Sunday, April 4, 2010

Anne Fox Personal Blog

Annie Fox
Moishe Blog 4/5/10

Working with the Lucy Stone Coop

A few months ago, members of the Moishe/Kavod House discovered we're not alone, a group called the Lucy Stone Coop reached out to us, telling us they are trying to start a Unitarian Universalist version of our house. Now their model is actually a little different, they will be a community of 10-20 residents that puts on several programs a month for the larger community, and they will not be explicity geared towards young adults. That said, however, their planning committee is exclusively made up of folks under 30, and their goal is to focus on being a community center that function as an alternative to the traditional UU Church structure, much like Moishe/Kavod House, which functions as an alternative Jewish community space for young Jews who cannot find what they need through the traditional shul structure.

Working with Lucy Stone has a been an exciting opportunity to realize just how important our project is. The leaders of Lucy Stone are vibrant, inteligent, charismatic, and strategic. Yet they often look to us for inspiration when it comes to programming, how to structure the community, and how to balance the desire for community, faith space, and a sustained commitment to social justice.

Working with Lucy Stone has lent itself to exciting opportunities for interfaith programming. We had several community members lead their training in community leadership, have held joint-movie screenings about the history of cooperatives and led conversations about how that history is relevant to our work, attended one another's parties, and attended one anoters' worships. Because Lucy Stone is Unitarian Universalist, it lends itself to a level of diversity we lack, and a litrgey of songs and traditions that are not in pervue. We teach them Hebrew songs, and they teach us UU songs.

On the other hand, co-sponsoring events with Lucy Stone leaves us with the challenge of keeping our community explicitly Jewish. We have always been clear that we are not a space for Jews, more so, we are a Jewish space for anyone who wants to participate in Jewish community. However, we have to be carefull when we work with Lucy Stone to make sure we can incorporate the ways in which the activity relates to our Jewish heritage in a way that is both inclusive to non-Jews and new and meaningful for the active JEws in the room. This is a challenge but we always seem to make it work.

Perahps the most exciting part of working with Lucy Stone has been all the other communities that have reached out to us because of our relationship with them. The leaders of Lucy Stone have been very intentional to reach out to several cooperative faith-based communities, although our partnership is probably their strongest. Because of their conversations with leaders in other communities, we have gotten phone calls for Episcopalian, Methodist, Bhuddist, Quaker, and Congregationalist communities interested in learning more about what we do and how we do it. It has been an exciting opportunity to reach out to other communities and realize how many people there are trying to create alternatives to the congregation model.

The challenge, of course, if figuring out how we can help one another. Other than Lucy Stoners, we have not been able to build an ongoing relationship with other communities, we just seem to be to busy at home. How much we choose to prioritize this will be an ongoing conversation.

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