Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
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African refugees in St. Louis: From exodus to resettlement; Gedlu B. Metaferia

October 5, 2008

Addressing the many reasons for population displacement, conflict, and genocide in Africa, Gedlu Metaferia also examines the effects of famine, disease, and underdevelopment that have caused such massive morbidity rates after decolonization in the late 50s and early 60s. The presentation high-lights the ethical dilemma of foreign assistance, credits, loans, and structural adjustment that has caused capital flight and increased funding for armaments for human rights suppression. Issues of transparency and accountability of U.S. tax dollars spent in Africa and the ethical responsibility of the U.S. government and people in alleviating human rights violations and poverty in Africa will also be explored. There are two issues of resettlement in the United States – humanitarian and political – to consider. Looking at the diverse African demography in St. Louis, the speaker will also discuss the pain of social adjustment and the challenge of anchoring families with hope and prosperity, noting first-hand gratitude for American compassion and experience as an immigrant nation.

Gedlu B. Metaferia was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After studying public health and tropical medicine in Ethiopia, to be a health officer (sometimes termed a rural physician or bare foot doctor) at a local university, he left in 1976 because of human rights violations and mass killings in Ethiopia (“Red Terror”) in the 70s and early 80s. He came to St. Louis in 1982. As one of the prominent Ethiopians in the Diaspora, he has worked tirelessly on the issues of African famine, sustainable economic growth, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and tolerance. He is the founder and executive director of African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri/Ethiopian Community Association of Missouri. A freelance writer, he serves on numerous not-for-profit boards and is the recipient of many awards.

Eco-village life: Dancing with the rabbits; Kate Lovelady, Leader

September 28, 2008

This past July, Bill and I spent a week at Dancing Rabbit, an “eco-village” in northeast Missouri. We were curious to find out what exactly an eco-village is, who eco-villagers are, and what Missouri eco-village life is like. Many of us are looking for new ways of living that are more ecologically sustainable and energy-independent; many are looking to have closer ties with our neighbors and a deeper sense of community; many are trying to get away from the processed American diet that’s making us fat and sick; many are asking, What is the “good life” really? Dancing Rabbit is one example of a community of people experimenting with new answers to such questions – and experimenting with some updated old answers.

This I believe: Members speak; Bob Heck, Christine Floss, and Evan Gross

September 21, 2008

Three members talk about what led them to Ethical Culture and how being part of the Ethical Community has impacted them.

Bob Heck and his wife Deb found the Ethical Society over 20 years ago and it has been their religious home ever since. Their son graduated from the Sunday School and daughter joined the Youth Group this year. Bob has served as EEC Chair and sat on the Board of Trustees. He is a stay-at-home father and an occasional musical performer on the Platform.

Originally from Germany, Christine Floss was raised in West Lafayette, Indiana. She attended both Purdue University and Indiana University, and received her Ph.D. in geochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis in 1991. After working at the Max-Planck-Institute in Heidelberg, Germany for five years, she returned to Washington University in 1996 where she is now a research associate professor in the Physics Department. She and her husband, Frank Stadermann, joined the Ethical Society last April. Their daughter is currently in the Youth Group.

Evan Gross was raised in the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey. He attended Sunday School and participated in YES as the National President. After college and a time spent teaching English and traveling abroad, Evan settled in St. Louis last year with his girlfriend. He is our Membership Administrator at the Society and teaches music at Dave Simon’s Rock School.

Ethical Culture and Unitarian Universalism: How are they similar and how are they alike?; Kate Lovelady, Leader

August 24, 2008

There is a lot of over-lap in the history of the Ethical Culture and Unitarian Universalism. Both are liberal religions that grew out of enlightenment ideals and free thought movements. Today, both tend to attract people of similar bent: social activists and others looking for community and inspiration without dogma. Many people have found a comfortable home in ‘ one religion and then the other, and some people continue to visit or belong to both. But there are also differences, in history, emphasis, and style that make each tradition distinctive and that cause most people to choose one or the other. This platform will explore the similarities and differences between Ethical Culture and our nearest religious neighbor, Unitarian Universalism, to increase our knowledge and appreciation of both.

