FES Takes Over Brooklyn
Xena Brooks and Tyler Lurie-Spicer
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
The 8th annual Future of Ethical Societies (FES) Conference was held in Brooklyn, New York on Memorial Day weekend, 2011. Throughout the weekend over twenty young people, ages 18–28, from across the country came together to connect and share their common values.
As FES folks trickled into the New York Loft Hostel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the new and old members got acquainted. We ordered a few real New York pizzas and picked bunk beds. Once people were fed and there was a nice crowd, we started playing games and learning just how much can be communicated without words or even gestures.
The next morning, we got dressed in our farming attire and headed off to the Hearts and Hands Farm. Barbara welcomed us and described the history of the one-acre farm. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables in the neighborhood had been a very difficult task before the farm was created. Now there are weekly farmers markets! Although the work (weeding, spreading wood chips, and collecting garbage) was tiring, it was also rewarding and enjoyable because of the good company. When we left, the farm looked noticeably neater and the street was much cleaner.
Back at the hostel, we enjoyed a wonderful homemade feast and discussed as a group how Ethical Culture fits into our lives. We learned we each have such different connections to the Movement, but we all are dedicated. At the café next door we enjoyed a local Jazz trio over drinks and vegan muffins. We later went to bed and woke up ready for the pinnacle of the weekend at the Brooklyn Ethical Society.
There, we led our annual platform with some new faces at the podium. Among them was one of our youngest members, Xena Brooks (Brooklyn), who presided while another new member, Jean Rohe (Brooklyn), gave a fantastic speech about the future of the Ethical Movement. One of FES’ founding members, Alex Romano (St. Louis), also gave a comprehensive history of FES. Part of the platform was a showing of FES’ artistic talent: Otis Cotton (Brooklyn) and Lauren Piper (WES) both sang beautifully and Alicia Best (North Carolina) read an original poem (printed below). As the day at the Brooklyn Society continued on past lunch, we led a large group discussion in the Garden. Sharing ideas between regions of the country and generations, we had a terrific talk about what it means to be an Ethical Culturist and how the Movement can serve all people who are a part of it.
After the discussion and a brief FES business meeting, we headed to Manhattan to explore the Lower East Side and Canal Street. We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, where we ate pizza in the park by the water and sang along with a guitar. The next day was farewell with one last go-around at the hostel before people headed home.
Congratulations to the new 2011-2012 FES officers: Internal Communications Officer – Daniel Leichtling (WES); Membership Outreach Officers – Xena Brooks (Brooklyn) and Emi Suzuki (Northern Westchester); AEU Liaisons – Tyler Lurie-Spicer (Brooklyn) and Emily Newman (Brooklyn/New York); and Webmaster – Colin Saint Vil (Brooklyn).
Special thanks to the 2011 Conference planners, Jessica Blumberg and Jean Rohe. Additional support was provided by L Miller, former National Youth Advisor Susan Buzek, the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, and the 2011 FES Steering Committee.
The location of next year’s FES Conference will be chosen in the coming months. FES will continue to work in the Ethical Movement by presenting a workshop at the AEU Assembly, giving platforms, and coming together throughout the year for informal get-togethers and long-range planning activities.
Visit us online at www.ethicalfuture.org
or on Facebook under the group name “FES”.GrowWritten and Performed by Alicia Best
I grew, not in a row like some kids did
Like honeysuckle and chickweed do
Climbing up trees and taking over buildings
A graying man walked through the garden
Of my life
And told me of Once Upon A Time
Told me of "I used to do that too"
And showed me how he saw the world
Through weathered hands
Through "I was raised Catholic, but it didn't stick"
I am growing still
Small children delight in butterflies and ants marching along
I know I used to be one of them
I know I still am
And I love to hold them
And how they put their hands in the dirt and then hug me
And how they point to the sky seeing birds and airplanes
Helicopters were always the best
A little dirt won't kill you
In fact often times a LOTTA dirt? Is going to be just fine
Under your finger nails, hand prints on your blouse, beneath your toes
As mud pie, perhaps
See, we're all uprooted these days
Crafting our roots into wings and back down again
I've come a long way just to find myself right. Back. Here.
I was born in Manhattan
All I remember about Brooklyn was my love affair...with the telephone
The umbrella stand
Strange to say, but I am sort of
The daughter of a preacher man?
He used to sing to us before bed
About my cousin Arthur McBride
And monkeys and gee-raffs too
And now he talks about this
These things we all have
This Felix guy...
And I like to imagine you know
See, I grew up wild in North Carolina
The ground begging for rain
not in a row like some children did
Like those tiny strawberries at the edge of the woods
But even wild
I couldn't have done it alone