Comfort in Turbulent Times

by Karen Marcus, Foothills Blogger

Many who started attending Foothills after the 2016 election have found reasons to stay. 

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was shocking for many people — locally, nationally, and globally. Those who were confused, frightened, or angered by its outcome sought comfort, guidance, community, and hope. In and around Fort Collins, Foothills provided those things, and more.

Chris Guppy and her family started attending services at Foothills in December 2016. She says, “After the election we felt desolate, lonely, and helpless. We, as a family, needed community support.” They found it at Foothills, and continued coming to services because, says Guppy, “the sermons made me cry.” In addition, they enjoyed the presence of other young families, and Guppy’s son Jack “loved the ceiling fans in the sanctuary and kept asking to go back.”

Guppy and her husband, Brian, became members in early 2017, and joined a Gather Group. She teaches RE, and has volunteered for the welcome kiosk and the mobile food pantry. Now, Guppy wants to continue working with youth and to teach meditation techniques to both children and adults. She comments, “We continue to be amazed and thankful for such thoughtful and good-spirited church leadership.”

Erin Purdy is also very appreciative of Foothills. She notes, “We love the positive atmosphere, the rich and honest conversation, the social justice orientation, and the open-minded teaching, both for adults and in the RE classes. We’ve stayed because we feel at home and that we can explore our spirituality in an intellectually honest and deeply loving way.”

While the election got Purdy and her family into Foothills, she had been attracted to it for some time. She had a UU friend who often talked about her positive experiences, and she knew she wanted to check it out every time she drove by.

Now a member, Purdy and her family attend services regularly, and she teaches RE classes and brings meals to people who need them. “I think we’ll continue to come as a family,” she says. “I just love Foothills and am deeply grateful for everyone and everything there.”

The Sunday following the 2016 election marked the first time Sandy Brooks attended a service at Foothills. “I needed a family,” she remarks. “I had a couple of friends who were members, and I always noticed their enthusiasm when they talked about what their church was doing. I did some research online and decided it was the church I wanted to attend that day.” Brooks walked away from that service feeling like she had found exactly what she needed. Shortly thereafter, she became a member.

Brooks was active in the Sanctuary while Foothills provided housing to Ingrid and her children before their move to the Unitarian church in Boulder. She says, “Instead of thinking I was giving, I knew that what I received was much more.” She has also worked as a welcome kiosk attendant, a greeter, and an usher. As she reflects on her time at Foothills, Brooks wonders, as a Christian, if Foothills is the right church for her. But, she realizes that its main teaching is significant: “Courageous Love has new meaning for me.”

Mark Benjamin also started attending Foothills around the time of the 2016 election, though not necessarily because of it. He explains, “My 16-year old son moved in with me that November. Just before then, he came out to me as transgender, so I looked for churches that would support that.” He also wanted to find a community that “spoke to him.” Foothills offered the inclusiveness and acceptance he sought. Benjamin was involved in the Sanctuary movement; he worked with Gretchen to plan the space and ensure it was done legally.

Now living in Greeley, he’s not as involved as he would like to be, but “still loves going to Foothills.” As a result of his experience there, he feels happier and hopes he can return to being more involved.

Raised UU, Kathy Krisko moved to Fort Collins in the 80s and attended Foothills a few times then. She moved away for her career, but returned in 2014 and started coming to services irregularly in 2015. Then, when the 2016 election occurred, she says, “I felt the need to be in the presence of people who shared at least some of my opinions and concerns. I knew I could connect with other Unitarians, so I began attending services more regularly and became a member.”

Krisko says she’s continued because “it’s a time I can stop myself, sit down, and just listen.” While she doesn’t agree with everything she hears, she feels that Unitarianism is close to what she believes. In addition to attending services, she participates in Tai Chi Chih, a Gather Group, and concerts, and plans to engage in other activities as opportunities arise.

