Friday, March 27, 2009

27 March: Event Update

Consider getting involved in one of the following events.

Worker Justice

10th Annual National Student Labor Week of Action to "Resist and Reclaim our Future"
We are living in a historic moment; that is what everyone around us keeps saying. But this moment’s role in history is defined by what we do within it. Many of us participated in the recent election for change but are now faced with the reality that we need further action. Budget cuts in our universities, home loss and unemployment in our families and lack of good jobs for our future after college all threaten our quality of life.

The 10th annual National Student Labor Week of Action, hosted by the Student Labor Action Project, is an opportunity to reclaim our future by mobilizing our communities. From March 27 th to April 4 th , in honor of the lives of Martin Luther King Jr and Cesar Chavez, students and workers will unite and demand:

* The passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and living wages for all campus employees
* University codes of conduct that support workers’ rights both on campus and overseas
* Development of “green jobs” that support workers in our communities and promote a healthy environment
* Access to higher education for all and the passage of the DREAM Act
* Fair wages & working conditions for the people who grow our food and harvest our crops

Check out this website for organizing materials and a grid of local actions.

Interfaith Worker Justice 2009 Leadership Summit: June 13-15 @ Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana
The summit will bring together leaders from throughout the country with an opportunity to reflect on our success, share our struggles and build our movement. IWJ has extended invitations to Ms. Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, and to Rev. Joshua Dubois, Director of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships, to share their vision of new opportunities for partnership. There will be a joint meeting with the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) and IWJ workers centers, along with the regular IWJ Worker Center Network meeting. Religious leaders, students and allies will join in an action to support low-wage workers in the New Orleans Area. There will also be opportunities to tour New Orleans and visit communities nearly four years since Hurricane Katrina struck.

For more information and to register click here!

Environmental Justice

"Greening Our Spirits, Greening Our World": June 15-21, 2009 @ Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in Abiquiu, NM
This course offers an in-depth week of group study and reflection on answering God’s call to care for the Earth, and a chance to re-fill your spiritual well in the mystical surroundings of Ghost Ranch. The sessions will incorporate scriptural study and eco-theology, eco-spirituality, times for contemplative and short written reflections, ideas for creation-honoring worship, and group prayer and discussion. Participants should leave feeling empowered and more equipped to help lead earthkeeping efforts in their home congregations.

Presbyterian Conservation Core Young Adult Stewards Program:
The Presbyterian Conservation Corps is looking for Eco-Steward applicants from ages 18-24 years old who demonstrate interest in church, camp, and environmental concerns. Each program, Midwest and West, will comprise of two components at different sites: 1. Eco-Stewards Training (3-4 days) and 2. Eco-Stewards Program (3-4 days). More information and the application for either of the following events can be found here.

Eco-Stewards West (July 5th-12th) will be held in collaboration between Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center in Allenspark, Colorado and Greenwood Farm in Hardin, Montana.

Join the Presbyterian Conservation Core in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains to explore the intersections of ecology, theology, and justice during an intensive hands-on seminar at Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center. From all around the country, participants will come together in intentional community to explore how various threads Christian thought have influenced modern American lifestyles. Furthermore, participants will work together as eco-stewards to design and build a solar project to benefit the ministry of Highlands, while being equipped with personal tools to live and share a more faithful personal lifestyle. Surrounded by the mighty majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, come and be transformed by the landscape and intriguing discussion, learning to live together as a community of faith.

Venturing north from Highlands, the team will travel to Greenwood Farm in Montana. Located in a rural setting adjacent to the Crow Indian Reservation, Greenwood Farm is an experiment in simple living, sustainable building and intentional community. Building on the experience at Highlands, participants will learn and apply practical skills of sustainable building and organic gardening in the daily life of the farm. Through talking circles with community members and tribal elders, the team will explore the unique and often turbulent confluence of ecology, theology, poverty and culture that exists in the area. You're invited on this exciting journey of discovery and transformation!

