Jone Johnson Lewis, Leader & Liz Collier, Director of Community Outreach, at Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture
Immediately after the presidential election, we sensed the need for group support in our Society. We held an open support group on November 10th at the meeting house. People came and shared their reactions to the election and their feelings about the state of our country. In the following week, we heard from several Society members and people in the wider community that they felt “awakened” to the real situation of our country, no longer in a bubble full of like-minded people. They expressed a desire to help organize and work to protect human rights and civil liberties.
In response to this common “call to action” and the likelihood of consistent work that would need to be done to keep our Ethical Culture values alive in our country, we formed the Ethics in Action initiative. Since the beginning of December, we have hosted a weekly Ethics in Action program (Thursdays from 4:30-7pm), where anyone associated with the Society or the larger community can learn about issues needing attention and what actions can be taken, and also work on these projects together. During one of the first Ethics in Action programs, we created a large banner to carry in The Children’s March and Speak Out in Central Park. That particular march gave children the opportunity to share messages of peace, kindness, respect, and hope for our world. On Thursday, January 19, we used our time to make signs for the Women’s March on Washington and the sister march in New York City. A reporter from our local newspaper, The Riverdale Press, attended this event and interviewed us for an article about the values we believed were important to bring to the march. Most recently, we’ve signed on as a local affiliate group on www.Indivisibleguide.com. That has brought us some local interest, and we suspect our group will build some more momentum and organizing soon.
Another component of our Ethics in Action initiative is our weekly “Ethical Action Advisory” emails, which we send to our entire email list on Wednesdays. These emails contain actions to do that week to support ethical issues, upcoming events of interest, photos and descriptions from recent events, books and articles to read, and an inspirational quote.
Our in-person Ethics in Action program is growing slowly and steadily, and it is helping people to be less overwhelmed by all the work there is to do. Our programs provide much-needed support right now, and they remind us that we are in this together. We have also noticed that this program helps us live our values, and new people are noticing this as well. We already have had a few new people from the community take more interest in us because of our Ethics in Action program. Many people are looking for ways to stand up for human rights, civil liberties, the environment, and our democracy. We are fortunate to be able to provide a safe, supportive space and community to do so.