Social Justice From Home

#7 RE UU At Home – April 27th, 2020

As you all know there are many, many, good causes locally and globally that we can support through financial donations, but in fact, you can give support in many different ways including letter writing and signing petitions.    Thanks to Ashley and Jack we have an social justice activity everyone in the congregation can do to support the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts.

Here are some websites that can give you some background on the Tribe and the latest Federal Decision regarding the Wampanoag Tribe’s land status:

https://mashpeewampanoagtribe-nsn.gov/

https://www.facebook.com/StandwithMashpee-2128189433858526/

https://mashpeewampanoagtribe-nsn.gov/news/2020/3/31/amid-crisis-tribe-files-emergency-injunction-with-dc-court

For adults – take a moment to sign onto MoveOn’s petition : Land is Sacred: Stand With the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/stand-with-the-mashpee

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the very tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims in the 1600s, is at risk of losing what is left of their homelands due to a determination made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Teach your children how to call their Congress people and government officials. 

Children have a powerful voice! If they resonate with this issue, here are some folks they can contact:

  • Call Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at (202) 224-2551 and urge him to support the forward movement of the two bills.
    • H.R. 312 / S. 2628 — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, which effectively reverses the Secretary of the Interior’s termination action.
    • H.R. 375 / S. 2808 — An amendment/update to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, which effectively protects other native nations from similar actions.
  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senators (or find your senator here), and urge them to support the above two bills.
  • Call Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at 202-208-3100 x3 and ask him to stop his efforts to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation.

For children – take some time to learn about the Mashpee Wampanoag and draw a picture or write a letter of support.

Look at the websites with an adult.  Think about how the UU Principles guide us to respect all people and to take action.  Writing letters is effective!  Send your letter to your Federal Representatives (look online for their names and addresses) and they will use what you say to guide them in their advocacy work.  Below is the letter Jack sent to his elected officials.

 

Mindfulness – Focus on Democracy

eyes-in-various-colors-clipart__k9247522This past Sunday Lesley led us through several mindfulness activities that helped us focus on the moment and each other and she related this to our UU Fifth principle which states that everyone should have the right to use the democratic process in our faith communities and in society at large.  It takes practice to really see each other, and practice we did.

First we played Dance, Dance, Freeze using Bob Marley’s famous Get Up Stand Up reggae song.  We all agreed it was hard to think of other things when trying to pay attention to when the music was going to stop.

Next we got comfortable on the floor and tried to be mindful by listening to a singing bowl chime.  Following that we got really comfortable and listened to our surroundings for 20 seconds.  We practiced this several times and we heard all kinds of noises we hadn’t heard before!

Following the listening we took turns looking into each other eyes and saying, “Hello, I see your eyes are __________(color).  We were all surprised by each other’s eyes because, well, most of us don’t notice eye color on a regular basis.  It took some getting used to looking that carefully and closely into someone’s face.

Last, but not least we played, “Step into the Circle if…”  Some of the questions related to eye color, if we had siblings, etc.

Happy March Everyone!

We Have the Right to Learn (and everything on Earth is connected)

Child's RightThis past Sunday we had an enthusiastic session.  We started off reading I Have The Right To Be A Child by by Alain SerresAurélia Fronty (Illustrations) and Helen Mixter (Translation).   We talked about how having rights to something doesn’t necessarily make them available and the children named things like food, health care and safety as things not all of us have.  We then talked about what we can do to try to right the wrongs and marching, letter writing and elections were brought up.  And there was general consensus that marching doesn’t necessarily work or make you feel better.  Several children had done a protest march for more recess at their school so they knew first hand.  This is a great book to bring out when discussing the UU fourth principle.

Next I asked the children to quickly draw a flower on a folded piece of paper.  Then I gave them flowers to observe and take apart.  We taped down the separate pieces of the flowers and then labeled the parts.  It is a good thing we didn’t have a huge group because helping everyone do their labeling was challenging.  Next time I will do a big drawing and label it so everyone can see, rather than passing out the tiny print outs I found online.

Finally we talked about the parts purposes of a flower and the children discussed if flowers were around before people and if we could live without them.  There was general consensus that we could not live without beautiful flowers, happy bees and plants to breathe out oxygen.

 

We’re All Like a Puzzle Piece

Upstairs two members talked about Tet and how the New Year is celebrated in Vietnam.  At the end of the presentation they revealed a present that children at a very special school gave to our RE children as a symbol of peace and the New Year.  I will share a photo of the embroidery and a link to the school in my next post.  Thank you!!

Downstairs we discussed the Fourth Principle which is all about our individual right to search for truth and meaning.  The activity to go with this discussion was symbolic.  As we were talking about the principle I counted the children and then cut up a poster board with the same number of puzzle pieces as children.  Then I asked them to draw a symbol of searching, truth, UUism, or they could write what they believe on their puzzle piece.  After ten minutes I called the children back together and the they worked to put the puzzle back whole and when they were done, they asked their puzzle neighbors if they could draw on their pieces.

We join together on Sunday (like a puzzle) to worship in a faith that believes we all have the right to seek and find our own truths (like a piece of the puzzle).  I know, its a stretch, but it was FUN!

 

(In the excitement of putting the puzzle back we realized that I thought there was writing on the wrong side of all the pieces, but one of them did not have writing so the drawing was on the wrong side.  Sorry to J!!  The other blank piece was from a child who just didn’t feel like drawing, but she was instrumental in putting the puzzle together.)

 

Green Slime and Gratitude

This past Sunday I knew UUSA member Janis Gray was giving the sermon and in it she was going to talk about a green slimy dessert that was a traditional part of her family Thanksgiving dinner.  Can you guess what I decided to do during RE?

