SouthWest UU Women

Past Conferences

Workshops 2018

Sincere thanks to all of the workshop presenters for volunteering to share their time and knowledge.

Workshops will be filled in the order in which registrations are received. 

Workshop Selections

Saturday Morning Workshops, Session AM 1: 10:30 am

AM 1 A - "Living in Community: Lessons from Africa" - Catherine Onyemelukwe

In her twenty four years in Nigeria, Catherine learned to appreciate the strong sense of community that pervades the society. She has brought that consciousness of community to her life in The Unitarian Church in Westport. It helps propel her commitment to social and racial justice and to our second principle "justice, equity, and compassion in human relations," and the sixth "the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all." She will describe how the sense of community and caring is developed in Nigerian society. Then she will explore whether this same sentiment toward community could help the U.S. and our own congregations confront persistent racism. 

AM 1 B - "Dance Yourself - Lighting Your Own Flame!" - Ana Coutinho

For this workshop, the acceptance of one another will be the center, and what this means for our community life. We will work on this with music from all over the Americas, the diversity of our neighborhood. Using body awareness techniques and the fine arts, we connect as a group and find inspiration and creativity. I was raised in Brazil, and we have a special connection with drums and rhythms. The drums have this power to connect ourselves with our hearts and souls, and the various rhythms light up different parts within ourselves. The rhythms facilitate our connection with what we are and help us to open our emotions, igniting a profound compassion and love for others. This experience brings a deep sense of belonging and unity.

AM 1 C -  CANCELLED "Fairy Tales, Glass Slippers & Big Foot Women" - Sylvia Dickey Smith CANCELLED

Everyone, well, most everyone, loves fairy tales and fables. However, modern interpretation, or shall I say misinterpretation of these ancient stories miss the mark (and often don't do women any favors, either!). Instead, we have been taught the misplaced value of youth and beauty, the powerlessness of aging, and the inherent power of "marrying up! (but not "speaking up)." In this interactive workshop, we collect the scattered bones of our sacred stories, right the misconceptions of prior teachings and reconnect with the latent power within us. In doing so, we discover we are the flint, the spark and the flame within our world. This workshop will include elements of the other two tracks by way of learning how women can use their voice to aid and support others, and by the active element of rewriting a story, a situation or issue in their life. I will weave our UU spiritual values into my presentation through the guidance of reason, and the importance of the sacred circle of life: how we can find our voice and yet honor the voice of others. How we speak truth to power and at the same time, respect the truth of others. This presentation is all about creating healthy relationships through dialog and understanding. It is also aimed at women finding the power of their own voice and their own stories and to learn how to retell their stories in a constructive, life-affirming manner.

AM 1 D -  "Making Your Voice Heard: Effective Advocacy at the Capitol" - Rep. Donna Howard

Join Rep. Donna Howard for a workshop on how to move your agenda forward at the Texas State Capitol. She'll discuss the importance of meeting with your lawmakers (and their staff), when and where those conversations should take place, and how to make the most of the discussion. She'll also provide tips on how to testify before a legislative committee.

AM 1 E - "Spiritual Journaling: Lighting the Journey to your Spirit" - Marcia Wickes

Participants will learn how to begin and keep a spiritual journal which will be a tool to guide them in their spiritual and creative journeys. The UU ideals of spiritual growth and enlightenment will be incorporated into the design of the journals. We will also talk about using artistic journaling as a way to enrich spiritual journaling.


Saturday Early Afternoon Workshops, Session PM 1: 1:30 pm

PM 1 A - "Sing Your Spark" - Kiya Heartwood

Singing songs old and new. From the street and from the hymnal. No experience necessary. Just bring your voice and you spark. Led by singer songwriter Kiya Heartwood.

PM 1 B - "Kindle the Flame of Justice" - Carrie Stewart

Using the lessons of community organizing, participants will learn how to form/participate in local chapters of UU Allies for Racial Equity and/or Showimg Up for Racial Justice. Our UU faith calls us to work for justice and equity. As an overwhelmingly White denomination, how can UUs actively dismantle systems of oppression and build beloved community? Learn grounding, skills and courage to act to bring ourselves, others, and our values to fullness in our communities and the world.

PM 1 C - "Let's Talk about Sanctuary When it Comes to Immigrants" - Peggy Morton and Sulma Franco

UU congregations around the country have stepped up to fight unjust laws that deport the brightest and most vulnerable around us. Learn what the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin has done to spark a movement locally, which has stopped three deportations and grown a network of 28 multi-faith and secular groups called the Austin Sanctuary Network. Immigrants show courage as they entrust their lives to congregations when they go public about their personal stories and take sanctuary 24-7. Then, we citizens learn to work in solidarity running a campaign to move Immigration Customs Enforcement to use its prosecutorial discretion to stop deportations and we kindle a flame as humans doing justice. Immigrants go public courageously telling their personal stories and teaching us lessons only available by stepping into the fire. Any congregation can get involved in this work whether they have space to house someone or not and/or by building a team of volunteers who accompany immigrants to court hearings by using our gifts of the divine and desire for a better world. Guatemalan immigrant Sulma Franco, who took Sanctuary at FUUCA, now has a U.S. resident card and works as an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, one of the non-profit groups who is an active member of ASN. She will join FUUCA member & retired teacher Peggy Morton, who is the Secretary/Treasurer of ASN, to tell us about both their work and how others can get involved no matter where you live.