Wealth creation; Alan Easton, PhD

August 17, 2008

Why do we need more wealth? Aren’t we and our world consumed by consumerism? Wealth creation is the invention and use of new means of satisfying human needs. Steam engines and computer software are powerful examples of it. I say that we need more wealth so that our world becomes more comfortable, and we gain options for acting ethically. Individuals’ motivation to make money is a driving force behind making a better world. Law has a key role in the creation and maintenance of wealth. I will defend a law-governed marketplace” as essential to the improvement of the human condition.

Alan Easton was born and raised in Geneva, a small town in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. He worked at Monsanto in pharmaceutical research for 18 years. He has subscribed to The Economist magazine for over 25 years. He became a member of the Ethical Society in 1989 and currently serves on its Board of Trustees.

Finite dimensions of life; Jim Rhodes

August 10, 2008

This will be an exploration of the constraints we all face in life and how these constraints determine, at least in part, who we become and shape our characters. It will also look at how we can expand our options and live fully ethical and meaningful lives.

Jim Rhodes has been an active member of the Ethical Society for 18 years and is married to member Stephanie Sigala. Jim is an environmental engineer and works for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He enjoys outdoor activities and also photography, music, vegetarian cooking, and dancing with Stephanie. Jim has served on the Board and is a member of the Finance Committee.

Seeking a secular language of spiritual care; Randal Blain

August 3, 2008

Ethical Society member Randal Blain, M.Div, has served as a pastor, teacher and chaplain. Interested in broadening the field of spiritual care beyond theistic concepts and his desire to recognize the spiritual as more than religious has lead him on a 10-year pursuit of a spiritual care model not embedded in religious language. The result, is the development of a “Secular Language of Spiritual Care” which aspires to value the ethical ideal and responds to the need for simplified, yet not diminished, language with which spiritual needs and resources can be discussed.

Community gardening in St. Louis; Gwenne Hayes-Stewart

July 27, 2008

Gateway Greening established more than 170 community gardens on abandoned land in the City’s urban core. These gardens provide food for the table and food for the soul, serve as safe places to gather and are often the only asset in threatened neighborhoods. Learn how groups gather around these projects and the impact these gardens have on their lives.

For the last 13 years, Gwenne Hayes-Stewart has served as the executive director of Gateway Greening, the non-profit community gardening organization in St. Louis. During her tenure, the organization developed from a small non-profit serving a few hundred people working in 30 community gardens into one serving over 2,800 people working in more than 170 community gardens, neighborhood greening projects, and citizen-managed open spaces. She is a Master Gardener who founded the Great Perennial Divide in 1998. She has been a Rotarian for 18 years. She serves on the advisory board of the Horticulture Department, St. Louis Community College at Meramec and Board Secretary of the American Community Gardening Association. Among her awards are two national recognitions, The American Horticulture Society’s Urban Beautification Award and the National Garden Club’s Award of Excellence.

World travel 101: Creating respect in a hostile world; Mark T. Cockson

July 20, 2008

Hostels, hostelling, and hostel programs create world class citizens who are culturally sensitive. World Travel 101, an educational program, will demonstrate this.

Mark T. Cockson is the executive director of the Gateway Council of Hostelling International-USA. Mark has a background in teaching, social work and administration in the not-for-profit world. Mark has a love for travel and nature that he expresses through gardening and photography.

Local food equals good politics and good eatin’, too!; Andy Ayers

July 13, 2008

This platform address will explore the movement to local foods that led the New Oxford American Dictionary to christen as its “new word of 2007” the word “locovore.” This movement has developed tremendous momentum solely due to grassroots interest – without the help of politicians, lobbyists or corporate sponsors – because it just makes so darn much sense to so many Americans. Eating local presents people with the opportunity to improve the environment, support hard-working farmers and take an ethical stand against the pervasiveness of commercialism in American life while enjoying a healthier lifestyle and the best tasting food available anywhere.

Andy Ayers and his wife, Paula, owned and operated Riddle’s Restaurant in Bel Nor where they began featuring locally grown ingredients on the menu in the early 1980’s. The couple opened Riddle’s Penultimate Café and Wine Bar in the University City Loop in 1985 and ran it for 23 years before selling the restaurant to their daughter, KT, who operates it now.

An advocate, writer and speaker on behalf of local foods and local growers, Andy received the Lewis C. Green Environmental Service Award in 2006 for his work. Since leaving the restaurant to the next generation, Andy is growing a new start-up business that distributes food directly from local farms to the best restaurant kitchens in the St. Louis area.

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