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Who We Are


Our purpose is to focus attention on current issues of social justice and to suggest ways that we as a spiritual community may address these issues.  Please email admin@unityofgaithersurg.org to subscribe to our newsletter and for more information on our Social Justice Team.  We enthusiastically welcome all who have an interest in social justice to join us. 

Our Mission


The Unity of Gaithersburg Social Justice Team is dedicated to expressing our divinity and honoring others through education and service. We act to support equal access to health, wellbeing, and justice for all people.

Need Help?


If you or someone you know is experiencing economic hardships or other challenges at this time the Montgomery County website can help.


If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity at this time, our team has compiled a list of local resources.  Click here for the list.  

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 SOCIAL JUSTICE

 

UNITY.ORG statement on Social action: Click here to read the entire document.

 

The Unity Spiritual Tool: Social Action is available here.

UNITY AND RACE:   Click here for an in-depth exploration of Unity's self-examination of its history of race-relations.  "...an honest account of what happened, what is being done now, and the Unity commitment for the future."

UNITY RESOLUTION ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
Introduction: ​Unity Worldwide Ministries stands for anti-racism, i.e., we are opposed to racial hatred, racial violence, bias, systemic racism, and the oppression of people of color. We stand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for people who are marginalized because of color. No individual or group should be made to live in fear or excluded from society. Recent events in the United States and the world remind us that violent repression, prejudices, injustices, and inequalities towards people of color are embedded in societies, from social structures to institutions to cultures. Unity chooses to be more aware and take positive action in dismantling systemic racism and the social structures that support injustice and prejudice, and we raise awareness throughout our membership, churches, and centers.
Click here to read the entire resolution.

 

The Smithsonian has an excellent presentation on antiracism.  Click here to go to the article. 


​UNITY OF GAITHERSBURG RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF VOTING RIGHTS
In light of the current challenges to the enfranchisement of all Americans, the Unity of Gaithersburg Board of Trustees adopted this resolution in May, 2021.  Click here for a copy,  


SOCIAL JUSTICE ITEMS IN THE NEWS

Montgomery County has a Committee Against Hate/Violence. View their web page here. They have a brochure, “Know Your Rights: Hate and Violence.” which can be read here.

Regarding Voting Rights

In May 2021, on behalf of Unity of Gaithersburg (UoG), our Board of Trustees issued a Resolution in Support of Voting Rights. This resolution, posted on the UoG website, affirms that inclusive voting rights are fundamental to democracy, recognizes voter suppression and its ties to racism as well as other ills, and affirms our support of the oversight of election administration. 

As called for in the UoG Voting Rights Resolution support for oversight of election administration, the reader may wish to pay closer attention to events surrounding elections. The attention of MoCo citizens will support conscientious adherence to federal law generally and specifically with respect to scrutinizing and purging the voter registration list. The public can observe Board of Elections meetings at
https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/elections/index2.html.

You can sign up for additional information at:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfmWNJ5ceZRL_oDT30xfrLGqm6QR_a-xWtCA3pe4icINYgDOw/viewform.

Reimaging Public Safety Task Force


On February 4, 2021, the Montgomery County government released its recommendations report of its Reimagining Public Safety Task Force. The Task Force was established in August 2020 following the death of George Floyd and other incidents.  It is focused on the problem of racial injustice in Montgomery County. The report made dozens of recommendations that included the elimination of School Resource Officers, changes to the routing of some 311/911 calls to include mental health or other non-police responders, changes to police training and culture, and many others.  Click here for a copy of the report. 

 

More detailed and recent information can be found at:  Reports - Reimagining Public Safety - Montgomery County, Maryland (montgomerycountymd.gov).


Racial Equity and Social Justice Policy



County Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice and Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee


Montgomery County created an Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) and appointed a Chief Equity Officer, Tiffany Ward. There is also a Montgomery County Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee (RESJAC). The committee meets once a month online, includes representatives from the public and county offices. 

 

To access the meeting minutes, go to  https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/boards/sites/RESJ/index.html and then click on Meeting Minutes.

