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Bring Many Names! Name Something in Our New Building

Your gifts to our UUA allow us to support our member congregations, create new programs and initiatives, and lift up our shared values on the national level. And now, you can be part of the UUA’s new building by making a donation to the UUA and naming a part of the new building after yourself, your congregation, or in honor of a UU who has made a difference in your life. You can even choose to honor an important moment in our UU history!

At the moment, you can dedicate a hymnal, a brick, a chapel chair, or one of the steps of our new staircase. There will be additional opportunities as the build-out begins. Become a part of history by adding a name today!

The UUA and 21st Century Technology at 24 Farnsworth

I’ve had many conversations with ministers, members of congregations, lay leaders, staff, and others about our upcoming move to Boston’s Innovation District. Some say it’s just a building. Why should we care? Some say the current buildings are our heritage, our roots. How could we possibly move?

The primary goal of your UUA staff is to serve you and our faith. A new facility opens a new world of possibilities we could only imagine before. Incorporating modern technology that has eluded us for years is now a priority and doable. For our day-to-day work, this is a must. For partnering with you for our future, there is simply no other alternative.

In this monthly update, Mark Steinwinter, the UUA’s director of information technology services, shares his thoughts on deepening our connections through improved technology.

In faith,

Rev. Peter Morales

UUA President

 

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Technology at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a means to three primary ends:

  • Make it easy and affordable for people to connect with each other.
  • Make resources available to congregations and constituents when and where they are needed.
  • Amplify staff capacity to better serve our congregations and our movement.

The move to 24 Farnsworth Street has inspired a fresh look at the technology used by our staff, gives us an opportunity to improve how we serve congregations and Unitarian Universalists everywhere.

Consider the phone system. Over 15 years old, it doesn’t fulfill the needs for mobility and flexibility that are hallmarks of a modern workplace. When a lay leader wants to call me with a technology question, they should be able to reach me whether I’m at my desk, elsewhere in the building, or at General Assembly. And if they have the right technology, we can have a video chat that will deepen our connection.

When visitors come to our new hub, they’ll want to access the Internet with their mobile devices using wifi. Today, they have to deal with spotty and unreliable coverage in our three buildings. That often interferes with their ability to connect and interrupts our IT support personnel. At 24 Farnsworth St., we’ll invest in an entirely new wireless network that will offer secure, red hot service everywhere, so visitors can expect to work online, usually with no involvement from the IT folks.

Today, the UUA webcasts weekly worship and “All Staff” meetings from the chapel, intended primarily for off-site staff. Our IT staff spends hours every month running the cobbled-together technology that makes the webcasts possible. The lighting and sound are often sketchy, but it’s better than nothing and we get by. But imagine a rich program of worship and presentations in our chapel, like an exciting workshop at GA or a TED talk. And imagine a seeker finding their way to us online and watching the live stream and tweeting to their friends what the “UUs are up to.”

These are a few of virtually unlimited possibilities that modern, affordable off-the-shelf technology makes available today. I pledge to oversee the upgrade of our telephone, audio/visual, wireless, and other technology systems with an eye toward bringing us into deeper engagement with one another and the world at large.

Sincerely,

Mark Steinwinter

Mark Steinwinter

Director of Information Technology Services

Join the Move Sunday

This fall, congregations across the country will celebrate Join the Move Sunday. This is a chance for us to celebrate our Unitarian Universalist community and to strengthen our connections.

If you haven’t already, I invite your congregation to sign up. Our official Join the Move Sunday is October 6, 2013, but you can hold this service any day that works for your congregation’s calendar.

Join the Move Sunday is about more than just the UUA’s new headquarters. Money raised by your congregation for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) will support our efforts to create more collaborative, efficient and effective space that will allow us to serve you better. And your gifts will also help create something crucial to who we are, what we do and why we matter. Together we will build the new Heritage and Vision Center, an innovative and cutting edge space dedicated both to our Unitarian Universalist history and to the future we are creating together.

