2017-02-16

No Place here for Hate


In 2005, I was living in Lexington, Massachusetts, a rather affluent progressive suburb of Boston with an award-winning public school system, high level of parent involvement, and a diverse school population. In May that year, the town caught the attention of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, founded by Fred Phelps who was known to be physically, emotionally and spiritually abusive. The Westboro group’s forty or so members continue to espouse hatred and intolerance toward gays and others and
picket about six locations per day.

The Westboro group was targeting Lexington after a town resident had filed a law suit against the schools because a book called “Who’s in a Family?” was being used in his son’s kindergarten class. The book includes depictions of families headed by same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples.
           
The Westboro group had selected five churches where they intended to picket. They hoped to provoke reactions from onlookers and bystanders in the hopes that their rights to free speech will be infringed upon. If that happens, the lawyers in the family file and often win legal suits against the individuals or, most often, the town or city. This is how they supplement their own donations to fund their travels and hate-filled appearances across all fifty states.

Lexington rallied in anticipation. The interfaith clergy, community organizers and the town’s police department worked together to educate and train concerned citizens.
Many were from churches and temples that worked intentionally to welcome, accept, and appreciate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer folks. I was among them.

We were trained in how to respond – or more specifically, how to not become reactive.
We role-played staying calm while having hate rhetoric spewed in our faces nonstop for five, six, seven minutes. That was challenging. Even more disturbing, though, was having to play the offenders, embodying and voicing their hateful views. We worked together to find common language to use in our counter-protest to help us stay centered and to support and encourage one another. That was an invaluable piece of the work.

The day arrived, the signals were sent, and we mobilized at the entrance drive of the Catholic Church. We were about 50 or 60, I believe, linked arm in arm, creating a semi- circle in front of the church to shield those who were coming to or leaving the church services from the verbal and visual assaults of the dozen or so protestors on the sidewalks.

Their rhetoric was even more vile than we what we had expected. We had been prepared to see and hear their young children and teens spewing hate, as well, but I was unprepared for my own visceral reactions to the abusiveness inflicted upon and perpetrated by the children. After some minutes of the hate display, we all turned our backs on the protestors, shutting off eye contact and the “in-your-face” heckling taunts.

The volume of the rhetoric went up. Would we remain calm? We would. Our resolve to meet hate with love, and defend all our sisters, brothers, and kin remained strong.
At last, the Westboro group departed for their next picket site -- and our group departed in smaller groups to reconstitute our human shields at each of the remaining smaller churches. There was plenty of news coverage and, fortunately, no incidents.

The Westboro group returned the next day to protest at the elementary school whose walls harbored copies of the book, “Who’s In a Family?”, and at a middle school in the neighboring town where a rainbow flag labeled “gay pride” had been hung in the hallway. And they were met at those locations by other counter-protestors meeting hate with love.

The arrival of a hate group in our town mobilized Lexington to declare itself a “No Place for Hate” community. Loudly and clearly, NO PLACE FOR HATE was the message throughout the town, in the schools, in civic discourse and the local paper, in the businesses and restaurants and our houses of worship.

That was 12 years ago. Sadly, today we face an alarming rise in intolerance, exclusionary language and policies that far outstrips the reach of the Westboro group. The number of hate crimes has escalated so much in the current political climate that “No Place for Hate” initiatives are again underway across the country. Meanwhile, we now have fresh stories nearly every day of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arresting undocumented immigrants in communities around the nation.

Has there ever been a more important time to roll out our “Standing of the Side of Love” tee shirts and banners? Yet again, the time is now to link arms with others of all, or no, faith and join together to create and recreate, as often as necessary, human shields to protect the most vulnerable among us. May we strive to Answer the Call of Love and show our neighbors, communities and government that we believe Love trumps Hate.

2017-01-05

Risking Hospitality

There are good reasons that hospitality is difficult. It takes time... And we’re so busy... Doing, um, work... So we can buy things... Things we’re just as happy without... And so we can earn respect... The respect of the kind of people whose respect is earned that way.