Eco-Stewards Midwest (August 2nd-9th) will be held in collaboration between Stronghold Conference Center in Illinois and the Lakeview Presbyterian Church in the Chicago community.

Come explore the woodlands, meadows, and prairie of Illinois at Stronghold Retreat Center with the Presbyterian Conservation Corps, building a community of Eco-Stewards and examining eco-theology, environmental and social justice, systemic change, spirituality, lifestyle simplification, local watershed issues and consumption. The team will complete a high ropes course, explore spirituality through the labyrinth, and tour a cooperative organic farm. We will combine this team-building with classes, hands-on workshops, film discussions, and guided self-reflection as we focus on the foundations of environmental stewardship. Join us as we collaborate on a response to the environmental crisis as part of a local and global community.

The hands-on portion of the program will be held in the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago, IL where the team will design and implement an eco-project that responds to environmental justice issues facing an urban community. The group will collaborate with the Eco-Justice Task Force of Lake View Presbyterian Church and meet with local green community activists and leaders to learn about how urban neighborhoods are affected by environmental injustice and the ways that city churches can respond. Tour neighborhoods affected by urban pollution as well as the Chicago Center for Green Technology, the Lake View Action Coalition, and the Eco-Justice Collaborative. The program will conclude with a community education workshop led by the Eco-Stewards promoting awareness and collective action.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A few more resources and opportunities

Resource Update

United Methodist Resource Hub. The General Board of Discipleship has a "Resource Hub" on their Young People's Ministries page. You can search by title, author, subject or age group. You can also submit a resource that you've found helpful.

Internships and Gigs.
The (UM) Young Adult Network has an "Internships and Gigs" page. Current postings include the Ethnic Young Adult (EYA) summer internship in Washington, DC, a Honduras service opportunity for youth and young adults, and the Living Justice Seminar Program. Consider adding the site to your favorites to keep up with new opportunities!

The Bahamas Methodist Habitat. The Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church (BCMC), in partnership with interdenominational groups, has been providing disaster relief to the Islands of the Bahamas since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew devastated many communities throughout the islands. Today, Bahamas Methodist Habitat continues these efforts and avidly seeks new ways to assist individuals and communities in need. Together people can connect real needs to real resources by sharing God’s love. BMH's goal is to do this through Disaster Relief and Sub-standard Housing Repair by offering a life changing volunteer experience that introduces a new way of living out the Christian faith.

Cutlass is the youth and young adult summer program connected to the Bahamas Methodist Habitat. The young adult summer program for this year will occur from May 9-23rd. For more information and an application, visit the BMH website.

Abolitionist Investigation Certification Summer Academy. From the Not for Sale Campaign: Held in the heart of San Francisco, The Abolitionist Summer Academy is an in depth two week training session for those desiring to become Abolitionist Investigators of modern slavery. Attendees will be educated on how to properly record, document, and map all of the various types of human trafficking through hands on education, training, and meetings with experts in the field. They will learn how to identify probable cases of human trafficking, how to properly record cases of human trafficking, and how to effectively confront slavery in supply chains. By certification, attendees will be equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to become investigators of modern slavery in their own backyards.

Upon completing the Academy, attendees will:

* Understand the various forms of human trafficking inside the United States
* Have personal experience and knowledge of how to work with victims and those at risk for trafficking
* Know how to best document cases and map human trafficking in their area
* Have an understanding of how to effectively address forced labor in supply chains
* Be able to investigate forced labor in specific product and supply chains
* Be certified as an investigator who can document cases nationally and internationally for Not For Sale

For more information, and an application form for the Academy, email:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some Resources

Two quick items:

