Where is the UU Divestment Movement?
Having passed our resolution, we have been so quiet on our list lately. (My main excuse is that it’s been summer gardening and harvest/preservation time).
Now we’re in our implementation phase, and some of us might want and be able to return to action.
Is there action on the home front (your congregation) or in your district or region that you can tell us about? Or are there other congregations to add to our list of divesting congregations? Please do tell! We love to hear bragging when it comes to UU divestment.
I thought about specifying districts or regions in this query, but, given that they are entities of the UUA, I’m assuming that they are taken care of by the resolution we passed at General Assembly.
Where do we go from here?
I’ve been collecting ideas that have been submitted to the list. What I’ve come up with is below; please let me know if I omitted anything.
From Ellie Hall:
- “We can write letters to the editor [LTEs] about divest-reinvest and if they are published, forward a link to the group.” She goes on to say she’s “read that even if a letter isn’t published, it’s important in giving the paper insight into public opinion.” I’ve heard the same thing, so I also encourage LTEs. The Citizen’s Climate Lobby has put out some good info on getting an LTE published at http://citizensclimatelobby.org/development/options-for-action/get-published/.
From Wes Ernsberger:
- Provide an opportunity for congregations that have already pledged to divest to help other congregations that wish to do so.
- Keep our website up to date with useful divestment information.
- Continue as a discussion group to trade info/ideas that would help other aspects of the divestment movement. Examples: college divestment, state and municipality divestment, personal divestment.
- Track UUA’s progress.
From Vince Pawlowski:
- Make sure UUA keeps up the pressure. Help support shareholder activism. Everywhere that Ceres and UUA show up there could be a rally outside supporting their efforts.
- Some UU churches that still need to be approached to divest. One in southern California that still has oil wells (not just investments in ff companies) in its endowment. Many others have not even begun the conversation. Can someone make a list of the biggest undivested churches?
- What about the Veatch Fund? Is Shelter Rock UU divested?
From Dean Littlepage:
- UU Divest, the CSRI and IC, and others we recruit or cooperate with (350.org?) launch a campaign directed at selected mainstream investment houses to get them to offer more and better fossil-free investment vehicles, both for institutional investors like the UU endowment and for retail investors.
- Follow up with UUSC – have their financial people gotten the word?
- Examine the possibility of divesting the UU Pension fund (which may serve UU staff, ministers, and4 staff at congregations).
- Submit a program proposal/workshop application to your region or district.
- Co-submit a program proposal with me for GA 2015, in Portland, OR. The theme is “Building a New Way,” which is perfect for a workshop on personal and congregational divestment.
Did I leave an idea out? What is it?
Shall we narrow down the list? Shall those of us who are interested volunteer for these actions, depending on interest and qualifications? Does anyone think we should do a conference call?
Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this happen. Here’s a collage that my partner, Gerri Wiley, put together of pictures she took at GA.
Are you ready for General Assembly?
Are you ready to pass the Fossil Fuel Divestment Business Resolution?
As I write this, GA starts four weeks from today! If you’re uncertain if you’re ready, consider the following:
- Register for the UUA’s “What to Expect at GA 2014” webinar. They’re currently taking sign-ups for the Thursday June 5, 6-7pm PDT session.
- Register as an offsite delegate if you can’t attend in person, so you can watch the proceedings of the plenaries, participate in the discussion, and vote. Offsite delegates may also listen to discussion and vote during business mini-assemblies.
- Enter the phone numbers of others in your cell phone, so you don’t have to fish around for numbers when you want to reach someone on the UU Divest team while you’re at GA.
- Downloading and preparing to use the GA App, at the App Store OR Google Play. This mobile app allows you to, among other things:
o View schedules, explore sessions, and find after parties.
o Create your own personal schedule and access location and speaker information.
o Access interactive maps and find local places.
o Checkin to sessions, meetings, keynotes, and exhibitor booths.
o View an entire feed of the event activity, including attendee checkins, photos, and more.
o Expand your network and have fun!
