During the holiday season, I take time out to consciously ponder what I am thankful for. Of course I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my education, my opportunities, and my “stuff.” I’m not wealthy, but I live a relatively privileged life. With all of the privilege that I have, I have little room to complain about anything.  But like most people, I do occasionally slip up and whine about things that many people wish they could lament.

For example, I sometimes catch myself complaining about being tired and hungry at the same time. Then I feel silly after remembering that those are two of the best possible complaints to have. In fact, those complaints are so good that they shouldn't be complained about at all. When I’m hungry, I can eat; there’s food in my refrigerator waiting to be devoured. When I’m tired, I have the option to sleep at some point in the near future.  How many people are hungry, but have no means to obtain food?  How many people are tired, but cannot sleep until they finish their 16 hour shifts? If someone in such an unfortunate situation sleeps, their families starve.

I've noticed that people complain about things that most people in the world wish they could grumble about. Many college students gripe about their homework, but most don’t spend enough time appreciating the fact that they have the opportunity to get an education. I am intensely critical of the government, but sometimes I forget how thankful I am that I have the freedom to voice my opinions.

As the semester concludes and the holiday season gears up, try to make a conscientious effort to balance your complaints with the brighter side of each situation. If you think of everything in relative terms, then you’ll realize just how lucky you are to actually be complaining about whatever is upsetting you. Taking time out to appreciate what you have is a gateway to happiness.  

Definition of Spirituality

Spirituality- understanding and experiencing ourselves in relation to something larger than ourselves, of which we are a part, on which we depend, and which consequently we are called to serve

This is Reverend Evan Young's definition of spirituality.  How does that compare with your personal definition of spirituality?  How does it affect your feelings about your spirituality?

To Serve the Spirit

"Faith is silly," a friend of mine put on his Facebook profile where it asks for "religious views." I don't agree, but I think I know what he meant.
               "Faith" is an interesting word, one of those we use like we think we know what it means, when in fact it means different things depending on who's using it. This semantic fluidity makes conversation about faith--and the kind of interfaith work UCM is pioneering--challenging, and occasionally frustrating. We know what we're trying to say, but something (sometimes everything) is lost in the translation between what I'm trying to say and what you're predisposed to hear.
               I took the word to our Interfaith Impact student group the other night, to see what they would make of it. At Interfaith Impact we try to speak from our own experience, and I had a feeling we all had a range of experiences of the word "faith." So I asked people to think of a time when they were having a conversation with friends and one of their friends used the word "faith." I asked them to talk about how they responded, and to characterize their response as either "eww" (as in "icky") or "ooohh" (as in "how interesting!"). And we placed brief descriptions of their responses into corresponding columns.
               I was hoping we'd get several items in each column--and we did. I was afraid we'd have many more in the "eww" column than in the "ooohh" column, and that was actually not the case--the two were about even. And I was hoping that by sharing our stories we might learn something important about our interfaith work. I think we did--and I hope you let me know if you think so too.
               What we saw was that the "eww" responses had something in common, and so did the "ooohh" responses. All of the "eww" responses involved the responder feeling like the person who used "faith" was doing so to draw a line between the two of them, and to put the responder on the wrong side of that line. For instance: "It's a matter of faith--you either believe it or you don't," with the clear implication that believing it is right and not believing it is wrong. And all of the "ooohh" responses were to "faith" used to describe an experience about which the speaker was trying to tell a story, and the responder feeling invited to identify with the speaker's experience in some way.
               One of the "big ideas" that shape Interfaith Impact is "Faith builds bridges not walls." And I think one important thing we learned is that it can build both, but we aspire to use it to build bridges. Another important thing we learned is that the bridge-building kind of faith is inspiring, compelling, and powerful to us--it has power to shape our lives. Even if, sometimes, we're a little shy about using the word. 

Villanelle for Humanity

Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew,
We eat, we sleep, we believe.  
Human me, Human you.

