. As we enter 2020 the stakes have never been higher for truly building a movement that harnesses the power of love to dismantle oppression. Side with Love will be working with UUtheVote in a variety of ways to bring out our communities to #VoteLove and #DefeatHate. Please join the UUtheVote Launch on Jan. 12th, 1 pm PST, 4 pm EST. 

As we reflect on this past decade, we offer a snapshot of the ways we have resisted, the voices and actions that expressed “This is what love looks like in action!” 

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July 29, 2010, UUA Past-President Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Susan Frederick‐Gray, former minister of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, and 27 other UU clergy and laypeople were arrested in downtown Phoenix, AZ for acts of peaceful civil disobedience. They were among 200 UUs, many from out of state, who came to Phoenix for actions in support of immigrant families on the National Day of Non‐Compliance with SB 1070, a repressive anti-immigrant bill that targetted all people of color for racial profiling by police. Consistent with the UU beliefs of the inherent worth and dignity of all and of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, these dedicated UUs stood on the side of love with Black and Brown people being targeted and threatened by this law. Standing on the Side of Love joined with Puente, an Arizona‐based human rights partner, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network to protest the bill and demand civil and human rights for all.

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In 2014, UUs in Missouri and beyond took Standing on the Side of Love into the streets and embraced the Black Lives Matter movement displaying banners and raising funds. This was not without controversy and struggle within our UU movement. 

In 2015, Standing on the Side of Love was part of the Black Lives Matter track at General Assembly that brought in front line community organizers from Portland and across the country as we worked to educate and organize our people. At that same General Assembly, we celebrated the SCOTUS ruling that upheld same sex marriage while we mourned the massacre of our AME brethren by a white nationalist in Charleston, SC. 

Two years later on August 11-12, 2017 in Charlottesville, the dangerous rise of white supremacy was on full display as hundreds of white men with tiki torches marched on the University of Virginia campus and clashed with anti-fascist anarchists.

First and foremost, we honor the dedication and leadership of the members, staff and friends of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church UU (TJMC-UU) who have been organizing against white supremacy for some time now. Christina Rivera, TJMC-UU’s Director of Administration and Finance and member of our UUA Board at the time, was with the clergy who peacefully marched to Emancipation Park where white nationalists were gathering around the statute of Robert E. Lee. 

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Christina put out a call through Standing on the Side of Love for UUs from the region to come support them. UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, Rev. Jeanne Pupke, Sr. Minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, Rev. Linda Olson Peebles and many others answered our call. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, the organizer, strategist and musician who was prominently featured at our UUA General Assembly in 2016, led the actions with the support of many, including Standing on the Side of Love staffer Nora Rasman. 

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2019 Climate Strikes: These youth-led actions mobilized hundreds of thousands across the country to address the climate emergency that poses an existential threat to humanity. Our UU youth mobilized thousands of UUs to take part and Side with Love brought together a UU coalition to support them that included UU Ministry for Earth, UU State Action Networks and others. We saw the power of all pulling together. Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray and I brought Side with Love to the NYC strikes where we joined hundreds of UUs and thousands (tens of thousands) of our people.


We also offer at the end of this decade, things we have to mourn, voices we have lost along the way aswe confront the rise of fascism. The 22 black trans women who have been murdered, the LGBTQ folx who have been targeted, the migrants who have died in the desert, the families being held in cages through mass detention and the people locked up and locked out through mass incarceration. 

Lastly, as we are on the brink of 2020 we invite you to continue to Choose Love! We enter into another decade with the opportunity to align our actions, our faith, and our values. Join us as we add the power of our campaign to the movement to expand democracy. As we kick off our 2020, we invite you to prepare the ways you will Side With Love. 

We will move in coordination with our electoral justice kindred who continue to defend the quality of our democracy ensuring that if you choose to vote that your right is protected. Join the UUA as we launch #UUTheVote on January 12th 4 pm EST. The stakes continue to get higher day by day but we have an opportunity to guide and lead the way. Find out more about UU The Vote here www.uuthevote.org

May we prevail in 2020 as part of building a movement where all can thrive and be free.

Choose Love, 

May we prevail in 2020 as part of building a movement where all can thrive and be free.

Choose Love, 

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Everette R. H. Thompson 

Side With Love, Campaign Manager 

P.S. 30 Days of Love will kick-off as we head into Dr. Martin Luther King Weekend January 18, 2020 - February 14, 2020 so please stay tuned and continue to be courageous in love! 

30 Days of Love: Join us as we uplift Movement, our Faith and this Moment!

23 January 2020 at 15:53

Throughout 2020, Side with Love commits to celebrating the ways we resist, show up and disrupt injustice. We know this moment invites us to increase our radical resistance, our partnerships, and our dedication to embody our values and principles. Current social, political and economic realities afford us opportunities to practice our faith in ways we have never been called before. Don’t fret, friends! Our collective history has taught us how to fight back and when we fight together, WE WIN! We are not alone on this journey. Join us as we launch our 30 Days of Love where we will be together in intentional practice of preparing for the months, days and years ahead.

Check out our 30 Days of Love resources!

We will be sharing and uplifting the work and action of our social justice movement partners, UUs, and UU adjacent kindred. Together, we will shape this World into a place where we all thrive. We invite you to join us, day by day, one choice at a time. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get up to date 30 Days of Love Actions.

There are many ways we will invite you to #SideWithLove throughout this year as we continue to construct a World where we each can live with dignity.

Today in movement, we lift up Black Mama’s Day Bail Out! It’s never too early to begin to prepare for Mothers’ Day!

Protect Wamponaog Tribe Sovereignty

31 March 2020 at 18:50

“Congress, I need you to put your head up, look up and see what is happening in your Administration. Look at what they are doing in the quiet while everybody is scrambling to keep their families safe and alive. Look what’s happening, under your own nose, the people that you have put in place to protect us and look after our sovereignty are the same people who are terminating us. . .400 Years after we welcomed you to these lands!” -- Vice Chairwoman Jessie Little Doe Baird

We are asking you to side with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts as they fight for their sovereignty and their right to their Tribal lands. Late last Friday afternoon, the Tribe was contacted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to inform them that the Secretary of the Interior has issued an order that will terminate the Tribe’s ability to self-govern, strip the Tribe of their reservation lands, and effectively terminate them as a recognized people. This is how the Trump administration is moving during the pandemic! This truly nefarious action must be vigorously opposed. Not only does it take away the sovereignty and lands from the Wampanoag people, it also sets a precedent for government orders against other indigenous peoples.Take the following actions TODAY:

  • Sign this petition calling on Congress to Pass the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act

  • Call Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: (202) 224-2551. Urge him to support the forward movement of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (Senate Bill 2628)

  • Call and email the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, who issued the order to disestablish their reservation lands

  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to Speak to your Senators. (Find your senator here). Urge your Senators to support the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (Senate Bill 2628)

  • Make a donation to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe through their official website. Click here to donate now.


Learn More:

  • Watch this great 3-minute video by Teena Pugliese to hear directly from allies and leaders in the tribe about why this matters.

  • The Doctrine of Discovery has been the religious and legal basis of land theft, extractive capitalism, Indigenous genocide, and violent colonization. Learn more about the history of the Doctrine of Discovery--and Unitarian Universalist efforts to make amends and repudiate the Doctrine in contemporary times--by clicking here.

  • Learn more about the history and contemporary life of the Mashpee Wampanoag on the Tribe’s official website.

  • Read the UUA’s Official Statement here.

Side With Love and Love Resists “In These Times: Webinar & Resources

13 April 2020 at 14:19

We hope this message reaches you surrounded by love and knowing that you are not alone. Thank you so much for joining Side With Love and Love Resists “In These Times.” We wanted to provide you with ways that you can continue to be in motion right now. If you missed this webinar, you can check out the video: Side With Love & Love Resists In These Times We are also offering Closed Captioned Text and Audio versions as well. “In These Times” was a moment to assess what is at stake and how we can move together. We offer these highlights from various folx on the call and the following ways you can be in motion during our social distancing.

Dr. Charlene Sinclair, Senior Advisor to BlackPAC offered these reflections.

“In the midst of the pandemic, we're consenting to a higher level of authoritarian surveillance and criminalization than ever before. How do we need to think about this moment? And not be happy because there's some decarceration happening in some jails, when they're lining up tanks in Akron to make sure that people don't disobey the curfew? What are we doing when we have "progressive people" saying, "of course they need to arrest people and give them tickets." We are saying that there's no need for prisons in the same way. We have to be careful as a movement that our anxiety and fear doesn't actually move us down a pathway of consent to an authoritarian rule. ”

We encourage you to support the work of BlackPAC.

Brother Luis Suarez, Detention Watch Network stated:

"Nothing [about us] without us" comes to us from a disability justice movement. It captures the essence of how we must engage to maintain a constant line of communication with the people inside ICE jails and those who have survived the system. It helps to ensure that our work isn't having unintended negative consequences for people detained and responding to their needs. . .We're demanding freedom for all. No one will get released unless we demand everyone to be released. This isn't a time for exceptions. It's a matter of life or death. How the government has treated this crisis, we can't treat anyone as expendable. The least we can do is push for everyone to be released. We have heard about social distancing practices. This is impossible for people in detention centers. The definition of mass confinement poses a serious threat to public health. This, coupled with ICE's long standing history of medical neglect, abuse, etc. is a recipe for disaster. Lives are already at risk in detention.”

Take part in Detentions Watch Network Free Them All On-going Actions.

Rev. Suzanne Fast, EqUUal Access:

“Resist the systematic devaluation of disabled people during the pandemic, not only for these protocols about who gets health care.This is a time where our allies are crucial to people's survival. ... We seriously need you to be part of unmasking ableism on a regular, ongoing basis. Every time someone says, "it's not serious. It's not like real oppression" or "That's just a metaphor/they don't mean anything by that." When that happens, it reinforces that these lives don't carry the same value. When that goes unchallenged in the good times, that's how these crisis situations become more dangerous for us.”

Support and take action with the #NoBodyIsDisposable Campaign.

The UUA continues to fight in the right relationship with our movement and internally to our people. We uplift the words of Rev. Ashley Horan, UUA Organizing and Strategy Team Director:

“As we think about being UU organizers right now in our communities and congregations, one thing to think deeply about is getting crystal clear about our mission, who we are and what we do. That's usually to connect people, make them know that they're beloved to one another, to help people find belonging and meaning in the midst of a world that doesn't always make sense, and to build networks in our broader communities, to be part of creating that interdependent web of existence. To keep that well and whole.”

Join Rev. Michael Crumpler, UUA LGBTQ & Multicultural Ministries and UU the Vote for LGBTQ+ Equity and continue to build toward a just democracy.

Upcoming opportunities to Side With Love for these upcoming on-line offerings to be together: :

Side With Love joins Unitarian Universalists Ministry for Earth to present a live streaming of The Condor & The Eagle on Earth Day, April 22, 2020. This is a great way to close out Earth Day 2020, Register today!

Choose Love,

Everette R. H. Thompson

P. S. We are on the Side of the Poor People Campaign and We Must Do M.O.R.E. Tour!

"We will only get through this crisis by supporting each other": one congregation's story of stimulus relief fund redistribution

21 May 2020 at 22:25

The UUA's Organizing Strategy Team has been encouraging Unitarian Universalists who have the "privilege of enough" to redistribute all or part of their stimulus checks (or the monetary equivalent) to grassroots organizations working to build freedom for all people through the UUs #ShareMyCheck campaign.  The following is a story of one congregation who has acted boldly and prophetically to do just this.  If you plan on redistributing your check, or have already given to freedom organizations with your stimulus money, please sign the pledge so we can track how much money UUs are redistributing in this time. 


Members of Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, 2018

Members of Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, 2018

“We will get there, heaven knows how we will get there, but we know we will.”

We are living in a time of crisis, a time of fear, and a time of pandemic. We are also living in a time of great creativity, beautiful acts of solidarity, and we are always living in a time that is capable of love.

The leadership at the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago has been approaching this current moment with intentionality and dedication to our shared values. Like nearly every other UU church, we have moved our Sunday services online, we are doing children’s faith development classes over zoom, and we are figuring out how to keep everyone connected to one another. It is a struggle, of course, but a struggle we are engaged in together.

Among our shared ministry efforts is a commitment to redistributing funds members and friends of the church received via the government stimulus bill. Many of those at 2U are in a financially stable place, even as this pandemic continues. We had discussions among Board leadership and finance committee leadership to decide how we might go about collecting and sharing this money.

We recognized that Congress failed to get enough financial assistance to many people and that the restrictions on access to the funds disproportionately impact those who are most vulnerable right now. We recognized that as a church we had our own financial needs. Our pledge campaign had been winding down and we were not quite at the place we hoped we would be as a church. Should we be asking people to donate their stimulus money to support the ministry of the church? Would asking people to donate their stimulus money for redistribution reduce how much they pay on their pledge? Should we be redistributing the money within our own membership to those who may be struggling? There were many questions that we discussed.

A decision was made. We would encourage church members and friends to make a specific donation marked as CoronaCash that we would collect and redistribute to those who needed it more. A letter was sent out to the congregation, which you can read HERE. Whether one could donate 100%, 50%, or 1% of the money received via the stimulus bill, it would all be welcome. Our church would keep zero of what was donated in this campaign. We accepted nominations of organizations that were giving cash directly to undocumented folks, homeless folks, and other people in our area who either were excluded by the stimulus bill or who may have even greater financial need than what was being made available. We committed to only give to efforts that would give cash directly to individuals.

As of May 17th we raised and distributed our first installment of CoronaCash. We were able to distribute $5,750. We sent $2,000 to a campaign giving $500 to homeless adults in Chicago, $1,000 to a group giving cash assistance to undocumented people on the Westside of the city, $1,000 to an organization giving cash assistance to transgender women of color on the Southside of the city, $1,000 to an organization giving direct support to sex workers across the city, and $750 to an organization giving cash cards to homeless youth throughout the city. We continue to raise money to be distributed again, knowing that some of us are just getting our checks in the mail. The intention is to give our last installment out in mid-June, timely distribution has felt important given the extreme need right now.

We continue to have our own financial needs as a congregation. We have received our own financial support from the government through the PPP grants. Our commitment to share the money beyond our community does not negate our own community needs; it highlights the truth that we will only get through this crisis by supporting each other. We journey together with love.

by Rev. Jason Lydon, Minister, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL

A new day for Side with Love

18 June 2021 at 12:52

Unitarian Universalists are often called “the Love People” by our communities who see us out working for justice. From hosting free weddings for LGBTQIA+ people before marriage equality was the law of the land, to taking to the streets as part of the global Climate Strikes, to opening our sanctuaries to protesters fleeing state violence, to organizing with coalition partners to shut down immigration detention facilities, “the Love People” have been showing up for years to embody our values, take courageous action, and build together as a part of broader movements for justice and liberation.  

Sometimes, Unitarian Universalists have shown up holding our congregational banners.  Other times, it’s been at the call of joint UU campaigns like Love Resists or Create Climate Justice.  And sometimes, we’ve rallied together through efforts like UU the Vote, or in our yellow shirts as a part of Side With Love. 

For some UUs, however, it has been confusing to try to understand the relationship between these many different justice campaigns and programs. Too often, the existence of these many “brands” has made the work seem disjointed, or even that issues are in competition with one another for resources and attention. And as a result, we have not always been as aligned, coordinated, or powerful as we could be. 

One thing is clear: the world needs Unitarian Universalists to show up for justice with spiritual grounding, generosity, humility, courage, and concrete skills. At various moments, we may be asked to bring these resources to particular struggles--pushing for electoral justice and voting rights, combating criminalization, working for LGBTQIA+ liberation, resisting climate catastrophe--but fundamentally, these are all facets of our shared work for collective liberation. 

Since its inception, the Side With Love campaign in particular has articulated one of Unitarian Universalism’s most cherished values: that it is a spiritual practice to choose love over fear. The beauty and the power of Side With Love has always been that invitation to be brave, to show up when we’re called, to occupy space with loving resistance rather than fearful retreat. We are most powerful when we understand that all the issues we care most deeply about are fundamentally interlinked, and that each of us has a role to play in building a world in which all people can be free and thrive. When we bring our best selves to our justice work, whichever specific issue or campaign it might be, we are choosing to Side With Love. 

And so, going forward, we are proud to announce that all of the UUA’s justice work will be housed under the Side With Love banner, through which we will continue to offer UUs regular opportunities for political education, spiritual sustenance, skills-based trainings, and mobilizations for action. We will be explicitly building on the infrastructure, organizing experience, relationships, and momentum we developed in 2020 through UU the Vote. In that vein, we will also invite UUs into specific work on issue-based campaigns from time to time: Side With Love will be encouraging people to #UUtheVote in 2022; to #CreateClimateJustice in partnership with the UU Ministry for Earth; and to declare that #LoveResists criminalization, along with our beloved partners at the UU Service Committee. These campaigns will be aligned and coordinated, and part of the overarching organizing strategy of Side With Love. 

To better reflect this intentional integration into Side With Love, we have also re-structured our Organizing Strategy Team--the UUA staff group that holds responsibility for the outward-facing justice ministries and campaigns of the Association. Working together, this team will be focusing on creating an impactful, engaging, nourishing multi-issue hub where UUs come to ground our spirits, grow our skills, and act together for justice. Following this message, you can see brief profiles of each of the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team members, along with contact information and details about the portfolios of work they lead. 

In short: we will still be supporting our partners, congregations, and people of faith and conscience who are concerned about climate justice, decriminalization, democracy, and LGBTQ+ and gender justice as well as other issues that require a faith-filled response. We’re simply being more intentional in our declaration that all our prophetic justice work requires us to Side With Love.

To hear more reflections about how Unitarian Universalists are being called to Side With Love in the coming time, and ways to get involved, join our team at UUA General Assembly for our live workshop, “Harvesting Lessons, Planting Seeds: Reflections on Organizing, 2016-2021” on Thursday, June 24, 5:00-6:30pm ET/2:00-3:30pm PT. Check out all our General Assembly offerings here.  

We are so grateful for the ways Unitarian Universalists continue to Side With Love in so many ways, and in so many places. The work that lies ahead of us is immense, but we know that we carry on the legacy of generations before us who have brought us to this point. We are excited for our next phase together, and we can’t wait to build with you. We are so glad to be in the struggle together. 

In faith and solidarity,

The Rev. Ashley Horan, UUA Organizing Strategy Director 

On behalf of Side With Love’s Organizing Strategy Team

Meet your Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

The Rev. Ashley Horan (she/her) is the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Director, and leads the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team. In this role, Ashley shapes the big-picture vision and goals for the UUA’s outward-facing justice work, advises senior UUA leadership on justice-related issues, and supervises the staff team that designs and implements the work of Side With Love and all its related programs and campaigns.  

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Nicole Pressley (she/her), formerly the National Organizer for UU the Vote, now serves as Field & Programs Director, and as a member of the Side With Love leadership team. In this role, Nicole supervises the team of field organizers, and creates opportunities for UUs to engage in leadership development, skill building, and collective action.

Everette Thompson (he/him), formerly the Campaign Manager for Side With Love, now serves as Political Education & Spiritual Sustenance Strategist, and as a member of the Side With Love leadership team. In this role, Everette designs opportunities for UUs to deepen their political grounding and analysis of critical justice issues and movements, and offers ways for people to nurture and sustain their spirits as they engage in long-haul work for justice. 

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Audra Friend (she/her) serves the Side With Love team as Data, Communications, and Technology Specialist. In this role, Audra creates the technical infrastructure that makes our digital organizing possible, and supports the creation of compelling narratives that link our values to our actions for justice. 

Susan Leslie (she/her) currently serves as our Coalitions & Partnerships Organizer, after 29 years on UUA staff in a wide variety of justice-related roles. As a part of the field organizing team, Susan focuses on supporting strong, accountable connections between UU congregations, frontline movement partners, and faith-based coalitions. Beginning July 1, Susan will be working 60% time in her last year on staff before retiring in July 2022. 

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The Rev. Michael Crumpler (he/him), Multicultural & LGBTQIA+ Programs Director, is based in the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group, and contributes 40% of his time to the Side With Love team. Michael holds Side With Love’s LGBTQIA+ and gender justice organizing, oversees the UUA’s Welcoming Congregations program, and publishes the Uplift newsletter and blog. 

Aly Tharp (she/her or they/them) is the UU Ministry For Earth (UUMFE) Director of Programs and Partnerships, and serves as an ad hoc member of the Side With Love team. In this role, she serves as a liaison between the UUA and the ecosystem of UU climate justice organizing, and oversees Create Climate Justice, a joint project of the UUA and UUMFE. Aly collaborates and advises on climate- and earth-justice related organizing and strategy. 

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We’re consolidating our various email newsletters to reflect our new focus. To subscribe to our newsletters or update your subscription info, please visit https://sidewithlove.org/subscribe.



General Assembly 2021 is over. Now what?

1 July 2021 at 15:10

Each year, thousands of Unitarian Universalists gather together for our annual General Assembly (GA), where we learn about cutting edge thinking and practices in our faith, do the business of the Association, and join our hearts and our spirits together in worship, song, and action. This year’s GA was the second in which we assembled not in an overly-air conditioned convention center, but in online chat spaces and Zoom rooms and livestreams. And even though so many of us are yearning for the in-the-flesh experience of being together, this was a truly remarkable, soul-expanding week that underscored for all of us that the heart of Unitarian Universalist faith is love, and that the expression of that faith is our shared work for justice. 

Some highlights from the week:

  • Our Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team was thrilled to see so many of you in our on-demand and live workshops (and we look forward to sharing some highlights and content from them in the coming weeks with those of you who did not attend GA, too!). We were especially excited to share our learnings coming out of the just-published UU the Vote report, and to publicly debut Side With Love’s new Action Center!

  • We were also incredibly touched by your generosity in donating to the Side With Love special collection on Saturday, which raised nearly $33,000. Thank you so much for making the work possible. (If you would still like to make a gift, text SWL to 91999 or click here.)

  • On Saturday, we partnered with African American Roundtable in phonebanking in support of a moral budget for Milwaukee, with less funding for racist policing and more resources for real social supports and structures of safety and stability for the people. More than 30 of you joined us in calling, and together we made more than 550 calls, and had more than 50 deep canvassing conversations with Milwaukee residents--many of which led to commitments of deeper engagement and support from the people we reached. Join us on July 8th for the next chance to join us and the African American Roundtable in support of the #LiberateMKE campaign!

