In March 2014, UU leaders from across the country met in Detroit, MI, to engage in deep conversation about how the social justice issues that UUs care about so passionately all intersect with environmental/ecological justice issues. The group worked to understand and embrace this critical, foundational relationship that will inform and aid our response to a climate-changing world.
Scroll down the page to see the press release for this Environmental Justice Collaboratory and read the June 18 letter below, which was sent to a long list of other UU leaders and UU organizations, inviting their input and participation.
For additional information and developments as this new movement toward ecological justice grows within our denomination, check out the EJ Collaboratory website.
Letter From Collaboratory Participants Inviting UU Leaders and Organizations To Join the Environmental Justice Conversation
June 18, 2014
Dear (see recipient list after signers),
In March 2014, thirty leaders representing at least eighteen organizations across the larger Unitarian Universalist community came together in Detroit. Over the course of four days, we looked deeply into environment, race, class, and a host of other critical factors intersect in this era of massive global change. After engaging in some strategic thinking, we have committed ourselves, individually and organizationally, to continue this work and it is work we call our Unitarian Universalist leadership to engage in with us.
The oppression of marginalized human communities and of other species, as well as all aspects of our natural, built, and social environment, intersect through unjust power dynamics. The logic that led to slavery and colonization and the degradation of humans at various times in history is the same that has led to speciesism and is leading to the destruction of Earth. It is the framework that suggests everything is in service to the dominant class. People who fight racism or sexism but don’t extend the models of oppression to Earth are supporting the degradation of the planet, and people who work for environmental sustainability but not socially sustainable models are supporting the dominant structure which will ultimately defeat Earth or will, at least, terminate her ability to maintain human life. The fight for justice is the fight for life in every form. The dismantling of the power structure of dominance is the dismantling of the same structure that dominates Earth.
The environmental justice movement was founded by people of color who charged mainstream environmentalist organizations to recognize the power analysis needed to dismantle the structures that are damaging our planet, with an eye on how our decisions affect those who are most vulnerable in our society. Whether one refers to addressing this work as environmental justice or ecological justice is less important than acting on the reality that many oppressions are inextricably linked. Each signing organization and individual commends your organization or staff group to also make that connection in analysis, education, and strategy.
The individuals and organizations listed below are dedicated to our Unitarian Universalist vision and faith community. We bring our collective presence to bear as we ask you to consider our invitation. We are committed to engaging ongoing dialogue at all levels of our Unitarian Universalist community.
We are appealing to Unitarian Universalist organizations, asking you to enlarge your agendas to prioritize environmental justice. We are requesting that you engage with us in direct conversation regarding our new planetary reality and our shared desire for justice in all our communities. We hope these conversations will inspire a shifting of priorities in your areas of expertise and circles of concern.
As we work across organizational boundaries, we have become acutely aware that some of our Unitarian Universalist cultural and organizational habits do not serve our movement and the larger world as well as they might. We are learning a great deal about collaboration and intersectionality, where issues tend to be pitted one against the other in competition for scarce resources. We commit ourselves to help shift this dynamic in our spheres of influence, and hope to support this process at as many levels, and in as many areas of the Unitarian Universalist world, as possible. We are committed to engaging in ongoing dialogue about environmental and ecological justice, and we ask that the UUA leadership and Unitarian Universalists engage this conversation with us.
Thank you for your attention to these critical issues and for thinking with us on behalf of this world and this faith we love. The need is great and the time, we believe, is right and necessary in ways it has never been before. We look forward to hearing from you and continuing this conversation in the months ahead. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rev. Peggy Clarke, Minister, First Unitarian Society, Hastings on Hudson, NY and
- Racial and Social Justice Consultant, UU Metro NY District
- Rev. Rose Edington
- Barbara Ford, Advisor, UU Ministry for Earth
- Meck Groot, Justice Ministries Coordinator, Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts of UU Congregations
- Dr. Michael Hogue, Professor of Theology, Meadville Lombard Theological School
- Rev. Mel Hoover
- Rev. Dr. Leisa Huyck, Minister-At-Large
- Rev. Beth Johnson, President, UU Animal Ministry
- Rev. Susan Karlson, Central East Regional Group (CERG) Disaster Response Coordinator
- Irene Keim, Chair, UU Ministry for Earth
- Rev. Kurt Kuhwald, Assistant Professor, Starr King School for the Ministry
- Dr. Kat Liu, Board Member, UU Ministry for Earth
- Matthew McHale, Summer Minister, West Shore UU Church, Rocky River, OH
- Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti Sr. Minister, The Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill, NJ
- Jennifer Nordstrom, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice
- Rev. Karen Quinlan
- Christopher D. Sims, UUA Nominating Committee and DRUUMM Executive Team.
- Rev. Dr. Frances Sink, Minister, The Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Stamford, CT, Board Member, UU Ministry for Earth
- Nancy King Smith, First Unitarian Church, Cleveland, OH
- Rev. Jan Taddeo, President-Elect for Allies for Racial Equity
Recipients of this Letter:
- Jim Key, UUA Moderator
- UUA Board of Trustees
- UUA Staff and Administration
- Rev. Peter Morales, President
- Rev. Harlan Limpert, Chief Operating Officer
- Rev. Sarah Lammert, Director of Ministries and Faith Development
- Carey McDonald, Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director
- Taquiena Boston, Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness
- Janice Marie Johnson, Multicultural Ministries Director
- Susan Leslie, Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director
- Jennifer Toth, “Standing on the Side of Love” Campaign Manager
- Rev. Scott Tayler, Director of Congregational Life
- Rev. Teresa Cooley, Program and Strategy Officer
- Helene Atwan, Director, Beacon Press
- Mary Benard, Editorial Director, Skinner House Books
- Chris Walton, Executive Editor, UU World
- District/Regional Presidents
- District/Regional Executives
- Commission on Social Witness
- Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee
- Youth Ministry Advisory Committee
- UU Finding Program
- Ministerial Fellowship Committee
- UUA Presidential Search Committee
- General Assembly Planning Committee
- UU Service Committee
- UU College of Social Justice
- UU-United Nations Office
- UU Women’s Federation
- UU State Advocacy Networks
- UU Ministry for Earth
- Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries
- Allies for Racial Equity
- UUs for a Just Economic Community
- UUs for Social Justice
- UU Trauma Response Ministry
- UU Young Adults for Climate Justice
- President’s Advisory Committee on Ethical Eating
- UU Animal Ministry
- UU Ministers Association
- Liberal Religious Educators Association
- UU Society for Community Ministries
- Meadville Lombard Theological School
- Starr King School for the Ministry
- Covenant of UU Pagans
- UU Buddhist Fellowship
- UU Christian Fellowship
- UUs for Jewish Awareness
- UU Humanist Association
- UU Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
- Church of the Larger Fellowship