Friday, January 29, 2010

Pledge Campaign: Everyone's Favorite Time

It is definitely that time in the church calendar. Through random circumstances, I receive four different church newsletters. In each one, the minister's column was dedicated to pledging. Sure, they may have been couched differently, but they were all talking money. Thus begins the season of the pledge campaigns. I have spoke before how UUs don't necessarily feel a strong obligation to pledge a certain amount. I know many religious denominations suggest somewhere around 10 percent. I freely admit that we don't come close to that. But, we do pledge as much as we can afford. Why? Because we believe in our church and its mission. We want to keep the doors open, the mission to be spread, and the staff paid a living wage. UU congregations don't receive any outside funding. It is up to each member to do what they can. Some of you can do more then others, please step up! I really encourage you to look deep within yourself and your budget and pledge what you can. Obviously, money isn't the only way for a church to run. I don't want to discount the countless volunteer hours put in by dedicated members, but if you have the means, don't forget to budget for the place that provides a spiritual home to you and your family.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Mantra

I did everything I could. It is no longer my responsibility.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Start Over?

The song lyric, "pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again" has been going over and over in my head. I believe it is meant to be motivational, but I am feeling cynical and just find it irritating. A lot of the irritation stems from the idea that it is just that easy to start over. It isn't. What if you have invested nine years in an organization and done everything in your power to make it a great place only to be shot down? Shot down by people who haven't even come close to the amount of "time, treasure, and talent" that you have put into it. People who don't understand a situation because they have chosen to remain uninvolved. Yet, now they feel you are being "unfair", "unjust", and "inflexible". What do you do? Do you start over just like that? No. You grieve. You hurt. You become angry and sad. That is where I am at. I think the phrase "once bitten, twice shy" is a lot more apropos.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Qualities in a Minister

If you had to choose one quality in a Minister you value more then anything else, what would it be? Mine would be: HONESTY.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Disappointed

I am not sure why, but I am really disappointed that Charlie Clements is stepping down as head of the UUSC. I actually met him a couple of years ago on a Regional Coordinator retreat in New Orleans. While he wasn't an overly talkative person, you really could see in him the depth of feelings he had for human rights issues. He has been on the front lines and knows how important continual/sustained work is in this field. I came away with the feeling that the UUSC was in good hands with a person who has a clear vision of what needs to be done.

According to the UUSC announcement:

"Charlie Clements, UUSC president for the past six-and-a-half years, will be stepping down from his role as the organization's chief executive officer to accept a new position as head of a major human rights research and teaching institution at Harvard University."

I imagine this is an amazing opportunity for Clements. If you look through his biography, he is more then qualified to head this institution. It is certainly a gain for Harvard. But, I feel myself let-down by Clements. I know people come and go all the time, but I thought Clements was really devoted to the UUSC. I like that it is an independent Unitarian Universalist organization that is really making an impact out there. We are a small, but dedicated group headed by a fearless leader. Talking with him and seeing his commitment inspired me to continue volunteering for the organization. It just makes me sad that people often move on to bigger and better opportunities. Maybe that is just human nature, but what is wrong with staying where you are? Commitment to an organization says volumes about its people and work. I can only hope that Clements made the right decision for him and the organization. Right now, though, I am just disappointed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wishing

that our Girl Scout troop had some money. I have now twice been a Girl Scout leader where the troop was starting from scratch. While the girls did pay some dues, it is barely enough to cover our basic costs. There are just so many fun opportunities that we will have to miss. I could ask the girls to pay for these events, but I know most of their families are just scraping by. I can't bear to see someone not included. Then I see the news and the horrors of natural destruction and poverty. I realize how lucky we are. We are not scraping by. The truth is that I need to rise to the occasion and be more creative with the resources we do have. A pity party is just pathetic when there are people in real need.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Babysitting

This is what we have been up to! The kids harp teacher asked us to babysit her new harp while she recovered from surgery. Evidently, with new harps, they need to be tuned daily until they "settle-in". Daughter and I have been loving every minute of it. I am starting to get carpel tunnel from playing so much. Currently the the kids play lap harps, but having a bigger harp is spoiling us. I will be so sad to return it. There is nothing more peaceful then playing the harp. Every time I sit down to play, I can feel my mood lift. It is proving to be a wonderful form of meditation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Lobby or Not To Lobby

Yesterday I was down at our state capitol (Jefferson City for you non-MO folks) to lobby for protection of Family Farms. I won't go into all the details, but it was in opposition to a proposed bill that would set-up an appointed board to oversee livestock production in MO. I lobbied with the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC), who is not necessarily against a livestock board to set standards, but is against a board that is not elected and would not have to account to the people it is "protecting". It is viewed as agri-business putting in place officials who would be favorable to CAFOs.

This post, though, is about the lobbying process. If you are interested in learning more about the proposed bill, shoot me an email and I will fill you in. I have never lobbied. Despite having a Masters in Social Work - specializing in social and economic development, I have never made it to the capitol. Kind of sad, really. When a fellow MUANN mentioned this opportunity regarding something dear to my heart, I jumped on it. Husband was able to take the day off, so a friend and I road-tripped it down there.