  • Building a democracy where everyone has a voice and where those historically excluded from systems of governance find justice, is a fight that continues beyond election seasons. Our co-Ware lecturers at General Assembly, Stacey Abrams and Desmond Meade, gave rousing commentary on what it means to build just and democratic futures for us all. It included passing legislation like the For the People Act and John Lewis Act to expand access to voting rights, remove money from politics, end harmful gerrymandering, and restore critical elements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It also includes resisting the criminalization of protests and people with marginalized identities that move us closer to justice and liberation. And it includes partnering with those most impacted to dismantle systems of oppression and collectively reimagine communities and the systems that help us thrive. 

  • Finally, we were inspired by the ways Unitarian Universalists engage in the democratic process together to articulate our shared values and call for embodied work for justice. This year, we were heartened to see the decisive votes that our delegates cast in favor of this year’s Statement of Conscience (“Undoing Systemic White Supremacy”), and the resounding affirmation of three Actions of Immediate Witness declaring our support for systemic solutions to address the devastation caused by COVID-19; our call to defend and advocate with transgender, nonbinary, and intersex Communities; and the urgency of defending democracy and combating voter suppression. 

It is always a gift to be together in worship, action, and embodying in the democratic process. We are grateful for all of you who engaged in GA activities with us, and with our siblings in faith. Stay tuned for many more opportunities coming soon to join us in the work as we continue to Circle ‘Round for Freedom, Justice, and Courage.

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In faith and solidarity,

Rev. Ashley Horan, UUA Organizing Strategy Director

On behalf of the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

Meet Side With Love's new Congregational Justice Organizer!

30 August 2021 at 15:46
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A note from Nicole Pressley, Field and Programs Director:

Whether you’re talking about organizing or Unitarian Universalism, you don’t get very far without mentioning the centrality of relationship, community, and learning. As a living faith, we commit to transforming ourselves and our world as we build beloved community. 

This is why I am excited to announce that Rev. Ranwa Hammamy will be joining the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Team as the new Congregational Justice Organizer. The OST is the base for all of the UUA’s outward-facing justice ministries, including UU the Vote, Side With Love, Love Resists, Create Climate Justice, and more. Rev. Ranwa’s skill, commitment to racial justice-rooted organizing, and invitational leadership are markers of their powerful justice ministry that have supported organizations like UU Justice Ministry of California and Diverse Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Ministries.  

As we build Side With Love’s organizing capacity and infrastructure, we’re looking forward to Rev. Ranwa sharing their powerful leadership to support congregational and local teams. By building new and stronger relationships with our Unitarian Universalist communities, we can create deeply connected networks of leaders to grow our impact, learn from one another, and reflect on collective work.  

I am so grateful that Rev. Ranwa has chosen to join our team and look forward to how they will support our congregations and leaders in transformational justice work. Come welcome Rev. Ranwa Hammamy in their new position at our Side With Love Action Center launch on Sunday, September 12, 2pm EST/1pm CST/ 12pm MST/11am PST.


Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

I am humbled and excited to join the Organizing Strategy Team as a Congregational Justice Organizer! 

I became a Unitarian Universalist in 2010, joining the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia and its choir. Every Sunday, when I sat in the choir pews, a flag swayed gently above my head, embroidered with an image of one of Unitarianism’s most prophetic ancestors – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Over the years, I’ve come to learn so much about and from Harper’s bold and courageous faith, and how it motivated her perseverant work for abolition, universal suffrage, economic justice, gender equality, and more. As a Unitarian Universalist & Muslim, I hold a deep appreciation of how her lived faith wove together her African Methodist Episcopal roots and her Unitarian wings. 

I know that what I believe and how I act are inextricably connected. Whether it is teaching anti-racism in a Sunday school classroom in New York, interrupting inhumane immigration proceedings in San Diego, or protesting the desecration of sacred lands by Enbridge in Minnesota, my actions are out of a joyful obligation to my beliefs. 

As the Congregational Justice Organizer with the Organizing Strategy Team, I am excited to learn about, celebrate, connect, and support the ways YOU have found to live out your faith. Serving as the Executive Director of the UU Justice Ministry of California showed me how vibrant and varied our congregational justice ministries can be, and that is in just one state! I am eager to get to know you, your teams, your communities, your work, your dreams, your struggles, and your strengths, and help build those bridges that motivate bold and courageous action. And I am ESPECIALLY excited to meet you at the launch of the Side with Love Action Center on Sunday, September 12 at 2pm EST!

RSVP now

Our world is at a turning point, and we have the power and responsibility to choose its direction. As Harper once wrote, “Are there not wrongs to be righted?” We can choose to continue the cycles of racism, capitalism, and imperialism by restoring the white supremacist status-quo that pretends to look like “change” when it knows we are tired or scared. Or, we can be bold and courageous like our ancestor Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and take new action in faith-rooted and collective ways. 

Through our collective faith-rooted work, Unitarian Universalist congregations can be epicenters of imagination and generativity. We have already witnessed this power. In the past 18 months our communities have met unfathomable challenges, grief, violence, and destruction with adaptability, resilience, steadfastness, love, and creativity. Our congregations have been physical and virtual spaces where we have sustained each other, remembered that we are always part of something larger than ourselves, and effectively embraced our shared power. And with the Side with Love Action Center, our congregations will grow even stronger as integral spaces for our interconnected work for liberation. By coming together on Sunday, September 12 for the Action Center Launch with others in your congregation – committee members, established justice teams, or anyone you think might be interested in organizing together within your community – you will be part of the next phase of our prophetic work as a faith. 

We face challenging times ahead, just as we and our ancestors have endured before. As individuals and congregations, we affirm and live by a set of principles that are not reserved for our most comfortable or privileged moments, but that speak the deepest truth in the most difficult and uncertain times of our lives. We all have parts to play in building that interconnected web of liberation, gifts that you and your congregation can bring, truths that your community and partners can share, and a faith that achieves its fullest potential and power when we come together to connect, create, act, and Side with Love. We need you – we all need each other – to build with us our new Side with Love Action Center so together we can build a bold, courageous, and liberated world.

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Congregational Justice Organizer

Meet Side With Love's new Congregational Justice Organizer!

Join us for our virtual Action Center Launch event this Sunday

10 September 2021 at 14:23

In the midst of devastating climate change, the appalling stripping away of voting and reproductive rights, the criminalization of migration, and the state sanctioned violence of policing - it can feel as though we are powerless to stop the tides of oppression. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

This Sunday is our Side With Love Action Center Launch, where we will come together as communities and as a faith and claim our collective power. We will learn from leaders of critical campaigns, and begin to mobilize within our own congregations and communities to make life-saving, liberation-cultivating change.

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We are excited to have Aquene Freechild (Co-Director of Public Citizen’s “Democracy is for People” campaign), Rev. Tamara Lebak (Founder of the Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma), and Cherri Foytlin (Founder of the L’Eau Est La Vie Camp in Louisiana) sharing their wisdom and calls to communal action that will have an impact. And we will build our interdependent web of liberation within and between our congregations as we mobilize in intentional, relational, and sustainable ways.  

We know you wouldn’t be here with us if you did not believe another world is possible, and that we have the power to make it come to life. As we organize and activate our campaigns for Climate Justice, Decriminalization, LGBTQ+ & Gender Justice, and Democracy & Voting Rights, we need you to bring your faith in that liberated world, and your commitment to moving us towards it. 

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Sunday’s Action Center Launch is a turning point, not just for Unitarian Universalists, but for our world. Today we face those tides of oppression together, knowing that we are rooted in something stronger, more powerful, and more true than their violence. Today, tomorrow, and every day after, we will build interconnected teams, take impactful action, and change the world with our collective love. 

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In faith, justice, and power,

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Congregational Justice Organizer

PS - There’s still time to invite others in your congregation to join your team and sign up for today’s launch! Send them the event sign up page so they can be a part of our movement!


Ground, Grow, & Act Together: the Action Center has launched!

14 September 2021 at 11:36

On Sunday, September 12th, hundreds of UU gathered for the launch of the new Side With Love Action Center: a place where we can ground, grow, and act together. As we move into this recovery, we cannot go back to normal. The Side With Love Action Center is a place to harness the power of our faith to contend with the systems of oppression that create multiple, intersecting crises. Our justice campaigns (Creating Climate Justice, UU the Vote, LGBTQ ministries and Love Resists) are joining together to skill up our commun ity, take action to advance our values, and build grassroots power to confront injustice on the national and local levels. 

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At the launch, our speakers  Cherri Foylin (L’eau Est La Vie (Water is Life) Camp), Aquene Freechild (Public Citizen), and Rev. Tamara Lebak (Restorative Justice Institute of Oklahoma), joined us to talk about how interlocking systems of oppression are impacting our communities and invited us into the work of building beloved community. 

We know our battles and our lives are bound together. Let’s mobilize our folx across our justice campaigns to show up at this critical moment. With so much at stake, now is the time to build moral courage and stronger organizing capacity to win for our communities. 

In case you missed it!  

How to get started!

  1. Watch the Action Center launch video individually or with our congregation

  2. Download and review the Launch Guide

  3. Join us for the following Action Center events:

    1. Join us for the the first Action Center action and political education event: From #NoDAPL to #StopLine3: Water Protectors, Movement Building, and Solidarity Tuesday, September 14, 2021 8:00 PM -  9:30 PM ET

    2. Come to the Volunteer Squad Activation Huddle: Sunday, September 26, 2021 4:00 PM -  5:30 PM ET

    3. Join the Community of Praxis Gathering: Monday, October 25, 2021 7:00 PM -  8:30 PM ET

    4. Join the next Skill Up: Sunday, October 17, 2021 4:00 PM -  5:30 PM ET

  4. Organize your congregation to host an Action Center event

  5. Tell your story and report your work with the Story & Report Form  

Actions and Political Education for your Teams!

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UU the Vote: Democracy & Voting Rights

Political Education 

Actions 

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Create Climate Justice

Political Education 

Actions

  • Stop the Money Pipeline to divest from Fossil Fuels 
    Support folx impacted by Hurricane Ida

  • Members of the Congressional ‘Squad’ – including Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Cori Bush – have joined together to call on President Biden to stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. This action has elevated our call to stop Line 3. Now we need to continue this momentum and build more pressure on President Biden to act. Here are two ways you can help right now:

  1. Call the White House: Demand that Biden’s Administration revoke the Line 3 permit immediately. Click here for a sample script and the number to call.

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Love Resists: criminalization, deportation, and detention

Actions 

BREAKING NEWS! On Monday the Oklahoma Board of Pardons voted to make a recommendation to Governor Stitt to commute the death sentence of Julius Jones. A huge Justice for Julius interfaith and community rally was held after our Action Launch (Sunday, Sept. 12th) at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

Very soon there will be next steps and action to urge Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to listen to the recommendation of the Oklahoma Parole Board. Please check www.justiceforjulius.com/events which will be updated soon for how to take action on the Governor.

Oklahoma is ground zero for the restorative justice movement, see https://www.restorativejusticeok.org/ for resources, training, and ways to connect. 

Ground, Grow, & Act Together: the Action Center has launched!

Opportunities to be in Solidarity with Water Protectors

16 September 2021 at 10:46

On September 14, we hosted “From #NoDAPL to #StopLine3: Water Protectors, Movement Building and Solidarity,” featuring a conversation with Michael “Rattler” Markus and the Rev. Karen Van Fossan.

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We heard compelling testimony from both of our guests about the powerful organizing of the Water Protectors, the through-lines of movement organizing across time and space, the role of multinational corporations in violating treaty rights, and the impacts of our government’s ongoing criminalization of protest, free speech, and actions of conscience. We are so grateful for their wisdom and leadership.

Building on the energy and inspiration of last night’s storytelling, Side With Love invites you to use last night’s conversation as an on-ramp into the cycle of learning, growth, and action as part of our wide network of faithful organizers and activists.

LEARN

GROW

ACT

LETTER WRITING ADVOCATING FOR PARDONS

At the request of Michael “Rattler” Markus and the other #NoDAPL political prisoners, those of us on the call last night committed to a practice of writing letters to President Biden, urging him to pardon the five #NoDAPL political prisoners. Here is your step by step guide for honoring this request for solidarity:

Type or neatly hand write your own letter using dark ink on 8 ½ x 11” white paper. Letters should be addressed to:

President Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave

Washington, D.C. 20500

Include the following points in your letter:

1) YOUR CONNECTION TO THE ISSUE: What motivates you to write about this issue? Situate yourself with context, such as:

I’m a person of faith who believes we are called to protect the earth as a sacred gift…

I’m a climate activist who has been personally involved in the pipeline struggles…

I’m an American citizen who is deeply concerned about the anti-democratic trend toward criminalizing the exercise of free speech through protest...

2) A REQUEST FOR PRESIDENT BIDEN TO ISSUE PARDONS TO:

Red Fawn Fallis/Janis

Michael “Little Feather” Giron

Michael “Rattler” Markus

Dion Ortiz

James White

3) WHY THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO:

  • Our Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and assembly, and criminalizing protest is a threat to democracy. Water Protectors should have never been arrested, charged with federal crimes, or incarcerated.

  • Our Constitution is supposed to honor treaties with sovereign Indigenous nations, and the Dakota Access Pipeline--like Line 3, Keystone XL, and all pipelines--is a violation of treaty law that Indigenous people have every right to resist.

  • Our climate is in crisis, and the Water Protector movement is morally just. President Biden has committed to combating climate change, and should honor the Water Protectors’ leadership by pardoning these five political prisoners who were wrongly convicted for their witness.

4) Now organize your congregation or community!

  • Reach out to 10 of your friends, share these resources with them, and invite them to join you on zoom or in person (where safe) for a letter-writing party.

  • Recruit your congregation’s climate justice, racial justice, or social justice team to sponsor a letter writing party after services on Sunday, or at another time.

DONATE TO SUPPORT #NoDAPL POLITICAL PRISONERS

As we heard last night, the #NoDAPL political prisoners continue to experience the financial impacts of their trials and incarceration. Part of our ongoing commitment to solidarity is “leveraging our spiritual, financial, human, and infrastructural resources in support of Water Protectors, especially those who face ongoing charges and prison sentences, and their loved ones.” In that spirit, we ask you to make a donation to the UU Ministry for Earth’s #NoDAPL Political Prisoner Support fund, which will direct all contributions directly to the Water Protectors.

We’re so grateful to be in the struggle with all of you at the intersection of our shared work for climate justice, democracy, and decriminalization.

In faith and solidarity,

The Rev. Ashley Horan

Organizing Strategy Director

Side With Love - UUA

The People Need the Freedom to Vote

22 September 2021 at 17:31

After incredible organizing and mobilization of voters for the 2020 election cycle, we caught a glimpse of what real democracy looks like. We not only witnessed the power of the people, we collectively claimed it. Next week the Freedom to Vote Act will be coming up for a vote in the Senate, to help us keep power in the people’s hands. 

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All around the country, there have been attempts - some successful - to restrict the freedom to vote for millions of Americans. These efforts to restrict voting rights strategically harm communities of color, young voters, disabled voters, and new citizens. The freedom to vote has never been fully realized in this country, and despite that we have organized for significant changes and wins. But we cannot stop there. Take action to support the Freedom to Vote Act today!

The Freedom to Vote Act is a bold and necessary move towards real democracy. It includes provisions that would expand equitable access to voter registration across the country, such as requiring automatic voter registration systems through state DMVs, access to online voter registration, and same-day voter registration at all polling locations by 2024. 

Voting itself would become more accessible, with the requirement of at least 15 consecutive days of early in-person voting, no-excuse mail voting for all voters in federal elections, accessible drop boxes, an easy way to cure deficient ballots, and the inclusion of all provisional ballots for eligible races in a county

And the Freedom to Vote Act includes protections that prevent future efforts to restrict voters’ rights. It bans partisan gerrymandering and redistricting, reduces the influence of corporations or wealthy donors through increased disclosure requirements, and protects election officials from intimidation or undue influence by partisan poll watchers.  

Friends, the Freedom to Vote Act is a reflection of our commitment to justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, particularly as it relates to governance and our responsibility to care for one another. And because of its promotion of real democracy, there are efforts in the Senate to block or defeat it. We cannot let the collective power of the people be denied. That’s why the timing for reaching out to our Senators now is so key. UUs are continuing to come together with organizers around the country to take strategic action to protect the freedom to vote, and we need you to:

Join a Meeting with Your Senator

UUs for Social Justice (UUSJ) in DC will be holding direct federal advocacy meetings with Senate staff on Voting Rights (both Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act) from the following states: Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, and Wisconsin. We need your help & will train and orient you! If you want to participate please fill out this form. If you are from Alabama, Alaska, or Arizona please email anna@uusj.org.

Phonebank to Voters in Arizona & West Virginia

Join Common Cause for one (or more!) of its daily phonebanks to voters in Arizona and West Virginia to advocate for the Freedom to Vote Act and an end to the filibuster that is preventing the passage of liberatory legislation. 

Get Ready, Stay Ready!

We’re here to bend the arc for as long as it takes, and that means staying connected and supported. Stay tuned for an upcoming Pop-Up virtual event following the Senate’s vote on the Freedom to Vote Act next week, so we can sustain our spirits in the movement and plan our next actions!

We know that the moral arc of the universe is long, and that it bends towards justice. But it needs our hands, hearts, and faith to do so. You can take strategic action to promote and protect voting rights today, by showing your support for the Freedom to Vote Act as part of the long-haul movement towards real democracy

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In faith and justice,

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Congregational Justice Organizer, Side With Love

The People Need the Freedom to Vote

How do we build hope? Social Witness Convenings on Oct 6 and 13

23 September 2021 at 13:02
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Paulo Freire wrote that “to do without hope, in the struggle to improve the world, is a frivolous illusion.”

How do we build hope? When we share our stories, move together for justice, and side with love we build hope! We know this and yet as co-chairs of the Commission on Social Witness, Alison and I have learned that hope is in short supply.

Folx are overwhelmed, and it’s no wonder! The sheer scale of challenges we face in our personal lives coping with the pandemic, and in our hurting world, is unprecedented.

Attacks on the transgender and gender nonconforming community, erosion of our basic right to vote, environmental crises leveling poor and POCI communities, and a global pandemic devastating folx who are already laboring in harsh conditions and lacking basic healthcare. We are all in need of some potent hope!

That is why Alison and I have created two hope-filled evenings - UU Social Witness Convenings on Oct. 6 & 13 - to gather together and side with love. We have invited 20+ speakers who are doing amazing work with inspiring organizations (including TRUUsT, BLUU, DRUUMM, ARE, UUJEC, UUSJ, State Action Networks in AZ and NC, the UUA Administration and Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team staff, and more) to come together, share stories of justice, and fill our hearts and minds with tangible ways to get our hope going! 

We are enthusiastically inviting you to join us for two gatherings to make connections, get inspired, and start building more justice and more hope in our world. Let’s gather, inspire, and launch social witness action! The two events will focus on four critical social justice statements. We affirmed and adopted these statements at General Assembly 2021, now let’s act on them!

  • “Undoing Systemic White Supremacy: A Call to Prophetic Action"

  • “Defend and Advocate with Transgender, Nonbinary, and Intersex Communities”

  • “Stop Voter Suppression and Partner for Voting Rights and a Multiracial Democracy” 

  • “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Justice. Healing. Courage.” 

Check out the complete list of fabulous speakers and details.

Sign up for one or both events:

All UUs are invited--no prior experience or knowledge is necessary! The meeting will take place via Zoom. Zoom accessibility features are outlined here at this link

Alison and I cannot wait to gather with other UUs, bear witness to what each of our guests is doing, and share ways everyone can get involved in making justice a reality, no matter what our resources or bandwidth might be. We UUs are called to bring forth the beloved community as much as we can in this life. Let’s keep hope and justice going!


Blessings of Hope and Resilience,

Pippin Whitaker & Alison Aguilar Lopez Gutierrez McLeod

Co-Chairs, UUA Commission on Social Witness

How do we build hope? Social Witness Convenings on Oct 6 and 13

We’ll get there, we know we will

1 October 2021 at 19:20

Some days, it’s not about the “victories.” In our commitment to Side With Love and co-create a world where all thrive, some days are about the steadfast action we take knowing that there isn’t a sure “victory” coming. This is true for all of our moments. We continue to learn, build skills, and cultivate relationships to build power to win for our communities. 

Right now so much is at stake and so many of our communities suffer under the violence of white supremacy and capitalism. Whether you’re organizing for a multi-racial democracy, to stop pipelines and build a fossil free future, to stop deportations, or win reproductive and gender justice, this moment feels rough. While we can never promise victory, we can promise that no movement has been successful without the sustained actions and collective support of the community. 

Join us for one of our regular organizing opportunities at the Side With Love Action Center.

Ima

Today, everyday, we harness love’s power for liberation. Sustaining ourselves for the long-term movement means resourcing ourselves to make it through the moments when “the road will be muddy and rough.” Building our networks, capacity, and resilience means taking intentional and strategic action that at first glance may not appear to be moving us forward. But a closer look at those moments when there may not appear to be “victories” in political arenas reveals a different kind of victory - one of our persevering faith. 

We have been working with broad coalitions to get care and safety for our communities, renewable energy policies, a path to citizenship, and democracy reform through the Build Back Better and Freedom to Vote Acts currently stalled in Congress. It’s been a very hard few weeks as we witness the lack of accountability to the impacted people who should be at the center of shaping these policies. Instead we see migrants left out, indigenous sovereignty ignored, and moves for more cuts in funding to economic justice and safety programs, while billions of subsidies to fossil fuel companies and false climate solutions in the legislation are ignored and pipeline projects move forward. 

We need massive investments in climate, care, and justice to transform our economy and our world. We need to build multiracial democracy and secure access to the ballot for millions of people who face restrictions and obstacles to casting their vote. And so, we continue mobilizing and building powerful people’s movements that follow Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and impacted communities who have clear pathways for how we build back better for all. We will get there.

That’s why we began the start of this congregational year with the launch of our Side with Love Action Center. We know it is going to take all of us, finding our roles, taking the next step, learning and coming together in one hub -- UUs and our partners - for collective action and community support. You can also join our Side with Love Squads and meet up on our Slack channel.

This is a time to speak truth to power and fight together for our values and our people. As our UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray says -- This is no time for a casual faith!

Find one or more actions you can take here at the Action Center and invite others to join you.

October Actions:

  • Oct 2: Women’s March for Abortion Justice. Find one near you.

  • Oct. 6 & 13: Social Witness Convenings on Actions of Immediate Witness for defending transgender communities, protecting voting rights, just recovery from the pandemic, and Statement of Conscience on undoing systemic white supremacy.