Hospitality takes time, and hospitality is risky. You might get taken advantage of. Or you might be unwittingly facilitating someone’s self-destruction: there’s a time for offering someone a beer, and a time for resisting that impulse, and we don’t always know which is which. We risk getting it wrong.

Imagine that at the center of your life were the question, “What does this guest need?” Putting that question at the center doesn’t mean we will always know the right answer to that question. But to live in the space of that question – always having our radar up for where the need is, and going toward the need we discern – is a life of healing. The payback is the growing, softening heart.

The risks are worth it. Deep down, we humans don’t crave safety. What we ache for is acceptance, and acknowledgment of our worth. Therefore, embrace others as worthy guests, even if they don’t meet our needs. Even if they scare us. To embrace the worth in the other, even when their actions don’t meet our needs, is a radical notion. It might change your world into one in which you don't have to be smart or witty, deep or cultured, beautiful, young, healthy, enlightened, or handy. All you have to do is open the window of your heart and let the outer light in -- and let the inner light out. In that light, you can see and be seen; love and be loved.

It is revolutionary, risky, and world-rattling. Radical hospitality isn't safe or cozy. Commitment to radical hospitality is challenging. I want to be real with you about not only the good intention, but the skills, the emotional and social intelligence, that it takes to simultaneously maintain boundaries while tearing down walls.

Sometimes we’re up for making the initial opening, but aren’t equipped for the follow-through. I was struck by one example of a family whose heart was, or seemed to be, in the right place, but who just didn’t have the skills and resources to pull it off well.

Tanya and Tracey Thornbury of Montevido, Minnesota, were among the many Americans who, in August 2005, felt it was their duty to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Over the Internet the Thornburys made an offer to open their home to hurricane refugees. They were put in touch with Nicole Singleton, an impoverished 33-year-old single mother of six children, ranging from age 3 to 16, and Nicole’s mother, Dot. The Thornburys, with three children of their own, welcomed Nicole and her children into their home. Tanya Thornbury bought Nicole a bathrobe, pajamas, sandals, helped her find a fob, offered to help make financial decisions about the federal aid. The Thornburys accepted the doubling of their electricity costs and tripling of the natural gas bill. They were good and generous people.

Then problems arose. Nicole’s mother, Dot, refused to live by the rules of the house, allowed her grandchildren to watch violent, inappropriate movies in the presence of the Thornbury kids. The guests wanted to download rap and hip-hop music on the internet, and Tanya said no. Nicole had a boyfriend just released from prison that she was surreptitiously corresponding with – and she revealed to him her new address, which made the Thornburys nervous. Tensions and quarrels began. Six weeks after it began, the merger was over when the Singleton family moved to a donated house in Minneapolis.

From the Thornburys’ perspective, they felt keenly the sting of ingratitude. Tracey Thornbury vowed, “I won’t help anyone again for the rest of my life.” (from Robert Emmons, Thanks!)

Sometimes gifts bring joy. At other times they come with pride, and, the gifts can evoke envy, jealousy, and thus greed, and even hatred. Receiving a gift can place one in a position of inferiority – in which case resentment is be more likely than gratitude. Hospitality requires our humility. It also requires skills and tools.

Among the tools that might have been helpful for the Thornburys and Singletons is a covenant. With a neutral third-party facilitator to help them develop their covenant, they might have been able to clarify what to expect of each other and of themselves. Clarifying expectations at the beginning can be a huge component of creating the space within which hospitality can work.

Congregational life affords a way to sharpen our hospitality skills and habits. Before we're ready to welcome strangers into our individual homes, we can warm up the hospitality muscles by welcoming them more graciously into our collective home, our congregation.

Congregational hospitality may be a little easier in some ways, but it raises challenges of its own. Newcomers might be different from us. If we were to make them feel at home, they might, you know, actually, feel at home. And stay.

