General Assembly

As a Unitarian Universalist led initiative, Commit2Respond is making a big splash at the Unitarian Universalist Association's annual General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, June 24-28.

The theme of this year's General Assembly is “Building a New Way,” and part of that theme will be about building a new way to save our Earth and ourselves in the face of climate change. There will be many opportunities for attendees to engage in climate justice.

A Sacred Public Witness: Commit2Respond to Climate Change 

photo by Paul Anderson

In a powerful and spiritual public witness event, we will join together to honor our interconnectedness, acknowledge the pain and injustice of climate change, and take action to join in solidarity with American Indian and First Nations peoples on the front lines of environmental injustice.

The event is a partnership with Lummi Nation, located in the northwest corner of Washington state. Not only is the coastal ecosystem that provides their way of life already being dangerously affected by climate change, but they are also fighting to keep a massive coal port from being built on their sacred lands.

Together attendees will hear from Lummi leaders and then move through an experiential, worshipful event that accesses the deep emotional core touched by climate change and commit to new action in solidarity with our partners. This event is open to the public and will also be livestreamed so that anyone with an internet connection can attend. This will be an indoor event. Learn more about this event

Workshops

There will be more than twenty workshops on climate justice at General Assembly 2015, including a 6-part Commit2Respond workshop track:

  • Commit2Respond: Collaborate Like Never Before
  • Commit2Respond: Shift to a Low Carbon Future
  • Commit2Respond: Building a New Community- Race, Class and Climate
  • Commit2Respond: Growing Young Adult Leadership for Climate Justice
  • Commit2Respond: Become a Green Sanctuary
  • Commit2Respond: Advance Rights of Climate Change-Impacted Communities

Two workshops prior to the public witness event will also include Lummi leaders and prepare the ground for our witness:

  • Partnering with Original Nations & Peoples: Protect Cultures & the Earth
  • Building Powerful Collaboration with Native Nations for Climate Justice

Other related climate justice workshops will cover everything from congregational divestment to international human rights, partnering with American Indian and First Nations groups, rituals for grieving and transformation, challenging capitalism, and much more. Learn more about General Assembly workshop programming.

Proposed Action of Immediate Witness

One of the ways delegates take action at each General Assembly is by voting on "Actions of Immediate Witness," statements that allow Unitarian Universalists to respond quickly to urgent social issues. In 2013 an Action of Immediate Witness was passed calling on the Unitarian Universalist Association and member congregations to divest from the fossil fuels industry.  

At the 2015 General Assembly an Action of Immediate Witness will be proposed titled “Support a Strong, Compassionate Global Climate Agreement in 2015: Act for a Livable Climate” related to taking action around the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015. Find out more and read the proposed text of this proposed statement. You can also help rally support for the statement even if you are not attending: learn more about how to help and register how you can help.

Activate!

The Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice is offering a one-day event for high school youth on Wednesday, June 24, immediately prior to General Assembly.

The day will begin by exploring systems of oppression and social change through a variety of interactive activities. Participants will then put their justice values into action by discussing climate justice and their role in it as people of faith. The program will conclude by developing action plans to articulate and engage justice work during General Assembly and back at home. Find out more about Activate!

Environmental Justice Tour of Portland

Following General Assembly, the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth is hosting an environmental justice tour of Portland, beginning the evening of June 28 with dinner and presentations and continuing from approximately 9-4 on June 29.

Attendees will visit Village Gardens, learn about the Let Us Build Cully Park! coalition, explore the Portland Harbor Community Coalition's clean up and restoration work, find out how the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is working to protect Native fishing rights, and learn how Columbia Riverkeeper and other organizations are fighting the fossil fuels industry from devastating Portland by turning it into a corridor for fossil fuels. Learn more about this opportunity, and register quickly: spots are filling up fast!


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