  • Oct.11-15: People vs. Fossil Fuels Week of Action. Join the multi-faith delegation

  • Oct. 17-18: #Faiths4ClimateJustice Global Multifaith Action, two weeks before the global climate negotiations to make our demands clear. Find actions near you.  

  • Petition for the People’s Response Act that redefines public safety as public health and funds community-based approaches.

Let’s continue to call Congress and tell them to pass the Build Back Better Act--with no cuts and a path to citizenship, the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Together, we can build faithful power to win all we can for our communities and get ready to UU the Vote for the 2022 electoral season. 

Change will not come by advancing timid, weak policies. Liberation will not come by maintaining the status quo. Winning will take bold imagining, time and effort, care and investment, and organizing. It will take faith.

In solidarity,

UUA Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team

Rev. Ashley Horan, Organizing Strategy Director

Nicole Pressley, Field and Programs Director

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Congregational Justice Organizer

Susan Leslie, Coalitions & Partnerships Organizer

Audra Friend, Digital Communications, Data & Technology Specialist

Rev. Michael Crumpler, LGBTQ & Multicultural Programs Director

Adrian Ballou, LGBTQ & Multicultural Programs Intern

Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, Side with Love Squad Coordinator

Aly Tharp, UU Ministry for Earth Programs Director

We’ll get there, we know we will

Join us in honoring Indigenous People’s Day and activating our faith

6 October 2021 at 22:12

In 2020, the General Assembly passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW), “Address 400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism”, calling on UUs to knit together our commitment to justice with our need for reconciliation. As we approach Indigenous People’s Day on October 11th, we consider the actions and transformation that must happen to fulfil the promise and the call of that AIW.

One of the UUA’s four intersectional justice priorities is climate justice, with a specific focus on mobilizing in solidarity with Indigenous frontline communities. Our commitment from renouncing the Doctrine of Discovery, to supporting the Standing Rock water protectors, to the ongoing resistance to extractive projects like Line 3 that are violating Indigenous sovereignty across Turtle Island, gives us the grounding to accountably join this struggle.

The ravages we have seen in just these past few months from fire, floods, drought, and oil spills and the disrespect of and state-sanctioned violence against sovereign Indigenous communities demand that we act. Join us in honoring Indigenous People’s Day and activating our faith by answering the call for action on Indigenous sovereignty and climate justice. 

Here are 3 ways your groups can take action.

Use the Action Center Guide for tips on how to organize and add your events to the Side With Love calendar

Side with

Amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples in the struggle for sovereignty and climate justice. Host a viewing and discussion of The Condor & The Eagle, a powerful and award-winning documentary that offers a glimpse into a developing spiritual renaissance as the film's protagonists learn from each other’s long legacy of resistance to colonialism and its extractive economy.

Executive producer, UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), has made this film available for viewing anytime between October 11 through November 30th. Click here for details.

Multiply your impact by joining the UUA, UUMFE and Green Faith for Faiths 4 Climate Justice: A Global Multi-religious Action on October 17 and 18.

Side With Love and partners will be hosting a virtual, national “UUs 4 Climate Justice” action on October 18th at 7pm ET / 4pm PT, as a part of this global mobilization, calling for President Biden to issue pardons for the five #NoDAPL political prisoners and to Build Back Fossil Fuel Free. 

Ground your work by hosting or joining a local action (check out the map to see what’s already in motion). Partnership and community accountability is how we build a strong movement. Activate your team or congregation to show up in your communities for climate justice on October 18. Remember to Add Your Event to the Action Center Calendar, in addition to the GreenFaith map (linked above)!

UU Leaders Take Direct Action This Week to Create Climate Justice 

UU leaders across the country, including the UUA’s Susan Leslie, are also answering the call to Create Climate Justice by joining the People vs. Fossil Fuels Week of Action Multi-Faith Delegation in Washington, D.C, today through Oct. 15th. We join UUMFE and GreenFaith as co-sponsors of this event, where UUs will join other people of faith and conscience in civil disobedience, demanding the Biden administration use their executive power to stop and revoke all approvals for new fossil fuel projects and declare and address a climate emergency and launch a just, renewable energy revolution. 

These actions come just as Congress is wrangling with the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation and before the November UN Climate Change Conference COP26 and will push our elected officials to end the era of fossil fuels and climate catastrophe. Beginning on Indigenous People’s Day, each day's civil disobedience action will highlight what is driving the climate crisis and what we need to do to build a fossil free economy. Indigenous Environmental Network will be livestreaming and promoting ways to support from afar throughout the week. 

Thank you for mobilizing to create Climate Justice in solidarity with Indigenous frontline leaders, this Indigenous Peoples Day and beyond.

In faith and solidarity,

Your Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

P.S. Get support, share stories and build a community of practice! 

Join our first monthly Community Meeting on October 25, 7-8:30pm EST/4-5:30pm PT to share how your actions went, connect with other UU organizers and faith leaders doing similar work, and learn more about our Side With Love campaigns and how you can get involved. 

Sign up today!

Will you Side with Love for climate justice?

15 October 2021 at 16:55

I’ve just returned home from the People vs. Fossil Fuels Week of Action in Washington, D.C., deeply inspired by the bold direct actions taken by Indigenous leaders, multifaith clergy and lay leaders (including 40 UUs), youth, and hundreds of people who are putting everything on the line for climate justice. We engaged in civil disobedience and witness at the White House, at the Army Corps of Engineers, at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior, and Congress.  Now, we need to keep up the pressure and build our power as Congress works to pass the Build Back Better legislation and the US sends representatives to the UN COP26 Conference on Climate Change next month. 

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This coming Sunday and Monday, Oct. 17-18, Unitarian Universalists are joining the global Faiths 4 Climate Justice mobilization hosted by GreenFaith and co-sponsored by the UUA, UU Ministry for Earth and many other faith partners.

Take Action With US

  1. See if there is a local event you can participate in: check out the action map

  2. Join Side With Love’s virtual, national action rally “UUs 4 Climate Justice” on October 18th at 7pm ET / 6 CT / 5 MT / 4pm PT
    Join this online #Faiths4ClimateJustice offering for any UUs with no local or online action accessible to them. UUs around the country will gather to celebrate today's actions around the world, witness, and take action ourselves. Featuring Rev. Amy Brooks Paradise of GreenFaith, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy of Side with Love, and more. RSVP for this national climate action!


  3. Amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples in the struggle for sovereignty and climate justice. Between now and November 30th, host a community viewing and discussion of The Condor & The Eagle, a powerful and award-winning documentary that offers a glimpse into a developing spiritual renaissance as the film's protagonists learn from each other’s long legacy of resistance to colonialism and its extractive economy. Click here for details.

It’s incredibly important to put pressure on President Biden right now, as we approach the COP 26 UN climate talks. Together, we can Side With Love and Create Climate Justice by showing up for this movement moment in solidarity with frontline leaders who have spent the past week risking arrest in Washington, D.C. to call on President Biden to reject false solutions and commit to a rapid and just transition away from an extractive economy. Will you Side with Love for climate justice?

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In faith and solidarity, 

Aly Tharp,

UU Ministry for Earth Co-Director of Programs

and

Partnerships and  the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

Will you Side with Love for climate justice?

BREAKING: Senate Blocks the Freedom to Vote Act! Join us tomorrow!

20 October 2021 at 17:02

We know that undemocratic processes lead to undemocratic outcomes. Over 70% of Americans support the Freedom to Vote Act. For decades, the will of the people has been denied due to the fundamental inequities in our institutions. Today, Senate Republicans blocked the Freedom to Vote Act, refusing to even open the floor for debate. This legislation is essential to realizing the promise of our democracy. It will create national standards for how elections are run, protect and expand the right to vote, and end partisan and racialized gerrymandering. It will create a campaign finance system that ensures that elected officials are accountable to the voters who elected them. It will bring down barriers preventing millions of people from accessing their right to vote, by mandating automatic, on-line and same day registration, expanded vote by mail, curbside ballot drop-offs and more.

We will not let the Freedom to Vote be denied!

Last year, we joined a broad coalition of organizers, activists and communities to produce the largest voter turnout in history. Today, we are still in the fight for a democracy where all voices are heard. Democracy is a sacred principle because it is how we commit to one another in an accountable relationship. As UUA President Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray reminds us, 

“We know that voting rights alone will not dismantle white supremacy and create equity for all, but they are crucial to building a democratic society in which true justice is possible. We honor all those ancestors who have fought for human dignity, democracy, and justice before us, and remain committed to the shared work of (re)building a free, equitable, robust democracy in the United States.”

Yet fifty US Senators don’t even want to talk about voting rights! We cannot let the Senate block democracy and everything else we have been working for to get justice. Our faith movement has long upheld the sacred right to vote and witnessed for justice and democracy as core principles of our tradition. Today’s vote is just a first move in the current struggle for voting rights. We are coming together with a huge coalition to get this legislation passed.

Join Our Side with Love Freedom to Vote Pop Up for Democracy Virtual Rally on Thursday, October 21st, 7 pm ET/4 pm PT

Let’s come together to connect our communities, sustain our spirits, and take collective, faithful action.

Join the Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team, UUs for Social Justice, and our UU the Vote partners in this crucial moment. 

  • Elizabeth Hira, Spritzer Fellow & Policy Counsel for Democracy Program of Brennan Center for Justice

  • Jennifer Lamson, Senior Advisor for Federal Campaigns & National Initiatives, Democracy Initiative

  • Pablo DeJesus, Executive Director, UUs for Social Justice and Faithful Democracy Coalition

  • Ann Maxwell, All Souls Unitarian Washington, DC James Reeb Voting Rights Project, and biking in the West Virginia to Washington, DC Freedom to Vote Relay happening now!

  • Nicole Pressley, Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team (OST) Field and Program Director (formerly UU the Vote Campaign Director) and other OST members.

We will be taking action together at the rally, calling the White House to tell President Biden to use his full power to ensure the passage of federal voting rights legislation.

This is an historic opportunity and we will get the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the DC Statehood bills passed! We can reverse decades of rising abuse of the Senate rules, especially the filibuster, a Jim Crow relic which has been used in service to white supremacy and corporate and wealthy interests, stopping us from creating humane and just policies for our people. 

The filibuster is being used to protect the dangerous status quo we are living in and to stop the big bold policy changes we need for our communities, from climate and worker justice to health care and child care, to a path to citizenship for our migrant siblings, and investment in BIPOC community safety. Jim Crow era Senate rules are preventing us from building a multi-racial democracy.

Enough is enough! We all worked hard in 2020 to change the power dynamics in our nation to win justice for our communities. The majority was elected to govern, and we must ensure it does so with bold action. The days of allowing the filibuster to delay justice are over, and the fight for filibuster reform is on. Joining this effort is how we can faithfully serve and practice our values to Side with Love now.

Time is of the essence. Our communities are still reeling from the pandemic, climate catastrophes, and systemic inequality. With the 2022 election cycle coming, state legislators have been pushing through voter suppression laws across the country and reinforcing gerrymandered districts. With states across the country attacking our freedom to vote, we need national standards to ensure that we all have equitable access to the ballot.

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 21st,  at 4 pm PT/7 pm ET and encourage others from your congregation, your networks, and community to attend. Join on Zoom or watch the livestream on Facebook.

Love will guide us through the hard night. Love will guide us in this fight. We can change the world with our love. 

In faith and solidarity,

The Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team

BREAKING: Senate Blocks the Freedom to Vote Act! Join us tomorrow!

We’ve reached 58% of the Senate - let’s make it 100%

22 October 2021 at 17:25

Wow -- last night’s Pop Up for Democracy Rally was an amazing event! 

As of this morning, UUs have reached 29 of our 50 US Senators, telling them to pass the Freedom to Vote Act -- that’s 58% of the Senate!

Our efforts are working and we need to keep the pressure on.  In fact, today, the New York Times reported that President Biden is "open to ending the filibuster." 

So, before we do anything else, let’s make sure EVERY Senator hears from us by November 1st - share this link — bit.ly/CallSenate1021and ask everyone you know to take two-minutes to call their Senators!  

We’re grateful you took the time to join us last night and that you made a call -- thank you!

The rest of this includes all the materials from last night’s Pop Up for Democracy Rally, including all the mentioned links, campaigns, events, and other asks. There are so many ways to engage in the vital and crucial work of protecting our democracy and electoral rights, so find the one that works for you!

Amplify the central message of last night’s event: Save the Freedom to Vote Act and end the filibuster:

  • Video of the event

  • PDF of the slide presentation

  • Full video of presentation from Elizabeth Hira, Brennan Center for Justice on why the Freedom to Vote legislation is transformational beyond voting rights (16.5 minutes, we showed 10 mins. last night)

Multiply the impact by inviting more people to join you!

Ground your work by engaging locally in your community and in partnership:

  • Save the Date: Nov Week of Action: The broad coalition that the UUA is part of, Declaration for American Democracy, will soon be unveiling Freedom to Vote - Time to Act Week of Action during the November Congressional Recess that begins on November 11th. There will soon be a website, toolkit to host an action, and a map of actions available soon. Can you pledge to host a November Distributed Action?     

  • How to prepare: Join the October 25 Community of Praxis Meeting to prepare your own November Action!  

Here are the other crucial links from last night:

  • Send a Letter to Your Senator Urging Filibuster Reform  

  • Send a personalized message to your Senator urging them to support the Freedom to Vote Act & John Lewis Voting Rights Act here.  

  • Constituents needed for meetings with Republican Senators from AK, AL, LA, ME OH, PA.   

  • Are you in West Virginia? 

    • Join the Mass Moral Revival and Rally, October 24th at 4pm, featuring Rev. Dr. William Barber and the Poor People's Campaign along with other West Virginia faith leaders, poor and low-wealth West Virginians, and other coalition partners to call on Sen. Manchin to do better.

  • In the DC area? Join other UUs who will be at the following Freedom to Vote Relay events! 

  • From Arizona? Learn about more upcoming actions to pressure Sen. Sinema and build our power at UUJAZ (UU Justice Arizona) Issues & Action Day tomorrow, Saturday, October 23rd.

  • Are you connected with your UU State Action Network? Many of them are working on redistricting and fair maps to counter gerrymandering and other voter suppression efforts.  Check out the Coalition of UU State Action Networks (CUUSAN) to see if there’s one for your state: https://cuusan.org/   

  • From the Fix or Nix the Filibuster Campaign, a Filibuster Reform Toolkit.  

Being with you in this work is so meaningful and we’re grateful to be doing it together. 

In faith and solidarity,

Audra Friend

Side With Love Digital Communications, Technology, and Data Specialist

on behalf of the entire Side With Love team

We're saying 'No' to limits on reproductive rights.

1 November 2021 at 17:10

Right now, abortion is effectively illegal in the state of Texas as SB 8 remains in effect.  Millions of people cannot access critical, often life-saving reproductive health care.  Medical providers are living in fear of being sued for treating their patients.  And private citizens have been deputized as vigilantes, receiving bounties for bringing lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” the provision of abortion services to anyone after 5-6 weeks of gestation. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has refused to block this dangerous and unconstitutional law as the legal challenges to it play out. Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to consider two cases: in the first, brought by the Department of Justice  the court will consider whether the federal government has the right to sue in federal court to block the law’s enforcement in Texas. The second challenge, brought by a coalition of providers, including Planned Parenthood, will assess the law’s unusual private-enforcement structure, which deputizes private individuals to bring lawsuits against doctors, clinics, or anyone else who facilitates access to abortion. 

As Unitarian Universalists, we embrace the reproductive justice framework, which espouses the human right to have children, not to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments, and to safeguard bodily autonomy and to express one's sexuality freely. Rooted in these values, we unequivocally declare that SB 8, and any law that attempts to criminalize reproductive freedom—including abortion care—is morally wrong.


As we await the Court’s final decisions, our hearts and minds are with all who want and need access to abortion on all who desire bodily autonomy and seek to live whole lives free of state interference; and on all who yearn to live in a society free of vigilante justice. 

And, in addition to our thoughts and prayers, our faith calls us to actively and courageously resist such injustice. Here are some ways you and your congregation can take action today:

  • Join people of faith around the country to learn and strategize. Sign up to attend the SACReD Gathering: Faith Communities Reclaiming Reproductive Dignity and Autonomy, January 25-26, 2022. This event will be a first-of-its-kind virtual gathering of justice-oriented people of faith, activists, and leaders from the reproductive health, rights, and justice community. “Grounded in our shared values of justice, dignity, human rights, compassion, and expansive love, we will discover how faith and reproductive liberation are interdependent through keynotes, panel discussions, and breakout sessions.” 

  • Host a Reproductive Justice Sunday in January, 2022. In commemoration of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the ongoing fight for reproductive health, rights, and justice, join UU congregations across the country for a Sunday of solidarity, support, and reflection. We will be providing worship resources (readings, videos, liturgical frameworks) and suggestions for planning your own service in the coming weeks. If you would like to receive more information, sign up here: https://bit.ly/ReproJusticeSunday2022 

May we all commit to fighting for justice and supporting all who are oppressed by laws that jeopardize reproductive freedom. 

In faith and solidarity,

Rev. Ashley Horan

Organizing Strategy Director

on behalf of the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

Every choice we make at the polls can change the course of history.

2 November 2021 at 16:20

Today is Election Day - another chance for us to live into our deep beliefs about the power of the democratic process to create a world in which all people are free and thriving. 
 
Voting is a collective act of discernment and imagination. When we cast our ballots for candidates that reflect our values and laws and ordinances that move us closer to the world we want to live in, we are taking sacred action together. So please--if you have the ability to vote, make sure you get to the polls today. (And if you don’t know how to find your polling place, click here.) 
 
As both early voting and today’s ballots are counted in municipal and state elections around the country, our communities will be directly shaping the future of our country. In Minneapolis, voters will be making historic decisions about public safety and policing. In this year’s only gubernatorial races, Virginia and New Jersey are being seen as bellwethers for national political trends. Voters in Atlanta will choose a mayor who will address a crisis in affordable housing and gentrification. Abortion access, immigration enforcement, protections for trans people, permits for extractive energy infrastructure like oil pipelines--all of these issues are decided and enforced on local and statewide levels. Even in a year without national races, the choices we make at the polls can change the course of history. 
 
Unsurprisingly, there are many powerful interests who fear the collective power of the people. This is our first election since the January 6 insurrection, following months of disinformation seeking to overturn the results of the most secure, legitimate election in American history. Between January and September, 19 states enacted laws creating new barriers to voting or eroding the power of voters, many of which clearly target Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. And tomorrow, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will be brought to the Senate floor for debate, where it will almost certainly again be filibustered and blocked from moving forward.
 
Now is the time to act to protect our democracy. Here’s what you can do: 
 
Join Side with Love and the Declaration for American Democracy coalition in distributed actions during the Nov. 8-13 Senate recess, demanding that our Senators pass the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Rights Acts, and address the stranglehold the filibuster currently has over our democratic process. To host or join an event, go to the Side With Love Action Center, where our Democracy & Voting Rights section has a Host Action Guide, a map of actions, and instructions for getting your action on the map.
 
Our faith reminds us that it is our shared responsibility to fight for each other until all of our communities are free and thriving. We believe in the power of the democratic process to shape that world, and we recommit ourselves to that sacred work on this Election Day --and as we head into the 2022 electoral season -- more and more powerful together.
 
In faith and solidarity, 
 
Nicole

Field & Programs Director, Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

We're acting on our shared responsibility to protect democracy

10 November 2021 at 13:15

When we launched the Side With Love Action Center this summer, we imagined it as a place where UUs and other people of faith and conscience could easily find the resources they needed to dive deeply and faithfully into the campaigns that were important to them and their communities. The Action Center is a way to unify our shared labor and ministry based on a vision of creating a beloved community, grounded in our UU faith. 

 This week, we celebrate the hundreds of Unitarian Universalists who have joined the Action Center to learn, grow, and act in service to building beloved community. In just 2 months, we have hosted 27 events with 2000 participants and welcomed over 100 new people to our organizing.  Learn more about how you can grow our faith’s social justice campaigns at one of our upcoming events

 Today, we celebrate more than 10 UU congregations joining the Declaration for American Democracy coalition for a Week of Action to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. UUs around the country have organized public events in their communities. Together we are building grassroots power to build a mulitracial democracy that affirms and protects the voices of all and dismantles the systems that have historically excluded Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities from political participation and power.   

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act already has the declared support of 51 Senators, including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Yet a minority of Senators have blocked votes on all voting rights bills this year by invoking the filibuster -- effectively requiring a 60-vote supermajority. 

 We cannot allow a group of Senators to exploit the filibuster in order to stall critical voting rights, climate, and economic policy that our communities need. 

 Together with the Declaration for American Democracy coalition we are mobilizing folx across the country to call on our Senators to build a democracy that truly represents, reflects, and responds to all of us.

 Our faith holds that it is our shared responsibility to fight for each other until all of our communities are free and thriving. Stacey Abrams reminded us in her 2021 Ware Lecture, that what we imagine can be made real when we struggle together towards our goals. She declared, “I imagine what we need and then I demand what we must have. And I don’t do it alone because doing it alone means I will lose every time!” We are so grateful for those who have organized events this week and for our volunteer leaders who are supporting these teams. 

 Together, with the Action Center, we imagine better, demand more, and organize to harness the power of love to build a beloved community today. Join our community and in collective work. The Action Center is for you. 

In faith and solidarity,

Nicole Pressley 

Field and Programs Director 

Side With Love

We're acting on our shared responsibility to protect democracy

We who believe in freedom cannot rest.

19 November 2021 at 16:10

“Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son—we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

Ella Baker (1903-1986)

In weeks like this one, it can be particularly heartbreaking to see just how far the aspirations of our faith and the realities of our society are from one another. 

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a ghastly display of the racism inherent in our judicial process, the jury just returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts, acquitting a young white man of the murders of two pro-BLM protesters participating in the uprising that occurred after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

In Brunswick, Georgia, the defense has just finished its arguments about why three white vigilantes were justified in murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he was out for an afternoon jog in his own neighborhood. And yesterday afternoon, while Governor Stitt of Oklahoma commuted Julius Jones’ sentence to avoid execution, he pointedly denied any possibility of parole, in spite of vast evidence suggesting Jones’  innocence and against the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. 

White supremacy is deadly. It is dehumanizing, violent, and it continues to hold our nation in its death-grip. We know that the criminal-legal system cannot deliver real justice, policing will never truly keep us safe, and liberation will not be realized without a radical reimagination of our current structures. And still, events like these are a painful reminder of the inequity and hypocrisy that are at the foundation of our so-called “justice system.” 