Shaman, Catholic, Pagan, Hindu,
We think, we weep, we grieve.
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew.

Atheist, Agnostic, Unitarian, Vodou,
We breathe, we proceed, we leave.
Human me, human you.  

Taoist, Wiccan, Bahá'í, no clue,
We need, we feed, we receive.
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew.

No god, one god, three gods, two,
We lead, we bleed, we achieve.
Human me, human you.

Hate hath no place on this earth blue;
Difference is simply what we perceive.
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew,
Human me, human you.

*A villanelle is a highly structured poem with 19 lines.
On Walking for Peace on 9/11 ~ Rev. Evan Young

These are the words with which UCM Campus Minister, Rev. Evan Young, started the 9/11 Interfaith Peace Walk on and around the campus of Ohio University.

Eleven years ago terrorists commandeered four commercial airliners and used them to perpetrate attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the days, weeks, months, and years since that event, we have often been encouraged to think of and to try to understand those events through the lens of religious difference.

The events of September 11, 2001 were by no means the first acts of violence to be perceived and explained in terms of religion; neither have they been the last. Since that day, especially, it has been dangerous to look “different” here–turban-wearing Sikhs have been attacked by people afraid of Muslims; Arabic-looking people have been harassed and detained, their rights and freedoms abridged, because they seemed to resemble some class to which the attackers were thought to belong. Just this summer we heard with shock and dismay about the shootings at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; closer to home, we heard about the South Bloomingville Christian Church, whose building was destroyed by arson. The idea of people responding to religious difference by committing violence against the persons and property of the different has, I fear, become the dominant narrative in the public discourse about religion.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As a community, we have imagined together another story–a story of people living out their faith, enacting their principles, embodying what they value in each other and in the great “us” to which we all belong by rising together, lifting their hands, raising their voices, and moving their feet in the service of another vision. We envision something better together. We see an Ohio University, an Athens, indeed a worldwide human community in which the great range of our ways of believing, worshiping, and engaging with others is seen not as a threat to be feared or a problem to be solved, but as a precious resource to be treasured and shared and an abundance of gifts to be celebrated.

So I hope you put on your praying shoes. Because today we’re going to take that vision throughout Athens, from door to door on campus and among the houses of worship closest to campus. We’re going to be better together by walking together, by expressing together our hope for peace and our commitment to doing the work of peace in our town and in our world. We know we don’t have to think alike, or believe alike, or worship alike to love alike–and so we’ll walk. And I believe that along our route, today and in the days to come, we’ll find others who will join us because they share our vision of an earth made fair, and all her people one.

Better Together at Ohio University Awarded National Best Campus Impact Award

Ohio University’s Better Together campaign recently received the Best Campus Impact award in the nationwide 2012 Better Together initiative, which took place on more than 100 college campuses during the 2011-12 academic year. Better Together is a project of the Interfaith Youth Core with the goal of empowering college students of all and no faith traditions to identify and voice their values, engage with others in conversation about their values, and act together to improve the world.

Better Together at OU received this award specifically for their partnership work with the residence halls at Ohio University, involving interfaith in-service trainings and workshops and fundraising challenges for Charity: Water. This recognition comes with $500 to contribute to the fundraising challenge.

Better Together Campaign Organizer, Rachel Hyden, reflects on the campaign’s accomplishments. “This year we’ve done so many amazing things, including leading the September 11 interfaith peace walk, cleaning watersheds, educating students on the world water crisis, feeding the hungry, and overall just working to build an interfaith student community.”

The Better Together campaign was supported by United Campus Ministry and is a partner in the Ohio University Interfaith Service Campus Challenge initiative with the Office of Diversity, Access and Equity, Residential Housing, and University College with a focus on the environment and domestic poverty. Highlights of the year-long campaign include a 9-11 Interfaith Peace Walk, watershed clean-ups, food drives and service at Thursday Supper and Saturday Lunch, interfaith in-service trainings to Residential Housing staff, and raising over $3,000 for Charity: Water.

