Aspirations by Alison: Being Human Together

Thirty-five years ago, I met two of the most important people in my life: the little boy who would become my husband, Jamie; and the little girl who has been my best friend ever since, Emily. I met these two beautiful people as a result of the elementary school community that all our families were a part of. When times really get rough, Jamie & Emily are always there for me, to this day. 

Communities are often built in this way, by good fortune and shared proximity. As Unitarian Universalists, though, we come together to build community on purpose, grounded in principles. And yes, when our UU communities lead us into bonds of lasting friendship, we can count ourselves fortunate. But this is a case where we have made our own good fortune, by choosing to be together, choosing to be vulnerable, choosing to go deeper together. We are co-creators with the Great Mystery, as we participate in the alchemy that transforms a room full of individuals into a beloved community.

I made this choice on purpose as soon as I became a mom. I knew somehow that I needed UU — that I needed YOU — even though then I’d never heard of Klamath Falls, and would never have imagined myself as a clergyperson. The beloved communities that are our UU fellowships had something that the nuclear family I was creating desperately needed. Humans are meant to be together, but our US culture of individualism, capitalism and white supremacy undermines our ability to meet our need to be art of strong, connected communities. The more I participate in beloved UU communities, the more I see that the act of community care is a radical act that helps us reconnect to our shared humanity. We’ve seen this prominently in the last year as the model of mutual aid has flourished in response to the pandemic.

It is in this world that I am becoming a clergyperson, and I’ve been so honored to be YOUR clergyperson for the last eight months. At the same time, I continue to be just another human held in this beloved community. Just last week, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I was able to fly up to Seattle (so grateful to be fully vaccinated just in time!) to be with him as we begin to negotiate what comes next. Every one of you in the UUFKC community who I have spoken with about this challenging time have affirmed the importance of me being with my father and participating in his care. You’ve held me in your prayers, even as you too are struggling, after a year of isolation and now a time of both rising vaccination rates and rising COVID cases. You’ve offered me grace as I make mistakes because there’s too much on my mind. You’ve given me space to be human. And, together, we keep moving forward, slowly but surely, to get the work of community done.

I’m back in Southern Oregon, and I’m still here for pastoral care, administrative support, and of course, Sunday worship, even as I help coordinate my dad’s care from afar. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do know that your support is what makes it possible for me, and for this fellowship, to flourish, in the midst of it all. Thank you for holding me. I, too, am holding you. That is the work of beloved community.

May Chronicles by Barbara

Having turned 83 in April,  I share these words of Jack Nicol, who passed 31 December 2020:  “It’s a big job keeping up with a young heart and mind”.   (H&N Feb. 2021)

’Tis May. Let’s remember Mother’s Day.  “Moms make life half as hard, and twice as good.”  (A necklace)    

One gift from my mother was laughter.  From my birth to first grade she kept an annual diary (just discovered) of my young life.  No words of first tooth or first steps. She shared comical moments.

Fear not. I have scrapbooks of unending items, cards from baby shower, etc. etc. No wonder I’m into archiving!

I laughed SO heartily as I perused her excellent penmanship. I shared some of her trials and tribulations during April family celebrations: two dinners and three cakes. (Love that math.)

Seems early on I fell off of, or out of beds.  My first fall at about four months, a bachelor uncle was living with us. He was to watch me.  Claimed he heard a thud, & rationalized a dropped  shoe. Really?  Mom wore sz-5. How much thud can such make?!? 

Not in diary, but definitely my memory, just prior to 2nd grade. A high school neighbor girl was pushing me on my  best pal’s backyard swing.  Suddenly I went flying to the ground.  I was rushed to the ER. Fortunately no concussion or broken bones. 

For my family, the written witness of my early falls, was pure testimony to any wackiness I’ve  ever or will  demonstrate.   We all laughed uproariously!   (I’m certain such will continue.) 