One of the most radical assertions of Unitarian Universalism is that every single human is endowed with inherent worth and dignity. We are all born from an unimaginable, unshakable Love that brought us into being, and from which we cannot ever be separated. Our faith insists that any system that works to erode our full humanity is unjust and harmful, and must be dismantled. Unitarian Universalism urges us to dedicate our hearts and our life forces toward dismantling white supremacy, and creating a world in which every single person has the ability to live free and thrive. 

Simply: our faith unequivocally joins with all those who declare that #BlackLivesMatter, and who recommit our hearts and our hands to building a world in which that is true. 

However your heart is today, Beloved, know that you are not alone. If you are receiving this message, you are already a part of a wide network of people who are working in a thousand ways to bring more justice and liberation into being. You are part of a cloud of witnesses and workers, living and dead, whose hearts are both cracked open by all that there is to mourn, and mended again and again by the power of Love to heal and connect us to one another. 

If you are someone who needs to stop and make space for grief, rage, despair--we are with you in that pause, holding you and witnessing. It is true that we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes -- but the “we” is so much larger than any individual, and all of us must take our shifts. If you need a moment to pause, know that others are ready to move and take their turns now. Perhaps this version of “Ella’s Song” will be a balm to your spirit, as it has been to ours.

If you are someone who channels your brokenness quickly into action, we are with you, too. March with your people in the streets. Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund, which will be providing jail and legal support to protesters fighting for Black liberation this week. Double down on local struggles to fight white supremacy and curb the deadly impacts of policing and the prison industrial complex. Visit our Action Center and support the People’s Response Act, a new federal bill that emphasizes an inclusive, holistic, and health-centered approach to public safety rather than the current system of policing, incarceration and punishment.

May you find what you need to hold your spirit today, dear ones. The struggle continues, and we are blessed to be in it together. 

In faith and solidarity, 

The Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

We who believe in freedom cannot rest.

2021 UUA Transgender Day of Remembrance Chapel and Resources

24 November 2021 at 11:26
Text reads: UUA Transgender Day of Remembrance, Friday November 19th.. Special guests: Rev. Ali KC Bell and Imara Jones; Musical Guest: Spirit McIntyre and Shana Aisenberg. Grahpic includes UUA logo in transgender pride colors on black background

I’m so grateful to everyone who came together to affirm the dignity of lives lived in truth and connect to the tragedy of the at least 46 lives lost due the compounded violences of transphobia, racism, classism, and capitalism.

This service was a reminder that we are all responsible for the epidemic of violence against the transgender community…and must do everything we can to celebrate the lives of the transgender, genderqueer, and non-binary community by dismantling any and all barriers to total equity and full inclusion in our congregations, institutions, and society at large.

Gratefully,

Michael

Rev. Michael J. Crumpler :: He/Him/His

UUA LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director

2021 UUA Transgender Day of Remembrance Chapel and Resources

Build Back Better: Getting It Done in 2021!

1 December 2021 at 15:32

Right now, our communities need action. We need humane protections for millions of immigrants who face the constant threat of detention and deportation. We need systems that keep families and children out of poverty. We need infrastructure investment. We need to honor the dignity of all and our sacred interdependence by building systems of support and care where our disabled siblings can thrive. We need a multiracial democracy that works for all of us. We need a radical revolution of values where we Side With Love-- declaring our commitments to justice, equity and compassion in all of our relationships.

That is why we are joining the Poor People’s Campaign for a Moral Monday March on Washington on Monday, December 13th, at 12 p.m. ET on Capitol Hill to demand that our Senators pass Build Back Better and voting rights legislation by the end of this year! Right relationship is a spiritual commitment we as Unitarian Universalists make to one another and to our world. It requires a recognition of shared humanity. It demands accountability. The Build Back Better bill is an imperfect and absolutely necessary shift towards our systems moving into right relationship with the people it governs or impacts. Protecting and expanding voting rights to ensure that all have a voice is an essential part of this sacred relationship.

Join us, the Poor People’s Campaign and partners to demand an economy that centers care, dignity, and compassion and a democracy that is accessible to all.

Join the phonebank to UUs December 6th at 7 ET Join the phonebank to UUs December 9th at 2 ET Join the action in DC with Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray - December 13th at Noon ET

Build Back Better will provide free universal preschool for all three and four year olds, funding for in-home health care, Medicaid coverage for people living in states that have locked them out, billions of dollars for clean energy incentives, the creation of a Climate Civilian Corps, four weeks of paid family leave, and more.

 Now is the time for Unitarian Universalists to show up to get us to the finish-line. Join us for a Build Back Better & Voting Rights phone bank calling UUs in the DMV area to invite them to an urgent action to pass this historic legislation. 
 
If you live in or around DC or feel called to travel for the action, please sign up here
 
Our faith calls us into collective work for justice. This essential element of Unitarian Universalism is why hope and action are sacred resources that are available to us everyday. I will not pretend that this hasn't been a frustrating legislative session. And we cannot ignore the failure of our Senate to act on several pieces of legislation that will help move us into a just recovery. But I am rooted in our UU legacy that shows us that possibility lies in our collective struggles towards justice. 
 
It is in our collective struggle that we find joy, healing, and a love that sustains us until we win. Will you join us to build beloved community and mass action to pass Build Back Better and Voting Rights? 
 
Join the Poor People’s Campaign for a Moral Monday March on Washington, DC on December 13, 2021 at 12pm ET to tell Congress: Get It Done in 2021! There will be opportunities to witness and to engage in civil disobedience.
 
The build back better agenda is a critical piece of legislation that responds to the crisis of care, economic exploitation, and climate with real solutions and investments. It is not perfect, it is not enough, but it is a necessary beginning. Our communities need action now.

On December 13th our elected leaders plan on going on recess. We need to let them know we are done waiting. We need to lift our voices and declare that recovering from the pandemic means investment in care, climate justice, workers, democracy, and more. We are telling them: Get it Done in 2021!
 
Will you help by joining the action in D.C.? Can you sign up for a phone bank shift to call fellow UUs to action?
 
In faith and solidarity,

Nicole Pressley, UUA Organizing Strategy Team Field and Program Director
Rev. Beth Johnson and Rev. Abhi Janamanch, UUA Poor People’s Campaign Leadership Council Co-Chairs

Build Back Better: Getting It Done in 2021!

Join UUA President for Moral March on Washington Dec. 13th

6 December 2021 at 10:58
banner graphic image of Susan Frederick-Gray with a sign that says count every vote, the UU the Vote logo, text that says "Sign up for the Moral March with Side with Love, UU the Vote, and regional UUs!" and another image of someone in a yellow shirt

Our communities deserve action, now! The UUA is partnering with the Poor People’s Campaign and other faith and justice organizations for a Moral March on Washington on Monday, Dec.13 to pass Build Back Better and democracy legislation. 

 We are excited to announce that UUA President Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray is joining the march and speaking at the rally.

 On December 13, the Senate is scheduled to start recess and we're mobilizing folks to demand that they finish the job and pass Voting Rights and Build Back Better legislation. We will be telling them "Recess Can Wait, Democracy Can’t, Our Communities Can’t!"  We need a just economic recovery and voting rights, now. We need the Build Back Better, Freedom to Vote, and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Acts passed by the end of the year. Help us Get it Done in 2021!

 We’re calling UUs across the country to ask them to call their Senators and the White House to demand they take action. We're also inviting local folx to the March on Washington on Dec. 13 to get this historic legislation passed. If you live in or around DC or feel called to travel for the action, please sign up here.

 Take action now, by joining one of these events: 

Join the phonebank on Dec 6 Join the phonebank on Dec 9 Join the Moral March on Dec 13

In this Holy Season, it is time to raise a prophetic moral voice for justice. Our UU Contingent at the Moral March will gather with Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray before the march and rally for fellowship, reflection, and a centering prayer circle as we head into the action. We will witness together and some of us will engage in civil disobedience. 

Side with Love and the UU the Vote campaigns are partnering with the UUA Poor People’s Campaign Leadership Council and UUSJ to organize for the Moral March. Relational organizing is how we build our movement and our power! 

Join the Moral March on Washington on Dec 13th at noon at the Capitol! We are taking action to declare that “democracy is sacred, the filibuster is not.” Congress and the White House must do everything in their power to expand voting rights and protect our elections and our communities. 

UUA PPC Leadership Council Co-Chair Rev. Beth Johnson—Minister of the Palomar UU Fellowship in Vista, CA—and Council member Rev. Robin Tanner—a minister at Beacon UU Congregation in Summit NJ (and a former national faith liaison at the Poor People’s Campaign) will be providing orientation at the phone banks. You can also just come for the first 20 minutes to get oriented, inspired, and trained, and then make calls on your own time.

It is in our collective struggle that we find joy, healing, and a love that sustains us until we win. Will you join us to build beloved community and mass action to pass Build Back Better and Voting Rights?

In faith and solidarity,

Nicole Pressley, UUA Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team Field and Program Director and
Susan Leslie, UUA Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team Coalition & Partnerships Organizer

P.S. We build moral courage by building community. Watch this short video from UU the Vote volunteer, Paige Bacon de Ortiz from First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.

Paige organized a Freedom to Vote visibility event during the Week of Action and engaged in civil

disobedience for the first time on Nov. 17th. She is coming to the Moral March on Dec. 13th. Hear her message and invitation about why she took action as a UU and how you can take action in this moment. See our Action Center for everything you can do!

Join UUA President for Moral March on Washington Dec. 13th

Reproductive Justice & Our Faith: Ground, Grow, & Act in 2022!

18 December 2021 at 09:00

With indications that Roe v Wade may be overturned, and knowing that abortion and reproductive care have long been inaccessible to many communities, our faith compels us to take action for reproductive rights, health, and justice. Many of you and your congregations are already taking courageous action and speaking prophetically; more are needed in this shared work, now and in the future. 

Side With Love and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association are partnering to support all religious professionals in grounding more deeply in a theology of Reproductive Justice, including providing resources for leading worship. Together, we invite all religious professionals to: 

1.) Participate in "Our Calling to Reproductive Justice: A Webinar for Religious Professionals" (Tuesday, Jan 11, 3-4:30pm ET), to reflect on our history and theology related to reproductive justice, how this work connects with ongoing pastoral care needs, and what strategies and action(s) can be most helpful. Led by Revs. Rob Keithan and Darcy Baxter. Register at https://secure.everyaction.com/9uZj_fJNpk2RBWGhuKnekQ2.

 

2.) If you haven't already, sign up to host a Reproductive Justice Sunday (suggested date: January 23, to coincide with the Roe v Wade anniversary, although you may choose any date that works for your congregation). Sign up to receive free-use videos and liturgical resources, to be published online by January 17 (all videos will include captioning and downloadable versions). Register at https://secure.everyaction.com/IpTuERSqJ0OUUfhuFh2HHA2.  

3.) Submit your own poetry, reflections, litanies, rituals, and stories for all ages to be included in our online Reproductive Justice worship resource guide! Submissions may be video or written; videos will be captioned for final use. These may include your new or past writings. By submitting, you agree to allow your words to be used freely by any congregation. Email submissions to Rev. Ashley Horan at ahoran@uua.org by January 6. 

We are grateful for the pastoral and prophetic work so many of you are already doing to ensure access to abortion care and to more broadly live into the vision of Reproductive Justice. We are grateful to be in this important work together.

 

In faith,

Rev. Ashley Horan

Organizing Strategy Director

Side With Love


Reproductive Justice & Our Faith: Ground, Grow, & Act in 2022!

A Solstice Reflection

21 December 2021 at 09:34

When I was a child, I would spend part of my summers visiting with my mother’s family in the mountains of Lebanon. I remember sitting out back of the house we shared with our aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins - drinking tea and playing card games with mismatched decks. Some of my clearest memories are from our nights spent outside, because it was then I noticed things that I hadn’t quite picked up on before. The scent of the jasmine blooming around the front yard. The flicker and flight of the bats that lived in the mountains. The persistent, if not foreboding, sound of mosquitoes on the hunt for a meal around our heads. 

There were reflections of life around me that, were it not for the darkness of night, I might never have had the privilege of knowing. Though I didn’t consciously realize it until years later, I learned an incredibly valuable lesson over the course of my childhood summers. Some beauty can only be noticed in the darkness of night.

As we approach the Winter Solstice, that lesson is just as true and important to our lives. On December 21st (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), we begin our shortest day and prepare for our longest night of the year. It is a turning point as we transition from fall, a time of harvest, to winter, a time of rest. And it celebrates a re-turning point, as we honor the rekindling of the light that warms our world in the increasingly longer days to come. 

But before we re-turn to that light, our Solstice time can and should be an opportunity to relish the beauty of what comes alive in the dark. This longest night is a time for us to, as the poet Wendell Berry invites us, “find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” In this longest night, we have the gift of time to deepen our awareness of what is always around us in the light, but soars and sings in the dark. During this longest night, we are given an extended chance to shift our attention and intention to appreciate the sounds, sights, smells, activity, and interconnectedness that only finds their fullest form in the infinite richness of the dark. 

What comes to life when darkness falls upon us? When we are resting, what is walking around us? When we are quiet, what sings? When we are still, what soars?

When there is no light of certainty, what do you find in the dark of possibility?

graphic of horizon with trees and northern lights. text reads "Winter Light: a Solstice Celebration. Join in worship & wonder with UUMFE

Winter Light - A Solstice Celebration
Dec 22, 2021 at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 6pm MT / 5pm PT

Join Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen and UU Ministry for Earth for Winter Light, a special Zoom service celebration of the Solstice.

This sacred gathering reminds us of our interdependence with Earth, life, and the universe. Enjoy an hour of music, reflection, ritual and meditation as we gather in the sacred darkness of Winter to honor all that life brings. Register now.

image of a horizon with conifer trees and the northern lights

This Winter Solstice, I am taking this time to consider those relationships and perspectives I can only know in the peace of darkness, in the quiet of my personal rest. Who are the people and communities I have never seen or encountered, but my life is dependent on theirs? What are the movements and celebrations that have deep roots in the rich and fertile night? Why do I only notice them when there is no distraction of light?

And as we turn again in the days to come, as the light re-turns to our lives, how do we keep noticing that which the darkness brings? How does this time of awareness and appreciation of what is alive in the night stay with us in the light of the day? How do we shape the growing light to ensure that what we have loved in the dark, what has loved us in the nights, is not diminished but honored as the darkness fades? How is our perspective forever changed by what we would never have known if it were not for our longest night?

The Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team invites you to join us in essential practices that sustain our work for justice - slowing, pausing, resting, and noticing what comes alive in the dark. As our team takes time off this season, a spiritual practice that helps keep us nourished enough to stay in the long haul movement towards collective liberation, we hope that you too are able to find the space to slow down and appreciate the beauty and possibilities of our longest nights..

In faith and justice,

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Congregational Justice Organizer


A Solstice Reflection

Untouched and Still Possible

31 December 2021 at 09:18

The cusp of the New Year is always a moment for pause and reflection, looking back over the winding paths that have brought us to the present while gazing ahead toward the road stretching before us. Here at Side With Love, we too join in this practice of breathing in all that has been, and exhaling our hopes for all that is to come. 

2021 brought us both the unprecedented, and the all-too-familiar. And while we could catalogue all the heartbreaks of what it means to be alive in this moment, at this turning of the year, your Side With Love team is choosing to look back on this year through the lens of gratitude. Today, we reflect and offer our deep thankfulness for our life-giving faith, for the movements that are leading us and imagining a new world into being, and for YOU–Unitarian Universalists across the land who are doing the brave, difficult, gratifying, maddening, mundane, critical work of embodying our faith in our shared work for justice. 

There are so many inspiring stories of your witness and your action, and we are blessed to hear them day in and day out as we collaborate with UU individuals, congregations, and organizations. Today, we lift up just a few of these beacons of hope: 

Image includes photos of UUs at various public witness events, holding signs and showing banners. Text reads: "We offer our deep thankfulness for YOU - Unitarian Universalists across the land who are doing the brave, difficult, gratifying, maddening,
  • During the critical runoff election in Georgia, our UU the Vote volunteer Squads ran 14 phone banks in partnership with Reclaim Our Vote, training and supporting over 800 volunteers to make calls to voters in Georgia. UU the Vote contributed more volunteer time and organizing than any other 501(c)3 non-partisan organization in Georgia.

  • Unitarian Universalists answered the call of Water Protectors to show up to fight the construction of the Line 3 Pipeline. On several occasions, and in collaboration with an interconnected network of UU organizations, UU activists showed up, putting their bodies on the line and supporting the leadership of the Anishinaabe and Lakota peoples leading the #StopLine3 movement. 

  • More than 170 people made up 21 cohorts of our It Starts With Faith: Organizing School. These teams worked together to deepen their skills, strategize about their shared work, and sharpen their political analysis. These teams are now putting their learnings into inspiring practice. To name just a few examples, the DRUUMM cohort is focusing on the 8th Principle, the new Kentucky state action network (SAN)  is working for reproductive justice, our North Carolina SAN is organizing for fair mapping and hosting a defund police camp, and UUs in Schenectady, NY have been mobilizing for the Freedom to Vote Act. 

  • UU congregations continue to show up prophetically in their communities, meeting the political moment with skill and courage. During the national #Faiths4ClimateJustice week of action this fall, several UU congregations engaged in or hosted local events, such as First Unitarian Society of Madison, who organized an interfaith demonstration at the Capitol building to collect and send messages to the United Nations prior to their 26th Climate Change Conference. 

  • More than 40 Unitarian Universalists traveled to Washington, D.C. in October to participate in the People vs. Fossil Fuels week of action. The week centered Indigenous leadership and youth organizing, and brought our UU kin into movement and solidarity with thousands of people and partner organizations who are fighting for a fossil-free future. Dozens of UUs were arrested at the White House and the Capitol as they engaged in civil disobedience with the GreenFaith delegation to tell President Biden and Congress to build back fossil free. Read UU young adult leader Zoë Johnston’s firsthand account of the experience here

  • In the first three months following the launch of Side With Love’s Action Center, UUs have participated in more that 50 justice-centered events, both local and national, with nearly 3,000 people engaging. Most recently, on the national day of action for the Freedom to Vote Act, 10 congregations hosted or participated in their own distributed actions in local communities.

  • Close to 100 UUs from across the country converged at the Poor People’s Campaign national action earlier this month, urging the passage of both Build Back Better and the Freedom to Vote Act. Six UU clergy and 2 lay leaders engaged in non-violent moral direct action, including UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray. 

There is so much we are grateful for, today and every day. It is such a gift to be in an ever-deepening relationship with this network of faithful, courageous people working to build a world in which all people are truly free. 

We know that time is not linear–we spiral forward and back, again and again, generation after generation. And yet, at certain precious moments, we can find the stillness of a long pause, perched on the threshold between past and future. As the poet W.S. Merwin writes:

so this is the sound of you

here and now whether or not

anyone hears it this is

where we have come with our age

our knowledge such as it is

and our hopes such as they are

invisible before us

untouched and still possible

–W.S. Merwin, “To the New Year”

 

We are so thankful to be in the work with you, sharing our faith that another world is possible. 

 

In faith and solidarity,

The Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team (Adrian Ballou, Michael Crumpler, Audra Friend, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Rev. Ashley Horan, Susan Leslie, Jeff Milchen, Nicole Pressley, Rev. Cathy Rion Starr, & Aly Tharp)

P.S. Want to go deeper with Side With Love in the new year? Subscribe to our newsletters, join one of our volunteer Squads, and host or join an upcoming event.



Untouched and Still Possible

Join We the People: Jan 6th Day of Remembrance & Action

4 January 2022 at 14:59

A new year brings fresh possibilities and is often a time when our spirits rise. And yet a year ago as we prepared for progress we were confronted with a deadly insurrection where armed right-wing militants attacked our Capitol and tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. We have worked hard all this past year to build a multi-racial democracy and combat the attack on voting rights and democracy waged on our Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. Finally, the Freedom to Vote Act, and other democracy legislation may be taken up by the Senate. Yesterday, Majority Leader Senator Schumer called for a rules change in the Senate to keep the filibuster from blocking democracy.

At the same time, the same faction that led the insurrection on January 6th has continued their work of silencing voices through partisan gerrymandering, blocking critical democracy legislation, and building systems for future attempts to undermine free and fair elections.

We must not forget what happened -- and we must demand action from our leaders to prevent another attack on our democracy.

So on January 6th, exactly one year later, we are grounding in our commitment to building a beloved community–a multi-racial democracy where our leaders are accountable to the people, and voters decide the outcomes of elections. Democracy is not a partisan issue, but a foundational element of a just society that recognizes the worth and dignity of all.

Logo for Jan 6 Day of Remembrance and Action

Join a candlelight vigil or democracy action in your community on Jan. 6!

There are close to 300 events being held around the country.

There’s also still time to host a vigil in your community if you can’t find one near you. We need many events across the nation to demonstrate the groundswell for democracy in this urgent moment. Sign up to host a candlelight vigil on Jan. 6! You’ll receive a toolkit and support from our democracy coalition. Whether your event is large or small it makes a difference and can have an impact in your community.

As people of faith, we are called to public witness, to name sacred truths, in the midst of big lies. Whether it is the lie of a stolen election or the lie that senate rules are more sacred than voting rights, or the lie of white supremacy, we must shed light on truth and justice.

There is much work ahead of us. Systems of policing and voter suppression and this right-wing movement to consolidate power in the hands of the few are deeply rooted in white supremacy and capitalism. Legislation alone will not eradicate those evils from our systems, but like all justice movements, passing robust legislation is essential to win for our communities right now. Our elected leaders must pass urgent legislation that will protect this country from anti-democratic forces who are continuing their efforts to destroy it.

That’s why we must show up together in this moment –– we need to keep up the momentum for our freedom to vote.

Join a candlelight vigil or democracy action in your community on Jan. 6!

The January 6th attack by right-wing militants demonstrates the dangers facing our nation and only further underscores the urgency with which we need to transform our political system into one that works for all of us. The U.S. Senate and President Biden must do whatever is necessary to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, Protecting Our Democracy Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood.

Coming together, we can prevent another January 6th attack and realize the promise of democracy so that we all have an equal say in the decisions that shape our daily lives and futures.

In faith and solidarity,

Nicole Pressley

UUA Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team Field and Programs Director

PS - Let us know how the event you organized or were a part of went. Fill out our short Side with Love Action Center Activity Report at bit.ly/whatwevedone.

Please note this is about a Jan. 6th Action in the last question describing the event. Thank you!

