News and updates from the UU-UNO to keep you informed.
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February 2016

Dear ,

Greetings! With help from one of our interns, over the last few months I have been getting in touch with Envoys to check that you're still active and to see how things are going. It's been wonderful hearing from you and I'd like to start implementing some of the great suggestions we've received - I encourage you to get in touch if you think of anything else!

In this and future issues of the Envoy News, I will be highlighting the work of some of our Envoys in a new section called Envoy Spotlight. This month, we're taking a look at the dreams of the Envoys at the UU church in Surprise, AZ. Further down, you'll see a guest post on our blog from your fellow Envoy in Thunder Bay, Ontario who has written about his experience at the COP21 climate conference in Paris. I'm sure you're just as interested and inspired as I to read about what other Envoys are working on.

Here are the minutes from the February Envoy conference calls. If you weren't able to make it or just want to refresh your memory, do read over them. Our next calls will be in April - keep an eye out for an invitation in March. Remember you can communicate with other Envoys anytime on the UU-UNO Envoys Facebook group (instructions for joining here). I hope to see many of you at Spring Seminar in April (more on that below). Thank you for your commitment to building peace and tolerance in our world!

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.

Sustainable Development Goals

In light of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the following "Time to Act" suggestions for February 2016 will be related to the Sixth SDG: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

  • Support the people of Flint, Michigan, currently dealing with a serious water safety crisis. Listen to a radio documentary detailing the history and current situation, then sign petitions to Gov. Rick Snyder and the US Congress to ensure that safe drinking water is accessible to all in the US.

  • Host a stream clean-up with your congregation, to further the SDG 6 target to "protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes."

  • Great if led by youth! Hold a water-footprint-lowering challenge for 2-3 weeks that involves daily tasks for congregation members to try. (5-minute shower challenge, turn off water when lathering/brushing, wash dishes by hand, go vegetarian for a day or two, cut out almonds/other water-intensive crops, etc.) Track participation with photos or other evidence and whoever completes the most challenges wins.

  • Film Screening: Thirst is a PBS documentary on the privatization of water and impact on communities in Bolivia, India, and the US. ***Use this film-screening planning guide and discussion questions to facilitate this event!***

  • Organize a fundraiser or other special event for World Water Day on March 22nd to advocate for sustainable management of freshwater resources worldwide. Or plan ahead for a fundraiser or service at your congregation for World Toilet Day on November 19th to bring light to the lack of sufficient sanitation worldwide.

  • Learn and share about water scarcity: watch Kala Fleming's TED Talk; Set up a table with petitions and infographics on the water crisis from and key facts from the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Please complete the following tasks by the end of March.

  1. It's come to our attention that many Envoys are not in close touch with their ministers - your minister should be your partner in working to raise interest and enthusiasm in the UN and the UU-UNO. If you haven't spoken in the last 3 months, schedule an appointment to chat with your minister!

  2. We have awesome Spring Seminar videos! Share this 15 second promo on social media and see about showing the 10 minute video about last year's Spring Seminar at your congregation!

January Review: (1) Check in with me on your Blue Ribbon Status. (2) Register for Spring Seminar with a delegation from your church.
A look behind, a look ahead

February 1: Deadline for submission of sermons to the Dana Greeley Sermon Competition.

February 3: UU-UNO participates in World Interfaith Harmony Day ceremony at the United Nations.

February 24: Climate Justice program intern Mara's birthday.

February 25: UNO Director Bruce speaks at panel on peace-building and the SDGs, sponsored by the Committee on Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns.

February 26: Deadline for submission of Spring Seminar scholarship applications. Limited scholarships are available to cover registration.

February 26 - March 2
: UNO Director Bruce attends a conference of Indigenous Peoples in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

March 4: UNO staff and interns at Spring Seminar planning retreat.

March 10: Last day to register using Early Bird registration rates for 2016 Intergenerational Spring Seminar.

March 14-24: NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum at the United Nations. UNO hosts a panel March 21.

March 18: Last day to register and submit participant forms for the 2016 Intergenerational Spring Seminar!

March 19: Climate Justice program intern Jen's birthday.

March 19-20: UNO Director Bruce in Allentown, PA to speak at Burundi Peace Rally and UU Church of the Lehigh Valley service.

March 31: Early bird deadline to register for CUC National Conference in Vancouver, BC!

Registration is now open for the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office's 2016 Intergenerational Spring Seminar, The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences. During this 3-day educational conference, youth and adults will explore international human rights issues and learn how to take action to counter economic inequality and structural racism globally. Spring Seminar will take place in New York City from April 7th to 9th, 2016. New this year: youth participants will need to be accompanied by an adult sponsor; youth and sponsors arrive April 6th for orientation. Learn more and register at

Intergenerational Spring Seminar 2016
The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences
April 7-9, New York City

The UU-UNO's Intergenerational Spring Seminar is fast approaching! It's on track to be one of the most inspiring and meaningful seminars yet - so be sure to register by March 10th to get the early bird rate! (Registration closes March 18th.) 

