Programming for the 2022 Intergenerational Seminar will be offered fully online, April 22 – May 1, 2022. We will invite congregations to host local gatherings to allow Seminar attendees to connect with others who live nearby.
Opportunities with This Format
This format will allow Seminar participants to learn from one another across the U.S. and Canada through virtual programming while also getting rooted in their local context and building deeper ties of engagement nearby.
The Planning Committee is very excited about the possibilities for an online Seminar with in-person local gatherings. We have all learned from the last couple of years of quarantine and social distancing and we recognize the realities of Zoom fatigue. Accordingly, we expect the Seminar to include smaller chunks of online programming spread out over one week, rather than condensed in a single weekend.
Rather than travelling to New York City for an in-person event, this online Seminar will encourage and equip attendees to get rooted in their own locality, understanding the ways in which local ecosystems and communities are or will be affected by climate change and the displacement it causes.
We invite UU congregations to volunteer to host local gatherings to offer local Seminar participants a chance to connect in-person around what they’re learning and do some arts and activism locally. These local gatherings could happen for a few hours on a weekend day, and the UU@UN will provide materials and guidance. (Learn more about hosting a Local Gathering for Spring Seminar 2022!)
We are committed to providing a full, rich experience for all Seminar attendees, regardless of whether they’re able to participate in a local gathering. The Seminar will offer a combination of learning, reflection, action, community-building, and fun.
Considerations for Selecting This Format
Throughout the planning for our Seminar on climate justice, we have focused on centering the perspectives and concerns of those who are most vulnerable to the changing climate and its effects. In discerning how to move forward with the format for this event, we have taken a similar approach: centering the concerns of those most vulnerable to Covid-19. This has been the UUA’s approach throughout the pandemic, and we continue to do our best to live into our values of community care and accessibility.
Even with the availability of vaccines and boosters for our constituents in the U.S. and Canada, we know that breakthrough infections can still happen, leaving vaccinated individuals susceptible to contracting long Covid or passing the virus on to unvaccinated or immunocompromised family members. A multi-day in-person gathering, no matter the precautions in place, would expose attendees to some risk of infection that does not feel worthwhile compared to the experience we feel we could offer through online and local participation opportunities. We don’t feel comfortable asking people to travel for an event where, if god forbid an infection did occur, isolation and quarantining would be so challenging as to be essentially unfeasible.
Reports from the UN and other experts in recent months have made it clear that climate change has already begun inflicting irreversible damage on communities and ecosystems. The UU@UN and Seminar Planning Committee do not take lightly the responsibilities we have as an organization and as individuals committed to climate justice to limit the climate impact of our actions. We calculated that the carbon emissions from a single person’s attendance at the Seminar could be 10-20 times higher (depending on where they’re travelling from) if they traveled to New York City for an event, as compared to attending online and joining an in-person gathering locally.
We also know that, regardless of the pandemic and the climate crisis, offering programming online is essential to allow accessible and safe participation for all. When the time comes that in-person Intergenerational Spring Seminars are feasible in New York City, we are committed to maintaining a robust online participation option.