We would have to change to be hospitable – to meet their comfort needs. I might need to stretch the way I preach and pastor. They might connect better with different music in worship. They might have different ideas about child-rearing, or what should happen at a committee meeting. Hospitality is inconvenient. It will change us – and transformation is always inconvenient to the interests of the person that we were.

It’s also what we’re here for.

Hospitality is job one. This being human is, as Rumi said, a guest house.

2016-12-30

We Are the Resistance

Rev. Meredith Garmon

We Unitarian Universalists are typically proud of our resistance. Our congregations often have an air of social rebellion. We like to think of ourselves as standing against the status quo and the powers that be. When we relate our denomination’s history, we highlight our activists, slavery abolitionists, women’s suffragists, marchers at Selma, anti-Vietnam war protesters. We cite with pride our congregations’ early open-ness to same-sex marriage and our welcoming of LGBT ministers into our pulpits. What a bunch of righteous, resistant, radicals we are!

The truth, of course, is that UU history, as most history, is a mixed bag. For most of that history, Unitarians have been the denomination of choice for the economic elite. We are known for making the least demands on our members. We don’t tell you what to think, don’t tell you what to do. For 200 years now, anyone wanting a church that would leave them alone has found the Unitarians the place to be. Nor did the Universalists, when Universalism was a distinct denomination, have much inclination to rouse rabble. Our abolitionists, women’s suffragists, etc., were a small minority of our membership, and their activities tended to not have the support of the congregations.

In the early 20th-century, Rev. John Haynes Holmes courageously stood against World War I, but he was roundly denounced by pretty much all the rest of the Unitarian establishment. Neither the Unitarians nor the Universalists were very oriented toward resisting war and injustice.

The change began with the Humanist movement that began burgeoning within Unitarianism and, to a lesser extent, within Universalism, in the 1920s and 30s. Humanism dropped God out of the picture altogether, and, to do that, it emphasized the scientific method. Religious concepts were redefined in human terms.

By the middle of the 20th century, in most Unitarian and Universalist congregations, the crosses had been taken down, the communion silver stashed in a remote basement closet -- and we were seeing ourselves as resistors, not just a lower-demand version of the prevailing Christianity.

All around us, the 1950s were a time when business interests combined with mainstream Protestantism to emphasize pro-business values and fight the Cold War. Prayer breakfasts swept the country, bringing together business leaders and church leaders to praise God and denounce communism. The 1950s so thoroughly conflated patriotism and religion that the words “under God” were added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 – because the enemy of both the business establishment and the religious establishment was Godless communism.

1959, the year that we Unitarian Universalists of White Plains moved into our current building, was the year church attendance in the US hit its peak. Just about everybody was in church on Sunday morning, and what was preached there was a theology of God, country, and General Motors -- albeit rather less so in Unitarian and Universalist congregations.

In this context, Unitarians and Universalists started becoming counter-cultural. When a plan was advanced to let kids out of public schools on Wednesday afternoon so they could attend religious instruction in their churches, it was a coalition of Unitarians and Jews that resisted.

The advertisements that Unitarians began running in the papers in the 50s and 60s had a distinctly resistant feel to them: For example:
"What's your idea of true religion? Unitarianism is a way of life, life of vigorous thought, constructive activity, of generous service -- not a religion of inherited creeds, revered saints, or holy books. Unitarianism is not an easy religion. It demands that people think out their beliefs for themselves, and then live those beliefs. The stress is placed more upon living this life nobly and effectively than on the preparation for an after-existence. If you have given up 'old time' religion, Unitarianism has the answer for you.”
Another advertisement proclaimed:
“Freedom is our Method
Reason is our Guide
Fellowship is our Spirit
Character is our Test
Service is our Goal.”
What kind of people, in the midst of the prevailing buttoned-down “God and country” anti-communism, would be attracted by ads like that? Clearly Unitarians weren’t the establishment any more. We weren’t even the slightly-more-skeptical wing of the respectable elite. We had evolved into centers of resistance to the prevailing conventional opinion.