Four important items to be aware of:

  1. Adults interested in cheaper housing ($30 per night) should contact We have access to 28 beds (bunk) in two large dorm spaces with hall showers. This space is run by the Metro Baptist Church and has relatively easy public transportation access to seminar locations.
  2. We will have an Envoy breakfast meeting on Saturday morning before the seminar worship service! Get to know other Envoys and prospective Envoys, and talk about plans for the year.
  3. As you saw in the Envoy Tasks above, there are two Spring Seminar videos (created by Amber Dawn Bellemare) that can be shared if you'd like a video for promotional purposes! Here's the short one and the long one. Enjoy!
  4. You can join the Seminar Facebook Event to receive more updates about speakers and recent developments!

Envoy Spotlight

The Envoys at the UU Church in Surprise, AZ, Ruth Swank and Barbara Hauke, had a successful UN Sunday service last fall and raised exactly $777* in their collection plate! In this new Envoy Spotlight section of the Envoy News, we'd like to share their Dreams for UU-UNO action at UU Surprise in the coming year:
More exposure of youth to UU-UNO and engaging them.
    • Encourage youth to attend more services such as UN Sunday and other world related services/sections of services. It actually could be a good thing for the youth and upper primary to listen to the sermon now and then!
    • Plan on sharing the online coverage of Spring Seminar as part of Religious Education.
    • Identify and spotlight youth interested in attending Spring Seminar.
      • Identify Adults to sponsor youth participation in the "life changing" Spring Seminar.
      • Have Envoy conversations with all older youth. Connect our youth with other youth in USA and Canada who have attended the Seminar.
    • Establish a plan (3 year plan, etc.) for funding the trip to NYC.
    • When congregation members journey to the East Coast, connect them with the UNO Envoy Coordinator for perhaps a visit to the UU-UNO in NYC/United Nations Plaza.
Generate eagerness among adult members to FEEL, THINK, and ACT globally.
    • Invite refugees to Circle Suppers.
    • Focus on Youth being energizers for action.
    • Identify adults for conversations with Envoys about attending Spring Seminar.
    • Include in congregation monthly newsletter hyperlinks to various parts of UU-UNO website.
    • International Art Show: invite congregation members and friends to share international art, photography, etc. from their homes & travels. Ask for written narratives about the piece and relevance to be shared as well.
    • Local museum exhibits with global themes: Organize a group field trip and work with museum to have a docent led tour. When applicable, this could be focused on Spring Seminar themes.
Thank you Ruth and Barbara - best of luck with these dreams and keep up the good work!

* This amount is significant because the UU-UNO's address is 777 UN Plaza!
Behind the Scenes at COP21

This guest post on our blog is by Ahti Tolvanen, UU-UNO Envoy for Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Here he writes about his experience as a participant in the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) international climate change conference in Paris, which took place in December 2015.

     After the news of the deadly November terrorist attacks in Paris, I was about to cancel my travel plans. This was despite two invitations: one to join Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps at the Climate Summit, the other from a relative who lived in the French capital. She was troubled about how to explain what had happened to her two pre-teen children. I suddenly saw myself as the awkward visitor...

News: United Nations
Include the following in your congregation's newsletter, website, and/or bulletin!   

Zika virus - The epidemic in South America and around the globe of the Zika virus is causing alarm not just because of its public health impacts: the effects and prominence of the virus indicate the broad consequences of global climate change, and have spurred debate in some countries around women's reproductive rights.

Yemen - The political transformation following the 2011 uprising collapsed and now Yemen's war has caused absolute devastation of civilians' lives, especially children: a UNICEF report has determined that child soldiers make up one third of Yemeni fighters.

Syrian ceasefire - As the UN welcomes the recent announcement of a cessation of hostilities in Syria, it also is clear that the country is a long way from achieving peace; a UN inquiry released this week found deliberate destruction of Syrian hospitals.

A heartwarming story - A boy in Afghanistan who was obsessed with the Argentine football star Leo Messi had his dream come true this month when UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Messi sent him two signed jerseys and a football!

Program Updates
For more information on any of the program areas, email with "Attn: [program]" in the subject line.
LGBTQ Human Rights

The LGBTQ program organized and hosted the second meeting of the NGO subcommittee on LGBTQI human rights, with participation from NGOs from NYC and abroad. We're also working closely with the Women's program to prepare for CSW.
LGBTQ Asylum/ Refugees

The asylum program will soon begin the process of helping UU and other religious congregations form Guardian Groups, similar to the one developed by the 1st UU Society of San Francisco. Contact the office to get involved!
Every Child is Our Child

Our research is focusing on finding cost-effective options for delivering reusable sanitary napkins to the girls served by the ECOC program in Ghana. With access to sanitary napkins, girls will not have to miss school every month.
Women's Rights

In addition to finalizing our panel for the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum, we've been participating on the sub-group Faith and Feminism, developing a structure to advance Women's Rights among religions around the world.
Climate Justice

We are moving forward with our two new partnerships with the Earth Day Initiative and the Tzu Chi Foundation. We'll be hosting an interactive display on the SDGs in April and events centered on ethical eating throughout the year.
Racial Justice

We're currently working alongside stakeholders involved in the UN General Assembly Special Session on Global Drug Policy in April. We're working on raising awareness on violence against women of color with plans for an event in late spring.
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Central East Region of the UUA
100 W 10th Street Suite 1008
Wilmington, DE 19801
United States

This work is made possible by the generosity of member congregations and individual donors. 

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Central East Region of the UUA
100 W 10th Street Suite 1008
Wilmington, DE 19801
United States