Foothills also holds special meaning for Page Frick, who loves being a part of the community. “After attending since November 2017, it feels like home to me,” she states. Prior to visiting, Frick had admired Foothills for its inclusiveness and commitment to making a difference in the local and global community. She says, “Like so many others, the 2016 election rocked my world. I needed a sane place, a respite, where people held similar views to mine.”

Frick used the opportunity to refocus on her ongoing goals of spiritual growth and giving back. She has attended Base Camp, joined a Gather Group, and volunteered as an usher. She plans to become a member in the near future, and to explore new spiritual practices. She comments, “Foothills comforts me and inspires me to grow as a person. I’m especially grateful for the efforts of Sean and Gretchen and members of the congregation to promote true connection and belonging among people.”

Thanks to everyone mentioned for your heartfelt remarks, and for the “piece of the truth” you bring to the Foothills community.

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An Update on Ingrid and Family – March Share the Plate

from Jane Everham

What a bittersweet moment it was when I learned that Ingrid and family were moving, suddenly and secretly, to the Boulder Church for continued sanctuary. It had been my hope that a sanctuary would become available closer to Eliseo and Bryant, but in the months Ingrid was with us I got attached. Sometimes physically when Anibal would grab my calf and ride my foot!

The move to Boulder was a good move for this family. Then it resulted in a financial loss for the Boulder Church when the pre-school they rented space to chose to leave. Foothills stepped up, and through our March Share the Plate, donated $2,525.78 to the Boulder congregation, so they could continue their sanctuary ministry without undue hardship. That change took place in December and Ingrid is still seeking clemency from Governor Hicklooper so she can begin to pursue residency and ultimately citizenship.

Here is an update on Ingrid’s status:

Not enough has changed for Ingrid or the other three women finding in sanctuary in Colorado: Arecel, Rosa and Sandra. These sanctuary guests have unveiled a People’s Resolution – Creating a Path Forward on Immigration and they are asking people to sign it in support.

We call on the Colorado delegation, Colorado Legislature, and Governor Hickenlooper to respond to four Colorado women speaking for thousands of others. As Endorsers we call on you to use the authority of your office to provide official mercy and advocacy in all Sanctuary cases, to enact policy changes at the State and Federal level allowing all Colorado residents to participate in the well-being of our state, and to create a path to status they can start walking down.

You can read the whole resolution at www.peoplesresolution.org It has also appeared on Facebook several times. You can go to the Foothills FB page and sign, share it to your own FB page, and then share with all your friends. Please help spread the word.

Here is an update on Eliseo:

Eliseo is back at work. He was released from detention on bond, and recently his father’s application for US citizenship came through which may open new opportunities for his father to petition for Eliseo to receive a green card and get on a path to citizenship.  Ojala que si!
And Bryant:
Bryant is glad to be with his mother, he likes that he can walk to his new school, and he has new friends. He made a video asking for support to release his family from sanctuary so he and his whole family can become real Americans citizens. Bryant continues to be his normal, awesome self.

Last but never least, Anibal:

Anibal got a haircut recently and looks like a little man. He is using more words and is as rambunctious as ever.

Lastima, that this journey Ingrid and the others is on is a long one. Signing the petition, writing to the governor (mention the role the governor can play in Restorative Justice), and making donations, as feasible, to the Boulder Church are steps we all can take. There will probably be another Share the Plate for the Boulder Church in our congregation’s future. Please share thoughts and prayers and take action to end this uncivil time in our country’s history.

Meet Cartoonist Ward Sutton, Recently Honored Foothills Member

Interviewed by Jane Everham

(Supplemental information from The Herb Block Foundation)

WardSuttonSMWard Sutton has been named the winner of the 2018 Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning. The Herblock Prize is awarded annually by The Herb Block Foundation for “distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous independent standard set by Herblock.” Ward Sutton will receive the Prize on May 9th in a ceremony held at the Library of Congress. Scott Simon, Peabody Award-winning correspondent and host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR, will deliver the annual Herblock Lecture at the awards ceremony.