Another written witness was the tale of  2 1/2 -3 year old having to pee, AND unable to refrain from using her father’s hat.  Mom did not clarify if it was his winter hat, or his summer Panama.  (Both useful in Detroit weather patterns.) 

Reading the diary I rationalized that the Panama, set upside down,  might seem to a child, “my size, suiting my need”!  (I  have yet to share this with grandsons.) But, I’m still snickering. Thanks Mom! 

                                            *****

Let’s offer THANKS to Sustainable Klamath and the Mills Neighborhood Association for Earth Day Activities.  Chief Seattle stated: 

   “MAN DOES NOT WEAVE THE WEB OF LIFE,
  HE IS MERELY A STRAND IN IT.
   WHATEVER HE DOES TO THE WEB,
  HE DOES TO HIMSELF”.  

Then there was Eleanor Roosevelt.  In her day some Right leaders blasted her actions as, ‘unworthy of an American mother’. As a  mother Eleanor bore six children, losing one in infancy.  (She and I share loss of a child.)

In reality her entire life is national and global heritage.  Author Tonya Bolden wrote, “Except for her clothes, nothing about ER has gone out of date.  She fought  battles still being fought, and our world is still not at peace”.  (My hope: The world’s young folks!)

Post-Chief Seattle, and prior to UUA Principle 7, Eleanor stated, 

     “HATE AND FORCE CANNOT BE IN JUST A PART
     OF THE WORLD  WITHOUT HAVING AN EFFECT 
     ON THE REST OF IT”.   

Whatever your age, this from Eleanor: 

    “KEEP YOUR GREATEST GIFT—CURIOSITY—ALIVE”
                   SHARE YOUR STORIES 
           FOR MOTHERS and MOTHERS-OF-HEART
                            HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

–Barbara H. Turk, Archivist

Toward Greater Humanity: Seven Insights into Anti-Racism Work with Kokayi Nosakhere on April 12 @6pm

Since 1675 this American experiment with race and racism is so off-balanced, it makes people think they have to  attain a PhD to learn how to be human.” – Kokayi Nosakhere, community organizer and Black man living in Southern Oregon, 2021

Most Americans in 2021 acknowledge racism remains a prevalent societal ill. The question becomes how to address it. Nosakhere proposes seven insights and suggests several personal practices to effectively interrupt basic American socialization, which makes racists of us all.

  • Learn what a soul wound is and why everyone in America has one.
  • Learn the history of the idea of race in American history and society.
  • Learn functional definitions of culture and the new boundaries emerging around said idea as humanity moves towards self-actualization.
  • Learn how to manage your actions on social media to foster the healing needed in America around the ideas of race/racism.
  • Learn the 11 tactics Dr. DiAngelo has outlined which reinforced a whiteness-centered worldview. Explore the counters to said tactics designed to decenter whiteness and expand our collective capacity to enter greater and greater humanity.

This $225 class has been discounted to $75 for Southern Oregon UUs. To register for this class, make your $75 payment here: https://www.paypal.me/KokayiNosakhere
Make sure to provide your contact information so Kokayi can send you the Zoom link to Monday’s workshop.

Objective: Develop white-bodied allies in Oregon who understand their personal responsibility to heal the American soul wounds and interrupt supremacy socialization practices.

  1. Show LOVE to yourself.

After living in the Rogue Valley for the past two years, I know who it takes to inspire the growth and development most of us can agree on social media many of us want. However, the bridge we all need is a human process which creates the allies strong enough to communicate the benefits of cultural diversity. A collection of open minds can take the next step and envision the practical steps necessary to get there.

As you read in my book, “When and Where We Feel Safe,” first responders inside the organizing planning sessions for the 12th Annual Beloved Music Festival, provided me with the experience of a BIPOC Sanctuary. The space was the brainchild of four young inter-racial geniuses. Their experiment paved a way to showing we pioneers how to fortify BIPOC persons in a sea of white bodies; how to regulate the fear/freeze/flight response and implement the healing modalities shaped at the festival into our community life. 

