Envoy News

Dear ,

There's a lot going on in the news these days, and it seems like none of it is good. I want to start this Envoy News by sending out a prayer/meditation/call for solidarity with all those in Nepal and the surrounding areas who are dealing with the aftermath of the recent earthquake there, as well as those struggling for justice in Baltimore.

We had a very successful Spring Seminar a few weeks ago, where I was glad to see several current Envoys and recruit some new ones as well. You can read more on the seminar down below. Here are the minutes from the April Envoy Check-in conference call.

Blue Ribbon Congregations will be announced in May and will receive their award plaques at the Canadian Unitarian Council's Annual Conference and Meeting (ACM) and at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly (GA). Please let me know if you think your congregation will qualify but you haven't heard from me yet. 

Enjoy the new, refurbished Envoy News!

In faith, love, hope, and justice,

Allison Hess

Envoy Coordinator


Sharing information and news is important, but you want to make change in your local and global community. Here's how.
  • In the spirit of our recent Spring Seminar: Take action against solitary confinement. Write letters or sign petitions via Solitary Watch
  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Look at this chart to see which companies invest in nuclear weapons. Write to your bank or tweet at them to let them know you're not going to stand for it, with this sample tweet: "As a @bankofamerica customer, I'm appalled that they invest MY $ in nuclear warfare. #goodbyenukes" 
  • Get your congregation certified with the Sanctuary against torture Program created by International Bridges to Justice (IBJ). Once a certified Community of Conscience sanctuary, people who are under the threat of torture and persecution will know they can turn to your house of worship for safety and protection. We heard from Rev. Karen Tse, founder of IBJ, at Spring Seminar.


April Review: (1) Join Commit2Respond (2) Fill out the Annual Meeting Form (3) Wave goodbye to nuclear weapons.
Please complete the following tasks by the end of May.
  1. If you didn't already (only 3 people have so far!), fill out this form to let me know if you are coming and can help out at ACM or GA! - we do need volunteers!
  2. The road to successful activism is through collaboration and feedback. Tell me: What types of action or activity have been most effective at getting members of your congregation engaged in the issues?
Intergenerational Spring Seminar 2015

International Criminal Justice: From Punitive to Restorative

As you know, our Spring Seminar took place a few weeks ago in NYC. Many long-time participants have praised this year's as the best Spring Seminar yet. The topics covered included mass incarceration on the basis of race, torture, human trafficking, the death penalty, solitary confinement, crime prevention, and restorative justice. Two of the main take-aways from the seminar is that people who are or have been incarcerated must be seen by society as human beings, and that treatment is a more effective crime prevention tool than punishment.


Spring Seminar - items to share

Whether or not you were able to make it to the seminar, you are encouraged to take a look at these fantastic resources and share them with your friends, congregation, and community. Perhaps plan a criminal justice-related event and let your discussions spark some action.
  1. Watch the fourth seminar panel that took place at the UN Headquarters (picture and link above). This panel focused on solitary confinement and the death penalty, and featured an exclusive intern with Dr. Cornel West by our intern Lenka Opalena.
  2. Seminar Statement - Throughout the seminar, participants got together in Collaboration Groups to discuss what they learned so far. Each Collaboration Group came up with a statement, and these were all combined to form the Spring Seminar Statement which calls the UU and UN communities to commit to more just criminal justice throughout the world.
Program Updates...

Our academic interns are reaching the end of their time with us - we'll be saying goodbye to all of them this week and we are so sad to see them go. They are going out from our office to share their hard work and love with the rest of the world.
Summer interns will start soon!
Brieanna Scolaro - Migration: LGBT Asylum and Refugees

Although I came into my UU-UNO internship with prior passion and experience in disaster relief, I leave with vast knowledge in human rights and a new-found interest in migration issues. After graduating from Columbia University in May, I head to Geneva as a Duke Humanitarian Action Fellow. I will work with the International Organization for Migration in the Sheltering Operations department within the Preparedness and Response Division, responding to migration crises and humanitarian emergencies

Jonathan Hall-Eastman - Every Child is Our Child  

Just two weeks after the spring seminar, I volunteered to help set up the Peace and Planet Conference, March, and Rally, held the weekend prior to the opening of 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN. It was inspiring to see grassroots peace activists from my home state of New Jersey finding common ground with Japanese anti-nuclear advocates, as the calls to cut US military spending by the former coincided with the demand from the latter to remove American bases from Japan.