See if your congregation is signed up by visiting our blog, or sign up by commenting on that page.

The Join the Move blog has resources for planning your worship service and information on how to hold a special collection in honor of the UUA, our new headquarters, and our bright future.

I am grateful for all you do to support Unitarian Universalism. Our movement has so much potential; together, we are doing great things! Thank you for making this commitment.

In faith,

Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

Imagining Our New Heritage and Vision Center

Our current headquarters at 25 Beacon Street is steeped in rich history and fond memories. We will take those memories with us to our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth, but we must do more than merely remember our past. We need to embrace our future by telling our story in new, dynamic, and engaging ways. That is why I am thrilled that the Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, Program and Strategy Officer of the UUA, is overseeing the development of our new Heritage and Vision Center at 24 Farnsworth. I have asked Terasa to share her reflections on this important project. And I can’t wait to welcome UUs from around the country — and the world — to the new Heritage and Vision Center.
In faith,
Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

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A Different Kind of Storytelling in Our New Home

It is our vision for 24 Farnsworth Street, the UUA’s new headquarters, that its design embody certain core values: sustainability, connectedness, inclusion, and hospitality. We are now beginning to discuss specific design elements for the new building, and I wanted to share with you some of the ideas for one small part of it: our lobby. In order to embody the radical hospitality at the center of our faith, the lobby will be accessible to everyone regardless of mobility. We envision a space from which we can reach out in love and support to a wider UU community.

Jean Carroon, our principal architect from Goody Clancy, describes it this way: “We envision for the first time that the UUA will have a large welcoming lobby that is just for the UUA, and separate from the building lobby. And within that large space there’s an opportunity for electronic displays that are very interactive, there’s an opportunity for more display of books and memorabilia, there’s an opportunity for different kinds of storytelling. The lobby also has the potential for groups to gather before they start tours, before they have events. We see that space and the space above, which is a stair that goes directly up to where the new chapel will be, as having a tremendous potential for receptions, for gatherings, for events that are part of the community of the UUA.”

The welcoming lobby is just the beginning! Many of our new spaces will provide opportunities to tell our story and engage with all of you in a deeper and more meaningful way. Jean Carroon will be guiding many of these design decisions, so I’d like to introduce her to you. In this brief video, she describes some of her thoughts on the new UUA headquarters. She’ll also be sharing more of her thoughts and ideas with you as we go through this transition. Welcome, Jean!

Jean and her team have begun to create design ideas and sample drawings for the new building. If you’d like to check them out, please visit our Join the Move blog! These are preliminary drawings only, and most likely will not reflect the finished product, but they are an introduction to some of the possibilities of our new home.

There are some very exciting conversations happening right now between our design team and the architects, and I will let you know as we learn more about the shape of our new space. Thank you for joining us on this journey.

In faith,
Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

Watch Move Highlights from President’s Report

Dear friend,

I just got back from another successful General Assembly in Louisville, KY. I am excited and energized by all the amazing work taking place in our congregations and our movement. As I shared in my report to General Assembly, we have accomplished so much together, but we all know that there is still so much work to be done.

As I begin my second-term as your Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, I want to share with you regular updates on the UUA’s journey to a new home at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston, MA. This move is an opportunity for us to embrace the dawning future of our faith in a space that will allow the UUA to serve you and your congregations even more effectively.

For my first message to you, please watch this short video from my report to General Assembly attendees containing new information about the UUA’s historic move.

Move video image

I look forward to sharing more updates and information with you in the coming weeks. I encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and fellow congregants. Thank you for joining the move and coming along on this journey with us.

In faith,

Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

Welcoming. Sustainable. Future-focused.

These are the three priorities we’ve set for the design of our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston’s Innovation District. We are working closely with Goody Clancy, our recently-selected architectural firm, to ensure the building’s design fulfills these requirements so that our headquarters can reflect the principles of Unitarian Universalism. Last week, the staff of the UUA were invited to participate in a design workshop to explore three themes: sustainability and green design; universal access and inclusive design; and, trends in 21st century workplace design and health. This was a chance for the architects to get to know us through conversations and brainstorming sessions as we work together to create a religious home for Unitarian Universalism.