 

 

The judges said:ward cartoon

“We were greatly impressed by the quality and breadth of submissions, with so much outstanding work being done in all types of political cartooning. But we felt that Ward Sutton’s combination of strong artwork and sharp satirical writing stood out. Ward’s art style has an appealing comic book look that includes a mastery of caricature within that context. He juxtaposes these attractive drawings with strong, urgent writing, setting up creative premises and wringing out of them cutting humor and provocative commentary that rise to the historical importance of today’s issues.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ward Sutton about his career path and what brought him to Fort Collins and Foothills Unitarian Church.

Ward, where is your home of origin?

I grew up mainly in Edina, Minnesota – a suburb of Minneapolis. I also stayed in Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College, which is where my wife and I first met. 

Sutton got his start cartooning for the Edina Sun community newspaper when he was in middle school. He continued at Edina High School’s Zephyrus and St. Olaf College  Manitou Messenger before launching his first professional political strip, “Ward’s Cleaver,” in the Minneapolis alt-weekly, The Twin Cities Reader. Since then, he has lived in Seattle, New York City, and Costa Rica before finding his current home with his family in Fort Collins, Colorado.

What brought you to Fort Collins?

My wife Sue and I had been living in New York City for nearly 20 years when we decided we needed a change. So, we found an amazing bilingual school and moved our family to Costa Rica for 2 years. After that we were ready to move back to the US but did not want to return to NYC. By chance we met a lot of people from Colorado in Costa Rica, and that inspired us to visit the front range. After what my wife calls “speed dating” the different towns in the area we all agreed that Fort Collins was our favorite.

We have a daughter named Yineth (15, attends Rocky Mountain High School) and a son Tavio (11, attends Lesher Middle School).

Sue’s parents recently bought a small house in town and are using it as a second home. They spend a good amount of time in FoCo and have been enjoying Foothills as well.

We also have two dogs, Bisbee and Lobo, whom we rescued in Costa Rica and brought to FoCo. They are definitely part of the family, too!

How did you find Foothills UU Church?

We had been part of a UCC church in NYC, and when we arrived in Fort Collins we really wanted to find a progressive church community. We’ve always been interested in learning more about UU; Sue and I both took part in some of the “beginner” programs that were offered during our first year in town and we were sold: we became members of Foothills after about 3 and a half months.

How did you become an editorial cartoonist?

I won an art contest in 1st grade and never looked back. I had my first cartoons published in a community paper when I was in grade school and Junior High, then I worked for my school papers in high school and college. I began my professional career working for “Alt Weeklies” – the weekly urban newspapers that were so common in the 1990s. I began in Minneapolis, then moved to Seattle, then finally arrived in NYC in 1995. In 1998, The Village Voice picked up my weekly strip. In 2008, I began creating cartoons for the Boston Globe.

Ward Sutton has been creating biting editorial cartoons for The Boston Globe since 2008. He experiments with size and format, often producing multi-panel cartoons that can read like a graphic novel. In 2010, his full-page “Tea Party Comics” won a gold medal from the Society of Publication Designers.

Alarmed by the incoming Trump administration, Sutton drew a “RESIST” poster image and distributed it for free online in 2017. It was downloaded, printed, carried in marches all over the world, and later chosen by American Illustration in its annual competition.

Stephen Colbert has said: “Ward Sutton’s satire doesn’t just bite, it maims. He’s the perfect cartoonist for our discordant times.’’

Are you still creating cartoons? For whom?

My main client for editorial cartooning is the Boston Globe, and the Herblock Award I recently won is for my Globe cartoons from 2017. But I am a freelancer and create cartoons for other places such as The New Yorker, The Nation, The Nib (website) and In These Times magazine. I also work as an illustrator, creating drawings that accompany articles in publications such as GQ, Entertainment Weekly and MAD Magazine.

In addition to cartooning, Sutton has created posters for Broadway, the Sundance Film Festival, and musicians such as Beck, Radiohead, Phish, and Pearl Jam. He has designed, directed and/or produced animation for HBO, Noggin and Comedy Central. His work has been recognized by The Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, The Society of Publication Designers, The Society for News Design, The Minnesota Page One Awards and The Art Directors Club.

