Grace Marketplace

We of the Chaliice Choir at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville had the great pleasure to be asking to sing Christmas carols at Grace Marketplace in northeast Gainesville. Grace is a homeless shelter operating at a facility that was once a prison. The City of Gainesville and the County of Alachua help operate it. 

The night we sang members of UUFG brought bags of clothes (wrapped in socks) donated by the congregation. We drove up to the gate and got out the clothes. I carried three bags, which was a small portion of what we brought. A young woman led us through the gate  and along a sidewalk..

After staying on the sidewalk for a few minutes we turned left onto another sidewalk leading into the middle of a long one-story building parallel to the first sidewalk. This central area, accessed by an open door, is the main reception area of the complex. It is a pleasant white-painted area with a reception desk just inside the door.

We walked straight through the reception area and exited through a door directly opposite throne by which we came in. Outside, we immediately turned left and followed yet another sidewalk and hung another left turn into a building know as the chapel.

The Chapel is a cheery, white-painted building that one can immediately tell lives up to its name: it is filled with pews and has a baptismal tank in back of a stage at the front.We deposited our bags in front of the stage, where dozens of others had already been placed. The woman who led us told us that our contribution was impressive.

To the left of the stage is a piano. Members of the choir, eight in all, were assembling there. This is where we performed our Christmas carols. Our music director handed us each a stapled set of Christmas carols. We sang them in order while people were picking up the donated clothes. One man watched us with a big smile on his face. It is wonderful toning joy during the Christmas season.

Afterward, we left by a passageway that had doors for the main office and for a sexual abuse  prevention group.

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Protect the residents of Battlement Mesa

A community in Colorado is fighting oil drilling and gas drilling/fracking. How long are people going to be suffering the consequences while corporate executives rake in the profits?

From the Styx by Peggy Tibbetts

Battlement Mesa BOCC meetingHere is the text of letter I sent to the Garfield County Commissioners:

I am writing to you today to urge you to protect the residents of Battlement Mesa and vote no on the three special use permits to drill 53 natural gas wells on two pads and build a pipeline within Battlement Mesa.

In October, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published a study of more than 10,000 pregnancies. The study links living near active drilling and fracking operations with a much higher risk of premature births.

Earlier this year, Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy conducted an analysis of more than 400 peer-reviewed studies on the impacts of oil and gas development. The analysis found 96 percent of studies published on the health impacts of oil and gas development show potential risks or adverse health outcomes, and that children are especially vulnerable to air pollution…

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Climate Accord Reached

The countries at the Paris summit finally reached a climate agreement.  The pact calls for reducing global warming below 2%. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/195-nations-approve-historic-climate-accord

The new pact also includes provision for consideration and  aid for deve

loping countries, but they are not satisfied and want more. This was a  sticking point in  previous negotiations as well.

It remains to be seen if this agreement will pass in the legislative bodies of the signatory countries. They are controlled by conservatives in some countries such as this country and Australia. in the former Sen. Tom Coburn of Nebraska has vowed that no money will be spent for the organization created by the treaty.

Another question is whether they will follow through. Fossil fuel concerns have been doing all they can to manipulate the process. This pressure will be hard to resist during the current uncertain economic times. Note that the agreement is not specific about how far below 2% the goal is to be.

Finally, the biggest question is will the agreed to reduction in temperature will be enough. Scientists, according to the article linked to above, say that 1% rise I temperature is natural but that trouble happens at 2% or higher. Will the target be too lose to 2%? Will 2% even be reached? Only time will tell.

For now we can rejoice that such an unprecedented and historic agreement has actually been reached. It is likely even fauther from perfection than is now apparent, but is an important step forward.

ROSA PARKS DAY

Tuesday was Rosa Parks Day. 60 years ago today the great Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montegomery Alabama. This Act touched off the Montgomery bus boycott and the modern civil rights movement.

She is one of the biggest Heroes of the movement and is often referred to as its mother. Her legacy, however, is minimized by those who claim that her defiance of segregation was merely an assertion of individual rights and who downplay her radicalism. This is wrong. From serving as Secretary the Montgomery NAACP to working unsuccessfully against discrimination in the sale of property, she was a crusader against racism white privilege.

That crusade continues today. From desegregation to affirmative action to Black Lives Matter, the struggle goes on. Martin Luther King’s dream survives despite his assassination, despite grinding poverty, despite neo-nazis and remnants of the KKK, despite the incarceration state and its disproportionate effect on African-Americans, and despite conservatives who seek to preserve the old order by removing race from discussion and crucify anyone who mentions it.

Race DOES belong in the discussion. Race is a false classification biologically, sociologically it is real. I still affects how people are treated, how they see themselves, and how they see the world. Treating the problems of minorities as purely a matter of poverty, as some on the right have suggested , is asinine.