"Ohio University can be very proud of the fact that our students are being recognized nationally as leaders in the interfaith movement, which seeks to build bridges among people of all and no faith traditions through shared experiences of service to the community. We look forward to continuing this campaign in the 2012-13 academic year," Melissa Wales, advisor to Better Together at OU and Executive Director of United Campus Ministry.

For more information or to learn how you can participate, contact Melissa Wales at or 740-593-7301.

Interfaith Spring Eggs

This week's blog post comes from Better Together Committee Member Anne McGlamery, who joined me (Shea) for a springtime adventure around OU's campus in Athens, Ohio.

Once upon a time two bunnies left UCM to give out interfaith eggs to the Ohio University community. Ok so it was actually Shea and I, but we had on bunny ears so it counts. This past weekend is what most people would call “Easter Weekend,” but it is highly unfair to give it that title. This time of year represents many different celebrations from the Jewish celebration of Passover to the Hindu Festival of Colors and so many others. It was because of this great time of celebrations that members of UCM decided to celebrate by giving out interfaith eggs with candy and one of thirteen Golden Rule quotes.

As with any great journey, we began at UCM and made our way down Court Street, which is a lot like our Main Street, where we were able to give our eggs to so many different kinds of people from students to professors to Athenians and even a parking patroller! This just goes to show how many different kinds of people make up this community and how those differences really bring us together as a diverse community. It also goes to show how two woman can walk down the road with bunny ears on and no one even bats and eyelash!

It was through this that we ecided to also go around to the different offices/departments to show our thanks for their support and to brighten their days. We began with the Women and Gender Studies building and then moved onto Baker Student Union where we gave eggs to possible students who were touring. Probably the most exciting part was going to the Art Gallery and being given BIG PINK BALLONS!!!!We were so excited and carried them around with us for the rest of the day, and once we got those we continued on. We visited such people as the Multicultural center,The Post Office (where we waited in line to give an egg to the Post Master), The Post (where we saw and gave an egg to Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi!), the English and Classical Civilizations offices, the LGBT Center, and The Woman’s Center. We visited these places to show some interfaith love to our friends of UCM and also to show some support for a few of the many offices on campus that supply support to OU students.

Nearing the end of our adventure we decided to make a special visit to 29 Park Place to visit President McDavis and the First Lady at home.  At OU the President of the university and his family live on campus, and we wanted to take advantage of this to share the interfaith love! We went up and knocked on their door and were greeted my First Lady McDavis who accepted two green eggs for herself and the president and thanked us. Ok so let me insert here that yes it was kind of crazy to go knock on their door and we kind of thought they may not answer, but they did!!! We finished our journey back at UCM by giving out eggs to the people at “home” who we also wanted to share the interfaith love and show our thanks for all that they do to support us.

Peace out,


If God Had A Name, What Would It Be?

Hi again!  Shea here. *Waving.*

There's other posts coming but this week you're stuck with me. And because you're stuck with me you're stuck with my current thought process.

I have been thinking about the universe, and about the divine, a whole lot this week. 

When I was a young teenager Joan of Arcadia was my favorite television show.  I was captivated by the idea that God could be anywhere, at any time, and present as anybody. I was never concerned by God's willingness to present as different sexes, social classes, genders, ability levels, religious backgrounds, and dressed in different clothing styles.  Of course God would do this.  Of course S/he would present as an innocent, book-savvy girl.  A goth teenage boy.  A scowl-y old lady.  This made perfect sense to me.

I'm a decade older now.  I have learned many things in these ten years, but one of the most startling was that some folks believe God would not, under any circumstances, present as a teenage goth boy, a book-savvy girl, and a scowl-y old lady, especially not in one day, because these folks believe (or, I am under the impression they believe) God is a conservtive man.