What else keeps you out of trouble?

I have a semi-secret alter-ego: In 2006, I created Stan Kelly, the (fake) editorial cartoonist for the (fake) newspaper, The Onion. That project is an ongoing parody of editorial cartoons, and in 2016 a book of Kelly’s cartoons was published. I’ll add some links about Kelly below:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/sarah-larson/brilliantly-terrible-the-political-cartoons-of-the-onions-stan-kelly

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2017/08/10/why-the-onions-kelly-is-the-best-bad-cartoonist-in-america/?utm_term=.15ddc1209920

What kind of involvement if any do you hope to have at Foothills?

I served on the Committee on Shared Ministry (COSM) for a while but different events going on in my life made it necessary for me to limit my commitments and step down from the Committee. My wife Sue has been leading the 5th grade RE class on Sundays, and I’m happy just to be getting to know Foothills and the community better for the time being.

Finally, I asked Ward: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A cartoonist.

Ward, it is an honored to have you among us. Congratulations on this award! So grateful that you continue to unleash your imagination!

Contact information for Ward Sutton: wardsuttonimpact@gmail.com  www.suttonimpactstudio.com @wardsutton on Instagram

http://www.facebook.com/wardsutton http://twitter.com/WardSutton

 

 

Foothills Students Add Their Voices to National Outcry for Stricter Gun Control

by Karen Marcus, Foothills Blogger

“Children are dying who could have been future leaders, scientists, or doctors.”

—Cameron Montague, Sophomore at Poudre High School

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands or people participated across the U.S. and internationally in “March for Our Lives” protests to demand stricter gun laws in America. These events were spurred by actions taken by students in the wake of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On Wednesday, March 14 — one month after the Parkland shooting — students across the U.S. walked out of their classrooms to honor the 17 victims killed in that event, and to push lawmakers to enact new gun restrictions. Students from elementary, middle, and high schools — as well as some colleges — participated by marching, holding signs, and speaking about their experiences.

Fort Collins students had heard about plans for the national walkout, but the date fell during their spring break; so they scheduled their own walkout and rally in Old Town Square on Tuesday, February 27. The student-led demonstration attracted about 1,500 students and supporters, who carried signs, chanted, and engaged in a moment of silence for the Parkland victims.  

Many Reasons to Participate

Among the attendees were several young people from the Foothills Unitarian Church community. At a discussion about the event with Reverend Sean Neil-Barron on Sunday, March 4, the students said their reasons for attending the walkout included wanting safer schools and stricter gun laws. One asked, “Why should I have to learn to run for my life?” As part of the first generation that regularly participates in “lockdown drills,” they noted that lawmakers haven’t been listening to adults about this issue, so maybe they’ll listen to kids.

Cameron Montague, a sophomore at Poudre High School, said she never hesitated about participating in the walkout. “Social justice and activism have been a big part of my life,” she commented. She started the walk from Poudre to Old Town with friends, who had similar reasons for participating. “We all share strong beliefs about change, having our voices heard, and doing our part,” Montague said.

Piper Levinson, an 8th-grader at Lesher Middle School, participated in the walkout because it was specifically for kids. In addition, she said, it was conveniently close to home, and she was able to easily learn the details about how to participate. Levinson supports guns for sport, and may even try them when she’s older, but noted, “It’s ridiculous that there aren’t more restrictions — ridiculous that people can get an assault rifle with no mental health check.” She pointed out that, by at least one count, just this year, there have already been 18 gun-related incidents, and she finds herself wondering, “Am I next?”

Poudre High School junior Ted Davies had similar reasons for participating. He said, “The shooting in Florida just repeated the trend of school shootings using AR-15 assault weapons. I don’t believe the general population should be able to purchase them. They’re designed to kill people, and ordinary citizens don’t need them.” He would like to know why Congress hasn’t done anything yet, and would like to tell Senator Cory Gardner, “You need to take a progressive stance on gun control because the people you represent take that stance, and your job is to represent their views, not yours.” He hoped his presence at the event would contribute to getting these messages across.