Here are links for the Office of RESJ and the RESJ Advisory Committee:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ore
https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/boards/sites/RESJ/index.html

RESJAC meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.  Contact Tiffany Ward, Chief Equity Officer, if interested in observing their meetings at Tiffany.Ward@montgomerycountymd.gov

Racial Impact Statements


In addition to the Montgomery County Office of Racial Equity, which is charged, among other things, with assessing the racial equity impacts of the county’s activities, the State of Maryland has also established a process of assessing the racial impacts on proposed legislation. In 2021, Maryland became the fourth state to require Racial Impact Statements to be added to criminal justice legislation considered by the Maryland General Assembly. These impact statements are in the form of “Racial Equity Impact Notes” or REINs. The cumulative REINs for 2023 can be browsed at:

2023 Session Racial Equity Impact Notes (maryland.gov).

Advancing Racial Equity

In addition to these racial equity analyses at the County and State levels, the U.S. Government has also taken action to build Racial Equity considerations into the actions of its Executive Branch agencies via an Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support to Underserved Communities that was dated January 20, 2021. The order calls for actions across multiple federal agencies. The Equity Action Plans of about 70 cabinet and sub-cabinet agencies can be found at   Advancing an equitable government | Performance.gov.  The initial 2021 Executive Order has been supplemented with additional directives that are also provided at that link.

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THE ENVIRONMENT

Special Presentation: An Inconvenient Truth in a Very Few Words
Tim Truett, now a member of the Unity of Gaithersburg Social Justice Team, has created an original and unique presentation, “An Inconvenient Truth in Very Few Words,” that combines more than a hundred vivid photographs, charts, and other graphics and more than a hundred original haiku to portray the science and politics of climate change in a very few words. Interested readers can click on the link to browse the presentation at their own time and pace. Click here to view the presentation. 

CLIMATE CHANGE

In March 2023, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) published its 6th Assessment Report. As with its earlier publications, the authority behind these reports is massive and the overall picture is bleak. Wikipedia states:

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the sixth in a series of reports which assess scientific, technical, and socio-economic information concerning climate change. Three Working Groups (WGI, II, and III) covered the following topics: The Physical Science Basis (WGI); Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (WGII); Mitigation of Climate Change (WGIII). Of these, the first study was published in 2021, the second report February 2022, and the third in April 2022. The final synthesis report was finished in March 2023.


The first of the three working groups published its report on 9 August 2021, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. A total of 234 scientists from 66 countries contributed to this first working group (WGI) report on the Physical Science. The authors[5] built on more than 14,000 scientific papers to produce a 3,949-page report, which was then approved by 195 governments. The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) document was drafted by scientists and agreed to line-by-line by the 195 governments in the IPCC during the five days leading up to 6 August 2021.

 
The panel published a longer report, a summary for policymakers, a presentation and a short "Headline Statements" document, summarizing its findings in 3-4 pages. Among other it contains the next points:

 

  • Climate change is a threat to humans and planet. There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure Sustainability. Climate action is enabled by international cooperation (including access to required financing, particularly for vulnerable groups), inclusive governance and coordinated policies. Clear goals, diverse knowledge, finance, technology are enablers for climate action. For achieving climate goals, financing need to increase many-fold. There is sufficient global capital, but there are barriers for redirecting it to climate action. Choices made in next years will have impacts for thousands of years.

  • Humans, mainly through emissions of greenhouse gases, certainly caused global warming. Those emissions continue to rise, coming from unsustainable energy use, land use, consumption, with unequal contributions between regions, countries, and individuals. Global temperature rose by 1.1°C from 1850–1900 to 2011–2020. Human-caused climate change caused widespread and fast changes all over the world, what has led to severe negative impacts on nature and people. Communities who have contributed the least to climate change are disproportionately affected.

  • Adaptation has increased, but adaptation gaps exist, and will continue to grow at current rate of action. Some ecosystems and regions have reached their adaptation limits. Maladaptation can be avoided by good planning and implementation, with co-benefits. Current financing is insufficient for adaptation, especially in low income countries.

  • Mitigation has increased, but even if NDCs announced by October 2021 will be met, warming will likely exceed 1.5°C in the 21st century and it is hard to limit warming to 2°C. There are gaps between really implemented policies and NDCs. Financing is insufficient to meet mitigation goals.

  • More greenhouse gas emissions will cause more global warming, reaching the 1.5°C limit in the near term. More warming will intensify many concurrent negative impacts. With more warming, long-term negative impacts are many times higher than current, there is more likelihood of abrupt and/or irreversible changes, risks, low-likelihood events with very large negative impacts, losses and damages, climatic and non-climatic impacts, increasingly interacting, compound and cascading, more complex and difficult to manage. Adaptation options will become less effective, more human and natural systems will reach adaptation limits.

  • Projected CO2 emissions from currently existing fossil fuel infrastructure would exceed the carbon budget for 1.5°C. For limiting warming to 1.5°C and to 2°C, we need rapid, deep, in most cases, immediate GHG emissions reductions in all sectors by 2030 and reaching net zero CO2 emissions in the early 2050s and around the early 2070s, respectively.

