What Comes Before GROW?? Sowing Seeds Of Course!

By Shannon Harper

Sowing Seeds, August 3-6, Pittsburh PA, Youth, Justice, UU Faith. Image of white lights scattering across a black background.

Grounded and Resilient Organizing Workshop (GROW), a joint program between the UUA and the UU College of Social Justice, is aimed at workshopping challenges faced by young adults who are active in organizing/justice making spaces, as well as helping young adult organizers build a strong support network that can be long lasting and consist of meaningful relationships. For the last two years, GROW has consisted of online cohorts that would meet weekly over the course of several months. This year, GROW participants will gather in person in Portland Oregon, prior to General Assembly, to build community, learn from local Portland organizers and explore various locations in Portland related to organizing and resilience practices.

Last year the UUA and UUCSJ began asking ourselves: What is the “thing” that comes before GROW? What did these YA’s need when they were youth? And how do we not just prepare youth to be future organizers but to discern the different ways they can support systemic change and justice work as educators, healers, advocates, culture workers, etc? What seeds do we want to plant, nurture, tend and help grow in the service of fostering grounded and resilient movements for change?

I’m so excited to announce our answer, Sowing Seeds Youth Justice Workshop, is scheduled for August 3-6th in Pittsburgh, PA. Sowing Seeds is a four day/three night immersive experience for high school aged, UU, youth that will be grounded in place, community and spiritual nourishment. We’ll be living together at our gracious host site, theUU Congregation of South Hills, cooking meals for each other, engaging in embodied and creative play and worship, exploring Pittsburgh and learning about it’s social movement landscape, and practicing covenant and community tending. We want participants to leave inspired, hopeful and with tools to help them on their own path of social justice.

As we plan this time together we’re also mindful that we’re still coming through a pandemic, and living in the world today, with so many ways our freedoms and rights to live are being challenged, is exhausting and stressful. We’re relearning how to be in intentional, extended, community together and testing out how immersive our trauma dipped limbic systems can handle “immersive learning” to be. Our schedule over these four days will be relaxed with plenty of time in the evenings for youth to choose how they wish to engage. We’ll be eating well, fresh produce and local staples, and living into invitations of self care and community care.

We’re breaking down financial barriers by offering this program free of cost, thanks to generous funding through the UUCSJ, and they have funds available to reimburse for travel costs as well. There is a short application to complete upon registration, just to make sure applicants understand what they are signing up for and have an opportunity to express what excites them about attending. No experience is necessary, just an open and curious mind and willingness to engage with the material and people.

It’s an honor for the Central East Region to be the location for the pilot of what we imagine will become a regular, traveling summer immersive experience! Please check out more information on our Sowing Seeds website.

About the Author

Shannon Harper

Shannon Harper has been working with the Central East Region since the Fall of 2016. In her role as Youth and Young Adult Ministries Specialist she supports regional and national youth and emerging adult programming as well as advising and resourcing congregations.

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