Another big reason for participation in the event was a sense of fear that underlies students’ every-day lives at school. Both Montague and Davies said it’s become mostly a back-of-mind issue for them throughout their school days, but they do think about it at certain times, such as if they see someone unfamiliar at school. They ask themselves if that person could have a concealed gun. Recently, said Montague, a lockdown occurred at her school because of a disturbance in a nearby neighborhood. When teachers were asked over the school’s intercom system to check their email and close the blinds, but no explanation was given, she became genuinely afraid and thought, “This could be it.”

Drills for kids used to involve only instructions to “hide and be quiet,” but now they’re also instructed to “fight” if necessary. Davies said, “That possibility used to scare me, but now I’ve heard it so often that it doesn’t really register.”

A New Paradigm

The purpose of the walkout was to make student voices heard, as the people who would be most directly affected by a school shooting, and as soon-to-be voters. Students at the group discussion said their ideal scenario would be a world where everyone feels safe, where students don’t fear being hurt at school, and where people truly listen to each other. They noted that their intention isn’t to take guns away completely, but to impose limitations on who has access to guns, and to eliminate access to military-style weapons.

Montague said she understands why people want guns, but, “The current situation is not working. Children are dying who could have been future leaders, scientists, or doctors. Our generation is the future, and we’re being killed in the places where we’re supposed to be learning how to be the best we can be. What does that say about us as a society and as part of the human race?”

Levinson thinks gun control should mimic the types of restrictions we place on other dangerous items, such as cars and drugs. She explained, “With cars, their purpose is to drive, but they do kill many people every year; with prescription drugs, their purpose is to help people become healthier, but they also kill sometimes. With both of these things we have a lot of restrictions in place to prevent those negative outcomes. Why shouldn’t it be the same with guns, since their sole purpose is to kill?” Davies agreed: “Assault style weapons designed to kill people shouldn’t be covered by the second amendment because they’re a danger to society when in the wrong hands.”

The Foothills students spoke about the influence of the NRA in the gun restriction debate. They want to send a message to the NRA and the politicians supported by it that kids’ lives are worth more than the money they’re getting in exchange for not acting on citizens’ desire for tighter gun restrictions. Levinson noted she’s pleased that some corporations are cutting ties with the gun-rights group. “I think it’s really effective,” she said. “It shows they put their values above money, that they’re serious about this issue.”

Hope for the Future

Students at the group discussion described their experience with the walkout and rally as “overwhelming” (in a good way), “powerful,” and “feeling like a part of something bigger.” They noted a sense of unity as they started walking from their schools to Old Town with their own classmates and peers, and as they were joined along the way by students and supporters they didn’t know, and encouraged by observers who cheered, honked horns, and held “you make us proud” signs.

Levinson said, “The most inspirational part for me was how passionate people were. They took it really seriously. It was very moving, because usually kids don’t get a say in these things, and the event was centered around kids, not adults.”

Davies commented, “I thought, wow, a lot of people that go to other schools in this town really do care about this issue. Seeing that all these people care, it’s a surprise that nothing happens in D.C.”

The event created a sense of hope that these students would like to see continue. Being in dialog with friends, fellow students, and caring adults at Foothills, as well as becoming more informed and active are ways they’re perpetuating that hope. Davies said he’ll try to speak out more when he sees things like this happen, and make his voice heard at future events. He added, “Our generation can do a lot. In the next few years we’ll have the right to vote, as some of my friends do now. Elections will be influenced by us and how vocal we are about topics that are important to us. And eventually some of us will get into office and put our views into action there.”

Montague said, “The event showed me there are so many other people who support and believe what I believe. Now I know there are hundreds of teens that want gun reform; it’s refreshing how many there are, and how many voices are speaking out for peace, change, and action.”

Showing Up for Democracy: The Women’s March

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham

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The Women’s March isn’t just for women!

Brian and I attended the first March in 2017 where the organizers hoped for 20,000 attendees – they got 100,000 instead! This delayed the march as the logistics were re-worked, but the standing around with like-minded strangers gave us hope and good cheer.

