From Rittenhouse Square to Love Park: Philly Moving Forward
Elizabeth Lightbourn and Kate Esposito
Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia
Lazy summer? Not at the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia (EHSOP). On Sunday mornings our building on Rittenhouse Square was bursting with a creative mix of programs designed to inspire and to promote thoughtful dialogue. These included two mornings of music (one with a talented flutist, the other with well chosen protest songs), two original plays (one starring members, and both followed by thoughtful discussions of the ethical issues raised), two book discussions (on Bill McKibben's Eaarth and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow), as well as a mindfulness colloquy led by Leader Hugh Taft-Morales.
We also had a stellar summer with Camp Linden, where we have worked since 1930 to provide a summer camp experience for underprivileged inner city children to experience and learn about the natural world. The camp was led by Society members Leonard Weeks and Sharon Wallis, who have zealously (and successfully) obtained grants for the camp, designed new programs, and hired staff. About 210 children from North Philadelphia were introduced to an innovative education program on the culture and history of first Native Americans in the Delaware Valley by Shelly DePaul, Director of Education for the Lenape Nation.
Under the leadership of Kate Esposito, Ethical Action Chair, many members participated in a variety of ethical actions ranging from marching in the Philly Pride Parade in June, to participating in the Workers Stand For America Rally, to hosting Occupy groups, to volunteering in a Voter registration drive combating the Voter ID law in PA, as well as continuing actions against the death penalty in PA especially in regard to death row inmate Terence Williams whose October 3rd scheduled execution has been stayed indefinitely, and in support of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia. We will continue throughout the winter with feeding homeless men at a local shelter; in January we will identify and volunteer for a local Martin Luther King Day Service Day Project; and in February we will have our annual "dictionary project," personally donating dictionaries to a local school's entire fourth grade class (even teaching a dictionary lesson before we leave).Above photo: Kate Esposito proudly waves the message, "Marriage is a
Pursuit of Happiness," above the EHSOP banner in support of gay marriage in front of the Society before joining
the Philly Gay Pride March on June 10. L-R Ron Coburn, Betsy Lightbourn,
Kate Esposito, John McCormick, and Harry Thorn.
As a sustaining member of Peace Day Philly 2012, the EHSOP took on a prominent role in the United Nations International Peace Day September 21 event. At the stroke of noon in Philadelphia's iconic Love Park, Leader Hugh delivered the Moment of Silence as well as a few inspirational words. He also greeted some of the speakers including Sonia Sanchez, Philadelphia's first poet laureate. For the second year running, the Society participated in a rousing Sing-along in Rittenhouse Square led by Leader Hugh on his guitar. Following the Sing-along, we hosted other Peace Day Philly participates in a program called "Nurturing Peace from the Inside Out," with guided meditation, music, and dance to offer peace within ourselves, our communities, and the world.
Above photos: Leader Hugh Taft-Morales
with Mayor Nutter and in Philadelphia's famed Love Park where he
delivered the Moment of Silence along with a few inspirational words at
United Nations International Peace Day celebration.
This fall, in recognition of the Constitution's 225th anniversary year and the forthcoming election, the EHSOP will offer two series of public explorations that examine the US constitution as it relates to important social and political issues of today. The Constitution at Work examines particular current social debates through the lens of the Constitution, related legal rulings and ethical considerations in a series of conversations between Leader Hugh and his guest, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor, Kermit "Kim" Roosevelt. Democracy on Trial, offered in collaboration with the Benjamin Franklin Free Thinking Society, is an experiment in democratic dialogue through forums or debates about the issues addressed in The Constitution at Work.
In describing the purpose of the program, Hugh Taft-Morales said, 'Through Ethics on the Square programs on the Constitution we hope to raise the level of public discourse, away from sound bites and mudslinging, through encouraging constructive debate and dialogue, a process that reflects some important values of Ethical Humanism – citizenship, responsibility, reason, compassion, and trust.'