International Unitarian Universalism

2022 UU@UN Spring Seminar: Virtual and Local

On a white background, blue text reads "Displacement and Human Rights" and green text reading "All In for Climate Justice" curves around a blue and green depiction of planet Earth showing continents east of the Atlantic Ocean (Africa, Europe, and part of Asia)

By Halley Mistry

If you are someone like me who reads and thinks about human rights and climate change all the time, then attending the UU Spring Seminar event this year might be something that you would thoroughly enjoy.

The Intergenerational Spring Seminar this year will run from Earth Day, April 22, through International Workers’ Day, May 1, addressing the theme “Displacement and Human Rights: All In for Climate Justice.” It’s hosted by the UUA Office at the United Nations (UU@UN) in partnership with UU Ministry for Earth, UU Service Committee (UUSC), and Side With Love.

As an intern with UU@UN, I have been part of the planning committee, and this will be my first time to attend a Spring Seminar event. I am thrilled to be part of it! The committee has been working out possibilities and logistics since September and I have a good feeling about how enjoyable the experience will be. I am looking forward to listening to great speakers, attending workshops and connecting with different people and organizations.

Due to the pandemic, the last two years’ events have been held virtually on Zoom, as will this year’s event… but since it’s slowly getting safer to do more things there will be some great opportunities to hold and attend in-person events in your local area as well!

Personally, I know how important it is to have the ability to gather in person, share stories and hear opinions, and make new friends, and I know we have all had to miss a lot of this social interaction over the last two years. While Zoom and other media are wonderful tools to keep us digitally connected throughout the pandemic, I know I miss meeting in person more than anything.

So, I am delighted to share the news that this year’s event offers the opportunity to do both. 

By spreading the Spring Seminar over a ten-day period, the committee is hoping to reduce the possibility of Zoom burnout that many of us regularly face. In addition, we are keeping Sunday, April 24 and Saturday, April 30 free so that congregations can plan their own local gatherings on these dates.

During my internship with the UUA and as a Master of Social Work student, I have read and heard so much about the impact of climate change on marginalized communities and the human rights violations and injustices that occur. By being part of the Spring Seminar I will be able to connect with local groups and organizations that are working to reduce the impact of climate change near me and also to learn more about what can be done globally.

I am especially excited about holding local gatherings. If there is a local event near me, I will definitely attend!

Some congregations are beginning to come up with ideas for these gatherings and might be considering inviting local speakers who already work with communities experiencing climate-forced displacement. Ideally, there will be opportunities for attendees get involved to support their work.

I am hoping that groups will contact local climate activists and invite them to speak, or maybe invite their state legislators to give an update on what is being done in their town or community. Both of these ideas build on community participation, focusing on how to address local issues and sharing with Seminar attendees what strategies have worked for them in the past. Congregations could also contact members of local Indigenous communities and invite them to share their experience and knowledge working for climate justice. Overall, we hope this Seminar will support congregations in building longer-term relationships to advance climate and migration justice initiatives locally.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can find more information about hosting a local gathering!

I know that by April the weather will be much nicer so it will be easier to plan outdoor events for local happenings. I was thinking that something to do with nature, like a walk around our local arboretum and a talk from the botanist about the effect of the changing climate on some of our local vegetation and ecosystems would be nice. This could be something that would be great for all ages.

As you can see there are many ideas and possibilities for the Spring Seminar so I would suggest that if you haven’t signed up already, that you do so now!

The registration cost is on a sliding scale with different tiers depending on your finances. This means that you only pay what you can reasonably afford. This is especially helpful right now when costs seem to be going up everywhere. It is also useful when you want to include your whole family, and of course being on Zoom is far more reasonable than going to New York and having travel and hotel costs as well.

I really hope that you decide to attend this year’s seminar and that you can also attend one of the in-person gatherings.

I hope that you are feeling as excited and as inspired as I am and have started to think about this event in April and what it could mean to you and your community. I know it is going to be educational and enlightening, but for me the best part is that some of us will be able to meet up in person and so feel like we are part of a community again.

About the Author

Halley Mistry

Halley Mistry is an intern at the UUA Office at the UN for the 2021-2022 academic year. She is a Fordham University Master of Social Work student, originally from Scotland but has spent many years living in Asia before settling in America. She is committed to advancing gender equality, racial...

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