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This Week: The Story of Us

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The message below went out on Monday, January 23, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.


Now that we have taken some valuable time to examine the Story of Self, this week we enter into the next phase of our 30 Days of Love: The Story of Us.

With your participation and collaboration, we are asking the participants and congregations that are at the center of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign to join us in a process of collective visioning.

Collective visioning and storytelling involves intentionally bringing people together to generate a positive vision based on our deeply held values and dreams. It is also about action planning so that we are prepared to actively work towards what we envision.

When we envisioned National Standing on the Side of Love Month: The Story of Us & Now, we knew we wanted to get to the heart of our campaign’s intersecting communities — congregations, allied organizations, online participants — and offer tools for engagement. Collective visioning offers us the opportunity to do just that — open our ears so we can understand more fully who we are, where we are in this present moment, and what we are called to do next.

This week, we will explore the following:

  • Opportunities for reflection with your local community and congregations about your story of us & now. If you haven’t already, check out the Story of Us, Story of Now Guide under Featured Resources on the 30 Days calendar.
  • The Collective Visioning webinar with Linda Stout of Spirit in Action this Thursday at 5pm ET. Sign up here to participate in the Collective Visioning Webinar.
  • Key questions of who “we” are as a campaign given this moment in time and the societal challenges we face.
  • The lifting up of the heroes among us, those who exemplify “courageous love.”
  • Via a Friday facebook chat, an opportunity to offer your thoughts with the campaign about our future, and pose your questions.
  • An exploration of the importance of sharing food with others.

If you have not already, sign up here to receive the 30 Days of Love daily email updates for more information about each of these events:

org.salsalabs.com/o/1272/signup_page/30daysoflove

One of the greatest things about Standing on the Side of Love is watching our community grow. A lion’s share of that credit goes to all of you who have brought the Standing on the Side of Love frame and resources into your local congregations to invigorate your social justice campaigns. The heart of this campaign is Unitarian Universalist values and the importance we place on the inherent dignity and worth of all people. These are the messages that the clergy and social justice chairs in our congregations are transmitting to the world when these messages are most needed.

We can also credit our growth with the incredible work of the UUA’s Witness Ministries team that is constantly striving to strengthen our partnerships with other faith communities and like-minded organizations. Our team, based in Washington, D.C. and Boston, participates in interfaith coalitions to address anti-Muslim bigotry, immigration justice issues, and LGBT civil rights. We partner with organizations like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the Equality Federation of Statewide LGBT Groups, and Interfaith Worker Justice to lift up our voices in unison.

Finally, we owe a debt to the power of the internet with broadening the reach of our campaign, and creating a space for UUs who aren’t affiliated with a congregation – or non-UUs who share these core values — to join. Now is an ideal time to bring other members of your community and congregation into our campaign and explore this moment together. Explain what Standing on the Side of Love means to you, and encourage folks to see what it might mean to them.

What’s next for Standing on the Side of Love as a campaign? We’re listening.



In partnership and equality,

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side Love

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Day 8: Understanding Who We Are and What Motivates Us

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The message below went out on Monday, January 23, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.


Welcome to our second week of National Standing on the Side of Love Month! Our theme this week is The Story of Us. This is a story of the hundreds of congregations that carry Standing on the Side of Love banners and the thousands of us who heed the campaign’s call for immigrant justice, LGBT justice, and human dignity for all people regardless of their identity. We are the 28,000-strong community of individuals who has joined Standing on the Side of Love on Facebook, the 30,000 of us who receive emails from the campaign and regularly take action online, the 2,000 of us who participate in conversations with @sideoflove on Twitter, and the nearly 10,000 of us who have connected with the campaign by signing petitions through Change.org.

As we begin the process of collective visioning, we honor our diverse and growing community. It’s important to remember that we all make assumptions about who “we” are. So, let’s examine our community and what motivates our involvement:

Today’s community questions:

  • What are your unique identities? Do you fall outside your perceptions of who the Standing on the Side of Love community is?
  • What inspires you about our community? Why are you involved with Standing on the Side of Love and/or UUism? What does the Standing on the Side of Love campaign mean to you?

Share your thoughts with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove. The two responses with the most FB ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt, hat, or tote bag.

I’m including a prayer at the bottom of this message that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

In Partnership,

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side Love

Our Common Purpose – from “Be the Change: Poems, Prayers & Meditations for Peacemakers & Justice Seekers,” by Stephen Shick

This moment is beautiful,

For we have gathered.

This moment is beautiful,

For we have gathered
in common purpose.