Yes, the Unitarians and the Universalists go back 200 years in this country – and 400 years in Europe – but we were formed into what we are today during this phase of massive cultural conformity. The Humanism that we moved into in the 30s put us in a position of cultural resistance in the 50s. Our Humanism shifted us from insiders to outsiders. And that paved the way for the further cultural resistance that showed up in large-scale UU involvement in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, which set us up to be ready to resist a range of injustices.

We still have the vestiges of our history of being the elite and the comfortable. Overcoming our lingering tendency toward complacency is one of our challenges. A second challenge arises from a broader and more recent social trend: people that want to resist mainstream or conservative religion feel a lot more free to just stay home. For example, in the 1960s and up until his untimely death in 1971, the brilliant activist, Whitney Young, Executive Director of the Urban League, worshiped on Sunday morning at Community Unitarian Church at White Plains. More and more activists and movement leaders today, however, belong to no faith community.

We must rise to these challenges. Our country needs the distinctive voice of Unitarian Universalism -- joyfully both spiritual and religious, while also proudly standing in resistance to social injustice and environmental destruction. It is our job to be the resistors. That’s what Unitarian Universalists do. We haven't always. We do now.

* * *
(For more detail on this angle on Unitarian and Universalist history, see Rev. Tom Schade's blogpost, "Humanism in Context.")

2016-12-20

Winter Solstice: Birthing the Light

Rev. Peggy Clarke

This is the time of the planet’s turning, the beginning of the return of the light. But it’s not going to happen quickly. It’ll be 6 months before we experience light in full form. We are only half way there. But, we are at the moment of turning.

I have hope for the turning. I am of the belief that we are in a Great Turning, an epic moment in human history. We can see the last vestiges of a culture dying, an industrial growth society that’s reached the end of its effectiveness. Twelve thousand years ago, there was an agrarian revolution in which people domesticated animals and plants. They learned that hunting and gathering could be shifted if they planted their own food and raised animals near their homes. This shift lead to a massive alteration of human culture, allowing us to let go of nomadism and settle into homes and communities, thereby increasing life span and human culture.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century created a similarly definitive transformation. Things formally made by hand in the home were now made by machine in a factory. Human lives were never the same again. There’s a dramatic increase in population, tremendous growth of towns and cities, in education, transportation and massive immigration and exchange of cultures.

And we are, again, at a moment of turning. Earth can no longer sustain our appetite for consumption. The industrial growth economy that requires demonstrable growth in every calendar quarter, demands an incessant and unceasing stripping of natural resources from Earth. The transition we’re seeing is from an unsustainable economy to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world.

In the early stages of major transitions, the initial activity might seem to exist only at the fringes. Yet when their time comes, ideas and behaviors become contagious: the more people bear witness to their inspiring perspectives, the more these perspectives catch on. At a certain point, the balance tips and we reach critical mass. Viewpoints and practices that were once on the margins become the new mainstream. [Joanna Macy. Any of her books will describe this, and her web site is filled with these ideas. See: www.joannamacy.net.]
“In the story of the Great Turning, what’s catching on is commitment to act for the sake of life on Earth as well as the vision, courage, and solidarity to do so. Social and technical innovations converge, mobilizing people’s energy, attention, creativity, and determination…” [Joanna Macy, http://www.activehope.info/great-turning.html. 2016 Dec 16]
Major transitions usually start on the margins until they make their way into mainstream culture. We begin to see people organizing to move society toward a shared vision. Language that was used only by a select few is heard in everyday conversation. Average people begin to push for a new vision as norms shift and expectations for ideas that seemed far-fetched are becoming realized. Paul Hawken writes:
“I soon realized that my initial estimate of 100,000 organizations was off by at least a factor of ten, and I now believe there are over one – and maybe even two — million organizations working towards ecological sustainability and social justice.” [Blessed Unrest]
The culture we’ve grown used to is ending. We can no longer consume resources the way we’ve become accustomed. We can’t pretend that garbage disappears after a truck picks it up or that driving tens of thousands of miles a year has no discernible effect on our planetary systems. And as this reality moves from the fringes into mainstream awareness, many people, millions of people, are grasping at whatever they can reach to keep it alive. Slogans like Make America Great Again, reach backwards to a fictional past as a last gasp of a dying culture.

