What We Read, What We Listened To in 2018

As we head into the end of 2018 -- for some of us, holiday and feasting and loved ones; and for others of us, work and loneliness and doubt; and for many of us, some of both -- we are sending love for the justice work we do every day and who we each are.

We’ll be sending out a look back and forward to celebrate and reflect and vision in early 2019. For now, we want to share some of the books and songs that have been getting us through - new things that blew our hearts and minds wide open and old ones that still shake us up in the best way.

What We’ve Been Reading (in no particular order):

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

  • The Leavers by Lisa Ko

  • Joyful Militancy by Carla Bergman and Nick Montgomery

  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

  • American Marriage by Tayari Jones

  • Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

  • The Line Becomes the River by Francisco Cantú

  • Unapologetic A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers

  • When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors

  • They Best They Could Do by Thi Bui

  • The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

  • Electric Arches by Eve Ewing

  • The Book of Curses by the Asian American Literary Review

  • No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality by Jordan Flaherty

  • Parables of the Talents by Octavia Butler

  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live by Brene Brown

  • Black Theology and Black Power by Rev. Dr. James Cone

  • Emergent Strategy Adrienne Maree Brown

What We’ve Been Listening To: Spotify Playlist

We offer each of you love and hope in your moments of grief and fear and on the journey yet to come. Our call to Side with Love is a holistic call to side with each other yesterday, today and the days to come as we become the Love we seek in this World!


We got this, with love,

Everette Thompson and Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen

P.S. Are you coming to Creating Change? We’d love connect with you there - let us know at!

Instructions for when your government betrays you (again)

Side With Love Campaign Senior Strategist Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen penned this piece over the weekend.

Instructions for when your government betrays you (again):

Remember that governments betray.

And many have gone before us who know how this goes.

Listen to them.

Remember that we can’t heal white supremacy or white Christian nationalism today or tomorrow.

But we can touch some healing, some justice, every day, every moment.

Raise money for a bond or a bail. Go with someone to court. Tell the truth about your family and how they migrated or were forced to or did not.

Remember that we answer to the laws of love and justice.

We work for our ancestors and our children’s children. There is no higher accountability.

Remember that everyone who found their power and freed themselves or their kindred also faced powerlessness, despair, overwhelm, teargas (or their century's version of it).

Remember that everyone who has ever defected from fascism or resigned from state violence or put their body on the line for family or opened their home has doubted, wrestled, given up, tried again and found a way to love through it.

Here are five ways to act

Join a call tonight at 8:00 PM EST to hear from folks on the border and to discern how to live our values now.

Welcoming our new Campaign Manager for Side with Love, Everette R. H. Thompson!

In this time, more than ever, we need visionary, humble, spirit-led teammates and leaders in the work. 

We are so so glad to welcome Everette R. H. Thompson as Campaign Manager for Side with Love.

Everette and Elijah

Everette and Elijah

Everette brings over 15 years of experience in community organizing, organizational development and movement building. He is a Southerner by birth and choice and has dedicated his career to strengthening organizational infrastructure in the South. He currently serves as a consultant specializing in intersectional movement strategy, faith organizing and grassroots leadership development. Everette has a wide array of experiences serving different types and forms of organizations. Most notably, Everette was the National Justice and Equity Coordinator for, an international climate change

organization, where he was charged with supporting the staff to integrate intentional justice and equity frameworks within the fabric of all operations and National Field Director for the Rights Working Group a national coalition of over 300 community-based groups and policy organizations dedicated to ending racial and bias profiling across the country.

His life’s work started during his time abolishing the death penalty in the South as the Regional Director of Amnesty International USA’s Southern Regional Office, based in Atlanta, GA and covered a region comprised of eleven states in the Southeastern U.S also known as the “death belt.” As Regional Director, Everette provided the overall strategic vision to meet AIUSA’s campaign goals in the South, traveled extensively throughout the South building strategic partnerships and coalitions and served as the lead spokesperson for AIUSA South. He is a Co-Trainer  with Black Organizers for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD) and lead organizer with the Interfaith Organizing Initiative a project of Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy His greatest joy is his sun/son Elijah whom he is most pleased! 

Everette Thompson (far left) with members of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Ohio Unitarian Universalists

Everette Thompson (far left) with members of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and Ohio Unitarian Universalists

Everette will begin with us on December 3rd so you’ll start to hear from him then! We’re so grateful for his depth of organizing experience, humor and endurance, and commitment to spirit. He was most recently in Ohio with many of our Unitarian Universalist folks leading powerful interfaith organizing in support of Issue 1 against mass incarceration and for addiction treatment. Welcome Everette and may all of our colleagues in the work, whoever they may be, also be blessed with the clarity, courage, and commitment for the work now and ahead. 

With gratitude and onward,
Elizabeth and Everette

P.S. Did you miss the post-election spiritual nourishment gathering? Tune in here to hear words of wisdom from Unitarian Universalists on the ground living their values and our President and blessings for the way forward. 

