Unitarian Universalists coming to Minneapolis for the UUA General Assembly in June can help build a house or revitalize a downtown neighborhood. Two service projects—one the week before GA, the other concurrent with GA—will give UUs hands-on ways to help the local community hosting the annual convention of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
The General Assembly Service Project this year will assist Hope Community, a nonprofit neighborhood and affordable housing association that is revitalizing a Minneapolis neighborhood. Hope Community will receive the proceeds from a collection taken during the Sunday morning worship service at GA, but Unitarian Universalists can also donate their labor.
The opportunity to do this kind of direct-service work at GA is something new. “Usually our focus is just on raising money for a local endeavor,” said Beth McGregor, General Assembly Planning Committee chair. “But this year we’re adding opportunities to go and work at the site. We’re excited about creating the possibility for hands-on involvement and interaction.”
Hope Community is renovating the six-square-block Phillips neighborhood by developing affordable housing, supporting local businesses, and building community, especially among teens and young adults. The money that will be raised by the collection on Sunday morning will go into a reserve fund that can be used for home maintenance and improvements. “Affordable housing is often strapped by not having reserves,” said Marcia Cartwright, real estate manager for Hope Community. “When you’re renting at affordable rates, you don’t always have the resources to do things like repair the roof.”
GA participants will be able to sign up ahead of time for work slots at Hope Community. The site is approximately eight blocks away from the convention center where GA will be held June 23–27, 2010.
The week before GA, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will host a special JustWorks camp to construct a house with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. The UUSC’s JustWorks camps bring people together to do hands-on work while learning about the causes of social inequality.
“We’re trying to get a group of about 20 participants” for the Minneapolis house-building camp, said Myrna Greenfield, UUSC director of outreach and mobilization. She said that she hoped this project would attract an intergenerational group. “This is such a good opportunity for congregations, individuals, and families.”
Participants in the camp, June 13–19, will be housed in dormitories at the University of Minnesota.
- Hope Community. Minneapolis nonprofit working to restore the Phillips neighborhood through the development of affordable housing and the building of community.
- UUA General Assembly 2010. UUA’s annual convention, to be held this year June 23-27 in Minneapolis, Minn. (UUA.org)
- 2010 General Assembly Service Project. Description of Hope Community, which does affordable housing and community development work in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. (UUA.org)
- In Minneapolis, a Block Transformed. New York Times story about Hope Community, this year’s GA Service Project. (nytimes.com, 12.16.07)
- UUSC JustWorks Camps. Sponsored by the UU Service Committee. (UUSC.org)
- Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. The UUSC JustWorks camp in Minneapolis will work with Habitat for Humanity. (tchabitat.org)