This moment is beautiful,

For we have gathered
in common purpose
to do important work.

This moment is beautiful,

For we have gathered
in common purpose
to do important work
that only we can do.

This moment is beautiful,

For together
we recreate the world.

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Day 7: Gather to Discuss Story of Us, Story of Now

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The message below went out on Sunday, January 22, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.


So many UU congregations have invigorated their social justice programs using the Standing on the Side of Love frame; and there are even a number of non-UU congregations that are proudly marching under the Standing on the Side of Love umbrella.

Organizing, including congregational organizing, is rooted in shared values and expressed in stories as a public narrative. Placed in the context of the present moment – a moment punctuated with the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement – these shared values and our public narrative give direction and force to our efforts.

Today’s action is the following:

Gather after services, or plan another time, when your congregation can discuss your Story of Us and Story of Now. We have created a “Story of Us Story of Now” Guide to help you with the process. You can find this resource, and others, here.

Don’t forget — we want to hear your congregation’s story! Please share it with us at any point over the coming weeks. Click here to share your congregation’s story.

At the end of the Thirty Days, we will honor one congregation that shares their Story of Us with a free Standing on the Side of Love banner.

Note our language above, where we say, “Gather after services, or plan another time.” We recognize congregations have busy calendars, and it’s unreasonable to expect that today is THE day when your congregation might be able to go through this exercise. But none of these materials are going anywhere. They are templates for you to use in ways that work for you when they work for you. So take today to plan for a time when you can come together.

For those of us who are not affiliated with a congregation, today is still an ideal day to think about your story of us & now. For instance, who is your “us”? What communities do you feel you belong to? Remember, the “Story of Us, Story Now” Guide can certainly be used beyond congregations.

Finally – are there ways you could feel more connected to the Standing on the Side of Love community?

We hope this weekend is one of sharing, community, relaxation, and great meaning.

In Community,


Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side LoveP.S. If you want to dig even deeper, The New Organizing Institute also has a great video resource for telling a Story of Us & Now: http://neworganizing.com/content/toolbox/story-of-us-and-now

P.P.S. Hopefully you didn’t miss this great story from Rev. Jake Morrill in Oak Ridge, TN with reflections about his community’s story of us and now.

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The Story of Us & Now in Oak Ridge, TN

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The message below went out on Saturday, January 21, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.


On January 10, this was one of the things on my “to-do” list: “Write Susan Leslie — community organizing resources.” As you probably know, Susan’s the Director of Congregational Advocacy at the UUA. The congregation I serve in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is part of a conversation getting started in our community for how things could be better for more people. I wanted Susan’s advice. I needed some help. Incredibly, on that very same day, I received a Standing on the Side of Love email from Susan, with a whole host of resources of the kind I’d been wanting. One of these was called, “The Story of Us, the Story of Now.”

To see why it so excited me, and to consider using this resource yourself, please click on this link.

Oak Ridge is a small city of 29,000 just outside of Knoxville. In recent years, what was once an enclave of mostly-white, middle-class employees of the federal facilities located here — an oasis of comfort — Oak Ridge has changed. While growing richer in diversity of class and race, Oak Ridge has steadily become a city with arising level of poverty-based suffering, without the resources or the strategies yet to meet it. For many, a sprawling, empty mall in the center of Oak Ridge, owned by an out-of-town developer, has become a symbol of decline. For congregations in town, the closing of Trinity United Methodist a few years ago, seemed to agree.

But within Oak Ridge, just like in your own community, there is also great resilience. And so, a couple of years ago, Oak Ridgers, led by another Methodist church here in town, organized a free medical clinic in the building where Trinity had once been. Soon, the clinic was serving the enormous, unmet medical needs in our community. Over at our Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, a few members organized the “Stone Soup” ministry, which offers free meals and a pantry to the hungry among us.

The habit in my city, as it may be in yours, is for different congregations to do their own ministry. But there is also a tradition of pulling together. For years, congregations have worked together to uphold the “Ecumenical Storehouse,” a ministry that provides furniture and housewares to those who need it. And for years, congregations have upheld “Tabitha’s Table,” over at Robertsville Baptist Church. The Unitarian Universalists have been in the thick of both. Still, for the most part, as in most communities, each congregation tends to do its own thing.