Reports can be downloaded at:  Climate Reports | United Nations

Community Choice Energy – Bulk Electricity Purchasing

In 2021, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law, the Montgomery County Community Choice Energy Pilot Program—that gives Montgomery County the authority to implement Community Choice Energy (CCE). The County will be able to purchase energy on behalf of residential and small commercial electricity customers. This bulk purchasing will result in lower prices, including lower prices for clean energy such as solar and wind. As is standard practice, the general language of the law must be translated into the more specific language of its implementing regulations. In its December 2022 quarterly report, the MoCo Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stated that it developed proposed regulations for the Community Choice Energy program to the Public Service Commission’s Community Choice Aggregation Work Group, which is charged with preparing draft regulations.
Reference: Climate Action Plan Progress report - FY2023 Q2 (montgomerycountymd.gov)

 

Montgomery County Green Bank

Click here for more information about this program. To learn more about the Montgomery County Green Bank, click here

Climate Action in Montgomery County


Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection has produced a video series designed to educate residents on how to recycle properly.
Click here for details. 

Montgomery County Climate Action Plan (CAP)


In December, 2020, Montgomery County released a 300 page Climate Action Plan (CAP) that included more than 80 recommended climate change mitigation actions across a wide range of domains. Stakeholders and the public submitted hundreds of comments on this plan, which is now final. The County is working on dozens of action items in the plan.


There is now a portal that is a consolidated source for climate action documents, progress reports, ideas for steps the reader can take, news items, and more. It’s at Montgomery County, MD: Climate Action Portal (montgomerycountymd.gov)


Click https://montgomerycountymd.gov/climate/Resources/Files/climate/climate-action-plan.pdf for the Climate Action Plan.


Click  Montgomery County Climate Action Plan Annual Report Showcasing Fiscal Year 2022 Accomplishments and Fiscal Year 2023 Work Plan (montgomerycountymd.gov)  for the Annual Report, which includes the Fiscal Year 2023 Work Plan.

 

Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS)  

 

In December 2017, Montgomery County declared a climate emergency and accelerated community-wide climate goals to be carbon neutral by 2035. The residential and commercial building sectors combine to contribute 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in Montgomery County. The County is implementing a variety of programs and policies to mitigate emissions in new and existing buildings, including a Building Energy Performance Standard for commercial and multifamily buildings. On April 19, 2022, Bill 16-21 to implement BEPS was unanimously passed by the County Council. Executive regulations related to bill 16-21 implementation will be issued no later than December 31, 2023. 


BEPS are policies that establish performance levels for buildings and drive all buildings that BEPS covers to achieve these levels in the long-term with required progress at regular intervals in the interim. BEPS sets a minimum threshold for energy performance for existing buildings, which are based on and measured against a building’s demonstrated energy performance, as shown in their benchmarking data. The Montgomery County Building Performance Improvement Board (BPIB) advises on the implementation of building energy performance standards (BEPS). Information about BPIB meetings are shown under Pending Events, below.

Recycle your used electronics


A lot of electronic items are no longer usable.  For more information on how to recycle your electronics, Click here.   

Recycle your cellphone


This article from Charity Watch details the how, where, and why of recycling your outdated cellphones:  Click Here  

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint


These four handouts provide dozens of simple, practical suggestions for reducing our personal carbon footprints in terms of food, transportation, recycling, and home energy use. Click on the links below to download the pdfs. 
1. Sustainable food practices
2. Transportation        
3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle    
4. Home Energy 

Pending Events

Non-Profit Meetings


* MCFACS, the Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, meets on the
third Tuesday of the month from 7:15 to 9:00 p.m., via Zoom. MCFACS did not meet during
July or August. Their October meeting will be on the 17th. MCFACS
invited us and Rev. Edith has agreed to be a guest speaker at their October meeting.

State-Sponsored Meetings


None at this time.

County-Sponsored Meetings


The Montgomery County government sponsors numerous boards, commissions,
committees and other similar organizations, including organizations that address social
justice issues. The Maryland State Open Meetings Act requires meetings to be open to the
public and be held in an accessible public place (since the pandemic, often online).


Notices of upcoming meetings include the date, time, and place of the meeting. Almost all
meetings, hundreds a month, can be found online on the County's Events Calendar. The
calendar entries for almost all meetings include a clickable link to meeting topics, points of
contact, etc. Many meetings are accessible via zoom or Microsoft Teams. Some require or
request advance registration; others allow immediate access at the time of the meeting.
Some organizations have a standing link, the same for every meeting. The county also
broadcasts on cable TV extensively.