We learned more about these three priorities from a selection of expert speakers. To answer the question “What is a workplace welcoming to all?,” we heard from Valerie Fletcher, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, a Boston-based international non-profit committed to expanding opportunities and enhancing experiences for people of all ages and abilities. Valerie spoke about the importance of accessibility and inclusion for both our staff and our visitors, and described some ways our design can play a role in creating a welcoming workplace. This concept of welcoming goes beyond legally required accessibility and includes everything from flexible workstations to acoustic and visual sensitivity.

To explain “What is a sustainable work place?,” we heard from Barbra Batshalom, Executive Director of the Sustainable Performance Institute, an organization that focuses on sustainability and green practices for workplaces. For the new headquarters, the architects are working to ensure that the building materials are as healthy as possible for our staff, volunteers, and visitors, for the environment, and for the workers who produce those materials. We also want to ensure that the building is as green as possible, which includes being flexible to deploy future green technologies.

Finally, Nancy Wellott, an innovation strategy consultant and founder of Habits and Habitats, answered “What is a workplace of the 21st century?” This is a difficult question to answer! The new headquarters will honor our past while looking to the future, ensuring that we have the best tools and most collaborative space possible to serve you and your congregations.

At the end of the session, we broke up into small groups to consider what we learned from the speakers and to think about the feelings produced by our current buildings on Beacon Hill and what we hope for from our new home. This was a fantastic opportunity for all of us to connect, to share our ideas for 24 Farnsworth, and to begin to focus on our three priorities. As principal architect Jean Carroon says, “I’ve never had a client give so much time, so much energy, so many ideas.… It’s really going to be great.”

Welcoming. Sustainable. Future-focused. What do these ideas mean to you? To share your thoughts and ideas, please add a comment to our blog!

In faith,

rob molla

Rob Molla
Director of Human Resources, UUA
New Headquarters Design Team Lead

Taking our memories with us

A post from UUA Executive Vice President Kathleen Montgomery.

I used to live in a lovely house in Atlanta.  Not very big, but incredibly charming.  Slate roof.  Old brick.  Acre lot.  Lots of trees and flowers.  We brought our sons home to it as newborns and they became teenagers there.  We all loved it.  Now, whenever any of us are near, we drive by and get sentimental.

The day came when it was time to move on.  That decision was hard and exciting and scary.  I never wish I still lived in that house in Atlanta but oh, the precious memories!

That’s how I feel about the UUA’s decision to sell our Beacon Hill buildings.  I dearly love 25 Beacon Street and rarely come into the building (as I have almost every day for thirty years) without reveling in the memories it contains and its stately elegance.  Almost every room in it is embedded with stories that remind me of the people who have been in them, ones I know and care about and others who were gone long before my time.  Lots of laughter, some tears, marriages in the chapel, endless meetings, important decisions, scheming and planning and watching change happen, watching the Association grow, build on the past, and become more clear about its mission.

Best memory: the era when the Massachusetts State House struggled with the issue of marriage equality and we hung huge signs facing the State House that said things like, “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right.”  The demonstrators and the politicians couldn’t miss them.

I love all the memories and get sentimental thinking about them (well, okay, I get sentimental pretty easily).  But you know what?  It’s time to move on.  That belief didn’t come easily or quickly to me but I grew into it with certainty.

We need a different kind of space that fits the time we find ourselves in.  We need to unburden ourselves of buildings that are about the past and not about the present and the future.  We need to acknowledge that bearing the enormous cost of bringing Beacon Hill buildings into the 20th century, forget the 21st , would be foolish.

So we’ll take our memories with us as we move on—no one and no building can take them away.  They’re ours.  They’ll always be ours.  Now it’s time to move to a new, fresh, innovative space and create new memories.

-Kay Montgomery
Executive Vice President
Unitarian Universalist Association

2901 Kay Montgomery