But, in recent months, something new seems to be stirring. Those inspired by, and involved in, the Free Medical Clinic are wondering how else that sprawling old building that used to house Trinity could serve the community. Two small congregations–a progressive Baptist congregation of mostly white people and an Apostolic congregation of mostly Latinos–have moved into the space. Now, ORUUC’s “Stone Soup” ministry looks likely to relocate, so we serve folks up there, where they’re already showing up for free medical care; a craft-fair fundraiser in December will help prepare the Trinity kitchen for community ministry. There was an uplifting, interfaith Thanksgiving service at Trinity that brought together five congregations. And then, on New Year’s Day, more celebration and fellowship with a city-wide choir-fest at ORUUC.

As we, of different congregations, have begun to wonder together, our conversations have often widened out from the question of how we could develop ministries of service together based in the old Trinity building. Some of us have begun to wonder whether congregations could coordinate in broader ways. Could even, perhaps, challenge the norms of the city that leave so many without access to basic services like enough food. And besides working in isolation, one of the norms, of course, is for congregations to “do-for” in ministry instead of the harder work of “doing-with.”

To do things differently is never easy. But these new conversations inspire me with a sense of possibility. What’s more, the Standing on the Side of Love resource, “The Story of Us, the Story of Now”— which you can click on here — fills me with actual hope.

It fills me with hope because I serve a faith that says that what will save us — the power of love — lies waiting already within us, between us, and all around us. And I have seen how sharing stories can bring forth that love, can bring forth creative, sustainable cooperation that might not have otherwise been possible. This can happen by gathering people in the same room. But the collective visioning process I found in “The Story of Us, the Story of Now” invites people to share stories with more intention, to likely far greater effect. That’s why, in the coming weeks, leaders of congregations in Oak Ridge will gather to deepen the conversation that we have started.

On behalf of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, I invite you to embark on a similar conversation in your community. Click here to download the Story of Us, Story of Now guide so you can schedule a time to put it to use in your congregation and community.

In the coming months, I look forward to telling a new story about things in Oak Ridge. And I look forward to hearing the new stories already welling up where you live.

Faithfully,

Jake Bohstedt Morrill

Rev. Jake Bohstedt Morrill
Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church

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Day 6: Examine Your Words

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The message below went out on Saturday, January 21, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.


Love is not concerned
with whom you pray
or where you slept
the night you ran away
from home.
Love is concerned
that the beating of your heart
should kill no one.

-Alice Walker

On occasion, I’m taken aback by the incendiary rhetoric I see posted to the Standing on the Side of Love blog or to our Facebook page comments section. The name-calling can be rabid, caustic. It’s not difficult to understand where it’s coming from. When Rick Santorum spews more homophobic rhetoric and Sherriff Joe Arpaio is accused of yet another flagrant human rights violation, we are appalled, angry, and often personally aggrieved. It’s really tough for some of us – myself included – not to lash out in kind, using our words as weapons to express our frustration.

One of the reasons I love this campaign is that it’s about more than just our public witness, and the way we show up. I believe this campaign affects us individually. It has the power to change us. And I know this, because this campaign has changed me.  Over the past 20 months, as my professional activism has moved through – and continues to move through — a new prism, a prism of love, I have developed a new mindfulness that what I say, how I feel, and what I do affects everything.  Sometimes it’s still more difficult for me to open my heart to love than to choose the angry, defensive path. But as a result of Standing on the Side of Love, I am far more mindful of my words and actions than ever before in my life. For that, I give great thanks.

Today’s active reflection is about the power of our words:

When was the last time you spoke (emailed, etc.) unlovingly to someone?

To yourself?

What about the last time you spoke or wrote cruelly about someone?

What about people in your lives vs. strangers?

In each case, what was the root of your anger?

How can you remind yourself to promote more respectful rhetoric online, in your personal and professional interactions, and with yourself?

Share your answers with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.

The two answers that inspire the most likes will win a free t-shirt, hat, or tote bag – your choice.

Today, I carry with me the 2nd Unitarian Universalist principle: “We affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.”

Being the Change,

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side Love

P.S. Thinking about the importance of words in our lives also got me thinking about broader issues about language in society, for example, how the press often uses “illegal” instead of “undocumented.”  Check out this article from a few weeks back in the New York Times, “What if We Occupied Language.”  I’m curious if it speaks to you as well (pun intended). An excerpt:

What if we transformed the meaning of occupy yet again? Specifically, what if we thought of Occupy Language as more than the language of the Occupy movement, and began to think about it as a movement in and of itself? What kinds of issues would Occupy Language address? What would taking language back from its self-appointed “masters” look like?  We might start by looking at these questions from the perspective of race and discrimination, and answer with how to foster fairness and equality in that realm.

Read the full article: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/what-if-we-occupied-language/

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