  1. Protect the vulnerable.

Before you is opportunity to do what has never been done before – in Oregon: heal the white racial trauma which lives here. Ashland is home to the pilot program of this healing experiment: a BIPOC Sanctuary. Ashland is the first community to write the next chapter in this story of providing “medicine for the people.” Eugene, Oregon can be the second. Salem can be the third. Bend can be the fourth.

Here is what I am suggesting you do next. 

  1. Include the marginalized. 

Enroll into the Seven Insights into Anti-Racism Work ZOOM-based class coming up Monday, April 12, 2021 at 6 pm. Cost is $225 per student. (Because you are a UU member, this class is discounted to $75 with a limit of 10 persons total.)

The following endorsement comes from a student of Solsara, who attended a three day event, Interrupting Whiteness, held in the third weekend of February 2020. I attended that event and made a few contributions towards this transformative experience.

“It is my absolute honor to be writing about a very inspirational man and his work. Not only a heart-centered and deeply caring person, his writing and teachings are articulate, passionate, and researched. His investment in his Oregon communities is a humanitarian gift. I imagine he left a large footprint in Alaska, as well; his soulful presence is singular. Indeed, the work he is doing is desperately needed by a society that has been drafted upon marginalized backs. And: he is woefully alone. What measurement of courage, what immensity of spirit is needed, to heal and teach in this environment? In my mind, this makes him a Warrior Leader.

Kokayi Nosakhere is leading by example, through his sharing of life experience as a POC, and by professorship. He is breaking holes in the institutions and spaces that perpetuate a white racialized America, while providing sanctuary for his Brothers and Sisters. Kokayi’s writing is raw and honest, and commands a white audience to listen. He commands us to be still and go within. He writes from a very examined and direct place, which requires – to even begin to enter dialogue with him – to question what it is to be white, or experiencing white privilege. He is teaching us about centuries of oppression from a boundaried place. He is teaching us about who we are, in collective relationship to one another, from a boundaried place. He is doing and sharing his healing, from a boundaried place. And because he is so carefully boundaried, Kokayi is potentially one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. Thank you for who you are, and for all of your work. In our brief knowing of each other, you have changed my life. I expect I am just a humbled one among many. Much love.”

-Ellie Grove, Eugene, OR

April Chronicles By Barbara

NOTES FROM THE ARCHIVES, PLUS UPDATES ON SOME PAST MEMBERS

Spring has officially arrived. Let’s start with THUMBS UP for two former board members.  First, SALUD to Wendy & Bob Millard.

On March 13th Wendy emailed: “On the 15th we have a crew coming to rake the soil on our 3 city lots below our house, between us & city park. Next they’ll sow $600 worth of wildflower seed I bought, & tamp it into soil. The hope is a beautiful field of wildflowers between us and the park, and a field kids from the park can pick wildflowers for their moms. (Seed is specially formulated for arid climates, drought).  The city’s working with us, and have agreed to help with sprinklers.”  

The March 13th H&N published an education piece, printed over three pages.   On page 7,  “U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley recently acknowledged Chiloquin Junior/Senior High School Principal, Scott Preston, Chiloquin Elementary Principal Rita Hepper, and VP Janelle Emard, for helping more than 70 Chiloquin families last summer during the fire”. They were presented a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.

Early in his career Scott was a UUFKC board member, & outside his classroom,  cameras in hand, he shot county schools’  athletic highlights; also assisted schools with year books.  Scott, et al, SALUD!

In the March 13th H&N, a big photo & caption recognizing 5th anniversary of Blue Zones’ Launch in Klamath Falls, & our certification: Blue Zones Community.  Klamath County celebrated having been awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health.  YAHOO!  

Way back, pre-SOUUP,  any given summer Sunday,  UUFKC,  “closed shop”, & car-pooled to Ashland for a RVUUF service. One trip, our ride included a loud, clunk, clunk under the hood. (That day, passengers’ & our guardian angels did extra duty. We safely arrived & returned to the Basin.) First thing Monday we were at auto shop. Can’t recall which, but an engine-mount bolt was either loose OR lost!  