This is a valid belief system.  I am not saying this is not a valid belief system. I am saying it shocked me.  I am saying that when I learned this, I began thinking what I had before called God could not be called this because my God, S/he was all of these thing and atleast 10,000,000 more.  I began wondering the word for what I believe, and wondering how to serinade the devine.  How to ode the creator the mountainsides, exploded and non-exploded.  I wondered how to ode the God of giggling children and lost socks and burnt soup and the corner behind my bed where I inevitably find all of my lost pony tail holders. The God that sent me so many people to love, so many people to love me.

Joan Osborne asks a question I have been asking the Universe a lot lately.  If God had a name, what would it be?

Sometimes I feel God like I feel the light, like I feel the beauty, like I feel the poetry.  There are days when I feel that the earth is based in goodness, that people are based in goodness, that despite my flaws and shortcomings even I am based in goodness.  On these days I write poems. I write poems on Microsoft Word and napkins and on the palm of my hand and in my Black Writing Notebook. On these days I pick flowers to wear in my hair and I tell people that what is coming is better than what has come before, because I believe this to be true the way I believe chocolate makes even flunked tests better or that hugs could bring world peace.  Most days are like this, but some are not.  Sometimes I do not feel the light.  Sometimes I know God is there because I believe in the steady and unchanging, but sometimes what I feel is not light but that I am too young to have the answers my peers want when they call me at 1AM.  Sometimes I feel like my heart is not big enough pr wizened enough to understand how so many people can feel so much fear and pain. 

The light, it comes and it goes, but this Being I believe in, S/he stays the same, and when I look up I know I am saying thank-you to the sky and the Sky Creator and I do not hesitate to burn sage and step inside churches and string prayer beads and tell Holy Stories that perhaps are not really mine.  Every day, every time I walk, I imagine my feet saying thank you for this somewhat-splintered but still-sacred ground because every single day I know a Holy Being needs thanked.

If God had a name, what would it be? I do not know. But I know I want to continue looking this world in the face and seeing Him or Her, even means I have to reconcile this belief with a world that is not always beautiful, or even perfect.

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Joan Osborne's One of Us. The series Joan of Arcadia is mostly on YouTube, if you'd like to check it out between homework assignments or shifts as work.

Interfaith Community Gardening

Happy Spring Quarter everyone! This quarter we'll have posts from UCM interns and Ohio University students alike. This week intern Sam Fersky and her beautiful views on community gardening.
Every time I think I know Athens through to the core, like an old friend, Athens surprises me with gifts of beauty and joy.  This quarter Shea and I decided that we were going to plant a garden in order to stretch the summer food supply.  After doing some research, it seemed that taking advantage of the Athens Community Gardens would make the most sense for Thursday Supper.  I had no idea the community gardens would be a scene of bliss that would send me spiraling into a state of utter happiness.  All the gardeners working side by side, in harmony; so many different kinds of people, including students, low income members of the community, and student groups like Thursday Supper.                                           
It has long been a dream of mine that all people have access to healthy food regardless of how much money they make in a year.  Eating vegetables is not a privilege, it is a right.  It is a fact; everyday children in America go to school hungry.  Before we diagnose a child as having ADHD from now on we should ask them if they ate breakfast in the morning.  Rhetorical question:  do you find it difficult to learn when you haven’t eaten breakfast or even dinner the night before?  I do.  Sometimes, it seems like we are more willing to give our children pharmaceuticals than a healthy meal.  Unfortunately food insecurity is a reality for many children and adults in Athens County.  Food insecurity is a serious issue and there are some people and organizations in the community trying to do more than put a band aid on the problem. I have never been prouder to say that I live in Athens than now.  It seems that every day I learn about a local organization that I have never heard of tackling issues dealing with poverty.  The sheer fact that someone can lease a plot of land for one year, for $25.00 to grow as much healthy, organic food as they can fit on the land is simply amazing to me.
The point I am trying to make is that poverty exists, and not just in developing countries.  It is right down the road, it has a face.  It might be the woman at the bus stop, the child walking home from school, or the man you see in the library every day.  Hunger looks like you, and it looks like me, and it’s real.  Athens is my ray of sunshine; it gives me hope for the future that maybe one day, no children will have to go to school hungry ever again.    

