The UU Young Adults for Climate Justice (UUYACJ) had something of a home run last month, in delivering three very successful workshops at the UUA General Assembly in Portland.

We are thankful to all the participants and fellow-organizers who made General Assembly such a show of force for climate justice organizing within our faith community and the world at large. In total, there were more than twenty workshops about climate justice! We also had a very meaningful Public Witness event with the Lummi Nation, learning about their struggles for climate justice in their traditional territories.

The first of the three workshop UUYACJ programs was called “Moving from Capitalism Towards an Ecological Economy”, presented by Aly Tharp and Matthew McHale. There was such a wide interest in the subject that the audience was over-flowing into the hallway, and we were required to stop our presentation to satisfy the rules of the conference center’s fire code (no sitting in the aisles). Apologies to all those who were not able to stay for the whole workshop! We appreciate your interest in the subject. We would also like to extend thanks to the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community for promoting our workshop in their handouts!


The audience for our workshop, “Moving from Capitalism Toward an Ecological Economy”
Directly afterwards, we headed to another section of the conference center for our second workshop: “Commit2Respond: Growing Young Adult Leadership for Climate Justice”. There were about 60 people in the audience, plus approximately 40 people attending virtually as the workshop was live-streamed to audiences across the continent.

Our panelists for the “Commit2Respond: Growing Young Adult Leadership for Climate Justice” workshop [from left to right]: Benjamin Craft-Rendon, Aly Tharp, Elizabeth Mount, Jennifer Nordstrom, Matthew McHale
This workshop touched upon how young adult empowerment fits in to the Commit2Respond initiative to grow the climate justice movement, and it culminated in fantastic dialogue between panelists and the audience about how to create inter-generational community and empower young adult leadership.

The following day, Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom spoke alongside Rev. Dr. Teresa Cooley, director of programs and strategy for the UUA, during the morning Plenary Session about the Commit2Respond initiative. Jennifer called on our faith community to dig deeper into aligning our denomination’s financial capital and program resources with our deeply held values.

Throughout the conference, the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice hosted a participatory public art project known widely as The Climate Ribbon at the UU Ministry for Earth booth in the exhibit hall. The Climate Ribbon project asks us to respond to the question, “What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?”. Participants wrote down an answer onto a ribbon, along with their name and place of home, and then they wove their ribbon onto a chalice sculpture that would represent the collective love and concerns of our faith community:

The question / reflection: what do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?
AFTER-The Climate Ribbon chalice after a few days in the exhibit hall
On Saturday, we used this Climate Ribbon Chalice as a part our our inter-generational worship, “United for Climate Justice”. The Dallas-based group known as the Common Ground Street Choir — which formed one year ago, inspired by the General Assembly workshop co-hosted by the UUYACJ network and Emma’s Revolution —  helped bring the chalice to the room for our worship service, in a singing procession through the exhibit hall and conference center.

The worship itself was FULL of music and spirit. Many thanks to the team who made it so spectacular:
Worship Leader: Jennifer Nordstrom
Music Director: Jen Hayman
Worship Music Leader: Dave Ruffin
Soloist: Rev. Sofia Betancourt
Singers: Amanda Weatherspoon, Rev. Abbey Tennis, Jim Lewis, Anne Scott, Lisa Randall and Cledwyn Jones
Piano: Jen Hayman
Percussion: Rev. Leon Dunkley,

and as well to our speakers Kevin Mann and Matthew McHale. This worship was the sixth out of one-hundred in our 100 Services for Climate Justice Campaign. Together in worship, we added statements of love and concern about climate chaos to the Climate Ribbon Chalice.

We continue in this work, greatly heartened by the strength of community that was seen at the UUA General Assembly.