Had a call today, (03/29), from Angela Foxhawk.  She went to her Oregon work position in Beaverton in 2020, a month prior to COVID. Now she’s had 14 months there in unemployment benefits.

Best news:  They found a house, in Albany.  Their offer was accepted this past weekend.  Months of search found them looking farther and farther from Beaverton area.

Briefly, she’ll commute to work in the department’s  Wilsonville office.  Once settled in new home, she’ll work from home.

Her hope: To eventually transfer to the investigations’ aspect  of abuse of unemployment benefits.  With a name like Foxhawk, she has a good start. Plus, previous extended work years in Colorado’s unemployment benefits.  (She shared the two states’ laws vary greatly. Definitely not as one would assume.)   

–Barbara Turk, UUFKC Archivist

Aspirations by Alison: Empowering Connection with Soup for SOUUP

Join the SOUUP Luncheon via Zoom on April 25th after Sunday Service

It has been such a joy to worship together, share together, and learn together among the three congregations of SOUUP. This month, Rogue Valley UU Fellowship in Ashland lives into their mission statement’s call to “Empower Connection” as they bring one of their fellowship traditions online, and open it up to this beloved SOUUP community. 

RVUUF has a tradition of a quarterly Soup Luncheon. Soup and bread makers would bring their creations to church on Sunday morning, and after the service, Coffee Hour would be replaced by a bread and soup lunch. Each table would have some conversation-starting questions to help the fellowship flow as the soup was eaten. It has been more than a year now since RVUUF has been able to engage in this tradition, and it is missed. So, RVUUFian Krynn Lukacks and I have reimagined the Soup Luncheon for Zoom and for fellowship with our UU siblings in Southern Oregon. 

Find RVUUFian’s favorite bread and soup recipes HERE (this links to a downloadable PDF recipe book).  We encourage folks to choose a recipe or two and try them out at home in preparation for our SOUUP Lunch on April 25th right after Sunday Service. On the 25th, we’ll join the SOUUP Luncheon Zoom by clicking HERE. Bring your bread and soup, we’ll have some time to slurp soup together with mics on mute while we hear a song or story. Then we’ll head into breakout rooms and share our soup and bread-making experiences, or dig a little deeper with some of the conversation prompts provided. Sharing food together has always been an important part of congregational life, and we want to be able to continue that experience even though we’re not ready yet to gather and eat in person.

Many of us share the goal of seeing SOUUP connections strengthened as a result of my internship, with our congregations working together to see our UU principles manifest in our Southern Oregon communities. One important way of strengthening those connections is by building relationships, coming together not with the goal of accomplishing work or learning something, but simply to get to know each other, to establish the friendships that will lay the foundation for coordinating our work, learning, and worship in the years to come. I hope you’ll join us on the 25th for some essential fun to empower the connections between us. 

–Alison Duren-Sutherland, SOUUP Intern Minister, intern.minister@rvuuf.org

Trans Day of Visibility Worship Draws Participants from Around the U.S. & the World

On Wednesday, March 31st, we gathered together for an interfaith worship service to celebrate the lives, work, dreams, and contributions of trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming siblings in Klamath Falls and around the world. UU Fellowship of Klamath County & Klamath Falls Friends Church hosted Rachel Crandall, founder of TDOV, to share the origins of this holy day. Pastor Anthony of the Friends Church will led us in the ritual of Waiting Worship. In this sacred space, we honored the image of the Divine in which trans people are so beautifully made.

Our worship on Wednesday was a testament to trans joy, made all the more powerful by the fact that the US president recognized Trans Day of Visibility for the first time on that very day! Rachel shared with us her excitement that a project she had started because she couldn’t wait any longer for it to come into being grew so broadly. One participant in our worship service Zoomed in from Indonesia, and shared that they too had held an interfaith Trans Day of Visibility service, emphasizing the global impact of this sacred day and Rachel’s important work.