The Crisis of Our Borders

From the novel The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel:

“But the thing about loyalty,” he says, “is that it always has a cost. I’m here with you in your home eating this nice fish we bought together, but I can’t look at it without thinking of the money we spent on it, knowing that this is money that would have fed my family for one week. I can’t eat a meal without thinking of the food I’ve taken out of my children’s mouths. I can’t spend a dollar without calculating the pesos it would have put in my mother’s hands...I can’t start a new life when my life is still back there. I didn’t want to leave. Everybody thinkings everybody wants to leave - but who would want to leave their home, their family, everything they love? We leave because we have to….This is what family does. What love does. It chains us together.”


We talk about fighting for one another as family. About how for some of us transgender identity or the migrant caravan are "issues" or "news." For others of us it is the violent erasure or racist war on our family.

After the violent shootings in Pittsburgh and Kentucky, Maurice Mitchell and Dania Rajendra wrote “Solidarity is the idea that we don’t have to be the same to want the best for one another, that we can keep each other safe, we can share what we have, that we can find our way to consensus about how best to be in community together, better known as “democracy.” And that we will fight for it and for one another.”

Last Monday, a few of us in Boston interrupted hate with love. Rev. Darrell Hamilton, Rev. Natalie Malter, Rev. Will Green and transgender activist Mateo Cox entered a room of White Christian Nationalists where Jeff Sessions was speaking on religious liberty. Mateo unfurled a trans flag that read, “Not Erased.” Rev. Darrell and Rev. Will prayed Matthew 25 “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,” and Rev. Natalie documented it all. Rev. Will called on Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General under whose leadership the Department of Justice has attacked immigrants, transgender folks, Black activists, voting rights and more, to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that “when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.” 

What we do to each other, we do to spirit, god and the divine. 

What we do to each other, we do to ourselves. 

When we refuse to protect each other, we refuse universalism, we refuse love, we refuse our own dignity.

White supremacy and white Christian nationalism have said that there is a crisis at our border. 

We have no crisis at our border. Actually, families are migrating as so many families always have. Actually, people are being denied their legal right to seek asylum and safety. Actually, people are being taught to fear, to wound their kindred and, in the end, themselves.

We have no crisis at our border. 

But we do have a crisis of our borders. 

The crisis is believing there is a border between who is human and worthy of dignity and who is not. 

The crisis is believing that we who are trans, we who are immigrants, we who are Black, we who are indigenous, we who are disabled, we who are survivors, we who are Muslim, we who are Jewish are on the wrong side of that border. 

The crisis is that many of us are letting this border between who is beloved, and who is not, rule us in the form of laws, culture, practices and policies.

The crisis is that some don't understand that what we fail to do for others, we fail to do for ourselves and our divine. 

The crisis is whether we think we can survive if our sibling does not.

Hold your loved ones close. Celebrate all those who are fighting like hell for liberation and solidarity. Sing, cook, feast, rest, vote, organize, and build. As Charlene Carruthers writes, "Know that transforming society will take organized people and organized resources to sustain any given policy victory that is won before or after election day. Know that if the candidate we support wins, they will only be as strong as the organizational forces who are resourced, ready and committed to consistently showing up after election day. And finally, know that if we are not ready to win, then we must do all that we can to get ready."

We are in a crisis and we know the way out. Day by day, year by year, love will free us all. 

Be a wetland

Right on time Side with Love got to be with the good people of Minnesota celebrating the justice ministry of the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance at their annual fundraiser and co-hosting Grow Racial Justice, a healing retreat with MUUSJA and the People’s Movement Center

We retaught each other what we already know: 
Grow things and eat them
Cook for each other
Sit by the fire together
Disagree and tell the truth at the kitchen table
The systems of our bodies and the wider body of our earth have the wisdom we need

One of the practitioners from the People’s Movement Center said to us “We heal so we can struggle better, not feel better. We feel better when we all feel better.”

UUA Youth and Young Adult Ministry Associate Sara Green who led the gathering taught us a song taught to her by Deirdre Smith. We sang call and response: Do you heal? Yes I heal. We’ve got all our medicine right here. 

The morning that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to her truth and thousands more testified our truths to each other, to our families, to our own hearts, I heard the artists and organizer Ricardo Levins Morales say “Liberation struggles are about restoring power to people whose power has been taken away. Which is also a definition of trauma healing. Be a wetland. Detoxify what is upstream. Pass on liberation.”

Be a wetland. 

Let whatever touches you or your communities, come out with less harm, less harm, less harm. 

Adrienne Maree Brown says “We are not passive observers. We are survivors who have learned and are learning to alchemize our pain into futures that don’t hurt our children’s children. Our stories are our slingshots, and we are moving forward. And none of us move alone.”

There are a million things to do. Phonebank for our family with felonies who need the vote. Knock on doors for a ballot initiative that would get our people out of jail in Ohio. Open your home and heart to sponsor asylum seekersRage and disrupt today and next Friday and the next.

And it is enough of a struggle to love your own self. Do that. Eat food. Feed someone else. Sing. Scream. Sob. Do what is where you are. 

Pass on liberation. Alchemize new futures. 

Restore power that has been taken away. Be a wetland.