This is the path we follow. When the Industrial Revolution was taking hold in this nation, elections were rampant with anti-immigrant, racist rhetoric. In 1856, 75% of the House of Representatives was made up of what were called Nativists, people who today we’d call White Nationalists. In 1860, the Civil War broke out. Culture was transformed. There was massive change in the Industrial Revolution. Culture was altered permanently. People were terrified. They tried to hold on to a world they knew they were losing. And then, there was a Great Turning.

Earth is turning again. We are in the last days of darkness, the days when Loki is aiming his poison at the light, hoping to burn out the sun. Frigga can see what’s coming, and in her grief, she will birth the light once again.

I suspect, in this moment of Turning, we all have the potential to be Frigga and Loki and Baldur and Hodor. Identifying with Baldur is easy. He’s the bright light who falls victim to someone else’s misdeeds. Loki wants trouble. He doesn’t like the way things are going and wants them to stop. He wants the world to stop turning, for things to stop changing, so he lies and manipulates to get what he wants. Hodor isn’t paying enough attention to know what’s happening. He thinks Loki is teaching him something about spears and doesn’t realize the mistletoe is poison or that hitting his brother will have fatal consequences. He goes along with the plan, mindlessly. And then, there’s Frigga. She can see it all. She knows her son, the Sun, will be killed. She grieves his passing as any mother would. And then she uses all her power to transform that loss into a new birth. She creates life where there was death.

This is our call; this is our task. We are here to birth the light. We are here to bring the sun back, to birth the new world.

2016-12-19

The Fear Problem

Rev. Meredith Garmon

Gut often leads us in irrational directions. For example, people who are told a certain device will save 150 lives are not terribly impressed. Oddly, they are more impressed if they learn the device will save 98% of 150 lives. Why that’s almost all of them! For Gut, it feels like a nearly full cup. You could even say it saves 85% of 150 lives, and still get a more favorable reaction than if you say it saves 150 lives. See what Head is up against?

Suppose I tell you that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death of children. Is that good news? Oh, my god, that’s awful, says Gut. But wait a minute. That means every other cause of death is less. Terrorists, internet stalkers, crystal meth, school shootings, avian flu, genetically modified organisms, contaminated food, pesticides – sharks – all the other fears of our time: much, much less. Measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, polio, cholera, small pox – these things used to kill huge numbers of children, and now they've been reduced so much that motor vehicle accidents are left as the number one cause of death. That’s great news.

Try spending an afternoon in a Victorian cemetery, noticing how many gravestones have death-dates only a few years different from the birthdates. The defining feeling of our age ought to be gratitude, not fear. Yet it seems the less we have to fear, the more we fear. (Daniel Gardner, The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger, 293)

In the mid-1990s there were stories about silicone breast implants leading to connective-tissue disease. Out of about 100 million women, 1 percent had breast implants, and about 1 percent get connective-tissue disease, so by coincidence alone, that’s 10,000 women with both. The FDA said there was no evidence of a correlation between implants and disease. Activist groups were outraged. “We are the evidence,” became their slogan.

But if we put the many-more-thousands-of-women who had connective-tissue disease without breast implants together with the many-more-thousands-of-women who had breast implants without disease, they might have claimed that they were the evidence that implants prevented disease -- and there would have been a lot more of them. When the epidemiological surveys came in, they repeatedly confirmed that, while some women with breast implants were very ill, they were not more likely to be ill than women without the implants. But Gut pays attention to stories. It’s not so good with numbers and probabilities.

