Travel Update 2 – Climate Strikes & Homecomings

Friend, It feels good to be home again after a whirlwind 3.5 weeks on the road. I am brimming with gratitude for this journey and excitement for the near-future of UU climate justice mobilization.

My travels began with an action-packed week in DC, followed by an incredible week in NYC for the Global Climate Strikes and UN Climate Summit side-events.

Our UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, was in NYC for the climate strikes as well. Together we witnessed and worshiped (check out the livestream!) with a few hundred UUs and 350K people of conscience across the city. Over 7 million people participated in the climate strike week of action worldwide!

Unitarian Universalists mobilized in numbers and we will come together again on an October 16th webinar to hear from our youth leaders and discuss what’s next. Please sign up to attend &/or receive the recording!

The United Nations Climate Summit began the next day and the city was abuzz with hundreds of climate-focused events. I attended events primarily about Indigenous front-line leadership, nature-based solutions, and interfaith movement building.

Six UU representatives (pictured below) attended at an all day Interfaith event called “Climate Emergency: Faith-Based Organizations Raising Ambition – Leaving No One Behind”. About 50 organizations and 100 people participated, exploring the subjects of climate justice, climate change loss and damage, climate migration, climate emergency declarations, and strategies for mobilizing people of faith in 2019 & beyond.

UU representives smile for a picture together at the Interfaith UN Consultation event in NYC - [From L to R] Lavona Grow (UUs for Social Justice - UUSJ), Helen Rose (Earth Day Network), Salote Soqo (UU Service Committee - UUSC), Aly Tharp (UU Ministry for Earth - UUMFE), Rev. Mary Katherine Morn (UUSC), Rev. Susannah Tuttle (North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light)

UU representation at the Interfaith UN Consultation event – [From L to R] Lavona Grow (UUs for Social Justice – UUSJ), Helen Rose (Earth Day Network), Salote Soqo (UU Service Committee – UUSC), Aly Tharp (UU Ministry for Earth – UUMFE), Rev. Mary Katherine Morn (UUSC), Rev. Susannah Tuttle (North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The process catalyzed important cross-cultural dialogues to strengthen our relationships and foundations for Interfaith action towards climate responsibility and justice. The notes from these dialogues are being synthesized into a document that will be submitted to the United Nations’ climate and environmental bodies.

Next, I attended a warm and welcoming annual Homecoming event at the Murray Grove Retreat & Renewal Center, “Universal Good: Social & Environmental Justice”. I spoke about the connection between UU Principles & environmental justice, and the moral call to “Create Climate Justice” together as an embodiment of our faith. I also taught attendees how to screen print, and they made their own UU Young Adults for Climate Justice patches!

I loved seeing some familiar faces and meeting many other amazing UUs at Murray Grove.

I then carpooled with Bob & Irene Keim to White Plains, NY, to celebrate and honor the ordination of Rev. Cynthia Erb Davidson (a UUMFE Board Member) into Unitarian Universalist Ministry.

This was followed by a quick trip to Boston to meet with the  UUSC, UU College of Social Justice, & UUA Organizing Strategy Team . These meetings left me very hopeful that UU coalitions and partnerships for climate justice will continue to strengthen and expand quickly. I was also able to make a quick site visit to Providence, RI, to prepare myself for the 2020 UUA General Assembly. The “cherry on top” of my Boston journey was worshiping with the amazing Sanctuary Boston community and having them (so generously and unexpectedly!) take up a collection for UUMFE.

The last leg of my journey was a trip to Woodstock, NY, with Rev. Cynthia Erb Davidson to attend the world premiere of The Condor & The Eagle, a documentary film about Indigenous climate leadership and movement building across North & South America. UUMFE is proud to be an Executive Producer of the film, and grateful to the many people who donated to make this endeavor possible. The film is fantastic, and I really can’t wait to share it with you (soon!). See if there is a film screening coming up in your area, and stay tuned for more info about how you can host a UU community screening.

Now that I am home, the work continues. I am attending an Undoing Racism training by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond over the next two days, getting plugged back in with my local community commitments, and preparing to give a sermon this Sunday at my congregation (Wildflower UU Church of Austin, TX) and next Sunday at the First UU Church of San Antonio. I imagine that you may also feel like you’re moving at full speed these days. As Greta Thunberg helps remind us — this is an emergency and we need to act like it. May we be sustained and successful in our efforts.

Thank you for reading this update and being engaged in the UU Ministry for Earth!

Aly Tharp
Aly Tharp
Aly Tharp is the program director at the UU Ministry for Earth and has been with UUMFE since 2014, initially serving as the network coordinator for the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice. Aly lives in Austin, Texas, and in their free time is an arts-activist and community organizer supporting a local food forest on public parkland and Gulf South climate justice movements.