The 2nd Annual Women’s March took place in downtown Denver on January 21, and even more came to march! Despite the March starting on-time at 9:30, it still took us almost 90 minutes to funnel with the crowd onto 14th St and Bannock – we were so many! This year we encountered numerous of the dozens of Foothills UUs that rode buses or carpooled down to join the March. They carried signs made at various Sign Parties sponsored by church members. The sign I carried said, “Hick, Pardon Ingrid!” and UUs from Boulder and Quakers from Denver, all part of the larger Support Ingrid coalition, recognized its meaning and stopped to talk. Many strangers asked, “Who’s Ingrid?’ and were enlightened on how they could support Ingrid and stand up for justice. It was heartening to hear them express gratitude and support for our Sanctuary efforts.

main photo

Many of the beliefs and principles of Unitarian Universalism were on display at the March.

The demographic of the marchers was extensive and inclusive – babes in arms – girls 3and women – the elderly in wheel chairs – men and boys – LGBTQ – the disabled on scooters – a rainbow of colors. They were from all over Colorado. Most carried signs – many marchers brought extras to share. The signs varied from sweet to snarky to political, and many were very funny:

“It’s about all of us!”  “Girls just want to have FUN-damental rights!”

“I’ve seen better Cabinets at IKEA!”

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Note the Ingrid balloon in the background!

We were a mighty, joyous, and peaceful crowd!

Mark your calendars now for the 3rd Annual Women’s March – it is a moving experience of Showing Up -not to be missed!

January 19, 2019.

 

Progress Is Possible

from Foothills Blogger, Jane Everham

“It is possible to make progress.” said Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director of Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union and Unitarian Universalist Minister during his guest sermon last Sunday. Rev. Nathan used two stories to illustrate his point. The first story was about the exertion required in the ground-breaking effort to rebel – (something UUs take to rather well.) The second story reflected a painful reality–our democracy is far from seeing our ideals as universal and fair. He called on us to weave these two stories together in a tale which will prevail and define us – to let our highest ideals “ring true not hollow.”

True democracy, he pointed out, is evident in the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty, in the Suffragettes’ movement, the civil rights’ movement, the support for the LGBTQ community. Our Constitution speaks to us with “We the People”, equality for all.

Rev. Nathan reminded us that though the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” is frequently attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King (who did repeat it often) it was first spoken by Theodore Parker, reforming minister of the Unitarian church. What connects UU’s and the ACLU is our shared belief that no one should be left out from experiencing equality and justice.

Showing up for democracy means having a better sense of what needs to be done. The 2016 election galvanized both our UU world and the ACLU. The population of the ACLU in Colorado in October 2016 was 7,000 – today it is 37,000. This influx of newly engaged Coloradans has enabled the ACLU to hire a Voting Rights Committee Coordination, a Reproductive Rights Attorney, launch a podcast called Purple State Report, and other useful entities that weren’t affordable before.

These words of Rev. Nathan bear repeating – it is possible to make progress. In the last year, much progress has been made. As we look toward the future, the November 2018 election is crucial. He called on us to at the very least show up to vote – at the very least! Or step up and RUN for office. Many, many, new people are entering the political field and running for office for the first time.

Rev Nathan closed his sermon inviting us to stay engage and to do the serious work ahead . . . with joy.

This last point was so important that Rev. Gretchen underscored it in the Gratefulness Moment of the service. “Focus on joy, give thanks for all the gifts of this life – feel gratefulness, gratitude.”

This service, like so many others, was deeply inspiring – I often leave church on Sunday thinking “This is so good, they should charge admission.” But they never will! We are invited to show our gratitude, support, and commitment to our faith’s future through pledging. Speaking of pledging . . . see you at CSU for breakfast at 9:30 next Sunday morning.

 

Reflections on the 7th UU Principle

By Karen Marcus

This post —one in a series about the 7 UU principles — explores the 7th one, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The “interdependent web of existence” is an abstract concept and, therefore, one that applies to many aspects of life. I asked several Foothills members to share what comes to mind for them when considering the 7th principle.