Thanks to all who attended and shared. Our hearts are filled with joy.

Thank You for Supporting Citizens for Safe Schools with Out Dance Project

UPDATE: While there were some technical difficulties during the UUFKC-sponsored performance of OUTDance Project, prerecorded performances are available to view via YouTube HERE (scroll down till you see the video stills, and click to watch). Thanks to all who came out to support this project, in spite of the tech challenges! We appreciate you, and the youth and mentors of Citizens for Safe Schools appreciate you too!

UU Fellowship of Klamath County Social Justice Committee joins our partners at Klamath Falls Friends Church in sponsoring OutDance, a virtual performance of queer stories and dance from rural Oregon. To learn more about the project and purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

While the performance can be viewed via live stream for free, we encourage folks to buy tickets to the 1pm performance on 3/28, as proceeds from this performance support local Klamath Falls non-profit Citizens for Safe School (CFSS) who says:

“We are a grassroots, positive youth development, non-profit organization. Our main focus is on a one-to-one, community-based mentoring program for youth in the 4th-8th grades. We pair a child with a volunteer mentor and they spend at least one hour per week together for one year. The match is focused on having fun and developing appropriate social skills, but significant positive impacts are made on the youth’s school attendance and academic performance as a result of the relationship with their mentor.” UUFKC Social Justice Committee chair Courtney serves as a CFSS mentor.

The performance draws from stories and songs submitted by queer people living in rural Oregon, weaving words and movement together to remind ourselves and our communities that we are here, queer and fabulous, enriching our rural communities every day. There will be multiple performances, but to support CFSS, please purchase tickets to the 1pm performance on 3/28. Following the performance, there will be a facilitated conversation prioritizing the voices of queer, rural Oregonians as we reflect on our own experiences and how they relate to the performances of OutDance.

Oregon UUs are Talking About the 8th Principle

REPORT: PROSPECTIVE NEW UUA PRINCIPLE  # 8 BEING DISCUSSED IN PORTLAND

On February 10, 2021, our Archivist Barbara Turk attended a conversation on the proposed 8th Principle held via Zoom through 1st Unitarian in Portland, OR. Barbara has prepared this report on the conversation to help introduce this community to the proposed 8th Principle, which has been passed by UU congregations across the country, though not yet by the UUA

For this special  Feb. 10th  ZOOM, the speaker was Paula Cole Jones, of All Souls Unitarian in Washington, D.C.  A member of  All Souls since 1969, she described it as a “multicultural” congregation.  (Having visited it, I concur.)

Jones has been a “Principle Originator” of the proposed 8th Principle since 1999. That brings me to a long-ago story shared by UUFKC founder, Ben Kerns.  Ben spoke of a fork in a road: One direction  has a sign, “TO HEAVEN;” the other has a sign, “DISCUSSION ON HEAVEN.” Ben said that UUs always take the road to ‘Discussion,’ meaning that change is often a long time coming.

In contrast, Jones asserted UUs can be a vanguard of social momentum, and shared that over the past four years 29 UUA churches, from PA to HI, have given approval to the proposed 8th UUA Principle, which reads: 

“We covenant to affirm and promote journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse, multicultural beloved community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” 

Jones opened with, “WORK EQUALS GROWTH”.  (Amen to that!). Next she explained the following  visual:

A: Dominant Cultural Paradigm
*White men *White traditions

B: Multicultural Paradigm

Under A, we have our history, our principles, our documents and our structure. This is our history, but what’s our design for B? Jones is hopeful that the 8th Principle will act as “a bridge” between A and B.

Jones continued with the following points:

  1.  Our (USA) system has been damaged by segregation
  2.  Jones stated current UU Principles are basically, “feel good statements”. So we must ask: “Is this how we live, or do we just work toward it?”  She added that the Principles don’t hold us accountable—not one, “Thou shall / shall not.” 
  3. Do we truly relate with, affirm, covenant and coordinate our Seven Principles?  
  4. We have a Mission Statement, we have a vision of our community, we covenant and basically promise one another.
  5. We have history. Jones asserted, “That’s not by chance. History is who we are”.
  6. “And overall we have accountability–definitely not to be overlooked.  History and accountability go together.” 

