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Submitted by Eric Grignol on Thu, 06/23/2011 - 8:24am.
UUSC President and CEO speaks with visitors to UUSC's booth at General Assembly.
Old friendships rekindled. New friends made. This is the scene the first day at the UUA's General Assembly (GA) in Charlotte, N.C. It began quietly as a small group of UUSC staff put the finishing touches on booth #512 in the downstairs exhibit hall. But it grew to a loud buzz with waves of people as the opening ceremonies ended and the evening reception began in the vendor area. There were even cupcakes, provided by the UUA to mark the 50th anniversary celebration!
Dedicated UUSC volunteers Bob Keim and Gay Ann Gustafson were on hand to help talk about UUSC and human rights to visitors at UUSC's booth. We've got new merchandise on display, including "I love GA" and "College of Social Justice" t-shirt designs, which will be available in UUSC's online store after GA. People got their first taste of the Two Degrees nutrition bars, which you can purchase now online. And for the fourth year in a row, we are sharing the exhibit space with our economic-justice partner Equal Exchange to provide fair-trade coffee samples, tea, chocolate, and other snacks.
Today was a day to celebrate the force for good that Unitarian Universalism can be in the world, and our booth demonstrated the vehicle UUSC can be to put that faith into action. Tomorrow, as our workshops begin, we'll dig into the practical knowledge to make that happen. Stay tuned to our blog for on-the-ground updates.
We're also excited to have Gary Nissenbaum at the booth, signing copies of his new book, Assembling the Pieces, which gives practical and inspirational instructions on how congregations can supercharge their social-action committees. He has tested his model of engagement with great success at his congregation in Summit, N.J., and GA attendees can look forward to learning more in tomorrow's workshop, presented with UUSC staff member Lauralyn Smith.
Folks who are not attending GA can watch some proceedings streaming live from the UUA website — don't forget to tune in around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning to catch UUSC President and CEO Bill Schulz's speech during Plenary IV!
Submitted by Eric Grignol on Wed, 07/15/2009 - 12:12pm.
At UUSC, we have always sold goods as a way to raise vital funds for our human-rights work. But what if we multiplied the good achieved from that transaction by adding to it direct financial support for our eye-to-eye partners around the globe?
As our tagline states, "Advancing human rights is the work of many joining hands." And these days our partners are feeling the money squeeze just as much as everyone else.
This year at UUA General Assembly, we featured goods made by some of our worldwide partners, Barakat, Southern Alternatives Agricultural Cooperative (SAAC), women in Darfur, Military Families Speak Out, and Equal Exchange, among others. We used these goods to connect UUs to their work, enabling them to support and uplift that work with their available purchasing power.
I attended the workshop Stories of Joy and Inspiration, led by UUSC President Charlie Clements. We watched two videos: Weaving a Web of Protection for Women and Girls in Darfur, Sudan and The Southern Alternatives Agricultural Cooperative (about our partner SAAC, a Georgia pecan-processing cooperative run entirely by African-American women). Attendees witnessed examples of a domestic and an international partnership where UUSC is making a difference in people's lives.
Individuals in the audience got the chance to share in this success when Clements directed people to UUSC's exhibit hall booth, where pecans produced by SAAC and baskets made by Darfurian women were on sale.
After the workshop, we had a hard time keeping our tables fully stocked! Thirty pounds of pecans were purchased, and nearly every one of the hundred baskets were bought up. In all, nearly $2,500 was directed back to our partners, and just under $2,000 went to UUSC, just from sales at GA.
It's an amazing thing to realize that amid the myriad of consumer choices we are faced with on a daily basis, we can leverage our purchasing power — however reduced in these lean times — to make even more of a difference.
Even better, UUs at GA who purchased something from UUSC got more than just an item for its own sake, to add to the all "stuff" in the world, but something they could actually consume (food) or use and reuse (a basket, a stainless steel water bottle, a beautiful scarf).
Above that, they had a tangible way to support UUSC and its partners.
In today's economic climate, individuals have to make difficult choices with what's left in their pocketbooks. We may want to use our hard-earned dollars to write a check to support out favorite charity, yet there are only so many dollars to go around and many good organizations in need. It would be hard to find other opportunities where your purchases can have such a ripple effect for everyone involved.
In the coming months, we'll be looking at ways you can make your shopping dollars have an even greater impact for human rights.
Keep an eye on our online store for exciting new changes this year.