1. Sojourners has compiled a list of Resources for Social Change. Add them to your reading/viewing list!

2. The United Methodist Office of Deaconess and Home Missioner is hosting their Living Justice Seminar program for young adult United Methodists (between ages 20-30) from June 13-17, 2009. This year's theme is "Eradicating the Diseases of Poverty: Women, Children, and the Struggle for Wholeness," which reflects one of the current priorities of The United Methodist Church. The event will be held in New York City, with the Office covering the costs for participants. Applications are due May 1. For the application form and more information, click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What to say when you don’t have anything nice to say Or Homophobia is like a mullet, it’s so last season

by Courtney Harvey

I’ve been trying to write this piece for some time now. I’ve blamed work and travel and a lack of creative energy for my tardiness but the truth of the matter is I don’t have anything nice to say. Just for the record I find the adage - if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all – to be very compelling. In fact I tried my best to channel my inner Obama and write a hopeful and persuasive article about being an ally. Perhaps it’s the hour of the evening or the fact that I am way past the original deadline but I’m disregarding that good advice and going with – sometimes the truth hurts. Consider yourself forewarned.

So why don’t I have anything nice to say? Well for starters I’m over the whole queer thing. I know that sounds callous so let me clarify. I’m not over queer folk or queer issues. To the contrary I love them like I love ice cream, the more scoops the merrier. What I am over is the debate about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, the debate over whether or not to legalize gay marriage, the debate over whether or not it’s okay for Spongebob to be more than just friends with Patrick. I’m over it. In fact, the majority of my generation is over it too. We felt the same way about the “debate” over global warming. We didn’t wait for President Bush or Fox news or the guy from the 700 Club to utter the words global warming for it to become a reality. We didn’t wait for that and we aren’t going to wait for this. Case closed, it’s okay to be gay.

I’m so over it that I couldn’t even bring myself to write a nice story about being an ally because it felt a little too much like justifying once again why I am. Why do I need to justify being an ally? Shouldn’t they have to justify why they are homophobic? Shouldn’t they have to justify why they choose to translate some parts of the Bible literally but they still eat shellfish and wear polyester-cotton blends? Shouldn’t they have to justify their slurs or hushed whispers or disapproving glances or beatings? Shouldn’t they have to justify why it’s okay to support a gay bashing culture that terrifies the parents of gay children, that shames the little boy who loves to dance, that pushes the gay teen to suicide and that impedes the transgender woman from fulfilling her call to ministry? Why do I have to convince them, isn’t more love always better than less? In fact when Christ came I’m pretty sure his central message wasn’t to love less and identify people to ostracize.

So, I’m done and many in my generation are done too. We’re done with the gay debate because it’s not our debate. We’re done with the debate because engaging it gives credence to the debate itself. We may talk about the problems of racism today but we certainly don’t debate if it’s okay to be racist. Why then should we debate if it’s okay to be homophobic? The Bible argument doesn’t fly with us so don’t waste your time on it…especially if you’re a shrimp eater. Sinner! And the argument that it’s unnatural also doesn’t work for us because we know that it happens all the time in other animals. At this point I think the remaining argument is that it makes some people feel icky. Well, mullets make me feel icky but I still support the rights of people with mullets to get married.

I’m sure at some point throughout this rant you thought to yourself that in all my angry youth I have missed the value of those gentle conversations and nudging that has brought many people to the ally side. I have not. I believe there is great value in this but I do not think that it is my particular calling. In any social movement you have those great saints who work on the movable middle, the people that may be influenced by reason or compassion to shed their prejudices and join the struggle. To these people I pay my deep respects, but there is another group of people to which I belong. They are the ones who demand a new social climate simply by refusing to tolerate the current one, refusing to accept that this is the way it should be.

I can’t tell you when the tide will turn on queer issues in the U.S. or the world but I know I have history on my side when I say it is coming. And between now and then I don’t plan to spend much time in debate. My energy will be spent strengthening our queer/ally base, supporting those coming out and working with young people as they envision a new world. And I’m going to do this with the confidence that this too shall pass. Because just as a storm always passes so too will those currently in power in the government and in the church, and when they do, we’ll be ready.

So, in the meantime, in the space between today and tomorrow, I want to leave you with these words from Henri Nouwen, may they help to carry you as many of you have carried me. All I want to say to you is “You are the Beloved,” and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being—“You are the Beloved."