Advertisers know that fear sells products, from home security systems to pharmaceuticals. Newspapers know that stories about things to be scared of sell newspapers. Politicians know that fear scenarios get them elected. And as the media, and the advertisers and manufacturers and politicians compete with each other to get our attention, the fear appeals grow more and more urgent-sounding.

The cumulative effect is that we begin to feel like the world is coming to an end. Apocalypse is in the air – as evidenced by the growth and popularity of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies and novels.

So what are we to do? Aware that fear gets attention, that fear can dominate lives, and that fear also leads us to bad decisions, how do we let it go?

First, and foremost, notice. Notice when you’re scared. Gut is an important part of who you are. Gut is your friend. Embrace your intuitive side. But don't do what it says until you've checked it out with Head. Don’t let Gut masquerade as a rational or realistic assessment of risk.

When fear arises, say to yourself, “Ah, there’s fear." Notice where it shows up in your body: eyes opening wider, heart beating faster. Don’t tell the fear to go away. Don’t repress or suppress. Instead, attend to fear. Pay attention to it, listen to it.

Letting go of something isn't a matter of deciding to banish it. Whether it is anger, or resentment, or a grudge, or attachment to a relationship that just isn’t working anymore -- or fear -- you didn’t consciously decide for the feeling to arise, so you don’t get to decide it’s going away. What you can decide to do is see through your illusion of control. Let fear go, not in the sense of dismissing it, but actually in the sense of allowing fear to proceed. Let it go – that is, allow it to go on. You don’t have to do what it says, but give it a hearing.

If you saw the wonderful Pixar movie Inside Out, then you’ve seen how fear is like a little person inside. Just like a real person, if Fear feels listened to, then Fear will start calming down. It may take a while. Give it all the time it needs. It’s when we don’t acknowledge our fears that they just keep on in the background pulling our levers.

Moreover, the more we know the way that fear works, and the more we understand how the quirks of evolution made our brains this way, then the more we can recognize our built-in tendencies toward certain kinds of error and the better able we are step back from a Gut reaction when we see it arising.

Finally, Head and Gut are not the only players. What about Heart? What about Spirit? When fear arises, and you give it a fair hearing, you can then say, “OK, let me now hear from love, from that capacity within me to love my neighbor, love all beings. What does universal love have to say?” That’s the question to come back to, the question I leave you with: What does love have to say?

2016-12-16

December: Daily Standing up for Standing Rock

Rev. Karen Brammer, Standing Rock, part 12

Last night I sat in on a conference call sponsored by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) - the Standing Rock Solidarity Team. You will see a link below for resources to engage in or help organize an event for December.

Here are some of the things I noticed:

My resistance - I'm tired and think I need a break. SO I felt resistance before the conversation even began. As I listened I heard permission - no actually responsibility - to honestly assess for ourselves what we can contribute. I am not likely to be able or even inclined right at the moment to organize an even in December, but I want to keep my heart open. So I will pray every day for all that Standing Rock represents.

Accountability to native leadership - good questions were asked and appropriate information was provided to help folks know that the organizers are accountable to native leadership.  It may feel awkward or irritating to some, but it is so important to do.

Standing Rock is rippling throughout this country. Thank Goodnes, whether or not I am ready. One of the speakers said that the militarized treatment of Water Protectors has given the gift of letting the rest of the world know what native communities have been dealing with under the radar, all along. She also said that the movements building out from Standing Rock are a new tide of  extraordinary possibility. Possibility we have to respond to while it is here.

Spirituality is not a tactic or a strategy, said a woman who identified herself as registered with a tribe. "It is the way we live."  My reaction to her saying this, writing it down as important, tells me something. I do tell the story of Standing Rock, emphasizing again and again the power of constant and visible prayer there.  I witnessed that power as a phenomenon outside of my experience as a white Unitarian Universalist. I open my heart to learning from that. Stay tuned.