Natalie Shrewsbury, who has been attending Foothills for two years and has been a member for the last nine months, notes that when you see the world through the lens of the 7th principle, decisions become more complex because you have to consider all factors in every situation. For example, “If you’re thinking about how to be a good land steward in your own backyard, maybe you want to have a garden, or some chickens. You need to consider things like the history of the location, the movement of the sun, how people and animals use the space, and how the land might be used in the future, as well as how your actions might affect your neighbors and the larger community. The idea is to create a space that works for every living being in it: plants, animals, and people.”  

Natalie is concerned that, in the current political climate, decisions are being made too quickly to use this type of problem-solving to take all factors into consideration. For example, she says, “To dismantle the health care system and come up with something new takes much longer than three months. It seems decisions are being made so fast that the decision makers aren’t honoring a wider view.”

As a Foothills member for 30 years, Brian Woodruff was around in the 1980s, when Foothills minister Walter Royal (Roy) Jones was instrumental in formulating the 7 principles. Brian explains, “Consensus on the 7th principle was difficult, and Roy’s language ‘respect for the interdependent web’ won.” As someone who has worked in air pollution throughout his career, Brian is proud of the UUA for including the environment among its principles. Brian sees the 7th principle playing out for some in changed behavior, such as the reduction of energy and raw materials in our homes. For others, he observes, “It manifests as political activism to raise awareness and fight for better environmental laws.”

Brian points out a drawback of the 7th principle: it doesn’t require action. He says, “Pride isn’t enough. I’m interested in motivating Foothills to take action on the 7th principle, in more ways than greening our buildings. Considering that climate change is the most significant threat to planetary health, what might we aspire to do together with the support of a principled church community?”

Ann Molison, along with her husband Bob, attended Foothills from 1983 to 1989, returned in 2000, and have been attending ever since. For her, the 7th principle relates to her involvement with Foothills itself. She says, “Membership has helped me develop a deeper involvement in our church.” Ann believes the 7th principle reflects our relationship to the world around us, saying, “We need this world and it needs us. Not just the people, but the environment both within and outside our church.” Church involvement has helped her to concentrate less on herself and to reach out to others. For example, Ann sits at the Welcome Kiosk on Sundays, helps with the Sanctuary program, attends workshops on the environment, and attends church services whenever possible. She remarks, “Participating in these activities has been a freeing experience and gives meaning to my commitment to Foothills.” 

Laurie Seiler, who has been a Foothills member for 10 years, has always felt connected to “the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” She says, “I continue to learn more about how to respect it. This is both an integral part of my spirituality and part of being a responsible steward of the planet we share with all life forms. Connecting in this way allows me to transmute fear, disappointment, and stress into love, joy, peace, and hope. It also motivates me to do what I can to care for our planet and everyone on it, now and into the future.” 

Laurie observes that it’s easy to think only of survival for ourselves in the current moment and forget to look at all life over an extended period of time. She notes, “When we remember to step back and look at the bigger picture we begin to understand and live in integrity with the 7th principle.”

Like Laurie, for Foothills member Peg MacMorris, “The ‘interdependent web’ embodies the idea of living in harmony with the earth; living in good conscience means limiting our carbon footprints and trying to live as sustainably as possible.” These principles have guided Peg’s life. She notes, “I’m inspired and sustained by time spent experiencing the natural environment, in large and small ways.”

At her former church, Peg worked on environmental initiatives, and at Foothills, she says, “I strive to make our congregation aware of climate justice. I also hope that care for our environment enters into all considerations within our church life, and within the lives of each congregation member.” She is also organizing efforts to help provide energy efficiency and weatherization enhancements for families with low incomes in Fort Collins. The dangers of not making these efforts, says Peg, are “a life out of harmony with the environment, a lack of awareness of our natural surroundings, and a life that is not sustainable for individuals or the community.”

What a great variety of interpretations on the 7th principle. What does it mean to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!