Join We the People: Jan 6th Day of Remembrance & Action

30 Days of Love 2022 is here!

15 January 2022 at 13:10

This Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, there is so much weighing on our hearts. Our nation is again in the grips of an enormous surge in Covid cases, overwhelming our hospitals and destabilizing schools, businesses, and more. Voting rights legislation is being held hostage yet again by elected leaders who refuse to protect us from election sabotage and voter suppression. Cultural battles are making their way into courtrooms, legislative sessions, and school board meetings, with opponents to abortion care, transgender rights, and honest conversation about race and white supremacy dominating the news and social media. 

If ever there were a time our spirits needed nourishment, it is now.

So in the midst of all that is hard, Side With Love is honored to invite you to join us in this year’s 30 Days of Love – our annual season of spiritual nourishment, political deepening, and collective action to embody our values and work for collective liberation.

This year, each week of 30 Days of Love will focus on one of Side With Love’s intersectional justice priorities. Although each week will have a primary focus, you will notice a lot of overlap – demonstrating just how truly intersecting these issues are. Every week will include a variety of resources, activities, and opportunities for engagement for people of all ages. Check out our offerings here.

In addition to the Multigenerational/Family Playlist that has been so popular in previous years, Side With Love is pleased to introduce a few new features this year, including a robust spiritual nourishment program led by our 30 Days of Love Minister-in-Residence, Rev. Ali KC Bell. We will also feature weekly opportunities to take concrete action for justice, both individually and collectively, through Side With Love’s Action Center. And finally, each week we will offer a live, interactive opportunity to sharpen our analysis through a Political Education event focused on one facet of the week’s theme. Finally, we will cap off the month with our Side With Love Sunday Worship Service.

More than anything, 30 Days of Love is an opportunity for us all to recharge our spirits and reconnect with hope through shared grounding, growth, and action. These offerings are our love letter to you, the faithful people who embody our shared values each and every day. We hope you will find them profoundly nourishing and that you will engage with them along with your family, your congregation, and our wider community. We are so excited to travel these 30 Days alongside all of you.

With our overflowing love for you, 

The Side With Love Team

PS: This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s honor Dr. King’s memory by keeping the pressure on our Senators to pass voting rights legislation and stop letting the filibuster hijack our democracy. Click here to make a free call to your Senators.

30 Days of Love 2022 is here!

Week Two of our 30 Days of Love is On!

23 January 2022 at 09:53

We enter week two of 30 Days of Love lamenting the immoral blocking of the Freedom to Vote and John Lewis Voting Acts. It is disheartening to witness our elected leaders sided with vote suppression and against democracy. As a faith community committed to showing up for justice and for our communities, this will not stop us. 

 Join us for Week Two of 30 Days of Love. From January 24-30 we are focusing on Democracy & Voting Rights. This week’s offerings include multigenerational resources, healing meditations, political education, and collective action to support our community in our democracy and electoral work. 

Our live events this week include:

The sharp increase in voter suppression tactics and laws in the last year not only reflects how much work remains, but also how much power we have already shown. In 2020, communities showed up in force to get out the vote, register voters, and promote the values of care, equity, justice, and a liberating love as we cast our votes. Unitarian Universalists around the country organized to #UUtheVote, #VoteLove, and #DefeatHate in our national, state, and local elections. Our movement towards achieving a mutliracial democracy gained so much momentum because we the people claimed our power. 

Because of the strength of our love, hate is doubling down its efforts to remain in control. The suppression tactics we are witnessing today - from state legislatures in places like Georgia and Texas, to national electeds refusing to alter legislative procedures shaped by Jim Crow segregation - are fights we are facing because we are a liberating force that hatred fears.  

One of the essential truths we must acknowledge is that the colonized land currently known as the United States has always been based on accumulation of wealth through racialized capitalism. The attacks on democracy are a part of that legacy. Resisting oppressive power has always depended on people's movements that have fought for democracy, equity and justice. The fight for a multiracial democracy that is accountable to the people, is rooted in our ability to build the networks and communities that build enough power to contest and defeat these attacks. 

For this second week of our 30 Days of Love, we are inviting you to deepen your connection to community, and strengthen your engagement in the movement to create the true democracy we have yet to realize in this nation. Within all of us lives the legacy of prophets, the wisdom of ancestors, and the fierce power of community to continue the momentum of not just the past two years, but the past 200+ years. There is so much we and those who came before us have accomplished to create a world where every vote counts and every life is treated as sacred. And there is still so much more that we can generate together. 

This week, we are focusing our faith and power on Democracy and Voting Rights with a series of offerings that remind us that our liberation is built on organizing and change that happens at the local level, in our own neighborhoods and communities. 

Join us for our January 27 Political Education session “Building Power and Democracy,” where UU the Vote leaders and local activists share why this election year is critical for our movement towards multiracial democracy and collective liberation. 

Practice (or brush the dust off!) your phonebanking skills with our January 30 Democracy Phonebank to mobilize Unitarian Universalists for critical voting rights actions. 

Find community amongst other UUs ramping up to #UUtheVote in 2022 at our monthly Action Center Community of Praxis gathering on January 31, whether you are looking to build up specific skills or learn new strategies for engagement in your community. 

And save the date for our February 20 #UUtheVote Skill Up to learn how to amplify a faith voice through Letters to the Editor, Op Eds, and other media.

You are essential to our faith’s dream of Beloved Community. We invite you to take the time to nourish your spirit with this week’s worship offerings. Together we can care for one another and build resiliency to remain committed to showing up. The love that drives our work during and beyond these 30 Days is here to hold you and welcome you to take action as we move into midterm elections and UU the Vote 2022.

In faith, love, and power -

The Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team

Week Two of our 30 Days of Love is On!

Week 3 of 30 Days of Love is here!

28 January 2022 at 13:08

For many of us, it is hard to imagine a world without police, prisons, and punishment as “justice.” Fear-mongering about a lawless society in which we all have to fend for ourselves has become a talking point in the culture wars reacting to abolitionist calls to defund and dismantle the violence of our current policing and punishment system. Even for those of us who have confronted the ways our current system evolved from structures designed to control and enslave Black bodies and continues to enforce the death-grip of white supremacy on our society, we are so shaped by what exists now that many of us have a hard time conceiving of a different way.

And yet, our theological forebears (especially our Universalist ancestors) articulated the radical notion that there is no vengeful God waiting to “save” sinful humans through retribution and punishment. They unequivocally declared that the only hell that exists is the one created by humans on earth and that suffering and punishment are a part of that hell–not its antidote. And today, our contemporary principles remind us that no one is disposable–that we all deserve safety and security in our homes, our communities, and society at large–because each and every one of us has inherent worth and dignity.

At our UUA General Assembly in 2020, shortly after the murder of George Floyd and the global uprisings for racial justice of that spring, our delegates overwhelmingly passed an Action of Immediate Witness called “Amen to Uprising: A Commitment and Call to Action”. It read, in part:

THEREFORE, we will create systemic change within our congregations by:

  • Revising agreements and policies to create alternatives to policing (including developing plans for safety and accountability);

  • Choosing not to involve police departments and deactivating security systems that mobilize police response when triggered;

  • Engaging in creative, transformative, justice processes;

  • Pursuing abolition of policing systems within the congregations and institutions in which we have power;

  • Moving congregational and institutional resources and endowments towards Black liberation organizing and long-term redistribution; and

  • Rooting ourselves in theologies of liberation and abolition.

This was a bold moment for us as Unitarian Universalists, in which we articulated an aspirational theology that we will have to stretch our souls and our imaginations to fully incarnate. To do that, we will need to practice together, again and again. And so, in this third week of 30 Days of Love, we invite you into the collective spiritual exercise of moral imagination.

Whether you are a longtime abolitionist who is heartened to see Unitarian Universalism finally engaging with the calls of the abolitionist movement, or someone who is just beginning to grapple with the violence of our current system and the challenge of building another way, we invite you to join us. Let’s dream together about a world in which all of us are truly free.

In faith and solidarity,

Rev. Ashley Horan

UUA Organizing Strategy Director - Side With Love

Week 3 of 30 Days of Love is here!

Week Four of 30 Days of Love is here!

6 February 2022 at 08:42

As week 4 of 30 Days of Love begins, I’m thrilled to introduce myself to you. I’m Rachel Myslivy, Climate Justice Organizer for the UUA’s Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team. 

As someone who has worked in the climate movement for roughly fifteen years, I know that we all come to the work from different places with different perspectives and strategies. Climate justice requires us to see climate change not as a technical problem to be solved, but as a moral and ethical challenge that we as people of faith need to rise to meet and overcome.  

Climate justice requires us to act on the reality that the communities hit first and worst by climate change are the least responsible for climate impacts.  Similarly, climate impacts exacerbate existing inequities. We must balance the urgent need for rapid action with the critical yet sometimes-slow process of building trust and developing collective strategy led by communities most impacted. On top of all of that, we need to dismantle institutionalized racism and systemic oppression while co-creating new systems that prioritize justice for all. Yet, we still need beauty, laughter, and love to truly flourish in the new world we create together.  

As my friend Marcus says, “healing begins at the wound.”  Those most impacted know the best solutions for their communities, and we, as climate activists and organizers, must follow their lead and support their efforts.  When I come to this work, I find grounding in the following quote from adrienne maree brown: “Humble yourself to what is.  Accept that this is what has unfolded so far.  Notice that you have your whole life to shape what comes next.”   

Throughout this last week of 30 Days of Love, we encourage you to listen, learn, reflect, and take actions through the lens of climate justice to shape a more just and equitable future for all.

We have the Order of Service posted for this year’s Side With Love Sunday, and will have the entire service available on February 7.

Climate change is a wicked problem that does not have one simple, easy fix, but rather holds an abundance of possibility grounded in hope for our shared future.  I’m grateful to be doing this together with you.

In community,

Rachel Myslivy
Climate Justice Organizer, UUA Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

Week Four of 30 Days of Love is here!

I’m learning and growing – join me? Announcing Side with Love’s Skill Up Spring Series

8 February 2022 at 17:02

As we gear up for UU the Vote 2022, I am excited to tell you about our Spring 2022 Skill Up Series!

But first, let me tell you about my learning journey last week, participating in the UU Ministers’ Association Institute for the Learning Ministry. I immersed myself in worship and thought-provoking keynotes. I played cello as part of a ritual of lament with fellow members of the Committee on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression and Multiculturalism. I had FOMO (fear of missing out) as I made dinner for my children during seminar time, but I also got to take in some parts of it that fed my soul and challenged my mind in evocative ways. 

Lifelong learning and the ever-unfolding of our paths is central to Unitarian Universalist practice. For me as a “good student,” my habit is to want to show up on time, fully, for everything, and do it all right. 

The lesson I keep learning – with many of you all as my teachers and community of accountability – is that there are no “good students” in organizing for love and justice. There is no such thing as straight A's in organizing (or in life, for that matter!). There are simply learners and fellow learners.  

There are those many of us who ”have to cast [our] lot with those who age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world,“ (to quote white queer poet Adrienne Rich)

I am so grateful to have cast my lot with you all and am honored to join the Side with Love staff team as a permanent staff member – this will allow us to keep building our learning and organizing opportunities like the Skill Ups, Squads, and Action Center gatherings. Our Skill Ups are designed to help you learn AND practice a concrete skill  so that it’s in your toolbox when your organizing calls for it.  

Will you join us to sharpen your skills this spring with our Skill Up Spring Series: Action Center 101 Soup to Nuts?

What is a Skill Up?

This is our monthly series of trainings on organizing skills to help build our UU the Vote and Side with Love Volunteer Squads and help YOU build stronger teams in your congregation and community. We'll start the session with some spiritual fun and then launch into our training. This is also a chance to find out how to get more involved as a Side with Love volunteer and meet members of the Volunteer Squads.

Sign up now to come live, or be the first to get the recordings!


Watch January

Hosting Events on the Action Center with Sarah Berel-Harrop, Squad Leader

February Sign Up

Creating Effective Guest Opinions and Letters to the Editor with Jeff Milchen, UUA Justice Communications Associate

March Sign Up

Grounding, Welcoming & Energizing with Canedy Knowles & Rev. Kristina Church, Side with Love Fun & Spiritual Nourishment Squad Coordinators.

April Sign up

The Art of the Ask with Nicole Pressley, UUA Side with Love Field & Programs Director

May Sign Up

"How Do I Get People to Care?!" Building Strong Grassroots Actions for Justice with Susan Leslie, UUA Side with Love Partnerships & Coalitions Organizer

Past Skill Ups

View past Recordings and resources on our Skill Up Resource Page . Topics include Slack, Canva, Zoom, recruitment, faith framing, one-on-ones and more! 


I look forward to seeing you in a Zoom or in Slack soon! 

 In service of faith, love, and beauty,

Rev. Cathy Rion Starr 

they/them

Side with Love Squads Coordinator / UUA Leadership Development Specialist 

I’m learning and growing – join me? Announcing Side with Love’s Skill Up Spring Series

30 Days of Love is over. Now what?

16 February 2022 at 10:05

Our annual celebration known as 30 Days of Love has finished. This beloved tradition, which runs approximately from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January through Valentine’s Day in February, is an opportunity for us to collectively nurture our spirits, deepen our understanding of our shared faith, and take action on our values for collective liberation.

 Whether you joined in every event or haven’t heard of 30 Days of Love yet, we want to lift up some of the amazing gifts generated by our contributors and invite you to continue bringing love and justice to our world. The materials are free for your continued use, individually or in your congregations, and we invite you to share them widely in your community.

 While each of these weeks was thematic, we hope you saw how much overlap there was -- that each of these issues is deeply connected. Far from competing with each other, these four intersectional justice priorities that guide the UUA and Side With Love’s work are inextricably intertwined. When we deepen our analysis, build our skills, and nurture robust movements for justice in one “issue area,” we inevitably find ourselves working toward a shared vision of liberation with an ever-expanding circle of comrades in the struggle. 

Spiritual Sustenance

 Over the last five years, Side With Love has increasingly focused on offering events, resources, and recommendations to nurture joy, comfort, and relief to all of us who are fatigued by a world that can be hard, hurtful, and scary. What we call ‘spiritual sustenance’ is a range of offerings that we believe will feed your soul and hopefully replenish you when you are flagging. For 30 Days of Love 2022, our minister-in-residence Rev. Ali K.C. Bell curated weekly chalice lightings and meditations. These brief offerings, under 10 minutes, are original creations. Bookmark them for when you need a moment of respite or to share in an upcoming worship service or small group gathering. Explore our spiritual sustenance offerings.

 Political Education

 Each week of 30 Days of Love was dedicated to one of our intersectional justice priorities, and we invited organizers and thinkers who are leading in these areas to help ground us in why we need to do this work now. These sessions have been recorded and are available to view so individuals and congregations can anchor themselves in our prophetic justice-making moving forward. Explore our political education offerings.

 Multigenerational Playlists

 In addition to our political education webinars, we created ‘playlists’ around each week’s theme with shorter offerings for families to use together. The offerings range from music, read-alongs, poems, podcast episodes, and more, all oriented around a shared learning experience for people of all ages. Listen with your kids during a car-ride or watch a read-along before bed, and talk about our shared values of love over fear. Explore our multigenerational playlists.

 Side With Love Sunday Worship

 This year’s Side With Love Sunday Worship is called “What If I Only Had 30 Days to Love?”. It is available as a single video of the entire service or as discrete videos of each of the respective elements. If you haven’t yet planned your Side With Love Sunday, these resources are our gift to you and will remain available for use by congregations for free throughout the year. View our Side With Love Sunday Worship.

 So What’s Next?

 In this time that is full of tensions, stress, and competing demands, Side With Love is focused on identifying the campaigns and events in which we, as people of faith and conscience, can make an impact. As always, you can find ways to deepen your skills, connect with others, and take concrete action for justice through the Side With Love Action Center. These activities are updated regularly and are appropriate for individuals and congregational teams. 

 On March 30, join the UUA Commission on Social Witness for their Spring Social Witness Convening to organize, collaborate, and find support for your congregation's work on recent social justice statements as well as plan for justice-making in 2022.

 We also want to lift up the upcoming season of climate justice activism and organizing, Spring For Change 2022! We’re joining with UUMFE to offer this series of gatherings and actions to educate, inspire, and nurture connections, running March through May. Learn more and register at www.uumfe.org/resources/spring-for-change-2022.

We're grateful to be doing this work for shared liberation with you, and we're excited for what good we can do together this year.

30 Days of Love is over. Now what?

From Texas to Ukraine: Interdependence Over Imperialism

25 February 2022 at 13:15

Dear Beloveds,

There is so much to mourn. As Russia invades Ukraine, the violence has already killed hundreds and displaced thousands, and presents terrifying possibilities for escalation toward global war. In Texas, Governor Abbott’s most recent efforts to prevent kids from receiving life-saving gender affirmation care will lead to the trauma and death of our precious trans and non-binary children. 

Our hearts are heavy today. On top of the deep weariness and fear we collectively have been navigating, these latest headlines feel like too much to bear. We are with you in grief and rage. 

Both the invasion of Ukraine and this latest attack on trans children stem from legacies of imperialism and colonization, rooted in the belief that one group of people should have authority over the decisions and freedoms of another. And as centuries of human history have shown, whenever the State prioritizes its own ideology and interests over the agency and self-determination of the people, violence is inevitable. 

Our faith aspires to build a different kind of world. At its best, Unitarian Universalism gracefully holds at its center a reverence for both the individual and the collective. Our congregations covenant to affirm and promote “the inherent worth and dignity of every human being” alongside “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” In practice, this means working for a world in which individual freedoms are in balance with collective thriving. It means we must unequivocally reaffirm our commitment to protecting and supporting our trans and non-binary family, in Texas and across the globe. It means we must elect and hold accountable leaders who have the power to resist and repair the wounds of colonialism and imperialism, working at the global level for policies that uphold the dignity of all peoples and the well-being of our Earth and the entire human family. 

Sometimes, the overwhelming flood of emotions on a day like today can make us freeze with fear and powerlessness. The good news, however, is that because our struggles for justice are so deeply interconnected, we can always take meaningful actions that are part of much bigger solutions. In the words of the Transgender Education Network of Texas today: 

From denying our freedom to decide when, if [and] how to start a family, to blocking Black, young [and] new Americans' freedom to vote, to banning children from learning the truth of our past so they can shape a better future, politicians… hold onto power by dividing us. This handful of politicians know that if we join together, we will demand the basic rights and resources that all of our families need and deserve – and we will win.

In the coming days and weeks, there will be lots of opportunities for collective action in service of that world we yearn for and imagine together. As always, Side With Love will be in conversation with our partners, discerning how Unitarian Universalists can best serve the movements working for justice–and we will support UUs across the country in taking meaningful action. Interfaith coalitions are already making plans to secure refugee and temporary protected status for people displaced by the invasion of Ukraine, and we are working closely with state and national organizations to mobilize protection for trans children in Texas and to strategically combat anti-trans legislation nationwide. Stay tuned through our Action Center for concrete ways to get involved.

Until then, know that you are part of a great network of people working in a thousand different ways to create that world in which we are all both radically free and radically interdependent. Pray, weep, march, connect, agitate, fundraise, shout–do whatever your spirit needs to ground again in the wellspring of hope and imagination that will sustain you to take your shift when the time comes. 

We are grateful to be in it together for the long haul.

In faith and solidarity,

Rev. Ashley Horan
Organizing Strategy Director 
Side With Love - Unitarian Universalist Association

From Texas to Ukraine: Interdependence Over Imperialism

Join us on 3/15 to learn how to combat anti-trans legislation in your state

9 March 2022 at 15:50

Refusing someone affirming care does not make them less trans, it makes them less safe. Trans kids are just kids. They deserve protection and admiration, not legalized bullying from the government.  

 Trans kids are Divine. Trans kids are God, Godde, Goddess, Love, Life embodied. Trans kids are holy.

 -- UU Church of Tallahassee Director of Religious Exploration Helen Cassar

Currently, there are approximately 150 anti-transgender bills moving through state legislatures across the country. From banning participation in sports, to so-called "bathroom bills," to legislation that criminalizes providing life-saving gender affirming health care, these bills are deadly for trans and nonbinary people of all ages.

To those of you who are trans, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fabulous, and those of you with children, grandkids and other loved ones who are gender fabulous: we see you in your beauty and wholeness. We send you our love in these scary times.  Our upcoming training may be exactly what you need, or you may have other ways you need to take care of yourself as you and your family face these attacks. Take care of yourself.

To our allies, and gender fabulous folks ready to take action: join Side With Love's Rev. Michael Crumpler and Rev. Ashley Horan for a conversation on March 15th with our friends at the Trevor Project about this horrifying trend, and what we can do to Side With Love on behalf of our trans and nonbinary kin everywhere. This 101 level webinar will educate and inspire so we may side with love and publicly declare that trans lives are sacred. 

Register Now

Join us on 3/15 to learn how to combat anti-trans legislation in your state

How do we center justice in the climate movement?

11 March 2022 at 14:02

How do we center justice in the climate movement? Like many climate activists, the urgency of climate change drives my action.  That urgency encouraged me to affirm solutions like 100% renewables no matter the cost…until I started recognizing the costs. Without centering justice, our climate work “saves the planet” for a select few at the expense of countless others. Without climate justice, we sacrifice the people who are least responsible and most impacted.  

It’s easy to say, “we must center justice!” We know it is much harder to do the work.  Even with the best of intentions, we struggle to create the trusting relationships critical to transforming our future.  And even with the deepest of convictions, we struggle to sustain our energy for the long haul climate justice journey. As people of faith, we are called to transformative justice. We are called to deep reflection that moves us into intentional action. We are called to life-affirming hope. And we are called to strengthen and celebrate one another in our work for faithful climate justice.  

image of invitation to climate convergence

As individuals and communities, we also must recognize that complex problems like climate change don’t have a single, easy solution. The intersecting impacts of colonialism, extractive energy practices, corporate greed, and dominionism require us to think and act strategically at those intersections. We have to listen to and learn different ways of understanding and being as we cultivate accountable relationships with frontline communities.  We need to - we are called to - embrace curiosity, shared leadership, and transformation in our shared climate justice movement.

So, how do we develop those real relationships? How do we welcome and expand a broader leadership potential in our communities and our congregations? What can we do to create climate justice in ways that honor the sacred relationships we have with each other and our global community?