Jones shared that the 8th Principle is for “spiritual wholeness,”  emphasizing that passage of the 8th Principle, by a congregation or by the UUA as a whole, doesn’t mean much if the principle is not then embodied by those who have passed it. 

Basically, Jones shared, UUs need an identity change.  The old stance of, “Beloved Community” is fine, but we need to find ways to broaden who is included in these beloved communities, and become a “community of communities.” 

Folks may be kin, but think very differently.  How does each fit in?  How are we living diversity in our cities?  Can we become part of a community of communities, beyond our own beloved community? Can/will we truly become a “JUUST Community?”

Giving us an abundance of questions, Jones ended as she began:           

                             “WORK EQUALS GROWTH”   

–Barbara H. Turk                                                                         

March 2021 Chronicles by Barbara Turk

To keep up with Peace Readers I continued reading Toni Morrison’s, BELOVED;  also read, TO BE A SLAVE, by Julius Lester; and viewed all OPB’s  BHM programs.

Lester’s book gave me a reality check:  “The ancestry of any black American can be traced to a bill of sale. In many instances that cannot be done.”

He wrote that in the early 19th century the American Slavery Society, and other northern abolition groups, took down stories of thousands of blacks, who escaped the south.  Those narrations swayed northerners’ attitudes about slavery, and the eventual Civil War.  Interest in the ex-slaves stories diminished until 1930’s, when a Federal Writers’ Project interviewed former slaves, still alive & willing to speak.  

In 1963 Lester learned the 1930’s narratives were kept in the Archive of Folksong, at the Library of Congress. The Writers’ Project had verbatim  narratives, preserving speech patterns, language,  giving posterity the “earthy directness communication”. (Lester pg. 14-15)  

In the 19th century the white abolitionists, in many instances, rewrote, “…to conform to literary standards of the time”. (Lester pg. 14)  And they faced  this possibility: If former slaves were quoted verbatim, that provided, “…ammunition for arguments of black inferiority”.  (Lester pg. 14)   

The goal of slave owners’ was to break the spirit of another human. But, such produced a  rampant misfortune,  FEAR—that slaves would rise up.  In a word, owners created their own hell, then had to live in it.

Aisha Hauser, MSW,  of the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Lead Ministry Team (a trio), wrote in a February 26 email she’s reading James Baldwin’s, THE FIRE NEXT TIME.  (Peace Readers, take note for a possible selection.)  She shared, “Baldwin’s stark truth-telling resonated deeply with me.  I have been on a mission as a truth-teller to create a vision of this faith’s potential.”

She closed with:  “I believe that if UUism can be the place where whites live authentically and learn to sit in discomfort and face the realities of targeted communities and take substantive (not white savior) action toward dismantling systems of oppression. For folks living with targeted identities, my wish is UUism offers a place of solace  and care for their spirits.”

–Barbara Turk, Archivist

Kids’ SOUUP Zoom Group Adopts Covenant Using Democratic Process

In our monthly meetings, Southern Oregon UU Partnership kids from Klamath Falls, Grants Pass & Ashland congregations get to practice Unitarian Universalism in community lighting a chalice, sharing joys & sorrows (“roses & thorns”), and practicing living our faith. In creating and voting on our covenant, our kids are learning about what this free faith means.

As we voted over Zoom — thumbs up for yes, down for no, sideways for unsure — the folks with down and sideways thumbs often shared that they were worried that these promises might be hard to live up to. This is the beauty of the practice of covenant: when we fail to live up to our promises, we can use our covenant to call us back into right relationship. The video below is the covenant reminder we’ll use at the beginning of each Zoom session on the first Sunday of the month at 10am. To register your child for Kids’ SOUUP, click here.