Before I answer, I’ll let you know that during Joys and Sorrows we talked about how Thanksgiving is both a time of joy and a time of sorrow.  Many Native Americans call Thanksgiving the Day of Mourning and it is important that we acknowledge how terrible the Pilgrims were to the native people who lived on this continent before they arrived from Europe.  It is also important to remember that not everyone has enough food to eat or a warm place to sleep.  So, while we take the time to share a meal and family, let us not forget our past or our neighbors and friends who may not have enough.

Janis’s funny story about her family’s green dessert gave me the perfect excuse for us to make non-edible green slime!  It turns out green slime is easy to make and not surprisingly, a big hit with the children.  Here is the recipe:  two Tablespoons Corn Starch, one and a half Tablespoons dish soap and a few drops of green food coloring – mix, mix, add more soap, add more starch, keep mixing and kneading until you get the consistency you want.  The more you mix and knead, the better the slime becomes!

Once we got to the point where we could pull our slime and not have it stick to our fingers we took turns reading poems about gratitude in a book called Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes.  The book has beautiful messages and pictures.

Between the slime and the gratitude poems I think the children are set for Thanksgiving!  Parents, you’ll be happy to know that this version of slime dries pretty quickly so you probably won’t be finding it all over your house.

Enjoy the time off school and work and remember, if you need help or support in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

 

Universal Signs of Love

This past Sunday we explored the Second Principle by learning about the Side With Love campaign work that UUs have embraced as integral to our work.

“SIDE WITH LOVE LOVE IS A PUBLIC ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN THAT SEEKS TO HARNESS LOVE’S POWER TO STOP OPPRESSION. IT IS SPONSORED BY THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION AND ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN.”

The Side With Love campaigners wear bright yellow t-shirts when they are out and about and I thought it would be fun for us to make our own.  We had a great time as you will see in the photo gallery below.

Talking About Race and Campaigning with Principles

This past Sunday we read the story Not My Idea, by Anastasia Higginbotham.  Not My Idea was difficult to read because conversations about race are hard, but oh so very necessary.  There are no easy answers, but the message is clear – children need to learn about our US history, white systems of power and supremacy and how racism affects people every day in every way.  Downstairs we talked about the book and the children talked about the fact that their parents often will not tell them what bad things are in the news and how this makes them feel.  I found this site which parents and guardians might want to check out.

Children’s Books

Following our check in we talked about voting and I read the book Vote FOR ME by Ben Clanton.  (Spoiler alert!)  Not surprisingly, the independent mouse who stuck to the issues won the storybook election.  After reading the story and thinking about the candidates’ behaviors I gave them the opportunity to crack open the dress up box, make up a character and pick a UU Principle to turn into a campaign slogan.  Since the Sunday’s group included children from Kindergarten up through 4th grade I was prepared for a wide interpretation of the activity, but in the end everyone got right to work and a few even took advantage of costuming to change their identities. 

What were the two top themes?  “Be kind in all you do and each person is important!

While the children were drawing I read the book Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, by Michael S. Bandy which is about a young boy who goes to vote with his African American grandfather who in the end was denied the vote because he could not read the constable’s illegal reading test.  At the end of the story the young boy, now an 18 year old young man goes to vote for the first time with a picture of his grandfather in hand.

Today is Election Day  – Go Vote!  Your voice counts!

“Vote for Purple Dog for President!!”

 

Cooking for Lucio

Last Sunday our RE children could tell me which Principles related to cooking for Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan man who has been in sanctuary at the First Congregational Church for the past two years.  In looking to link the corresponding principles I found this on the The First Parish in Lexington (MA) website:

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

  • Respect the importance and value of each person
  • Offer fair and kind treatment to everyone
  • Yes to spiritual growth and learning together
  • Grow by exploring ideas and finding your own truth
  • Believe in your ideals and voice your vote
  • Insist on justice, freedom and peace for all
  • Value our responsibility in the web of life

The RE children named Principles 1,2,4,5 and 6.

After a very quick explanation we got right to work and divided into three stations – one for salad making, one for lasagna making and one for pie baking.  By the end of 45 minutes all of the children had taken a turn in the three stations and we had three significant dishes for one of our families to take home to bake and deliver on Monday.  Thank you to those who donated the food for us to prepare.  Lucio – we hope you enjoy the food!

1st Principle

This past Sunday was dedicated to the UU’s First Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Or as the children like to say, “Each person is important.”

We started the morning upstairs for the beginning of service.  Reverend Rachael read a story about a snowflake that I have heard many variations of, but this particular version was found in the book A Lamp in Every Corner.  The moral of the story (as they say) is that no flake is the same and many flakes are significant.  Downstairs we continued the discussion, but instead of snowflakes we talked about people.  I asked, if we are all important and worthy, then what do we do when someone is behaving badly?  How should we deal with a person who is not being kind? Is someone who is a bully still important?  Still inherently worthy?  The children came up with a variety of strategies including asking an adult for help, avoiding the person and talking to the person.

We then split into two groups.  The younger children read the story I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien which is a wonderful book about children from other countries coming to America and starting at a new school.

 

 

The older group started a people map which is an idea I got from Tapestry of Faith.  In order to help them understand how important people are in their lives we started out by identifying everyone in our immediate family and then moving on to extended family, friends and people we know in town.

Principle Challenge!  Learn the UU Principles by heart at some point this year!  Younger children can learn the simplified version and I encourage the older children to memorize the more complex version.  At the end of the morning I handed out a principle accordion flyer.  If you and your child did not get one, come and find me!