November 20, 2016

Dear Members and Friends of the Brooklyn Society:

We find ourselves in front of a computer trying to write a letter to our members and friends while feeling challenged, because words can seem so insignificant at this time. We write this today, following our Wampanoag Platform where we were able to cherish the ritual as it was gifted by an indigenous leader over 27 years ago and shared by Remi Gay. We gathered to give deepened attention to our thanks and our giving, in dance, in ritual and in song.

“Ethical Culture Grace”

For the fruits of field and forest, farm and garden, river and ocean;

For our people who give their lives to rearing and cultivating our food and to transporting it on the highways and waterways of the earth;

For shelter and for raiment;  

For comradeship in work;

For fellowship in leisure, and for healthy recreation;

For the beauty of nature and art;

And for all the blessings of democracy and freedom;

We lift up our thankful hearts.

Now more than ever we need community engagement. While we each move in the world in a wide range of ways, we carry with us common values and care for community that strengthens our collective capacity to show up for good. Remembering Eddie Ellis, (who visited our society four years ago, before his passing), there are three elements required to build for and achieve sustainable change: personal transformation, community engagement and institutional accountability. (That platform can be found here.  Eddie Ellis at BSEC 2012 )

The practice of acting and living ethically is in the details of how we do it. Recent BSEC collective acts include: organizing to divest from fossil fuels, supporting Black Lives Matter with a celebration, banner and statement to declare it, convening community conversations until we agree to a concept for accessibility and an approach to how we will pay for it, helping our eldest, Annemarie Mogil to resettle in her new home following displacement, gardening along permaculture principles and marching in support of the native peoples at Standing Rock who are protecting the water in North Dakota from the oil pipeline. This is what living and acting ethically looks like.

We come to BSEC for both ourselves and others; to have a place where we can purposefully act, learn and connect. By example, sharing milestones is more than a personal sharing as it serves to build community and weave our own web of connection, while we also act outside and beyond our walls.

The Sunday after the presidential election we had a full house. The need for and the power of community sang proud as we collectively pledged to stand for justice and solidarity. The results of this election have thrown us off balance, but it challenges us to fully live our values. We see how fear, hatred and anger are being communicated loud and clear. It makes our message of sustaining a community based on the opposite of those things— love, compassion and care— all the more needed. Our community serves as a vehicle and a source of connection as we move through these times. “Sunday at 11:00” means we have a place to be, and a community from which to act. Through our own committees and any other work you may do in your life, we gather and know we are part of something much larger than ourselves, connecting and enhancing our practice.

We want to acknowledge a recent shift in leadership taken on by several members. Vandra Thorburn is back on the board after many years active at the committee level. And Muriel Tillinghast has taken the position of Committee Chair for the Ethical Action Committee.  Each time a member or friend steps up to give service and demonstrate responsibility and leadership, we all benefit.  Keep in mind, next June we will have three open slots on the board!

Our Winter Member Meeting is now planned for Sunday, January 29th after platform. We hope you will save the date and come as we practice our democracy, exchange information and discuss issues that concern us from the three different levels of engagement.  All are welcome, members and friends. If you are considering membership, please speak to a board member, Jone or Taty and we will welcome you and help you find ways to contribute to our society.

We want to thank all of you for making our work as President and Vice President of the Society a true labor of love. We are glad to have you in our orbit at BSEC.

In peace and solidarity,

Rebecca Lurie, Board President
Janice Novet, Board Vice-President