- Plan to come by the UUMFE Booth #203 to pick up your round black & green Divest -> Reinvest button, and wear it to attract attention to the issue and talk to people about how important it is.
- Plan to attend the GA Talk, the MiniAssembly, and the Debate and Vote — the schedule appears on the first link, pages 5 and 6 (PDF page numbering).
- Talk to others from your congregation, or other Unitarian Universalists, about doing the above.
Be sure, if you are going to GA in person, you have considered registration, transportation, and housing. (You can register on-site, but you’ll probably have to stand in another line to do so).
The theme for General Assembly 2014 is Love Reaches Out. Let’s pass our Divest Fossil Fuels Business Resolution and show how Unitarian Universalists reach out with love to the whole world and interdependent web of life, by Divesting Fossil Fuels and reinvesting in sustainable energy, and continuing its shareholder activism.
For a fun, 30-second satirical contrast, go to exxonhatesyourchildren.com. I hope UUs show that we’re not like this face of Exxon. (I have to add that financial people think that Exxon’s recent announcement is a very positive move for the financial world.)
The UUA website has long said “The Final Agenda will be posted in May.” May has finally arrived, and the final agenda is now posted.
These are the events relevant to our Business Resolution, as far as I can tell:
Friday, 2:15-4:30pm, General Session IV
Call to Order
Debate and Vote on Congregational Study Action Issues
GA Talk — Fossil Fuel Divestment
. . . and several more items
My guess is that the GA Talk will start close to 3pm — an hour has been allotted to the second item in the past — but this agenda is very different from past agendas. I believe GA Talk is something new; I have no idea how long it will be and what the procedure for it will be. I didn’t see any explanation in the agenda, either; did you?
Friday, 5:00pm (to 6:15 pm??) Mini-Assembly on Proposed Business Resolution
After the Mini-Assemblies, the Board of Trustees consolidates results and formulates any amendments to be proposed.
I expect that a couple of us should attend this last session.
Saturday, 2:15-4:30pm, General Session VI
Call to Order
Debate and Vote on Business Resolution
. . . and several more items
And from the Schedule of Programs, Topical Guide, Stewardship and Finance Topic:
Thursday, 10:15am “#203 Divestment and Beyond: Affecting Social Change via Investments” I’ll be on the panel.
That’s it for now!
Spring is finally here, and we’re hoping that it’s true that April Showers bring May flowers. And Sunshine. And warmer temperatures.
But even if that doesn’t happen, we have positive news to share: On April 13, the UUA Board of Trustees passed the following motion:
Recognizing the growing threat of climate change to the earth and to current and future generations, the Board of Trustees believes we must redouble our efforts to press for action to address the crisis through our invested assets. We should use all of the tools available to us, including shareholder advocacy and divestment of shares in companies doing the greatest harm. Therefore we support the passage of the Business Resolution calling for divestment of fossil fuel company stocks and engagement with the companies whose shares we hold. Further, we applaud the Investment Committee and Socially Responsible Investing Committee for their work in carrying out the 2006 Statement of Conscience “Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change” which says: “We call upon our denominational leaders to provide sustainable investing, by exploring the potential for using the ownership rights of the denomination’s financial resources to positively address the global warming/climate change crisis.”
In addition, the Board charges the team of Julian Sharp, Larry Ladd and Donna Harrison with crafting the Board statement supporting the proposed business resolution. This statement should make clear that The Board supports the resolution as written. To the extent that changes are proposed during the mini-assembly process, the Board will support those changes only if they are agreed to by the same parties who crafted and agreed to the proposed resolution.
We hope this means that at General Assembly (GA), we will have little to no problem passing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution that we worked so hard to prepare, negotiate, and petition to put on the agenda.
Nevertheless, a campaign team is preparing for GA:
- Before GA, we are working to encourage people friendly to our resolution to register and to seek to be delegates from their congregation, either in person or electronically (a.k.a. off-site delegate).