Worthiness (Community)

This week's post is by Free Meal's Intern and Better Together Committee Member Shea Daniels
I believe community is perpetuated when the worthiness of individual members is perpetuated. So often in spaces that are not the free meals program, I encounter humans disvaluing other humans and it makes me sad. I encounter humans saying mean things. I encounter poets asking engineers to write poems and engineers asking poets to build rocket ships. OK.  Not really. But I do encounter a lot of people who haven’t taken the time to see the gifts and talents of the folks around them, and end up frustrated because the folks around them aren’t meeting some pre-set list of expectations. It’s a matter of worthiness, folks, but it’s also a matter of humanity. Some people are great listeners, some people are great organizers, some people will reliably volunteer to eat the last piece of cake.  These are all fabulous skills, worthwhile skills, and skills that, once accessed, impact the entire community in real and positive ways. People thrive when their skills are recognized and accessed.

I also believe in greeting people warmly. I believe in hugging. I believe in waving. I believe in eye contact.  I believe in high fives and I believe in grinning when someone walks in the door. Did I mention that I believe in hugging? Fellow humans, everyone everywhere needs to know that their presence is appreciated. That they are valued, that they are missed. Communities thrive when members know their presence matters. 

Communities like ours thrive because of our members.  We’re radically inclusive. Everyone, literally everyone, is welcome. We’re not big on judgment and we’re not comfortable assigning social worth based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, native language, religion, or ability levels.  Our basement is a bit Real-World Exempt and, alas, the Basement Economy is also a bit Real-World Exempt. Because you see, loyal reader, here in UCM’s cellar we don’t really believe in a physical economy, even though we know it exists and we know it is useful. Here in the basement we run on a Spiritual Economy. On a non-tangible economy.

Here in the basement we work not only to provide warm, yummy, nutritious food, but also to create a sense of community. We believe people need food as much as they need community, maybe moreso, and we believe community comes when everyone who walks through our doors is treated as a person of value. As a person of worth.

Washing Chairs and Waiting

This week's post is from Better Together Committee Member and Free Meals Intern, Shea Daniels.

As Free Meals Interns Samantha, Michael and myself learned the economy was tanking long before any news broadcast told us. We have gone from feeding 50 on Thursdays this time last year, to 80+ each Thursday currently.  On Saturdays we serve about thirty. Times are tough. Donations aren’t going up. We aren’t like the fancy free meals programs who have the luxury of planning ahead; we run as close to 100% donations as possible. We walk in, see what food has showed up, and within three hours have compiled a meal from whatever is available. 

We believe there will always be food. Sometimes, on foodless days when it’s quiet, you can find me sitting patiently in the basement where our kitchen is located. If you were to ask "what are you doing Shea?" I would tell you, “I am waiting for the food.”  I sit and wait and sit and wait and sometimes, when the waiting stretches long, I turn on music and wash chairs to pass my time. I wash chairs and I wait for food.

It always comes. Someone always walks in with a box or a bag and in that box or bag will be cabbage or carrots or rice or corn. We wait for the food that is going to arrive, and always in the nick of time, it arrives
Here in UCM’s kitchen we believe in the loaves in the fishes. "What is that," you ask?  Well, dear reader, the fishes and the loaves is a Christian story.  Jesus, in his attempt to feed the masses, doesn’t have enough food. In fact he has far from enough food. I’ve heard this called the miracle of the multitude or the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.  This miracle fed 5000.

None of us in the kitchen particularly identify as Christian. I identify as something closer to Christian but not necessarily as Christian. Michael was raised in the Eastern Orthodox church and is a wanna-be Buddhist. Samantha was raised Jewish.  But we all believe in the fishes and the loaves.  Because we’re pretty sure that when you want to feed people, the food will always come. In fact, on quiet foodless days, you can find me listening to music, washing chairs, and waiting. 