I know this will sound silly, but I was a little nervous because I have never done this before, and I have never met the people we would be lobbying with. My friend has also never lobbied, so we were both in the dark as to what to expect. Well, I am very glad we took the risk. It was an incredible learning experience on the whole process. Thankfully, the MRCC are very experienced lobbyist and the day was well planned. There were about 50 people present from a wide variety of groups. After learning more about the topic and being briefed on good talking points, we were divided into groups and given a list of Reps. and Senators to meet with.

I was so fortunate to be in a group with a person who has done a lot of lobbying. She owns a small farm and is very knowledgeable on the topic. Additionally, a fellow St. Louisan was there who works for St. Louis Jobs With Justice that partners with MRCC, so was able to help show that it a coalition of people interested in the topic. My friend and I represented UUs as the faith community representatives.

All we did was go through our list and show up at the Rep/Senators office. It was amazing that everyone we saw (without an appointment) welcomed us and , if they weren't there, their Legal Aid listened to us and took our information. I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I figured it would be hard to get in the door. The exact opposite was true. We had a flyer with some brief bullet points that we covered. If we new anything about the Rep/Senator, we would tailor that message a little to appeal to them. Obviously, if it was our R/S, then we let it be known that we are in their district. Most stops took about five minutes, we didn't want to be annoying, but did want to get the message across. My group didn't have any contentious R/S, so it was pretty smooth sailing. Another group was assigned the Senator who will probably introduce the bill, and ended up having a ten minute discussion with him. All very respectful.

My impression of the meetings were that most R/S were appreciative of having some information and a person to contact if they have any questions. It was also good for them to see that there are real people that this is affecting and that a large number of them came to oppose this bill. I feel that it was very important to have some face time with them. As an interesting side note, though, I noticed the more senior the R/S, the little more self important they seemed. All the newbie R/S were on the first floor and were super welcoming. As we climbed the floors to the long-term R/S, a little less welcoming (and bigger offices!) they seemed. I wasn't the only one who noticed this.

I have no idea how big a difference this made, but I do know that the concerns we have are on many R/S radar. Without us making an in-person appeal, I am not sure the same impact would have been made. I am very glad I went.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Much Trash?

The first day of the No-Impact challenge asks you to keep all the trash that you make in a day. While I didn't put it in one bag throughout the day like it requested, I did keep a mental tally. Unfortunately, the whole family is not participating, just me, so the trash was pretty minimal. In fact, I was able to recycle or compost all of it. While this looks pretty impressive (to me!), it isn't reality, it just happens to be the day I had. I think this challenge is better demonstrated over a few days. I just happened to have a day where I didn't use much. To me, Sunday is a pretty easy day to keep garbage to a minimum. I will have to try this mid-week when there is a lot more going on.

In reading over the materials for today, something really struck me. It asked you to look at your trash and take note of what was only used for 10 minutes or less. This is something I hadn't really thought about. I read this on a night (before Sunday), that we had gotten take-out. While we were able to recycle the containers that the food had come in, the containers themselves were only needed for the car ride home. Far less then ten minutes. Sure we could recycle them, but what about all the energy used in the manufacturing? This is what I am taking away from today's challenge. Just because you can recycle an item, doesn't make it OK to mindlessly waste it. There is a reason that "reduce" is the first word in reduce, reuse & recycle.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hitting My Sewing Stride

We have had a couple of unexpected snow/cold days here. Since I didn't have to run the kids to and from school or their various activities, I had some extra time on my hands. What better way to spend it, then getting some sewing done. Above are some wraps to go around the handles of the kids tiffin lunchboxes. I have experienced two years of complaining that the handles get too cold in the winter. Now, finally, problem solved!

This is Daisydog on her newly re-covered bed and pillow. It has been bothering me for a year that I couldn't wash them. They were looking pretty yucky. I have now redone them with completely removable (due to some reclaimed zippers) and easily washable covers. Happy mom and dog. Yay!

Definitely not earth-shattering sewing, but they are projects that have been in the back of my mind for a long time. It is great to cross them off the to-do list.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Impact

There is no way to escape it. Just by being alive we are making an impact on this Earth. Sometimes that thought overwhelms me. An argument could be made that every living being makes an impact and that is just how it is. I just suspect, though, that ours is disproportionately larger then the rest of the animal and plant kingdom. I try to minimize my impact, but I get lazy. Alright, I admit it, I have thrown away a glass jar - but it, in my defense, it was old food that had recently become re-animated. I am sure if I opened the jar it would have come after me...

I am seriously contemplating taking this challenge. I am not sure how well I will do, but I think it is a good, positive way to start 2010. If I do, I will try to blog about it as I go. If you take up the challenge, let me know, I would love some moral support!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For the Love of Winter: IV

Snowmen!

Snowmen and women are time honored traditions. Who doesn't think of running out to make one when you get a fresh snowfall? It is an instinctive part of our DNA. I love the ephemeral nature of them. Here today and gone.... at 33 degrees. Also, just like snowflakes, no two are alike. The possibilities are endless. How can they not put a smile on your face?