Some organizations also post their meeting agendas before and/or minutes after.

 

* County Operating Budget Forums

 

The Montgomery County Executive, along with the County’s regional services offices and community partners, will host 10 Community Conversations from September through December to seek input on the Fiscal Year 2025 Operating Budget. The first conversation was from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 at the Mid-County Recreation Center in Layhill. The Community Conversations are scheduled as follows:


•    PTA Community Conversation. Monday, Oct. 16. 7-8:30 p.m. Executive Office Building, Cafeteria, 101 Monroe St., Rockville. Hybrid (link to view online to be announced).
•    Amharic Language Community Conversation. Wednesday, Oct. 18. 7-8:30 p.m. Montgomery College – Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, 7600 Takoma Ave., Takoma Park.
•    Silver Spring Community Conversation. Monday, Nov. 13. 7-8:30 p.m. Silver Spring Civic Center Building, 1 Veterans Place, Spring Room, Silver Spring.
•    East County Community Conversation. Wednesday, Nov. 15. 7-8:30 p.m. White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Social Hall, Silver Spring. Hybrid (link to view online to be announced).
•    Chinese Language Community Conversation. Monday, Nov. 27. 7-8:30 p.m. Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, 9318 Gaither Road, Suite 215, Art Gallery, Gaithersburg. Hybrid (link to view online to be announced).
•    Seniors Community Conversation. Monday, Dec. 11. 2-3:30 p.m. Leisure World, Clubhouse 1, Crystal Ballroom, 3701 Rossmore Blvd., Silver Spring. Only Leisure World residents may participate in person. Hybrid (link to view online to be announced).

 


* The Montgomery County Building Performance Improvement Board (BPIB) advises on
the implementation of building energy performance standards (BEPS). The BPIB typically
meets every third Wednesday of the month between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The next meeting will be on October 18 and is posted on the county calendar. Upcoming meetings are usually posted on the County's Events Calendar.


* CEAQAC, the Montgomery County Climate, Energy and Air Quality Advisory Committee,
generally meets on the first Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Upcoming
CEAQAC meetings are posted on the County's Events Calendar. Most meetings have
been held virtually due to the pandemic. CEAQAC meetings are open to the public. The next monthly meeting will be on October 4 at 6:30 p.m. and the notice indicates that it is via zoom.
Contact: Lindsey Shaw at energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.


* The next meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Elections is on October 16, 2023.
All meetings are open to the public, begin at 3:00 p.m., and are held in the Board’s office at
18753 N. Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg unless otherwise specified. Meetings are
broadcast using Zoom. To join a meeting online use the following link:  

Join Zoom Meeting.

The Board’s home page is:
Montgomery County Board of Elections - Home Page (montgomerycountymd.gov)


* The Montgomery County Commission for Women is both an advisory board to and a
department of county government.  The Commission’s primary focus is to improve
women’s lives through:
1.  Identifying inequities in laws, policies, practices and procedures and;
2.  Providing recommendations that promote remedies.

The Commission has assisted thousands of women since 1972. Programmatic work falls
into four basic categories: education and outreach, advocacy, direct service, and
information and referral. Commission meetings take place the second Thursday of the
month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings generally take place at 21 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330,
Rockville, Maryland 20850 in the Settlement Conference Room. Meetings are open to the
public. The next meeting is Thursday, October 12.
Please email jodi.finkelstein@montgomerycountymd.gov for meeting information.


* DVCC, the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council was established by the Montgomery
County Council in 2006 with the mission of reducing the incidence of domestic violence
and creating a safe community for families to live free of abuse. The DVCC meets bi-
monthly on the second Thursday of the month from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Meetings are open
for public observation. The next meeting is Thursday, September 28 and is advertised as
in-person or virtual. Go to the County's Events Calendar.


* The Montgomery County Police Accountability Board and similar boards in other
jurisdictions were mandated by the Maryland state legislature in 2021 along with other
police reform actions. The Board’s home page is:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pab/

Meetings are usually held on the first and third Thursday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m.,
and the next meeting will be on September 21. There are quarterly meetings with the Police
Chiefs as well. The link for the meeting can be accessed via the entry in the County's
Events Calendar
.


The minutes of past meetings are at:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pab/meeting-minutes.html

* RESJAC, the Montgomery County Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee,
meets virtually by video and teleconference the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30
p.m. The next meeting should be on October 18.
Contact: Tiffany.Ward@montgomerycountymd.gov


Agenda & Schedule:

https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/boards/sites/RESJ/index.html

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