In the spirit of collaborative transformation, we invite you to join the upcoming Congregational Climate Convergence on March 22. This convergence will help us share and shape our various climate ministries with a systems approach and framework for engagement. Featuring case studies from Unitarian Universalists centering justice in the climate movement and engaging a broad spectrum of leadership, we will hold community conversations about how our climate work reflects our shared values. We will explore how to amplify and ground our work in Unitarian Universalist community with support from the Side with Love Action Center. We will remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone.

We are excited to have the opportunity to come together to connect, learn, and share. See you at the Convergence!

In community,

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Congregational Justice Organizer  

Rachel Myslivy, Climate Justice Organizer

UUA Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

How do we center justice in the climate movement?

Recording & Resources from Combatting Anti-Trans Legislation 101 Training

17 March 2022 at 15:45

Currently, there are approximately 150 anti-transgender bills moving through state legislatures across the country. From banning participation in sports to so-called "bathroom bills," to legislation that criminalizes providing life-saving gender-affirming health care, these bills are deadly for trans and nonbinary people of all ages.

Held March 15, 2022, this training featured Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project; Rev. Erin Walter from Texas Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry; and Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson from UU Justice Ministry on North Carolina, in addition to Side With Love staff Rev. Ashley Horan, Rev. Michael Crumpler, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, and Adrian Ballou.

Recommended Actions from the training

  • If you are subject to a child protection investigation for supporting your trans/non-binary child, file an Investigative Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights 

  • If you are a cisgender congregational leader or religious professional, take our Spokesperson Training to learn how to talk about protecting trans lives 

Recommended Resources from the training

and finally, be sure to subscribe to our emails to be updated on our campaigns.

Recording & Resources from Combatting Anti-Trans Legislation 101 Training

Celebrating a More Inclusive Judiciary

18 March 2022 at 15:56

The timing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jack­son’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court--one day after Russia invaded Ukraine--understandably distracted attention from her selection. But Jackson’s ascent is a milestone we would appreciate and celebrate for multiple reasons. 

We knew President Biden’s nominee would be the first Black woman so honored, but the lack of surprise shouldn’t minimize the importance of breaking through 230-plus years of excluding Black women from the Supreme Court. Jackson brings impeccable credentials that inspired the Unitarian Universalist Association to join in supporting her nomination. Among decades of achievements, Jackson graduated with honors from Harvard Law School; clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; and currently serves as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. 

Jackson also will break another pivotal barrier by becoming the first public defender ever to serve on the Supreme Court and the first criminal defense attorney since Thurgood Marshall retired in 1991.

Such experience directly impacts the fates of criminal defendants, who are disproportionately people of color. Federal judges with criminal defense experience less often impose the longest potential sentences, a tendency true regardless of whether a Republican or Democratic president appointed the judge. Insight into the lives of defendants also leads those judges to more often assign community service or probation without incarceration.

Grassroots work driving change
Democratic and Republican presidents alike have stacked the federal courts with corporate lawyers and prosecutors. Those judges’ rulings overwhelmingly have facilitated mass incarceration while favoring large corporations over competing public interests. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, a stunning 70 percent of Supreme Court rulings aligned with briefs from the largest corporate lobbyist, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

President Biden’s pre-election calls to further escalate law enforcement spending and sustain criminalization of marijuana use, among other stances, raised concern among people seeking to reform the systemic class discrimination and racism embedded in our legal system. 

So justice advocates built a campaign to influence judicial appointments, including a “shortlist” of Supreme Court candidates who would diversify the bench (Judge Jackson was among them) and lobbied Biden’s advisors. Their work helped inspire a remarkable letter circulated by Biden’s transition team. It sought recommendations for judgeships, specifying “individuals whose legal experiences have been historically underrepresented on the federal bench, including those who are public defenders, civil rights and legal aid attorneys, and those who represent Americans in every walk of life.”

The promise of the letter is being fulfilled. Nominees to lower courts have diversified the bench in every way, including record numbers of women, people of color, public defenders, and civil rights lawyers. Biden filled more than three-quarters of open judgeships thus far with women and more than two-thirds with people of color—doubling the percentage of President Obama. 

Like Judge Jackson, those nominees proved building a more inclusive federal bench requires no compromise in the judges’ level of accomplishment. 

Though Jackson’s experience representing indigent clients in Washington, D.C. appears lower in news reports, that involvement gives her grounding likely to advance core UU principles of justice, compassion, equity, and the inherent worth of every person. She knows first-hand how our criminal justice system often mistreats the most vulnerable among us.

Of course, Jackson will likely be joining many dissents against a regressive supermajority until we install a Senate willing to expand and restore balance to the Court, but the accounts of justices who served with Thurgood Marshall—the first Black Supreme Court justice—tell us a unique personal perspective can influence the Court well beyond their vote.

As we and our congregations confront the urgent threats to peace, voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and more, let’s cherish the landmark nomination of Judge Jackson and the grassroots work helping improve our entire federal judiciary. Through celebrating our victories, we can draw needed inspiration to energize our ongoing struggles.

The writer, Jeff Milchen, is UUA’s Justice Communications Associate. Learn more about the UUA’s justice priorities.

For an in-depth and more nunanced look at now-Justice Jackson, see Ketanji Brown Jackson Is Neither Our Champion Nor Our Enemy.

Celebrating a More Inclusive Judiciary

UU the Vote 2022 launches April 10!

23 March 2022 at 10:21

Elections have consequences. Progress is not an incident, but the cumulative impact of our commitment to justice. Right now, we are witnessing one amazing and crucial consequence of the 2020 election, the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jack­son to the US Supreme Court. 

But we know our work is not done. In both Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing and in state legislatures across the country, hateful ideology and rhetoric are used as a political tool to win points or gain power at the expense of marginalized communities. We see reproductive rights under assault and attempts to systematically strip away voting rights. Our 2022 midterm election will have consequences. It is our work to support and build power in our communities to make justice the consequence. 

In 2020, UUs came out in historic numbers, responding to the moral call to combat the rise of fascism and white supremacist culture. UU the Vote reached millions of voters and made a discernible impact in pivotal states like Georgia, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

This year, we’re leveraging the power we built in 2020 to grow our work and our impact. This year, we’re investing more resources in our state action networks, frontline partners, and volunteers. But we can’t get the work done without you! 

Join us for the launch of UU the Vote 2022!

We plan to kick off our UU the Vote work on Sunday, April 10 at 1pm PT / 2pm MT / 3pm CT / 4pm ET. This 90-minute live webinar will feature UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, our state partners, and our new UU the Vote Campaign Manager. Learn how our program is going deeper into values-based conversation, showing up for ballot measures to combat voter suppression, fight for reproductive justice, and resist the criminalization of BIack, Indigenous, and people of color communities.

Will you join us to launch UU the Vote 2022?

Unitarian Universalists understand that democracy is a process and a practice. A movement for radical democracy requires us to create new coalitions and community partnerships to put power in the hands of the many, instead of the few. UU the Vote is part of Side With Love, which shares four intersectional justice priorities; we hope you’ll join us in connecting reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ justice, and climate justice with electoral justice.

Friend, you are a part of this sacred work. Please join us for the launch and learn how you can UU the Vote in 2022!

 Register for the launch event for UU the Vote 2022.

UU the Vote 2022 launches April 10!

Resources & Recordings from the 2022 Congregational Climate Convergence

29 March 2022 at 14:21

Over 300 people signed up for community nourishment, inspiration, and skillbuilding around climate justice on 3/22 as part of Spring for Change: A Season of Sacred Activism.

Quick links from the event:  

Summary of the Congregational Climate Convergence

 

After a warm and grounding welcome from Rev. Ashley Horan, the event started with a quick introduction to systems thinking and making connections on climate justice.  Climate Justice Organizer, Rachel Myslivy, shared two frameworks to shape the event, including the What? So what? Now what? framework from the Human Systems Dynamics Institute and a framework for cultivating meaningful dialogs through deep listening, direct speech, appreciative inquiry, and genuine appreciation.  

 

Case Studies.  Two congregations shared case studies to seed conversations among small groups.  Eva Berringer from First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and frontline partner, Kayoki Whiteduck, discussed ways to cultivate relationships with frontline communities focusing on the emerging partnership with First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and the youth Future Food Warriors at the Ajashki Food Security Initiative.  Ian Goddard from Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church (NSUU), located in Danvers, MA discussed the ways their Green Sanctuary Team reached out to front line organizers and by so doing also increased the percentage of congregation members and friends engaging the work with a particular focus on creative ways to increase engagement throughout the pandemic.   Ideas generated from the small groups were collected through Mentimeter and are available for viewing here and here.

Deepening Engagement.  After each case study, small groups came together to process the information, consider the implications, and frame next steps.  Using the What? So what? Now what? framework, Congregational Justice Organizer, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy posed questions for each group to consider.  Ideas generated from the small groups were collected through Mentimeter and are available for viewing here and here.

Action Center Spotlight.  The final portion of the convergence focused on the Now what? portion of the framework featuring a deep dive into the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team’s Action Center.  Rev. Cathy Rion Starr provided participants with several actions to take, including joining Skill ups and Community of Praxis events.  Participants shifted from learning to action on the UUSJ Water Resources Defense Act (WRDA) action alert.  Hundreds of UUs learned about WRDA and took action!  Share the WRDA Action with your friends, family, and congregations!  Watch for a follow up click-to-call to contact your congressional representatives on WRDA.  

Throughout the event, Canedy Knowles of the Side With Love Fun & Spiritual Nourishment Volunteer Squad helped integrate mind and body and spirit with engaging activities that reinvigorated the group and helped us refocus for each section of the event. 

Side With Love would like to thank everyone who helped bring this Convergence together including

  • Rachel Myslivy, Climate Justice Organizer

  • Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, the Side With Love Congregational Justice Organizer

  • Rev Cathy Rion Starr, the Side With Love Action Center Squads Coordinator

  • Karen Brammer, Green Sanctuary Program Manager

  • Aly Tharp, Co-Director of UU Ministry for Earth,

  • Rev. Ashley Horan, Side With Love Organizing Strategy Director

  • Audra Friend, Digital Communications, Technology, and Data Specialist

  • Squad members Beth Posner-Waldron and Canedy Knowles


See upcoming programming for Spring for Change 2022, March 20 - May 22!

Resources & Recordings from the 2022 Congregational Climate Convergence

Recording & Resources from Speak Up for Trans Lives: Spokesperson Training

7 April 2022 at 13:41

Hosted in March 2022, this training featured Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project as well as Side With Love staff Rev. Ashley Horan, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, and Adrian Ballou.

Webinar recording with video (80 minutes)

View our earlier webinar, Combatting Anti-Trans Legislation 101 with the Trevor Project

Other Links:

Recording & Resources from Speak Up for Trans Lives: Spokesperson Training

Statement from Side With Love on AL SB184

7 April 2022 at 13:47

Hours before the close of the 2022 legislative session, the Alabama state senate introduced some of the most harmful, comprehensive anti-trans legislation that has been proposed anywhere in the nation. If AL SB184 passes today, it will include a “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” provision, forced outing of LGBTQIA+ students, a bathroom ban, and the most extreme healthcare ban in the US, which could send doctors who provide gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth to prison for 10 years. 


Let us be clear: our faith unequivocally, fiercely, and unapologetically affirms that trans people are a divine and a beloved part of the human family. There is no law, no political rhetoric, that can diminish the inherent worth and dignity of trans and nonbinary people – that is endowed from the moment of birth, and can never be taken away. 


And, precisely because of this truth, our faith compels us to fight like hell against any law that would deprive trans and nonbinary people of  the basic human and civil rights that are necessary for human flourishing. Please, join us in taking action right now and demand Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon vote no on SB184. Wherever you live, help make it clear that all eyes are on Alabama, and we’re ready to fight back against this cowardly, repressive legislation. Click here to call. 


Unfortunately, AL SB184 is just the latest in a national surge of anti-trans bills that are being used by the radical right to disseminate disinformation and whip up emotions (and votes) from the most regressive parts of their base. As we grow closer and closer to the midterm elections, we know we will see more of these cynical ploys by politicians – and we must respond by both fighting these insidious laws, and doing everything we can to reduce the harm they will inevitably cause to the trans and nonbinary beloveds in our communities


Trans beloveds, if you are struggling today, please know that you are not alone. If you need help, please connect with some of these affirming resources now:

We’re with you in the struggle, dear ones, and ready to fight for a world in which every single one of us is safe and thriving. Thank you for working toward that future with us. 

In faith and solidarity, 

Rev. Ashley Horan, Organizing Strategy Director

Side With Love

p.s.) What is happening in Alabama today is directly tied to attacks across the country on democracy, voting rights, reproductive freedom, and more. We will be joining our movement partners working on the 2022 elections to resist this oppressive wave of policy disasters and the politicians behind them, and to fight for a more affirming and democratic society. Join us THIS SUNDAY for our 2022 UU the Vote Launch to find your role in this work. 

p.p.s.) Want to know more about the wave of anti-trans legislation sweeping the country, and what you can do about it? Watch our recent Anti-Trans Legislation 101 and Speaking Up for Trans Lives Spokesperson Training webinars today. 

Statement from Side With Love on AL SB184

Ready to #VoteLove in 2022? Recording & Training from the launch of UU the Vote 2022!

14 April 2022 at 10:28

When we organize, we build power in our communities for justice, accountability, and healing. In the last two years, UU the Vote has built new networks of spiritual and political communities to #VoteLove and #DefeatHate. We know what's at stake; LGBTQ rights, abortion access, voting rights and democracy itself are all on ballots all over the country

 With UU the Vote 2022 we’re organizing on the state and local levels to fight for fair elections, advance voting rights, protect abortion access, and resist the targeting and criminalization of Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. 

 Last weekend, we officially launched UU the Vote 2022 and you're invited to join us!

  • Watch and share the recording of UU the Vote 2022 Launch

  • Download the new 2022 UU the Vote Launch Guide

  • Download the slides from the event

UU the Vote Campaign Manager JaZahn Hicks shares his two asks now that we've launched:

“I know the amazing work that you all did in 2020, and hearing from you at the launch, I can see how you did it. You are all dedicated, passionate, fired up about justice and grounded in your faith and principles. We lift up and are truly thankful for those of you who have already started the hard work in your congregations and communities, and we want to hear about it!”
— UU the Vote Campaign Manager JaZahn Hicks

1) Get counted! We know many of you are already acting in primary elections, voter registration drives, and much more. Share your work in the Story and Report form and give your work counted in our national goals.

2) No good campaign can exist without a good volunteer base. Volunteers are the backbone of every movement and ours is no different. We need YOU! We need phonebankers, canvassers, tech and data specialists, trainers, volunteer coordinators and so much more if we are going to be successful in 2022. Be a part of that.

Find a role that works for you at our Volunteer Activation Huddle, Apr 21, 2022, 7:30pm-8:30pm EST! Sign up and share the link to 5 of your friends.

This campaign is only going to work when we all get involved. We have opportunities all over the country and priorities we need to address and we can’t do it alone. We have to join together and fight for our beliefs, our values and our democracy. Take that next step with us on April 21st at 730pm EST. I hope to see you all there."

Ready to #VoteLove in 2022? Recording & Training from the launch of UU the Vote 2022!

The Fight for Abortion Access Isn’t Over

3 May 2022 at 15:03

Since well before Roe v. Wade, Unitarian Universalists have declared unequivocally that we support every person’s right to make decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health, including the choice to seek abortion care. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, UUs have supported movements working to make abortion accessible and affordable and to destigmatize abortion within our society. Given that legacy, today is a heartbreaking day for all of us who believe that our bodies, and the choices we make about them, are sacred. 

Yesterday afternoon, Politico broke the news that through an unprecedented breach in Supreme Court security, they had obtained an early draft of the SCOTUS majority opinion in Dobbs v Jackson–a case in which the Court’s new conservative supermajority has the opportunity to overturn Roe and revert the country to an era in which abortion rights are determined on a state-by-state basis. In the leaked draft opinion, Justice Alito speaks for the majority in declaring, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” and goes on, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” In effect, unless the final version of this ruling is dramatically different than this draft, abortion will no longer be a federally protected right, with “trigger laws” criminalizing abortion care going into effect immediately.

To be clear: The conservative supermajority–enabled by a majority of justices appointed by Presidents that did not win the popular vote–is suggesting they will renege on their confirmation reassurances that Roe was the settled law of the land. Should this decision be finalized, it will be an intentional choice to side with white supremacy and Christian nationalism, and it will be an attack on all people with uteruses, particularly and especially BIPOC, poor, rural, and disabled people. It will have immediate and deadly consequences for millions of people. 

And still: pregnant people have been seeking and providing abortion care for hundreds and thousands of years. As so many have said, banning abortion will simply make it more difficult for people–especially poor, rural, and BIPOC people–to obtain surgical abortions safely and legally. To those of you who are in need of an abortion: your fear is valid, your body is sacred, and a wide network of people who acknowledge these truths are ready to help you access the abortion care you need. And, abortion is still legal right now. To get connected with medical providers and logistical and financial support, go to ineedana.com or abortionfinder.org to find the clinic nearest you.

The truth is that the conversation about abortion and reproductive rights has always been about Christian nationalism, misogyny, and white supremacy. Under the guises of “religious liberty” and “states’ rights,” the white, owning-class Christian right has been working since the end of the Civil War to subjugate and criminalize Black and brown bodies, maintain power, and hoard wealth. In the post-Roe era, with the rise of the Evangelical right, politicians quickly discovered that abortion was a highly motivating electoral issue to their base, and have been waging culture wars ever since. Meanwhile, the Christian right has ensured that unless you are urban, white, and middle class, you likely face significant barriers to obtaining an abortion even if it is technically legal.

For those of us who have poured our hearts into Reproductive Justice work, the likely overruling of Roe is heartbreaking. Many of us are terrified not only of what this will mean for people seeking abortions and other reproductive care, but for the precedent this ruling could set for bodily autonomy and privacy in countless other arenas. 

Our Unitarian Universalist faith affirms that all of our bodies are sacred, and that we are each endowed with the twin gifts of agency and conscience. Each of us should have the power to decide what does and doesn’t happen to our bodies at every moment of our lives because consent and bodily autonomy are holy. And when disparities in resources or freedoms make it more difficult for certain groups of people to exercise autonomy over their own bodies, our faith compels us to take liberatory action. 

As a people of faith, Unitarian Universalists have committed to working together for Reproductive Justice, following the lead of movement partners who have been in the struggle and on the frontlines for years. Here are six things you can do today to take action:  

  1. Turn out tonight wherever you are to answer the Women’s March’s call to Rally for Roe.

  2. Join Side With Love and the National Network of Abortion Funds for our upcoming political education event, Heart-to-Heart: Abortion Conversations & Action for a Post-Roe World, Tuesday, May 17 at 8pm ET/5pm PT.

  3. Support local organizing for abortion access and Reproductive Justice. Form a congregational team, educate yourselves, join with other progressive people of faith, follow the lead of your local Reproductive Justice organization.

  4. Donate to your local abortion fund to ensure that everyone who needs an abortion can afford one.

  5. Get involved with SACReD, the Spiritual Alliance of Communities for Reproductive Dignity, which is building a multi-racial, multi-faith movement of congregations across the country that publicly proclaim their support for reproductive dignity. It’s so new that it doesn’t have a full website, but you can sign up for future communications here.

  6. Get involved with the work of the Liberate Abortion Coalition, and consider participating in the upcoming Abortion Crisis Caravan this June.

The fight is far from over, beloveds. Every popular poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans support the right to safe and legal abortion, and the Reproductive Justice movement is powerful and mobilized. As Renee Bracey Sherman, Executive Director of We Testify, recently noted, “Abortion is not a divisive issue, it’s a gerrymandered issue.” So we take a deep breath together, and prepare to carry on the work of those who have gone before and to follow those already leading us into the future. In the words of SisterSong, “ABORTION IS STILL LEGAL and we will always fight to keep it that way, but our work and our liberation has always been bigger than laws. It is also about culture change and mutual aid and US SHOWING UP FOR US.”

 Blessings and love to all as we show up together.

In faith and solidarity,

The Side With Love Team

The Fight for Abortion Access Isn’t Over

We are a movement, not a machine.

6 May 2022 at 14:33

Beloved, 

Are you tired? I am. Are you mad as hell? Me too. Are you figuring out how to get out of bed, go to work, and carry on while day after day you are stunned by the cruelty of our leaders and our laws? If I am honest, I too have chosen a nap instead of a meeting. I have reached out to connect with friends, instead of taking every action that falls into my inbox. 


And that’s ok. We are a movement, not a machine. Caring for ourselves, our communities, and our spirits are essential to sustaining our movements. 


Our work is as complex as our movements. But there is nothing complicated about injustice. We are clear that Christian nationalism, white supremacy, and extractive capitalism are the forces that threaten our democracy, our bodily autonomy, our climate, and our lives. 


The truth is, we know that we as individuals and our communities are impacted differently. But, I believe James Baldwin when he wrote, “if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” If we have learned anything from this decades-long campaign of right-wing authoritarianism, let us learn that when power and profit are the singular goal, no person, no community is safe. Privilege is a thin and flimsy shield. Solidarity and collective struggle is the moral choice that we must make if we are to dismantle these systems of oppression and create the beloved community that we seek. 


Beloveds, we must be in this work together. 


So I offer you this; a place to come when you are ready to take action, when you are fired with righteous rage or heavy grief, and when you are yearning for understanding about what this means and how we move through. Your community is here. Together, we learn, act, and grow our spirits and our movements toward justice, equity, and liberation. 


Here’s what I will be doing to take care and take action.  

  • Join us for music, grounding and connection at Write to Vote. Come dance, sing, and listen with Emma’s Revolution and Vote Forward. We’ll have time to connect with one another, write letters to voters, and learn how each of us are taking shifts to UU to Vote in the midterm election. Bring a friend. Bring a neighbor. And bring your pen. Monday, May 9, 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT

  • Join us at our Fun and Spiritual Nourishment Squad training. Come together to learn ways we care for our communities and fill our cups on the long journey for justice. Our volunteers host spiritual gatherings and integrate practices of care and grounding in our national event. Wednesday, May 11, 7:30pm ET/4:30pm PT

  • Join us for Heart to Heart Abortion Conversations and Action for a post-Roe World with our partners National Network of Abortion Fund. As the Supreme Court looks likely to overturn or critically undermine Roe v. Wade, it seems more and more likely that access to safe and legal abortions will be even further diminished everywhere. This 90-minute event will be a learning and practice space for supporters to engage with the Heart-to-Heart campaign materials in community and interact with NNAF and other participants in compassionate abortion conversations. May, 17, 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT

  • Join us for Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care. Rachel Myslivy, Side With Love Climate Justice Organizer as well as UU leaders such as Rev. Karen Hutt, Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry; Halcyon Westall with the UUA Disaster Relief Fund and Faithify; and Rev. Cynthia Cain. From wildfires to floods, climate disasters impact our communities. How do we cultivate community care in response to climate disasters? With this event, we hope to better understand the threats to your community and the resources available to help UUs show up for their communities. Thursday, May 19 at 6pm ET/ 3pm PT.

image of Nicole Pressley

In faith and solidarity,

Nicole Pressley 

Field and Programs Director



We are a movement, not a machine.