Profiles in Radical Hospitality

This week's post is by Michael Lupsa, one of our free meals interns and a member of OU's Better Together Steering Committee.  

I could not have even imagined the magnitude of change and growth that I would encounter whence I embarked on the wonderful journey that is my college career. I was nothing more than a lost child. In that mindset, where I lacked vast amounts of self-worth and was experiencing serious ugly-duckling syndrome, I could not help but feel that I was solely going to college just so I could survive it. I could never have anticipated that I would one day take my college experience and use it to make a serious difference.

It began with people believing in me. Once upon a time I was a freshman, cruising through my first year of college on auto-pilot and completing only the bare minimum of what was expected of me. Then, one day somebody said, “Hey, you should apply to the Global Leadership Center…you would be perfect for it.” A rather prestigious program, I was humbled by that person’s observation and desire to support me. The next thing I knew, I was accepted. Then, spring quarter rolled around, and somebody else said, “Hey, you should be president of CIAO!” A group vote later and I was suddenly president of the student organization. It wasn’t long until my sophomore year rolled along, and the expectations came along with it. I was suddenly entrusted with making sure that a student organization runs smoothly and grows, and such intensive academic work that even graduate students were surprised at the projects I was working on. Pursuing my passion for languages, I was also simultaneously taking Arabic and Italian, both subjects in which the instructors gave me countless accolades and support. The academic and developmental explosion that was my sophomore year landed me in Vietnam that winter break for the GLC’s International Collaborative Consulting Project and in Jordan the following summer on a Critical Language Scholarship. Suddenly, I returned to Ohio University my junior year, high expectations from everybody around me and having the power to actually make a difference. I used my previous experiences to be a more effective leader as the second-year president of CIAO, and grow the organization. I became an RA, where I got to apply much of my communications experience and make a difference in my residents’ lives. I sought out a leadership role in the Arabic department, now exemplified by my presidency of ALSA (the Arabic Student Language Association). What I initially did not seek out though, was my involvement with Better Together and UCM. However, it just so turns out that it might be one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

It began with my friend Rue, the Better Together campus organizer from last year, who would invite me to her events and try to prompt my involvement with the organization. Ice Cream for Life was entertaining, but the real catch was a spring awareness event about water insecurity; a prelude to the first Monday Creek Stream Cleanup. I was very moved by their presentation, and desired to get more involved with the organization. The stream cleanup itself sealed the deal, as I had so much fun, and did so by also doing something positive for the environment. The months following would seal the deal regarding my involvement with Better Together, and its accommodating organization, UCM.
I can almost remember the day in GLC class when Rue and Melissa, another member of the Better Together campaign, were attempting to talk me into joining the campaign. We were discussing how much I enjoyed working at the stream clean-up, and I was even considering volunteering at the Thursday Suppers and Saturday Lunches. I however considered myself to be too busy at the time, and as much as I liked it, I kept convincing myself that I just simply did not have the time. As the summer drew nearer, however, it became apparent that I would spend the season in Athens, and thus I was granted more time to get involved.

Laziness set in as summer classes and living a healthy lifestyle were some of my only priorities this summer, but with the added incentive of gaining some community service hours, I attended my first Thursday Supper. I can even remember my first time awkwardly entering the basement, wondering what I needed to do, and meeting the wonderful Shea Daniels for the first time. Shannon Stewart, on the other hand, I have known for quite a while. Working alongside these ladies had become one of the most pleasurable experiences imaginable, and the fact that I love cooking did not help the situation when I no longer had the need for community service hours. Before I knew it, I began treating UCM meals as if they were a necessary part of my life, even though I had no requirement to participate in them. They gave me such purpose, and the relationships that I established were so positive. Ultimately, I went from being a volunteer to feeling like I was an integral part of the UCM community. Then, one day as we were being introduced to a new intern I was tempted to ask, “What do you have to do to be an intern?” At which I received the response, “Well…exactly what you’re doing.” This was the moment! “Then I can be an intern?!” I exclaimed. “Sure!” I can somewhat almost picture Melissa’s, the executive director of UCM, response, and in a somewhat jokingly manner she did the hand-motions as if she was swearing me into the organization with a magic wand. Let me tell you…..this memory will stay burned into my mind for a long time! I was very happy.