Danning Zheng - Spring Seminar Chair

The 2015 Spring Seminar on International Criminal Justice went very successfully. Comments from our participants include "eye-opening", "inspiring", "educational", "great friendship", among others. As the seminar Chair, there was nothing more rewarding than seeing that participants enjoyed their experience and that they would go back to their communities with the determination to make change. I conclude my internship with richly enhanced knowledge of human rights, advocacy, program development, and NGO management, as well as the persistent faith to carry on social justice in my future social work career in my home country, China.

Meng Zhao - Climate Change  

Climate Justice Month has been running since World Water Day (March 22) to Earth Day (April 22) in the last month. The UU-UNO joined the transformative journey with Commit2Respond team and other UU organizations in reflecting ideas and sharing thoughts to create climate justice. We connected our love for Earth and committed ourselves to action to save our planet. The road to climate justice is full of promise and challenge. We still have a lot of work to do and need to carry out the real plans in the future.

Raymond Firmalino - LGBT Rights

As my internship at the UU-UNO comes to a close, I feel immense gratitude, fulfillment and pride. From co-writing a speech on LGBT human rights that Bruce gave at the the UN, to submitting a report on best practices in LGBT human rights to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, I can say the UU-UNO has impacted this critical global conversation. This summer, I will intern at the World Health Organization in Geneva, evaluating countries' healthcare responses to violence against women and LGBT people. I then begin masters studies in International Education Policy at Harvard University.

Nazli Boroshan - Women's Rights

The busiest time for the Women's Initiative Program was leading up to the UN NGO Commission on the Status of Women Annual Forum events held in March. As I continued to attend gender equality related conferences and events, my time at the office mostly focused on the 2015 Spring Seminar. As the head of the registration committee, I have been very involved in analyzing the seminar evaluations. I leave this internship program more knowledgeable, experienced, and proud.  Although goodbyes are difficult, I know that each one of us will continue to make bigger and better impacts as humanitarians and social justice professionals. 

Lenka Opalena - Envoy and Ministerial Outreach  

May is Mental Health Month; Stand up against stigma. There is no health without mental health. If your life overwhelms you, know you're not alone. This whole month is dedicated to awareness of common psychosocial diseases like depression, anxiety and substance abuse. We should work to prevent, diagnose, and treat these diseases the same way we do other serious illnesses.

April 2015
Upcoming Events

A look behind, a look ahead
Office Calendar - April/May schedule
  • April 9-11: 2015 Intergenerational Spring Seminar - International Criminal Justice: From Punitive to Restorative
  • April 22: Earth Day, and end of Climate Justice Month - continue the energy with Commit2Respond!
  • April 24-26: Peace and Planet in NYC organized events including an interfaith convocation, rally, march, and festival around peace and nuclear nonproliferation.
  • April 27-May 1review conference at the UN for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming post on this!
  • May 1: Former Disarmament, Peace, and Security intern Sampson Oppedisano addresses the UN on nonproliferation
  • May 2: ECOC Intern Jonathan's birthday!
  • May 3: LGBT summer intern Ian's birthday!
  • May 7: Envoy & Minsterial Outreach Intern Lenka's birthday!
  • May 15-17: Allison and Bruce go to ACM in Ottawa, ON
  • May 25: Office closed for Memorial Day
"This Week At the UN" Video: May 2 including video footage of the International Day for Mine Awareness, ECOSOC meeting on employment and sustainability, and the Kuwait donor conference for Syria.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Credit: UN Photo
News: United Nations

Include the following news items in your congregation's newsletter, website, and/or bulletin! 
UN Video - Yemeni refugees fleeing violence arrive in Djibouti. Credit: WFP
UU United Nations Office Mission Statement

The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office promotes the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, as reflected in the United Nations Charter. Through targeted education, advocacy and outreach, we engage Unitarian Universalists in support of international cooperation and the work of the United Nations. 
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