I am grateful for being able to share these thoughts, and for the thoughts you send back to me. And the prayers. Thank you.

Every day of December is designated as an action day to stand up for Standing Rock, and for the struggles of indigenous peoples' front line fight for environmental justice and sovereignty.

FROM Showing Up for Racial Justice - the Standing Rock Solidarity Team
Here is some information that was mentioned on the call last night that might be helpful for your planning.  We have coaches ready to support action planning so please get in touch!!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18rczqW3YhkctHX9dYX64A-v-VaxLd6ADLr93sSIE-tM/edit?usp=sharing
Thanks!
Z!

SURJ Midwest Organizer
SURJ Standing Rock Solidarity Team
608-358-9993

2016-12-11

Standing Rock evolves on every front


Rev. Karen Brammer, Standing Rock, part 11

I admit that I was a bit shaken when I heard the news.
The central sacred fire at Oceti Sakowin has been put out.
The purpose of that fire and the thousands of prayers brought to it, have been fulfilled.
The legacy of this camp has already begun its particular next path.
May I really can learn to grasp neither at what is good, nor at what is so hard.

If you don’t already, check in once in a while http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/

I just got a text today saying that the fire was relit last night by the youth council who have renamed it, “All Nations Camp”.

By now you have seen the multiple messages from camp leaders that no new arrivals to camp will be received. The focus to date has become winter well being and healing. See the video describing the upcoming Human Right Day, Dec 10 as Day of Healing and Prayer  http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/

Oceti Sakowin leaders are planning an orderly, gradual reduction of people at camp. Not a complete evacuation by any means. More than a thousand people will remain. However, getting folks on their way to assure safety in the winter is paramount. The Medic and Healer Council will also remain to tend to medical needs of those who remain https://medichealercouncil.com/

The UU congregation in Bismarck has strategized to help this movement of people out of the camp, especially when it is impacted by blizzard conditions. And they are ready. The direct assistance to camp is in no way over. Consider how you can support the Bismarck Mandan UU congregation to continue this long-term ministry. They still need help to pay for pellet stoves and the yurt (which may become the temporary home of whomever needs it most, including possibly, the Water Protector Legal Collective https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/11B5z8 . Please consider supporting the physical well being of those who stay in the Interfaith Yurt at camp https://www.generosity.com/faith-religion-fundraising/uu-presence-at-oceti-sakowin-yurt-fund

As you look through the Oceti Sakowin web site, you will see references to a variety of legal battles. Legal fights continue in local court and in higher courts for release of Red Fawn, justice for arrested Water Protectors, sovereignty, and more. There are ways in which the legal fronts may become even more critical fronts.

Journalist,  Mark Trahant writes about the “rule of law”, and its potential power; http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/why-the-rule-of-law-is-a-powerful-idea-for-standing-rock-20161129:
Then, the rule of law is such a funny phrase. One I have heard many times. It’s what was said in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho when Native Americans insisted that treaties gave them the right to fish for salmon. The states disagreed and used the power of government to arrest people. Many, many Native people. Until finally the courts said, wait, the rule of law has to include the Constitution and the powerful Article 6 that declares “treaties as the Supreme Law of the Land.”
In the end the states were wrong. One idea that came out of that litigation was that treaties had to be read as the tribal negotiators would have understood the words.
Imagine that. So the rule of law means that the tribal interpretation of treaty language is critical to understanding, and implementing, that sacred agreement.
People of conscience and faith, in all walks of life have reason to invest payer, advocacy, money and talent in the ongoing struggles of native communities around this country and in the world. 

Camp Oceti Sakowin and now Camp of All Nations give birth to a renewed focus, and perhaps a new international and intersectional (human rights and eco rights) wave of possibilities. This wave of possibilities, if we witness it with our hearts as well as intelligence, is another opportunity for those of us who belong to the dominant layers of humanity to expose ourselves to deep learning through native leadership, and life changing experiences of collaboration.

May it be so.