Living My Beliefs

This week's post is from Rachel Hyden, OU's Better Together campus organizer.
There is not a single thing in my life that is not affected by my core set of beliefs. Every action, every thought, every word I speak is connected to my morals and my ethics, which I define as my religion. For some, religion is considered just one aspect of who they are, as if it were simply a title like “student” or “activist”. But for me, my beliefs define the person I am, because I live what I believe.

So what are these beliefs that so fiercely drive my every move? As cliché as this sounds, I believe in the power of co-existence, or inter-being. Not only co-existence between humans, but of all things, sentient or not. I believe in the value of non-harming, and that we should make it our utmost priority to ensure no being suffers. I believe in truth, love, and above all, equality.

As an environmental activist, these beliefs fuel my fire in protecting this planet. To exist we depend on all things for life. The water we drink, the air we breathe, the soil to plant our crops. If we continue to exploit the earth as we have for so long, we will lose our access to these vital components that make our existence possible. Therefore, we must exist in harmony with all things, because our survival depends on the survival of everything else.

My belief in non-harming goes beyond the harming of just “beings”. We should protect all things from harm; trees, water, animals, and of course humans.  When we harm our planet and all things on it, we harm ourselves. We degrade our waterways, our air, our soil, and our quality of life, and in turn, we suffer. We must protect our planet if we want to protect ourselves.
The value of truth plays a major role in my activism. I work tirelessly on environmental issues to unveil the truth to the public. If major corporations are going to devastate the earth for financial gain, the public deserves to know. My love for this earth and all things is what keeps my chin up when the going gets tough. There are times when I want to give up, when I truly believe the battle is lost. But it is always the love for the beautiful things this world has to offer that mends my many wounds.

But despite the mending, I am still scarred from the injustices I see in my work—the deliberate taking of private land for oil and gas extraction; the stealing of public waters to taint with chemicals to fracture shale; the poisoning of our drinking water; the deforestation and destruction of ecosystems; the greed of those at the top, and the exploitation of those at the bottom. These injustices must be stopped.

We are all equal. Without one, the other can’t exist.

Welcome to Winter Quarter at Ohio University!

Hi again!  *Waving.*  Shea here.  

This quarter our Better Together blog is going to feature profiles of volunteers, as well as continued blog posts by myself and other White House Challenge organizer Rachel Hyden.  Other folks, such as Michael Lupsa, a member of OU’s Better Together Steering Committee and one of our free meals program coordinators, will be writing about their experiences with interfaith work. 

From workshops and raising enough money to build a well in Africa to an interfaith valentine’s dance, from a day of poverty awareness to our free meals continuing to feed 100ish people a week, we’re busy here in Athens Ohio promoting interfaith cooperation.  But to mark the start of OU’s Winter Quarter and the flurry of Better Together activity, I thought a prayer might be appropriate.  So I’ll leave you with this indigenous prayer for interfaith harmony

See you next week!



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True Path Walkers

To bring back the natural harmony that humans once enjoyed.
To save the planet from present practices of destruction.
To find and re-employ real truth.
To promote true balance between both genders.
To share and be less materialistic.
To become rid of prejudice.
To learn to be related.

To be kind to animals and take no more than we need.
To play with one's children and love each equally and fairly.
To be brave and courageous, enough so,
to take a stand and make a commitment.
To understand what Generations Unborn really means.
To accept the Great Mystery
in order to end foolish argument over religion.