From Individualism to Empathy

16 May 2022 at 08:12

Can We Transform a Gruesome Milestone Into a Positive Turning Point?

By Jeff Milchen

As we approach the dismal milestone of one million people killed by COVID in the U.S., I’m reminded of words originally penned by German writer Kurt Tucholsky, “The death of one man: this is a catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of deaths: that is a statistic!”

Our hearts simply cannot absorb the enormity of the loss of so many dead.

Statistics alone lack power to inspire the empathy, consideration, inclusion, and—above all—policy shifts we desperately need to protect our most vulnerable citizens. So how can we prevent such overwhelming numbers from demoralizing us and instead reach people in ways that inspire work to build the more equitable and compassionate system our Unitarian Universalist faith demands?

We’re at a crucial moment, as recent changes trend even further toward extreme individualism in lieu of compassion and community. In April, a federal judge declared the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lacked authority to control disease via mask mandates, so it’s now often a personal choice whether we protect ourselves and others around us. Whatever our personal risk comfort level may be, let’s set an example of defending vulnerable people who can’t ignore COVID’s deadly threat and advocate policies that defend them.

Media reports on the mask ruling focused overwhelmingly on airline passengers and industry personnel. Yet ridership on buses, trains, and subways exceeds air travel tenfold. And millions of people who might never board a plane rely on public transit to get to work, school, and obtain (or provide) essential goods and services. 

While some mass transit systems employed federal relief funds through the CARES Act to install air filtration systems, an operable window is the best hope for many bus and subway commuters. Those passengers skew toward low-income, disabled, and people of color, and often have no alternative means for essential travel. They include many of the 7 million Americans who are immunocompromised at moderate to severe levels.

Many immunocompromised people go unrecognized by people around them because they don’t appear sick and choose increased risk rather than publicizing their vulnerability or secluding themselves. Yet their lives are endangered by COVID as protective measures are weakened.

Many immunocompromised people aren’t recognized as such by friends and acquaintances because they don’t appear sick and choose increased risk rather than seclusion. Yet their lives are at risk from COVID as protective measures are weakened.

About 13 percent of adult Americans are diabetic, but they comprise 30 to 40 percent of all COVID deaths. Numerous factors contribute to diabetes rates for Blacks, Latinos, and the poor greatly exceeding rates among white and non-poor individuals. And by almost any measure, health outcomes for people of color in the U.S. are worse than those for white people. Those disparities persist across socioeconomic status, education, and geography. 

The COVID pandemic amplifies multiple existing inequities, from historic redlining that segregated people into neighborhoods that lack clean air and access to healthy food, to people in marginalized communities more often lacking health insurance and experiencing inferior treatment by health care professionals.

Suspending public safety precautions also will worsen existing inequities of race, health and wealth. The poorest U.S. counties suffered 4.5 times more deaths than the wealthiest during the worst COVID waves. 

Many precautionary actions by governments and businesses early in the pandemic inspired a combination of hope and frustration among the immunocompromised. Masking requirements, physical barriers to protect workers, and opportunities for many more people to work from home all inspired hope that society might evolve to accommodate their disabilities. 

At the same time, countless people who’d been denied the opportunity to compete for jobs based on their need to work remotely were frustrated by the sudden shift, as corporations recognized remote work is totally viable. As disability activist Imani Barbarin says, “now that a pandemic has forced nondisabled workers to isolate, accessibility is everywhere.” How can we ensure these gains for vulnerable people endure?

So can we use the milestone of one million deaths to drive positive change? If the current situation feels dispiriting, consider the progress won by folks with more visible physical disabilities in recent decades. Organizers steadily shifted public perception of disabilities from an individual problem into binding societal commitments that accommodate people of all abilities. That progress was rooted in cultural shifts advancing the first Unitarian Universalist principle: the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Since immune system vulnerabilities are rarely visible, we all can help increase the awareness and empathy that must precede substantive change by speaking out to support measures defending and protecting the more vulnerable among us. As we advocate for immediate measures within our sphere of influence, like enabling remote work or participation in events, masking, and physical distancing, let’s also imagine the trail we need to blaze to health equity.

Just as investing in greater equity for folks with physical disabilities yields a bounty of benefits to everyone, designing for people with health vulnerabilities via reforms like improved building ventilation, paid sick days, and ultimately, universal health care, will improve the quality of life for all of us.

The Washington State Education Ombuds office compiled a fine collection of COVID-19 and Disability Justice Resources (pdf). Jeff Milchen is the UUA Justice Communications Associate and a Side With Love team member.

From Individualism to Empathy

Statement on Buffalo Shootings: "We begin with truth-telling and moving together in that truth."

16 May 2022 at 17:55

On Saturday, an 18-year-old white supremacist carried out a premeditated fatal attack on a Black community in Buffalo, killing ten and injuring many more. Today, we mourn the ten unique and precious lives of the people murdered in Buffalo – church elders, civil rights activists, grandmothers, parents of small children. We grieve with this community as they reel from this violence and collective trauma.

Tops supermarket is more than a grocery store – it is a space that the community created to meet essential needs. The shooter’s plan was specifically designed to target the beating heart of the Black community, taking aim at a nexus of community care, resources, and resiliency. This is the essence of white supremacist ideology – the elimination of not only BIPOC people as individuals, but entire communities and cultures.

Given the persistent white supremacist attacks in our nation’s history, it is dishonest and irresponsible to call these “isolated incidents.” We will not cause further harm by calling this a mental health issue. We must refuse the complacency of accepting that this is simply a gun reform issue. This is the expected consequence of a nation that has yet to confront an ideology that proclaims whiteness is superior and treats blackness as less valuable or a threat. Shootings like these are not an affront to America’s deepest values; they are the embodiment of them.

In all too familiar moments, we recall these words from the song “Tell It Like It Is” by Tracy Chapman:

Say you'll never close your eyes, or pretend that it's a rosy world.

Say you'll never try to paint what is rotten with a sugarcoat.

Say you'll talk about the horrors you've seen and the torment you know,

And tell it like it is.

This latest attack is the result of a society that is rooted in white supremacy. This violence begins with people aligning themselves with white supremacy, however, it shows up in our lives. It shows up with believing that white lives should be protected over Black lives–knowing that Black children playing on playgrounds or sleeping in their homes are killed by police without hesitation, while white assailants are taken safely into custody. It shows up with packaging genocidal movements in language like “Replacement Theory.” It shows up when the media calls Mike Brown an “18-year-old man” and the Buffalo shooter a ”white teenager.” Whether it is the lie of a stolen election or calling a deadly insurrection “legitimate political discourse,” we must remember that “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” White supremacy, in all its expressions, is violence. And until we collectively commit to eradicating that root structure, this violence will continue.

We must keep telling the truth, keep fighting, keep building a shared story and collective power because in our bones–we know another world is possible. As Black movement builder and Director of the Working Families Party Moe Mitchell said this morning, “If you don’t think change is possible, organizing is not your ministry.” We begin with truth-telling and moving together in that truth. Another world is possible if we build it together.

9 staff members of Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team are together by a tree

In Photo:

Top row, from left to right: Rachel Myslivy, Susan Leslie, Nicole Pressley, Audra Friend, Rev. Ashley Horan, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy

Bottom row, from left to right: Rev. Michael Crumpler, Jeff Milchen, Rev. Cathy Rion Starr

In faith and solidarity,

The Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team:

Adrian Ballou, Rev. Michael Crumpler, Audra Friend, Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, JaZahn Hicks, Rev. Ashley Horan, Susan Leslie, Jeff Milchen, Rachel Myslivy, Nicole Pressley, & Rev. Cathy Rion Starr

Statement on Buffalo Shootings: "We begin with truth-telling and moving together in that truth."

Heart-to-Heart: Abortion Conversations and Action for a Post-Roe World

20 May 2022 at 10:22

On May 17th, Side With Love hosted the National Network of Abortion Funds for a political education webinar for Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience to support abortion and take action in a post-Roe world. We’re especially grateful to Amanda Pretlow and Adaku Utah for their expertise, love, and invitational challenge at this event.

We heard about the importance of strengthening our muscles to have deep, connective conversations with people in our communities about abortion (and other issues!). NNAF’s Heart-to-Heart framework is an incredible resource to use for both relational organizing (1:1 values-based conversations with people in our own networks) and community organizing (within our congregations and with other faith communities). You can check out the whole array of Heart-to-Heart resources on the NNAF website, or you can jump right to specific tools:

Toward the end of the webinar, we offered three specific calls to action:

  1. Become an individual member of NNAF, and organize your congregation to make an offering to your local abortion fund.

  2. Plan a set of small-group Heart-to-Heart conversations either within your own congregation, or in partnership with other local progressive congregations – remember that the work of building alignment, shared values, and relationships is an essential precursor to building power and capacity!

  3. If your congregation is ready to begin organizing right now for concrete action working for abortion access and reproductive justice in your community, join us for Side With Love’s three-session Congregational Reproductive Justice Organizing Series, happening later this summer! (Please note that in order to join this cohort, we require at least two people from your congregation to commit to participating).

We’re so grateful that so many UUs are ready to meet the needs of this moment, and to continue to grow our relationships with organizations who have been leading this struggle for years.

Blessings,

Rev. Ashley Horan

Organizing Strategy Director, Side With Love - UUA


Heart-to-Heart: Abortion Conversations and Action for a Post-Roe World

Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care Webinar Materials

26 May 2022 at 17:08

In May 2022, we hosted the webinar Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care. 

Special thanks to Rev. Karen Hutt, Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry; Halcyon Westall with the UUA Disaster Relief Fund and Faithify; and Rev. Cynthia Cain for helping us all reflect on how to cultivate community care in response to climate disasters.

What now?

Climate Disaster Response Workshop

July 10, 2022 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM ET


Climate disasters impact our communities - how can UUs be prepared? Join this hands-on workshop with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk, and how your community will be impacted. From there, make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood. This workshop is a follow up to "Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care'. Attendees are encouraged to watch the video of that training in advance of this workshop. Invite your congregation to watch with you! Sunday, July 10 - 4ET - 3CT - 2MT - 1PT

Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care Webinar Materials

Side With Love at General Assembly 2022

10 June 2022 at 13:14

During General Assembly 2022 — the annual gathering of the Unitarian Universalist Association — Side With Love will have a range of programming and activities for participants in person in Portland, OR as well as online! Unless otherwise noted, all events and activities are open to the public.

Side With Love Networking Room

Join us in-person in Portland at our networking space in the Willamette 1 at the Hyatt Regency (across the street from the convention center). The space will be open to anyone registered for GA during these times:

  • Wednesday: 12pm - 1:30pm PT

  • Thursday - Sunday: 9am - 1:30pm PT

Come by to get your #JusticeBingo card, find spiritual respite at our altar space, make signs for Friday’s public witness, write letters to voters, meet with Side With Love staff and volunteers, and enjoy our many informal and formal events and gatherings!

#SideWithLove #JusticeBingo

Download our Side With Love #JusticeBingo or pick up a card at our Side With Love Network Room (Willamette 1 at the Hyatt Regency) and make a BINGO (complete 5 squares in any direction!). Once you get a BINGO, you get a raffle ticket for a prize. Complete the whole BINGO card and get 15 tickets! Submit proof of BINGO by going to the Side With Love Networking Room or email love@uua.org. Learn about the individual activities!

Prizes:

  • Side With Love sweatshirt (3 winners)

  • Side With Love swag box, valued at $100 (2 winners)

  • Side With Love swag box, valued at $100, plus $100 gift certificate to InSpirit Bookstore (1 winner)

See our General Assembly Activities by Day See our General Assembly Activities by Issue See Our General Assembly Activities by Type

Side With Love at General Assembly 2022

Create Climate Justice, June 2022: Climate Resilience, Disaster Response, and Community Care

15 June 2022 at 13:26
header for create climate justice w image of people standing in the shape of an orca.

Climate forced displacement is on the news every day.  Most recently, the fires in New Mexico have displaced up to 18,000 people in the largest wildfire in the state’s history.  The Hermit’s Peak and Canyon Calf fires are only about 65% contained; the true impacts are hard to gauge, and it will take years to recover.   

Climate disasters will challenge every community.  How can UUs prepare?  How can we center justice in our response?  How can our congregations be beacons of hope in these trying times?  

Here are two things you can do right now:  

  1. Check out the recording of Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care, featuring Rev. Karen Hutt from the UU Trauma Response Ministry; Halcyon Westall with the UUA Disaster Relief Fund and Faithify; Rachel Myslivy, Side With Love Climate Justice Organizer; and Rev. Cynthia Cain, retired UU minister.  

  2. RSVP for the follow up Climate Disaster Response Workshop - July 31, 2022 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM ET.  Climate disasters impact our communities - how can UUs be prepared? Join this hands-on workshop with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk, and how your community will be impacted. From there, make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood. This workshop is a follow up to "Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care'. Attendees are encouraged to watch the video of that training in advance of this workshop. Invite your congregation to watch with you!


Aly Tharp- Farewell and Forward Together!

Aly Tharp has served as a leader in the Unitarian Universalist Climate Justice movement since 2014 will be transitioning from Co-Director of UU Ministry for Earth to a new organizing role at Green Faith, a multi-faith climate organization. Aly writes: 

“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, UU Ministry for Earth and the entire UU faith community over the last eight years.

I am so proud of the work we’ve done together — the many national and global mobilizations; being an executive producer and screening partner of The Condor & The Eagle documentary; organizing congregations to create eco-artwork for the 2017, 2019 and 2022 General Assemblies; the hundreds of webinars and networking calls to strengthen the UU climate and environmental justice movement… It has been hard, beautiful, meaningful work. Thank you for your faith, support, and collaboration over the years…

Given that the UU Ministry for Earth, Side With Love, and hundreds of UU congregations are active in the People vs Fossil Fuels coalition — and given how many UUs are engaged in grassroots multi-faith action for climate justice generally — I have no doubt that this transition is not truly a goodbye! Our paths will continue to intersect and unite often, as we do the sacred and important work of showing up for Life, Love and Justice.”

Read Aly’s complete letter of hopes and well wishes here. 


Climate Justice at General Assembly

UUA GA logo of people holding hands. Text reads Meet the Moment: Reimagining Radical Faith Community

The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly will be in Portland, OR, June 21st – 26th, and we hope to connect with you there in person or virtually. There are several excellent presentations on climate justice at this year’s General Assembly.  

Public Witness: “Fund Futures, not Freeways!”,  Friday, June 24 at 5:30 pm PT - 6:15pm PT

When we gather in-person at #UUAGA, we make a commitment to leveraging our UU power in support of locally-led movements for justice through a Public Witness in whatever city we are in. This year, local UU climate justice activists have asked us to join them in their support of youth-led climate justice work in partnership with Sunrise PDX, a chapter of the national Sunrise Movement.

Join Side With Love, UU Ministry for Earth, and our UU youth and young adults for this short action to support Sunrise PDX's Youth vs. ODOT campaign in demanding that the Oregon Department of Transportation "Fund Futures, not Freeways!" We will process from the Synergy worship to right outside the convention center, where we will hear from youth leaders and local activists about the need to imagine a decarbonized transportation infrastructure for the future of the planet and all species. People of all ages and abilities are invited to join the Procession of Species, and lift our voices together in song and chant at this brief, uplifting youth-led rally.

Below are a few highlights:

On Demand programming: 

Check out UU Ministry for Earth’s guide to workshops and activities at General Assembly 2022!  


Green Climate Fund Advocacy Needed

Do you agree the U.S. is responsible for a huge share of emissions causing the climate crisis and should do its fair share to support mitigation and resilience development? Will you support UU advocacy for the Green Climate Fund (GCF)? 

Are you a constituent in AR, CT, KS, KY, MD, MO, NH, TN, and VT? Your Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. If so, fill out this form so that UUSJ can pursue meetings with your Senators on the GCF.

In May 2022, the UUs for Social Justice (UUSJ) Environmental Action Team (EAT) did structured meetings with select targets on funding the GFC, a vital international effort to assist poorer countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help their people adapt to the worst effects of climate change. This effort was endorsed by UUMFE and UUJEC. We sought to learn why the GCF fell out of the FY-2022 budget and what can be done for the FY-2023 cycle. We heard about a political circumstance where faith voices are needed to press the Subcommittee to fund the GCF for both moral and policy reasons. Will you support this work?

Learn and act:


image of aly tharp

Create Climate Justice, June 2022: Climate Resilience, Disaster Response, and Community Care

A time to grieve, a time to re-commit

24 June 2022 at 12:05

Earlier today, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case. The final opinion effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated federal protections for abortion. Each state will now be able to independently regulate abortion, with at least 26 states poised to entirely ban abortion care beginning immediately. 

We weep for the millions of people and families that will be harmed–physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally–because of this decision. We mourn that this ruling rolls back many decades of advances for reproductive health, rights, and justice. And we sit with the numbness, despair, and anger we feel knowing that white Christian nationalist misogyny has won the day. 

Whenever our movements experience a major defeat, we take a beat to discern what our next moves will be. We all have the right to grieve, to rage, to mourn when we lose – it’s what keeps us human, and reminds us why we keep fighting. (Sometimes this can look like mass protest, when we gather in the streets as a community together. Many communities are planning decision day #BansOffOurBodies marches or protests; find yours here.)

Then, when we’re ready to move back into action after a loss, we have to choose how to allocate our energy. In the weeks and months ahead, as we calibrate to the realities of living in a post-Roe United States, there will be concrete ways for our congregations to take on both harm reduction and liberatory imagination. Here are three things you can do right now to support both today:

  • Donate to your local abortion fund, and/or the National Network of Abortion Funds. Abortion has never been universally accessible to people in the US, but the National Network of Abortion Funds and their local affiliates have been supporting those seeking abortion care for decades. From making clinic referrals to providing financial support for medical costs, travel, childcare, and more, we need robust abortion funds more than ever. 

Whether you are in a state where abortion will be criminalized, or a state to which people will come seeking abortion care, there is a role for all of us–and all our congregations–to play, starting right now. The fight is far from over, but we’re grateful to be in it for the long haul with you.

In faith and solidarity,

The Side With Love Team 

A time to grieve, a time to re-commit

Response to Supreme Court Ruling on West Virginia v. EPA

5 July 2022 at 15:32

Last week the Supreme Court limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to address emissions that cause climate change, compromising half a century of health, environmental, and climate justice advocacy. The decision in West Virginia v. EPA significantly limits the EPA’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from coal and gas-fired power plants using the Clean Air Act. The Court’s ruling will disproportionately impact communities of color and low-income communities. These populations are more likely to live near power plants, experience higher rates of pollution, are most affected by the public health impacts of climate and are more likely to experience climate-forced displacement.

  • Tell Biden: Choose People over Fossil Fuels. Sign on to a list of executive actions that Biden must take right away to protect and invest in BIPOC and working-class communities impacted first and worst by pollution and climate disaster, stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and declare climate change a national emergency

  • Join with UUs demanding climate action. Tell your Senators and Representative that the Supreme Court’s recent climate decision requires urgent legislative action to invest in climate action.

  • Call Your Senators NOW to express outrage at this decision and demand they do everything they can to stop climate change and protect our communities from air pollution and climate disasters.

  • Take distributed action! Commit to getting 75% of your congregation to take one or all of these actions! Please fill out the Action Center Story & Report form to share your work with us.

This ruling adds to the pain and anger for those of us already mourning the devastating reversal of Roe v. Wade, the elimination of local gun controls, and the undermining of indigenous sovereignty – all while we face another summer of extreme heat with rising energy costs; and climate disasters like wildfires and floods displacing thousands of people. We must acknowledge our friends and neighbors who will now be denied bodily autonomy and be burdened by the financial cost and danger of trying to access care are the same people who continue to face the worst of the climate crisis.

As we wrote in May, “Our Unitarian Universalist faith affirms that all of our bodies are sacred, and that we are each endowed with the twin gifts of agency and conscience. . . . When disparities in resources or freedoms make it more difficult for certain groups of people to exercise autonomy over their own bodies, our faith compels us to take liberatory action.” This bodily autonomy applies as much to our right to choose as it does our right to clean air and clean water. We encourage you to discern where you feel called to be, and we send you our gratitude and blessings for showing up for justice.

How can we respond with love and justice at the core of our intentions and actions? What liberatory action can we take now?

Organize. Your. Congregation.

  • Make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood. Climate disasters impact our communities - how can UUs be prepared? Join this hands-on workshop with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk, and how your community will be impacted. Register for the Climate Disaster Response Workshop - July 31, 2022 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM ET.

  • Advance Energy Justice through weatherization. Weatherization can reduce energy bills by up to 25% while improving community health, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving air quality, but utility programs are often inaccessible to our lower-income neighbors. Join the next Green Sanctuary Team Meeting to learn how your congregation can engage in community weatherization efforts.

  • Commit to action on climate forced displacement. Join the UU Ministry for Earth, UUs for a Just Economic Community, UUA, UUA Office at the United Nations, UUs for Social Justice, and the UU Service Committee in a joint UU Statement of Commitment in Response to Climate-Forced Displacement. It’s an historic moment of UU collaboration at a time when we’re seeing unprecedented climate-forced migration all over the globe - even right here in our communities. Sign on to respond to Climate-Forced Displacement.

  • Get ready to vote on climate. UU the Vote is partnering with the Environmental Voter Project to turn out millions of non-voting environmentalists this November. Stay tuned.

  • Connect with people organizing for Environmental and Climate Justice in your community, state, or region. Ask them how you and your congregation can help (don’t tell them what to do!). Centering values and lived experience is critical to achieving energy and climate justice. The 4th Arm - Partnership for Southern Equity demonstrates that when BIPOC communities are authentically and thoughtfully engaged in organizing, we can win on climate and create systemic change.

  • Prepare yourself for the long haul journey to climate justice. Take a deep breath. Connect with your friends. Hydrate. Smile at a child. Sing a song. Center love.