PM 1 D - "Dialogues for Social Change" - Susan Wildin

Introduction to using Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to communicate across barriers of belief. After description of the elements needed, participants will be coached through a role play of a difficult dialogue using the elements.

PM 1 E - "Writing Your UU Life" - Marilyn Mehr

This workshop will show how we as UU's can discover the principles and values that have guided our lives, such as "Justice, Equity and Compassion," or "Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning," or "The Right of Conscience." Through our writing, we will examine how these principles shaped our decisions in choice of vocation, partners and friends. By selecting critical choice points in our lives, we will not only realize how UU principles guided us, but we will also become more conscious of these beliefs on future decisions.


Saturday Mid-Afternoon Workshops, Session PM 2: 3:15 pm

PM 2 A - "Soul Symbols: Empowering Spiritual Activism Through Art" - Gretchen Martens

Western culture promotes competition between women and judgment of our bodies, our lives, and our choices, creating barriers to acceptance of Self and others. As women, we are often taught not to have wants or needs or dreams at the expense of compassion for Self and full self-expression. We are encouraged to suppress our true inner Self in service to our children, partners, elders, and co-workers, diminishing our inherent worth and dignity as individuals while limiting our ability to make meaningful contributions to society. By freeing our true Selves, we spark the innate power we hold as women. We (re)kindle our ability to create personal meaning in life. We activate our higher purpose, allowing us to proactively become agents for change in our families, our schools, and our communities. Soul Symbols is an arts-based, spiritual exploration of our true Selves and our personal vision to make a difference in the world. Participants begin with brief exercises to identify barriers to the expression of true Self; to explore their personal vision for a better world; and to begin to assess their individual leadership strengths. Participants then create a Soul Symbol, a visual representation of their highest Selves and higher purpose. The Soul Symbol serves as a daily visual reminder of their true potential, uninhibited by external limiting beliefs. Participants will receive access to a free eBook and other resources with follow-on activities to deepen their learning and exploration. Workshop Components: brief coaching/self-exploration exercises, paired share and group discussions, creation of a piece of quality art that is a visual self-representation of Soul, access to follow-on materials to continue the work on their own.


PM 2 B - "Drumming as Spiritual Expression" - Lynn Murphy

The hand drum (djembe) has been used for generations as an integral part of music and rituals. Come explore the beauty of drumming as a spiritual expression. We will begin with basic, easy rhythms. We will first drum to familiar pop music/songs. Then we will progress to expressing our spiritual selves by drumming to familiar UU hymns. Last, new songs and chants will be introduced as we form our own
drum circle. We will use our own unique energy created by the drum circle to tap into our spiritual expression. Those who want to dance around the circle as we drum are welcome to do so.

PM 2 C - "Bringing UU Women and Women’s History alive through Readers Theater" - Patty Jantho, Holly Nichols, and Maridel Hoagland

Explore ways to engage the imagination and creativity of both young and adult audiences using readers theater whereby actors read from scripts while making regular audience eye contact. This workshop will feature excerpts from available plays about notable UU women and women’s suffrage history which have been written and performed by women in local Texas congregations. Specific writing and role-playing exercises will be used to inspire participants to initiate and perform their own original productions.

PM 2 D - "Your Responsible Investment Roadmap" - Julie Skye

Julie - a member of the UUA's Committee on Socially Responsible Investing - worked with members of the Divest From Fossil Fuel Group that led to the 2014 GA vote that put the UUA on a path to divesting from fossil fuels. Over the last 6 years Julie has worked at the General Assembly's Responsible Investment booth, where she found that many members, and congregations were interested in moving their money in the direction of their values. If you have visited that booth over the years, you will recognize her!

One of our committee's focus this year is in developing the content that will let member congregations gain the knowledge they need to individually, collectively, and with their congregation's endowment, harness, the power of their money. This is a hands-on workshop where attendees where we will several tools, including Moxie Future's "Your Responsible Investment Future" to craft their own individual plan that will allow them to go home and implement their own investment plan. We envision this workshop as the first step to creating a Tapestry of Faith program similar to Welcoming Congregations and Green Sanctuary around Sustainable, Ethical Investing.

PM 2 F -  "Be the Calm: Come Walk the Labyrinth" - Linda Webster

3:15-3:45 Introduction to labyrinths and labyrinth walking
3:45-5:30 Come at any time to walk the labyrinth.

After an exciting and inspiring day of speakers and workshops and connections with women, you may want to give yourself the gift of some quiet time on the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a form of walking meditation, a metaphor for the life journey with its twists and turns, a symbol of wholeness and balance. The labyrinth invites you to come as you are, to slow down, and to listen to your own deep wisdom. Linda Webster is a Veriditas-certified labyrinth facilitator and a member of the Women’s Spirituality Group of First UU Church of Austin.