UGC resolution . . . from 1874

Funny what you’ll find when you look. A couple of weeks ago, I was reading old Universalist General Convention minutes, available at Google Books. The proceedings of the 1874 convention, in New York City, were particularly interesting.

The sixty-seven delegates served a different role than our General Assembly delegates today. For one thing, the General Convention created State Conventions, which handled many of the routine fellowship matters centralized in Boston today. Commercial publishing houses and what we might call independent affiliates took care of many of the program pieces. There were no workshops or celebrations apart from morning and evening worship and a Convention sermon. (Deceased ministers and significant laypersons were remembered by resolution.) This left the General Convention with committee work, report auditing and meta-responsibilities, like domestic and international mission work (including building funds) and establishing fellowship in areas not covered by a State Convention, like my own Washington, D.C. (Not so much because it is the Federal City but because it didn’t have enough churches — indeed, it has only ever had one Universalist church — to qualify for Convention status. I don’t think Maryland or Virginia did either.)

But past these differences, some business verities remain. The delegates considered fund raising, defining fellowship with churches, making policy decisions, budgeting and support for multi-cultural ministries (funding a transferring Lutheran minister to establish Universalist parishes in German ethnic communities).

Much of the decision making was hashed out in a committee created by the Convention to create subcommittees to consider the Board of Trustees report and other overtures. The membership — the Rev. A. A. Miner, Mrs. Eliza W. Bailey, Rev. E. H. Chapin, E. W. Crowell, M. R. M. Wallace, Rev. D. C. Tomlinson and the Rev. B. F. Bowles — included some Universalist heavyweights.

They introduced an omnibus resolution which included remarkable non-discrimination planks. Women’s history buffs should particularly note these:

  • That it be the established polity of this Convention to exclude no person from its Board of Trustees, from any office or from any general committee now existing, or that it may create, on account of sex; and that it be its established policy to encourage the existence of no organization composed exclusively or men or women.
  • That to make possible the acceptance of the forgoing invitation, we recommend to State Conventions the election of Delegates to this Convention, without reference to sex, but with reference alone to fitness.

The reasoning? I suspect it has to do with the leadership women made with fundraising through the congregation-based Missionary Box program. (Indeed, later in the same meeting, a Committee of Five was established to superintend the program, with a majority of three positions reserved for women.) The same resolution encouraged support of the program, and “gratefully recogniz[ed] the good service” of the Woman’s Centenary Association and that the “proved capacity of women” to raise fund should lead the convention not only to include women in fund raising but “awaken[ing] a religious interest.”

And, with some bumps, that’s what happened.

There’s an old lesson there, and excuse me for bringing this to date. Power flows from showing up and producing, especially money needed to keep the staff paid and the lights on. Alas, the youth and young adult resolution passed this General Assembly makes demands on principle which sound a bit too much like an ultimatum — give us what we want or we’ll leave; yet, so many already leave — and, which all too often don’t hold up in practice. (The lesson of age, perhaps?) As I said before, if the youth and youth adults raised money — as indeed their predecessor organizations did — perhaps the attrition problem would take care of itself.

What's the tone at GA this year?

All I have to get a sense of General Assembly this year is the official media, official news and bloggers. Yet I get a sense — unqualified and unquantified — that something is missing. Perhaps paler or less enriched would be more descriptive. Or at least less frantic.

So instead of speculating, I’ll ask. For those on the ground, how is GA this year?

And are there any online communities that are doing a good job capturing the sense of the event. IRC? Is anyone other than Dan Harper Twittering it?

Got the GA media feed to work in Linux

Still not thrilled with using a proprietary media format, but first things first. I got it to work. With wifi no less. (And you get to see what my desktop looks like.)

Thursday morning worship at GA, as seen on my machine

Now, how did I do it? Not entirely sure.

I am using VLC — the Swiss Army knife of media players; available for all the operating systems people really use — with the vcl-mozilla-plugin in place of my otherwise fave MPlayer (wth mozilla-plugin for the Firefox browser). There’s a codec (media decoder) plugin I got somewhere, but where? I’ll note it below when I find it.

Back to Fort Lauderdale. Oh, and while I’ve never liked that chalice, I do like the vortex. More vortex!

Watching GA from a Linux machine (and open formats)

(Please read to the end; I have something to ask you.)

UU Mom was looking to watch tonight’s opening session of the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (UUA GA) online, but it is only available in a proprietary Windows format. She noted:

It would be nice if they’d use an Open Source program. We missed part of the banner parade due to a streaming problem & we didn’t see our banner (if it is there). We’re now watching it with the audio & visual out of sync.

I took a post-work and by the time I roused myself, got to the computer, checked GA, and tried to both feed myself and make a work-around to see the stream on my computer, it was over. (I’ll try again tomorrow and put up as comprehensive a set of directions as I can.)

But her point about the proprietary format isn’t avoided. It seems strange that there’s only one way to see this media and that we have to go through a single company’s technology to use it. And there’s a good free and open source option.

As it happens, I spoke to an advocate in this field a few weeks ago — I run in a fun crowd at work, but too recently for this GA — and to the technology lead at the UUA. We have a meeting penciled in for July.

I hope to make an airtight case why the UUA ought to have plural streams and why one should be in a free and open-source format. Until then, if you’re interested in seeing this, leave me a note in the comments.

Reducing plastic: Banners at General Assembly

I’ve been thinking about how to reduce my plastic use, if for no other reason than it doesn’t biodegrade in a lifetime. (Crumbling isn’t the same.)

Because the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly is coming up, I have to wonder again about the Banner Parade — a major feature of the opening plenary session — and the poles made of PVC pipe that banner carriers use in the parade.

Because they’re cheap but unwieldy, I’ve been guilty of bringing a pole set and discarding it almost immediately, which is a waste. But PVC isn’t a great product, and besides the pole sets dip and yaw unless they’re glued (like plumbing) ahead of time.

I wrote about it two years ago, but have neither the need to come up with a solution — but thanks to Dan Harper for chiming in — or the engineering chops to makes something, I let it go. Does anyone have an idea now, if not for this GA then next? (And do I recall a suggestion that the banner parade might go “virtual”? Not a good idea, methinks.)

As for the banners themselves, I have an opinion there, too. Mainly that the best ones are graphic and easy to read from a distance. Past, but still useful, posts here and here.

Later. Oh, this is post #2400.