We can do this.

image shows a white person with a braid of hair over the shoulder wearing a yellow Side With Love shirt, standing in front of trees

Rachel Myslivy

Climate Justice Organizer

Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team

Response to Supreme Court Ruling on West Virginia v. EPA

Tell Congress: #HealNotHarm - Restore Asylum Now!

13 July 2022 at 10:59

Last month, we learned about the tragic loss of 53 lives in San Antonio. Migrants were trapped in the back of a truck: parents, children, siblings, human beings who were desperate for an opportunity to find and create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. As the Somali poet Warsan Shire reminds us in her poem “Home,”

“no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled
means something more than journey.”

Leaders on both sides of the aisle continue to use fear, scarcity, and bigotry to shape critical asylum policies. As people of faith, we know another way is not only possible but essential. Not every tragedy caused by injustice makes national news, but each matter because their lives and their communities matter. We know that these deaths could have been prevented if our asylum policies were designed to heal, not harm, seekers of safety & community. We need to tell our leaders that each day that we continue with Title 42 is a moral failure.

Join Love Resists for the interfaith #HealNotHarm Days of Action to restore asylum next week!

Months after most COVID-19 public health restrictions in the US have been lifted, our government is still using the pandemic as justification for refusing, detaining, and expelling asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Under the CDC’s Title 42 program, almost all asylum-seeking families and individuals are being denied their human and legal right to seek safety. The CDC has already acted to revoke Title 42 because it is not contributing to public health, but a conservative judge has kept it in place through a legal battle. Now, anti-immigrant political leaders want to ensure Title 42 continues to control migration and restrict asylum at the border, and are pushing amendments on Title 42 through Congress.

Join Side with Love, UUSC, & the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for our #HealNotHarm Teach-In on Monday, July 18 at 4pm ET

Many migrants have died from being denied access to asylum at the border where ports of entry have remained closed more than two years ago. Like most efforts historically to control cross-border migration, Title 42 does not deter those seeking safety in the US, but pushes them into more dangerous circumstances while trying to get here. The reality is that the horrific tragedy of 53 lives lost while migrants were trapped in the back of a tractor trailer in San Antonio, TX, is only the most visible tip of the iceberg. Thousands of people stuck in dangerous border cities in Mexico have been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and forced into labor, while others have died from lack of medical care. Black asylum-seekers, especially Haitians, have been disproportionately impacted by Title 42. There is no way of tracking how many others have lost their lives after being forcibly expelled back to dangerous conditions in their countries of origin without screening for whether they feared for their lives if returned.

It is simply untrue that US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) does not have the capacity to process asylum-seekers in a safe and orderly manner at the border. We have seen how it is possible when the political will is there, such as when Ukranians were exempted from Title 42.

The courts are already preventing the end of Title 42, and now Members of Congress are trying to make this deadly policy permanent by attaching amendments to maintain Title 42 into as many bills as they can manage, including critical budget bills. So far, in the House, both the Labor and Health and Human Services and the Homeland Security budget drafts include an extension of Title 42 until 60 days after the pandemic is declared over. Additionally, a desperately needed COVID relief bill is being held up in part due to conflicts about including Title 42. We cannot meet the very real needs of our communities impacted by COVID by denying asylum-seekers their lives and safety!

Will you join me and other people of faith committed to restoring asylum at our #HealNotHarm Teach-in on July 18 at 4pm ET? Together we will learn about the many tactics we can take to bring an end to Title 42 and begin to move towards life-affirming asylum policies in the US. And we’ll prepare to participate in our own UU-sponsored National Call-in Day to demand an end to Title 42 on July 19!

As people of faith, we know that another world is possible, and together, it is ours to create. Bringing an end to Title 42 is one of the many necessary steps towards creating a world that no longer inflicts deadly harm, but offers liberatory healing and welcome to all.

In faith & justice,

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Congregational Justice Organizer

Tell Congress: #HealNotHarm - Restore Asylum Now!

Recording and Resources from #HealNotHarm: Restore Asylum Now Teach-In

20 July 2022 at 09:31

On July 18, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Side With Love, & the UU Service Committee offered "Heal Not Harm: Restore Asylum Now" webinar and teach-in.

As shared by our speakers who offered their lived experiences, Title 42 is an inhumane and racist policy that violates the inherent worth and dignity of asylum seekers attempting to find safety within the borders of the United States. From blatant anti-blackness, to shackled dehumanization in front of their families, their stories remind us that what is happening is not theoretical but happening every day to real people. And their call to end the atrocities they and others have faced is one we cannot ignore.

As people of faith we must not only listen to and learn from the real people who are impacted by this deadly policy, we must follow their prophetic lead and take action to Restore Asylum NOW!

We know that the fight to end Title 42 & restore humane asylum policies has been a long and difficult one. And as people of faith, we have not only a moral obligation to challenge violently racist border policies, but also a resilient belief that another world is possible if we choose to make it so. Together we can take action, claim our collective power, and bend the moral arc of the universe to the justice & love we know is all of ours to manifest.

Recordings & Resources from the Heal Not Harm Webinar

"Heal Not Harm: Restore Asylum Now!" Webinar Recording

Take Action

Join the interfaith community that is taking action July 18-29 by demanding that our elected leaders end Title 42. You can help restore asylum by taking these three actions:

Use this "click-to-call" tool to be automatically connected to your elected leaders with a personalizable script explaining why an end to Title 42 is essential.

Send a personalizable message to your Members of Congress & President Biden explaining how your faith demands an end to Title 42 & the restoration of asylum.

  • Post on social media & tag your elected leaders

Use or personalize one of these tweets from the "Title 42 Must End NOW!" Toolkit to let your elected leaders know the only moral choice is to end Title 42.

Recording and Resources from #HealNotHarm: Restore Asylum Now Teach-In

How can we center the inherent worth and dignity of every person in this extreme heat?

22 July 2022 at 15:24

When we think of climate disasters, we usually think about wildfires, floods, or hurricanes. Extreme heat may not be the first thing to come to mind, but it is one of the most dangerous of all climate impacts, especially with urban heat islands common in historically segregated communities. Extreme heat kills hundreds of Americans each year and causes many more to be seriously ill.

Image 1: Parent and child swimming in a public pool. Image 2: Two first responders loading a patient into an ambulance. Text: "What Media Shows. Reality."

Image 1: Parent and child swimming in a public pool. Image 2: Two first responders loading a patient into an ambulance. Text: "What Media Shows. Reality."

News of record-breaking heat is everywhere right now–you may be feeling the effects in your hometown. While some media outlets say, “everyone loves the summer heat!” with fun pictures of children playing in pools, the reality is that many of our friends and loved ones are profoundly suffering in this heat. This is not about discomfort. This about the safety, health, and sustaining quality of life that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of all. Our bodies and our infrastructure are not designed for these more frequent extreme heat events. This is why we fight for just policy and take action to care for and build resilient communities. 

RSVP for our Climate Disaster Response workshop. Make a plan. Protect your community. 

Sunday, July 31, 2022 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM ET (Note the Time Zone!)

Climate disasters impact our communities - how can UUs be prepared? Join this hands-on workshop with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk, and how your community will be impacted. From there, make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood. This workshop is a follow up to "Fostering Local Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care'. Attendees are encouraged to watch the video of that training in advance of this workshop. Invite your congregation to watch with you!

How can we center the inherent worth and dignity of every person in this extreme heat? 

We can use our gifts to offer love, to work for justice, to heal injury, to create pleasure for ourselves and others. We can recognize our mutual independence with all life. We can take actions that are grounded in justice, guided by wisdom, and sustained with hope. We can learn, act, and reflect to cultivate the beloved community.

LEARN who is at risk and how.

  • The EPA outlines key factors that put some at higher risk than others:

  • Exposure affects people who work outdoors, in buildings with no air conditioning, the unhoused members of our communities, and people who live in inefficient housing or without air conditioning.

  • Sensitivity to heat makes the very young, elderly, pregnant people, and folks with some health conditions more at risk. 

  • The Ability to Respond makes it difficult for some to respond and prepare to avoid the heat. This includes our neighbors who cannot afford air conditioning or the electricity to use it because of high electricity burdens; people whose mobility issues make it difficult to access health care or get to a cooling center; and those who are exposed to extreme heat through work or lack of housing. 

Extreme heat can cause heat-related illness and death, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders, kidney disorders, and cerebrovascular disease. Increased ground level ozone can cause asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. In extreme heat, we see increased numbers of workplace injuries, increased violence, and mental health problems. It’s hard on all of us, but some are more impacted than others.

ACT NOW and plan for the long-haul.

Things you can do today:

  • Offer your building as a cooling center to provide sanctuary from the extreme heat.

  • If your congregation is in an area with heavy foot traffic, set out bottles of sunscreen and a cooler with paper cups for passersby to hydrate.

  • Set up calling trees to check on elderly or sick members of your congregation every day until the heat subsides. Ask each person you call if they’re concerned about anyone else; add those people to your calling tree. 

  • Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Share this information with your community. (CDC or Weather.gov)

  • RSVP for our Climate Disaster Response workshop. Make a plan; protect your community. 

Community actions to consider:

  • Work with a neighborhood association or other local organization to weatherize low-income homes in your community. Weatherization can reduce energy burdens by 25%.

  • Partner with frontline leadership to reduce the impacts of heat islands by planting locally-appropriate trees, community gardens, or other green spaces. 

  • Encourage your local government to install public drinking fountains or splash pads in areas with urban heat islands.

  • Commit to cultivating relationships with frontline communities in your area. Ask how you can help; don’t tell your neighbors what to do.

Congregational opportunities for solidarity:

  • Make the changes necessary to offer your buildings as cooling or warming stations in extreme weather.

  • Determine ways to reorganize your facilities to be able to provide emergency shelter after climate disasters, then make the changes. 

  • Install a back-up generator so your building can provide sanctuary to your neighbors during blackouts or power outages. 

  • Provide solar-powered charging stations to serve your community when the power goes out. 

Build power for the long haul:

  • Advocate for local climate action. 

  • Ask every elected official or candidate what they will do about climate change and extreme heat in your community. Make it local. Make it relevant. Make it urgent. . 

  • Organize a campaign to press your local utility to adopt a hot-weather rule to ensure that no one has their power turned off for failure to pay during extreme heat. 

  • Call on local officials and businesses to adopt standards to protect workers. Follow progress on the Biden Administration’s efforts to protect workers and communities from extreme heat. 

  • Advocate for effective energy efficiency programs that prioritize lower- and middle-income residents. 

  • Work for the equitable transition to a clean energy future through energy democracy and energy justice. The people most impacted by energy decisions should have the greatest say in shaping them. 

  • Make sure that justice is at the core of your climate action. Update your understanding of climate action to center the experience of those most impacted by climate change. We must work together for the liberation of all. No excuses. 

REFLECT.

  • Meditate on the ways love in action can transform our world. Breathe in love, breathe out justice. 

  • Come together in community to create compassionate spaces for collective grief and community healing to ground and sustain our work. 

  • Practice grace and compassion in your every interaction; consider the burdens we all carry, and be kind. 

  • Celebrate the beauty and wonder of all creation. Seek restoration and healing in nature and in community with others. 

  • Cultivate balance. 

  • Prayerfully consider what radical acts of faith you can commit to personally, and how you will help lead in your congregation.

This work is hard, but we can do all of these things and more if we work together. As always, please reach out if you have ideas, need help, or want to talk through your plans. When you take action, tell us all about it. Every action counts. Thank you for your work.

In solidarity,

Rachel Myslivy

Climate Organizer for Side with Love

How can we center the inherent worth and dignity of every person in this extreme heat?

Climate Disaster Response Workshop Recording and Materials

4 August 2022 at 14:47

In July 2022, Side With Love hosted the Climate Disaster Response Workshop for individuals interested in organizing in their communities to respond to climate disasters, led by Rachel Myslivy, Climate Justice Organizer, and Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Congregational Justice Organizer.

What now?

Come together for shared learning and mutual support with other UUs working on congregational transformation through climate justice. We invite you to join our Green Sanctuary Team Meetings, which take place virtually on every third Wednesday of the month at 5PT - 6MT - 7CT - 8ET. These community conversations are open to anyone who is interested in transforming their congregation through climate justice. Sign up here.

Additionally, we are offering this series again this fall. Join this series of workshops with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk and how your community will be impacted. From there, make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood.

Sessions: Sept 29: Assessing climate impacts & making connections; Oct 6: Mobilizing for action; Oct 13: Community conversation. All sessions are 2 hours long and begin at 7ET - 6CT - 5MT - 4PT.

Image: Green Sanctuary Congregation and Create Climate Justice logos. View the Green Sanctuary Team Meeting schedule here: https://uua.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUtdumsqTMoEtP7IQ8f2Hlb8idagcijlC0b.

We also invite you to sign the Climate Justice Voter Pledge. Join us in creating a groundswell of politically active climate voters to build the power to change policy and build resilient communities.

Climate Disaster Response Workshop Recording and Materials

Holding complexity on the Inflation Reduction Act

16 August 2022 at 15:57

Climate change is a complex problem. There are no easy answers and often more questions. Holding complexity is part of the work we must do to realize a healthy and resilient future where all can thrive.

The Inflation Reduction Act puts forth the most ambitious climate action to ever pass US Congress. With significant investments in clean energy, transportation, and environmental justice, the IRA is projected to reduce emissions 40% by 2030. It’s historic. It’s exciting. It’s getting us closer to our climate goals. YES!

This legislation will have wide scale and lasting impacts for generations to come. Sadly, those impacts are not all positive or just. The Inflation Reduction Act is an example of the ways advocates and legislators neglect and exploit communities in the search for a win, instead of in search of justice. The IRA sacrifices communities already bearing the burden of climate change. NO!

The People Vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition calls out the IRA’s “poison pills” that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, family farming, people of the global majority and working-class communities, including major handouts to Big Oil, like requiring new oil & gas leasing on 620 million acres of public lands and waters, and permitting for new oil & gas pipelines while supporting false solutions like carbon capture, nuclear, hydrogen, biofuels and carbon trading. NO!

So, while many are celebrating wholeheartedly, I’m conflicted. I’m melancholy. I’m torn. I wonder: is it really a win, if it’s not a win for all of us? NO!

Still, it also has historic investments in clean energy, transportation, environmental justice, and more that we desperately need. Plus, there are lots of other benefits like lowering Medicare prescription drug costs, extending the Affordable Care Act coverage for 13 million Americans, and instituting a 15% minimum tax on billion-dollar corporations. YES!

Like our friends at UUSJ say, the Inflation Reduction Act is a Mixed Bag.

Although the Inflation Reduction Act is the result of years of organizing from environmental justice organizations, climate organizations, and frontline communities, it muffles the concerns of people fighting on the front lines. Those in power continue to ignore, neglect, and actively harm those most impacted by climate change and the pollution that causes it. The IRA sacrifices frontline communities already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. This is not climate justice.

No, the Inflation Reduction Act is not enough. Yes, we still need it. Hold this complexity, then let’s get to work.

In solidarity,

Rachel Myslivy

Climate Organizer for Side with Love

Imagine description: Photo shows Rachel Myslivy, a white person, wearing hair in a braid and a yellow Side With Love shirt, standing in front of a wooded area.

Next Steps:

  • As part of the deal to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, Senators Manchin and Schumer are introducing legislation to fast-track permit approvals for fossil fuel projects. Write your members of Congress to pledge right now to block fossil fuel handouts.

  • Tell Biden: Choose People over Fossil Fuels. This fact sheet outlines the importance of Biden declaring a national climate emergency.

  • Encourage your congregation to Tell Congress: Reject Manchin + Schumer’s dirty “side deal” with the fossil fuel industry

Frontline organizations’ responses to the IRA

Holding complexity on the Inflation Reduction Act

Protect Juristac: No Quarry on Mutsun Sacred Grounds

24 August 2022 at 14:40

Mobilizing UUs in solidarity with Indigenous front-line communities is a critical part of our climate justice work. Communities where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color live are hit first and worst by the impacts of climate change and the pollution that causes it. Our climate advocacy must center the lived experiences and knowledge of these frontline communities.

UUs Beth Ogilvie with Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church and Colleen Cabot with First Unitarian Church of San Jose reached out to Side With Love to share an important call to action from the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band to the Protect Juristac Advocacy Partners Coalition. Please read their update, take the actions they share, and consider what climate justice looks like in your community? Who is most impacted, how, and where? How can you work in solidarity with the people most impacted?  

With deep appreciation for UUs doing the good work,

Rachel Myslivy, UUA Climate Justice Organizer


The climate crisis is caused by taking – from the earth and from other beings, human and otherwise – exploiting, extracting, consuming, destroying – without regard to the consequences. Those who have more power take from those who have less, and the taking continues unabated. This system is built on injustice and cannot function without it.

Image: Photo of the sacred hills of the Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape during the day, with overcast skies and a shadow falling across the foreground. Text: PROTECT JURISTAC. NO QUARRY ON MUTSUN SACRED GROUNDS.

An example of this injustice is unfolding in a place called Juristac, the most sacred grounds of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. A development company wants to construct a massive open pit gravel mine that would destroy this sacred ground for all time, and with it the spiritual and cultural heart of Mutsun life. It would also block a vital wildlife corridor connecting 3 mountain ranges. Wildlife cannot speak for themselves at Planning Commission hearings, or submit comments on the Environmental Impact Report, but the tribe can, and is, and we are supporting them. Please join us in helping prevent this irreversible injustice, this human rights tragedy. There are other sources of sand and gravel. There is only one Juristac. This 4-minute video tells the story.

What you can do:    

  • Sign the petition to protect Juristac. 

  • Submit a comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) by Sept 26. The DEIR states that the mine will have “significant impact on the Juristac Tribal Cultural Landscape.” No kidding! Tell the Planning Commission why this is morally unacceptable and the permit must be denied. 

  • If you’re in Northern California, attend the rally in San Jose Sept 10. Details will be on ProtectJuristac.org/deir.

  • Follow the tribe on Instagram and Facebook.

As members of the Protect Juristac Advocacy Partners Coalition, both our churches have passed resolutions supporting the tribe and opposing the mine. We have been taking the Juristac story to churches and other faith communities to raise awareness and enlist support.

We are doing this work as UUs committed to justice and healing, which includes:

  • Raising awareness of the true history of colonization and conquest and genocide, of extraction and exploitation, and how these patterns continue to this day.

  • Marshaling support among UUs and other faith communities to support the Amah Mutsun in protecting their most sacred grounds from permanent desecration, and in regaining access so they can restore their culture and their spiritual practices.

  • Promoting the understanding that Indigenous spirituality is equal to other religions and has a lot to teach about stewardship and reciprocity. 

Thank you for your commitment to climate justice through Indigenous solidarity,

Beth Ogilvie with Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church

Colleen Cabot with First Unitarian Church of San Jose

Protect Juristac: No Quarry on Mutsun Sacred Grounds

Actions and Events from Create Climate Justice

23 September 2022 at 19:18

Redlined communities or “sacrifice zones” also bear the highest energy burdens in the country, with low-income communities spending three times more of their income on energy costs. I’m sure these percentages are much higher now as energy costs have skyrocketed in the past year.

Urban heat islands plus high energy burdens plus poor air quality combine to increase incidents of violence and mental health crises in redlined communities, which leads to increased incarceration and criminalization of people of color. In short, it's impossible to separate struggles for climate justice and racial justice, because they are so deeply intertwined both here in the US and across the globe.

As part of the deal to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, Senators Manchin and Schumer have introduced a separate piece of legislation that would fast-track permit approvals for dangerous fossil fuel projects in September. Thursday was a huge day in the fight against the dirty pipeline deal being pushed by Senator Manchin. This bill would force approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, fast-track other fossil fuel projects, and undermine environmental protections and community review.

Will you join us in taking action to Stop Manchin’s Dirty Deal?

We need to be as loud as possible over the next four days and demand that every member of Congress oppose this dirty deal.

Please take 60 seconds right now and call your U.S. Senator! Dial 888-997-5380 and tell them to oppose Manchin's pipeline deal.

The People vs. Fossil Fuels Coalition has released a toolkit to #BlockTheDeal, including supported actions to call or send a letter to your member of Congress and amplify this Toolkit for action.

Workshop: Engaging Marginalized Communities

Thanks to Rev. Ranwa Hammamy for their presentation on Engaging Marginalized Communities in the Green Sanctuary Team Meeting. If you missed it, you can watch the video of the meeting here!

Take (and share!) the Climate Justice Voter Pledge!

Confronting climate change requires electing officials and enacting policies at every level, which means everyone who cares deeply about climate and environmental justice must turn out to the polls. To respond to the climate crisis we must take individual and community action! Share the UU Climate Justice Voter Pledge: https://SideWithLove.org/ClimateJusticeVoterPledge

Tell Congress to Pass The Environmental Justice For All Act

The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is a significant step toward greater investment in clean energy. Unfortunately, some provisions of the IRA may stimulate fossil fuel production and worsen pollution in areas already saturated by heavy industry. As part of the compromise that allowed the bill to go forward, Senator Manchin is now proposing loosening procedural protections around energy projects, making it even harder for affected communities to have a voice in approving these projects, many of which inflict environmental harm on communities of color. It is, therefore, more necessary than ever for Congress to pass the Environmental Justice for All Act, introduced in both the Senate and House and recently passed by the House Natural Resources Committee. Email congress: Environmental Justice for All!

Join the Side With Love Slack community!

Connect with others working on climate justice through the Side With Love Slack Channel. You can join at this link. Check out the #climate-justice-general or #climate-justice-green-sanctuary to find your people!

Upcoming Events

Climate Resilience through Disaster Response and Community Care

Climate disasters impact our communities - how can UUs be prepared? Join this series of workshops with activities to help you identify the climate risks, understand who is most at risk and how your community will be impacted. From there, make a plan to prepare for and respond to climate disasters in your neighborhood.

This workshop is part of a series. Sessions: All sessions are 90 minutes long and begin at 7pm ET/ 6pm CT / 5pm MT / 4pm PT

Green Sanctuary Team Meetings

Come together for shared learning and mutual support with other UUs working on congregational transformation through climate justice on the third Wednesday of the month at 8PM ET. Each meeting includes a short presentation on a climate justice topic, followed by open discussion.

Green Sanctuary Orientation & Office Hours

Interested in transforming your congregation through climate justice? Join this orientation to get a better understanding of the Green Sanctuary program and learn how your congregation can engage. Office hours are held on the first Wednesday of the month from 7-8PM Eastern Time.

All Climate Events can be found at sidewithlove.org/climatejustice



Actions and Events from Create Climate Justice

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