Reflections from Movement Generation’s Just Transition Course

Over the past eight weeks, UUs have been listening, learning and reflecting together on the deep wisdom of Movement Generation’s Course Correction: Just Transition in an Age of Covid-19. Grounding participants physically, emotionally and intellectually in the stakes of this current moment, the course provided a clear analysis of systemic challenges as well as space to reimagine a path forward rooted in transformation. In between the sessions, UUs also gathered to discuss what the material means for participants’ local communities and UU climate organizing. Check out these key takeaways from the discussion group, and watch, read or listen to the recorded sessions. You can also read our reflections from the first half of the course in this blog post.

Course Content

Session 1: How Did We Get Here? The Ecological Context for Pandemics

  • Watch the recording
  • Audio recording in Spanish
  • Transcript of live captioning
  • Slides by Deseree Fontenot and Gopal Dayaneni. The slides are to be used for reference, not reuse. Please ask Movement Generation if you would like to use any of the slides. 

Session 2: Translocal Strategies for a Just Recovery: A Black-Led Session on Restoring Land, Labor, and Capital to Self-Determined Communities

Session 3: From Global Domination to Bio-regional Governance

Session 4: Decolonize the Future 

Check out this highlights video, produced by MG’s Tre Vasquez:

Participant Reflections

Tali Smookler, Community Organizer with Mass Action

The course allowed me to zoom out in thinking about the causes of this pandemic, of climate change, and of so many other injustices, and to be imaginative and visionary about possibilities for a more just future. I am thinking about what it means to hold these broad ideas of deep root causes and creative possibilities for the future in my day to day work of engaging UUs in statewide climate justice movements. I hope to be able to apply the idea of moving from extractive economies to regenerative ones in our UU work to strengthen a climate movement that is intersectional, and to shift the reality of what is considered “possible” to meet the needs of our times. 

Rev. Stephen Shick, author of Be the Change: Poems, Prayers and Meditations for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers

I am grateful to UU Ministry for Earth for encouraging and facilitating UU participation in Movement Generation’s Course Correction program. The content of each session expanded my understanding, not only of Indigenous people’s perspectives on capitalism and colonialism, but of the meaning of the saying “nothing worth doing can be completed in your life-time, therefore you are saved by faith.”  Having the opportunity to process the course information with fellow UUs of different ages and backgrounds renewed my faith in our timeless religious values.

Elizabeth Fernandez, UUMFE Intern: 

Movement Generation’s “Just Transition” course taught me a lot about our economy and who should hold the power in our society. This course brought up really sound methods of how we can move forward from this Covid-19 pandemic and move away from our current ecoaparteid societal standards. Some key takeaways I had were the feedback loops addressing the “Just Transition” strategy framework of Resist- Rethink- Restructure. 

This looks like: focusing on how to resist the extractive economy our society is all too familiar with. Learning how to evolve our colonialist mindset into more inclusive and respectful forms of thinking and acting, as well as learning to appreciate our Earth and all of its inhabitants instead of exploiting them for their natural resources. Rethinking how we can shift our economic control by divesting from big business that currently hold too much wealth power and investing into the control of the commons, which have not been well represented in today’s world. Finally, restructuring our economy where we cultivate ecological and social well being so that the people work together in a democracy and our resources are regenerative and no longer cause harm to the environment or frontline communities. This model of transition aligns with my Unitarian Universalist beliefs since it maintains the notion that we all coexist and rely on the Earth to live. We are all interdependent in the web of life and my heart hurts knowing that the way our economy is designed today, is killing the planet and thousands of people living on it. Everyone deserves equality and more respect than that. I think the Resist- Rethink- Restructure strategy model is really powerful and can be implemented by 2050 which is the projected date of a Just Transition. I hope to see a world with a living or regenerative economy that no longer relies on harmful and unsustainable resources to run our society. I will continue to implement the tools I learned in Movement Generation’s course by bringing awareness to the dangerous and deadly exploitation of resources in an extractive economy and divest from big businesses that fund fossil fuel extraction.

Maya Goss, UUMFE Intern:

Movement Generation’s Course Correction series was for me, more than anything, a thought exercise. It challenged me to question the ingrained beliefs I hold about how our economic and social systems should work and to consider what an alternative world could look like: one in which all people hold a deep connection to the land and the ecosystem, with less fast-paced development and more care and consideration. Prior to this course, I never would have considered the possibility of bioregional governance, as opposed to dividing governments through the arbitrary boundaries of states and countries. I didn’t think about what plants and animals were native to my home. I believed community ownership was necessary, but never understood it with the level of depth that Movement Generation taught. In addition, I greatly appreciated that essential to this course was the concept that equitability is not only preferred, it is required. They conveyed the idea that social inequity is an ecological imbalance, thus a true regenerative and sustainable society must have equity for all. I believe that is a fact that must be central to all climate justice work. I can’t say that I agree with everything Movement Generation proposed, or that I completely understand how their goals could be achieved, yet I deeply value the insight the course gave me, and how it was a space for unbridled imagination and hope. The series demonstrated a perspective that was entirely new to me, one that I plan to carry with me in all my future activism. It allowed me to envision a revolutionary future, based on radical care, healing, and justice, and for that, I am grateful. 

Amelia Diehl, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice Network Coordinator: 

The wisdom and intentionality of Movement Generation’s Just Transition course felt like such a salve for these times – and I am eager to explore what these ideas mean for UU communities and beyond. Even over video, each session felt like its own sacred space, rooted in radical accessibility, creativity and connection; I feel honored to have received these lessons from movement elders, and a sense of duty to take care of this knowledge and pass it forward in appropriate ways. There is power in articulation, in naming and identifying problems and their causes, especially as story; as we untangle this complex global unrest, we can pull at the roots, compost the colonizer nation-state and plant seeds of renewal, in the soils of ancient knowledge and watered by future generations. The perspectives offered throughout the course – from Black, Indigenous and other leaders of color, reminded me to think small; to recognize my own journey in reconnecting to my bioregion, as well as to recognize just how relatively recent white supremacy and capitalism are in the grand scheme of human existence, and that just because one system dominates does not mean this is the only way we can relate to one another.

It is precisely these ideas of domination that have revealed themselves to be life-taking rather than life-giving; UU principles provide one guide for how to restore right relationship, rooted in care and justice. It is not enough to simply articulate, however – this course is also a call to action, and that in itself is another nourishment, an invitation into reclaiming our relationships to ourselves and our communities, to create a shared sense of the stakes laid out before us. One of the most powerful parts of the course for me was the last session of reporting back from 2050, as the world has reached a certain stage of just transition. I will be in my late 50’s, supposedly at the tailend of a “career”. But my generation cannot imagine our lives playing out as it has in, say, my parent’s generation — both because of the certainty of a future far more tumultuous, and the opportunity to hopefully not only survive, but also cultivate new systems of relationships. I don’t have a career, I have a life; climate action is my retirement plan. What we do now sets the stage for how bad it will get then; rather than ask if I have hope or despair (I have both, the first being an action you have to earn, anyway) the question I have for myself is, what do I need to grow in myself and my ecosystems to prepare to leave this Earth, knowing I carry my values?

 

 

 

 

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