Thursday, June 26, 2014

URI Global Council 2014 - Day 4, later...

Wednesday, June 25 – Part 2, Dinner and a Show

Well, I thought the bus would be there any minute.  After posting the last report I looked at my phone, saw it was 6:00 pm (a half hour past dinner) and dashed over to dining area.  No one was in sight.  I was joined first by Luz, one of the translators (with whom I had worked when Tata was here last year), and then Fr. James Channon.  They had both stayed here due to not feeling well, but were doing better.

Finally, around 7:00, the bus arrived and very tired folks started straggling in.  I sat with Luz and Fr. Channon.  We were joined by Marianne and Bart.  Bart and I chatted about the CC he has with Morgana.  He knew about different Traditions of Wicca and asked if Morgana and I are in the same one.  As it turns out, we are – Gardnerians, but descending from different Priestesses of Gardner.  I asked if he had seen my article in the latest issue of Morgana’s online journal, the Wiccan Rede (which they pronounce “raid”).  (  He hadn’t read it yet, but knew about it as he and Morgana had talked at length about her own trips to Harran.

Both Bart and Marianne said that the Americans talk to fast to be understood.  I was surprised, since they both speak English very well.  We had an interesting conversation about the difference between “constitution”, “statutes”, and “bylaws”, and about words that do not easily translate from one language to another.

After dinner was the “URI Café”, with reports / performances from the Regional Leadership Teams from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAandC), South East Asia and the Pacific (SEAPac), and our own Multiregion.  I confess that I didn’t get to appreciate mist of what LAand C and SEAPac did as our Multiregion RLT was scrambling to get our act together… literally.  Unlike the geographically contained Regions, we have few chances for real conversations and so had little opportunity to prep a show, but it all came together at the last minute.

Meanwhile, LAandC and SEAPac were leading songs and dances, doing video presentations, telling jokes, and more that was making us fear more and more that we would look second rate.  A highlight for me was the last “act” before we went on…  Potre, one of the RCs for SEAPac, had done research on everyone’s given names and read off the results.  As most folks came from nominally Christian countries, most of the given names were Biblical or related and meant things like “Messenger of God” or “God is my strength” or “Purity” and things like that.  Three that stood out as non-Biblical were Alejandrino = “Defender of Men”, Donald = “World Leader” (that got a few “oohs” and “ahhs”), and Victor = “Victor”.

When it was our turn, Rachael, as Multiregion Regional Coordinator (RC), was our MC.  She got us all up on stage and introduced us to the crowd.  I went first.

“Even people in the URI sometimes have trouble explaining the concept of the Multiregion to others.  (For the record, it’s all CCs that have members in more than one Region, or have a focus that covers more than one Region (like “the Environment”), or who just want to be in the Multiregion.

Part of the problem has been our name.  Multiregion.  We’ve never liked it.  Our own members would ask, “Am I in the Multiregion Region?”  It was confusing.  The name that has always made the most sense to all of us is “Global”.  We are the Global Region.  But the word “Global” was already taken.  We didn’t want confusion with the Global Council, and the Global Support Staff, etc., so we’d try alternates:

Virtual Region?  That sounds like we don’t really exist.

Non-Geographic Region?  That sound like we’re nowhere, when in fact we are everywhere.

Cyber-Region?  We do tend to communicate electronically, but not all of our members have internet access.

So then we started dreaming big.  Instead of “Global Region”, how about “Planetary Region”?  Or why not “Galactic Region”?

And so we have plans t contact NASA to see if the crew of the International Space Station would be interested in becoming a Cooperation Circle.  And you can bet that we’ll be talking to the crew of the first Mars mission before they go.  If we can get the URI established on Mars, where would they fit in the URI?  In the Multiregion, of course!

So, in the spirit of “coopetition”, we look forward to the day when we have established the Perseus Cluster MCC – made up of several Planetary CCs – and can look back and wave at all the little Regions back on Earth.

Lest anyone doiubt the commitment of the Multiregion to pushing boundaries, we offer a short video clip.  The men you’ll see are in a Multiregion CC and are: Ali Bushnaq (Muslim / Palestine), Dudu Yifrah (Jewish / Israel), Sele Selamolela (Christian / South Africa), and Lance Trumball (Buddhist / USA) and our current webmaster.

(People were in tears.)  To find out what happened next, Lance would usually say, “Buy the DVD.”, but after a dramatic rescue effort, Sela was saved with only the loss of some fingers.

This demonstrates the commitment and vision of the Multiregion.  When humanity moves out into space, we’ll be there!”

This went over much better than I had expected.  People laughed at the right places, expressed awe and sadness at the video, and were enthusiastic about the Multiregion.

Rachael explained about the Multiregion and our 39 CCs – up by nine in just the last year, with another sitting in the audience waiting to be approved.  She did a wonderful stand-up-comic-esque routine telling how the Multiregion was often overlooked because our CCs are also in geographic Regions.  Mussie’s Golden Rule CC is associated with Africa, but it’s a Multiregion CC.  Our work at the UN is associated with North America, but the URI at the UN CC is a Multiregion CC.

Our work is also often invisible.  In the LA&C presentation, Alejandrino showed video of his work in the Andes, but the digital video camera and training in its use was provided by the Think Peace Communications CC, a Multiregion CC.  Alejandrino’s lessons in English – as well as those of former indigenous Trustees Rosalia Gutierrez and Raul Mamani – were provided by the Spirituality & the Earth CC, a Multiregion CC.

Rachael asked everyone in the room who was in a Multiregion CC to stand up, and it was about a third of the room!  It’s amazing how we can be so overlooked.  (Kind of like how Pagans can be the fourth largest religion in the US, and so overlooked and little understood.)

Audri told everyone about the upcoming Global Indigenous Initiative meeting and asked for everyone’s prayers.  Folks were stunned at the list of attendees.  Check it out at:

Vrajapati showed a video about the annual Science and Religion conferences his CC hosts in India, with hundreds of attendees, including India’s President.

The crowd loved our presentation.  We closed with gathering all the folks in the room who are in a Multiregion CC for a photo.  I’ll get a copy soon and post it.

A tired crowd staggered across the campus to our dorm.  I walked with Genivalda and Enoe.  Genivalda speaks Portuguese and some Spanish.  Enoe understands some Portuguese, speaks Spanish and English.  I understand some Spanish.  Between us, Genivalda was able to ask about getting involved in the Multiregion.  We talked about a CC joining a Multiregion MCC like the Earth Wisdom MCC vs. her joining a Multiregion CC, like Enoe’s and my Spirituality & the Earth CC.  All the latter takes is her asking Enoe and me and us saying “Yes.”  She will think about it.

Back in the dorm, I exited my shower and put on a galabia, only to discover two of my suite-mates Vrajapati (Hindu / India) and Patrick (Hindu / Germany) discussing their dietary restrictions and how well the university was accommodating them.  We were joined by our last suite-mate Sherif (Christian / Egypt) and got into a discussion about how one of my coveners discovered a test for the presence of pork in food down to the molecular level.  Eventually, the conversation turned to questions about Wicca and their desire that we had more time to lean about each other’s practices.  They had seen my travel altar – with a stone from Coventina’s well – and wanted to know more.  Sherif was especially interested in connections between Wicca and Islam.  I promised to send him my paper on the subject – the result of working with Muslims in interfaith for 29 years.  It now being midnight, we decided to continue the conversation tomorrow.

And so, to bed…

Blessed Be,
Don Frew

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