FES Bridges the Generation Gap with the Ethical Society of the Triangle
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
For the first time since Future of Ethical Societies (FES) began [in 2004], we held our conference far from a metropolis. Some of us were a bit apprehensive about having the conference in North Carolina. Rural living has a whole host of challenges that cities can avoid, but in the end we pulled it off and had a great, energetic conference.
We awoke early that hot Saturday and headed to Haw River to begin our annual service project. The service project is one of the key events in the conference every year and this year our task was to clean up the trash that had accumulated along the river banks. We arrived with reflective vests, trash bags, and gloves and a few hours later we had the back of a car packed with the smell of river decay. The fun had only begun. While cleaning the river, we had spotted the perfect swimming spot where we returned to cool down and rinse off after lunch and discussions.
2012 FES Conference participants and their findings
Later that day, we got our first experience of the Ethical Society of the Triangle at a potluck hosted by one of its members. We also hosted a potluck lunch for Society members on Sunday before the Platform. These pre-platform gatherings with Society members were another unprecedented part of this conference and they too turned out to be a success. With a bit of an age divide between the Society members and FES members, it was great to get acquainted before the platform meeting.
A number of FES members showed off their talents at the Sunday Platform. Anya Overman performed The Last Trip Down From Hannibal by Trebor Tichenor on an electronic keyboard, Alicia Best recited an original poem, and Emily Newman presented opening and closing words from Felix Adler's early speeches (reminding us that Adler was only 25 when he founded Ethical Culture).
I gave a speech about, and led a group discussion on, the theme of community. In this discussion, we talked not only about the role that Ethical Culture plays in fostering a community for those involved, but also how we as individuals have plugged into various communities or even started new ones throughout our lives. It was fascinating to hear FES members discuss their newly formed communities in college or in their first years after graduation while Society members shared stories about their more established communities. People also had stories that broke this age dichotomy where new Society members had just recently joined Ethical Culture and FES members shared ways in which they remained rooted in certain lifelong communities. It was interesting to explore where these stories intersect and diverge.
Towards the end of the platform, Alicia and one of the Society members harmonized a song together. Typically, FES platforms revolve around the theme of age division and collaboration. Taking on the theme of community was intended to take us in a different direction, but as it turns out, this song's ability to portray the beauty of suspending age divisions between us shows that perhaps the theme of intergenerational collaboration is unavoidable at these conferences.For more photos from FES conferences visit the FES photo gallery.