- At GA, we will have a table at the UU Ministry for Earth booth in the exhibit hall. It will be staffed by volunteers from our group.
- Our group will likely be wearing buttons that say something like: Ask Me about Divestment & Reinvestment.
- We will be implementing a social media strategy, both before and at GA.
- We will be implementing a print media strategy, both before and at GA.
- We will be connecting with any UUs we know, and encouraging them to vote for the resolution.
We are anxiously awaiting publication of the GA schedule, which will happen in May. The time that the resolution will be voted on may well impact the plans we make.
Meanwhile, remember the words of Desmond Tutu: “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change . . . It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future.”
Or, more succinctly, Ellen Dorsey, executive director of Wallace Global Fund said: divestment represents “a true alignment between ethical and financial interests.”
Good news! The Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution will be put on the agenda
for General Assembly.
We had thought there might be a congregational poll to determine if the
majority of congregations voting wanted it on the agenda, but the Board of
Trustees decided that it was not necessary.
It’s now time to begin our campaign to pass the resolution. I believe that
with adequate education, the resolution will pass overwhelmingly, just as
the Action of Immediate Witness did last year. Given my experience last
year, I can predict some frequent objections from those who are
inadequately informed about the resolution.
- But I want shareholder activism; we have to stay engaged! (Answer: The
Resolution allows for it).
– But I want returns on our congregation’s endowment to be maximized!
(Answer: Talk about stranded assets/carbon bubble)
– I think this is something government should do. (Answer: Agreed.
But government is too dysfunctional presently, and we’ve got to get the
action going. In addition, our legislators have mostly all been bought out
by Big Oil or Big Coal.)
Who will be on a campaign steering committee for our resolution? Who are
the good strategists among us? Who is familiar with a lot of UUA
publications or ways to reach UUs, especially those who are likely to
attend GA in Providence? Who is in a position to have an open discussion
with a board member or members, i.e., someone known to a person or people
on the board either personally or by reputation?
Please volunteer (nominate yourself) or nominate someone else, after having
checked with them that they’re willing to serve. I expect our work could
be intense for the next few months. I’d set up a new Yahoo group for the
steering committee, and we’d probably have frequent conference calls to see
Let’s get busy getting the word out about why our resolution is good and
worth voting for.
Please send me your nominations.
WE WANT MORE SIGNATURES! i want to call your attention to the excellent note that wes sent out this weekend:
We have now gone past UUA’s deadline for submitting petition signatures. Thanks so much to everyone who has helped to make this petition drive such a success! I know that many of you have reached out to people you know from other congregations and many of them have responded by collecting signatures from their church. This would be a great time to thank them for their help. You could also send them a link to our latest list so that they see their congregation on the list and how much other support there is throughout the country.
Although we have passed UUA’s deadline, we will still accept signatures and add other congregations to our list because they also are part of the widespread support that exists around the country for our resolution. Feel free to pass this information along to your contacts in other congregations who you feel might wish to collect signatures for their congregation (if they have not done so already) or might wish to contact people they know in other congregations. Not only does submitting signatures demonstrate support but it also helps to create awareness of the petition and the fossil fuel divestment movement as a whole.
the last three weeks could have been really awful for me, as i dealt with broken wrist bones, a cast, and then surgery — but it was just the opposite. i gleefully opened envelopes, collated all the signature pages, photocopied, etc., with one hand, knowing i was doing what i could to hep preserve life on earth. it was more than rewarding to see how far over the minimum we went. and it was all because of you who sent those signatures, and recruited people at other congs to do the same. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
dare i say — let’s keep going, gathering more signatures, for whatever reason motivates you. i know my motivation is that i want my granddaughters to grow up in a world with a safe climate.
. . . and don’t forget to do what u can to tell obama — NO KEYSTONE XL. [wes and i were lucky enuf to be able to help start the anti-keystone action, having been arrested 8-29-11 in front of the white hs, were others of u there?]