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Taking It Home, Workshop 4: Conscience Refined

In "Gather the Spirit," a Tapestry of Faith program

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... We talked about how sanitation protects the water people drink, and learned that in many places, a simple lack of toilets reduces the supply of clean, fresh water. We talked about conserving the water we use. When we conserve water, we honor our place in an interconnected web of life. And, we use less electricity and gasoline, which leaves more resources for all life to share.

We played Turdlywinks, aiming to deposit a disk in the toilet or risk contaminating the water. The game taught us facts about sanitation and why communities need a clean way to dispose of human waste in order to preserve their clean water. We imagined not having direct access to clean water. Concepts in this workshop relate to the Unitarian Universalist Principles of the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relationships; and, the interdependent web of existence.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... the resources needed to bring you fresh, clean water for drinking, washing and cooking. Some are gasoline to fuel pumping stations and sewage plants, construction equipment to build water and sewage pipelines, and workers to design, build and maintain all this infrastructure. Can you think of other ways your water supply uses more resources besides water?

Even if water is abundant in your area, talk about how you can help share water across the interdependent web if you do conserve. How can conservation be a way of sharing?

EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try... 

A FAMILY ADVENTURE

Find out where the water and waste go after you flush your toilet. See if your town or city water department has a printed or electronic map you can see of the pipes that carry water and sewage in your neighborhood. You might like to tour the route your used toilet water travels to a sewage treatment plant. Where does it go from there?

FAMILY BRAINSTORMING

Even if water is abundant in your community, conserving water at home can help free up a variety of clean water- and sanitation-related resources such as gasoline, water transportation infrastructure and sanitation equipment to be shared more equitably with communities elsewhere in the world. Talk about ways you can conserve; find ideas on the Green Venture website. If you can, measure your water use before and after starting the conservation. Then, talk about how the resources you've saved can help bring clean water and sanitation to people who need it in a community far away.

A FAMILY RITUAL

Thanks for water. Saying grace at mealtime is a common spiritual practice. If you give thanks for your food before you eat, do you also give thanks for water? If the group leader has set up a Gather the Spirit blog, post the water blessing your family uses.

Monitoring your family's water use. If your home has its own water meter, check it this weekend and again a week later. How much water does your family use in one week? If you live in a multifamily building without separate water meters, the building owner can probably tell you how much water the building uses in a week. The following week, make a special effort to reduce your water use by cutting down on showers, flushing only solid waste and taking care to shut water faucets off when not in use. Check your meter again.

FAMILY SCAVENGER HUNT

Does your water come from a well? A nearby lake? Or a human-made reservoir far away from your home? Call your local water authority to find out where your water comes from. Try to trace it back all the way to its natural source.

FAMILY GAME

If you purchase Water: An Environmental Quiz Deck of Knowledge Cards (Pomegranate Communications, Inc.), a portion of your money goes to the Sierra Club. You can play the electronic version of Turdlywinks on the WaterAid U.K. website.

FAMILY BLOGGING

If your group leader has set up a Gather the Spirit blog, log in and see what other participants are doing and post your own results.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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