BEC Announces 2017 Grant Awards

The Grant Committee’s months-long process of soliciting and evaluating grant proposals drew to a climax in late September with the final allocation of the grant budget. The Committee selected seven applicants to receive grants in areas ranging from political asylum to homelessness and food justice.

The seven grantees for 2017 are:

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Better Future Project, Cambridge ($4728). Funding to train student leaders in the movement for divestment of fossil fuels from college and university endowment portfolios.

college-bound-logoCollege Bound Dorchester, Boston ($10,000).College Bound Dorchester seeks out “youth core influencers” and offers them the support they need to prepare for and successfully attend a 2- or 4-year college program.

PrintFamily Services of the Merrimack Valley (Lawrence ($5000). Funding for their ESTEEM project to help troubled teens.

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Mass-Care ($10,000). Funding for the Universal Health Care Education Fund.

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The Food Project, Lincoln ($10,000). Funding to support youth programs in sustainable agriculture in several urban locations.

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The PAIR Project, Boston ($10,000). Funding to aid grantees of political asylum and a new post-grant manual and services to help those who have been granted asylum navigate the paths to a green card and eventual citizenship.

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Y2Y Homeless Shelter, Cambridge ($10,000). Funding to support a shelter for homeless youth in Cambridge. Y2Y is a project of the Phillips Brooks House Association.

The Grant Committee members visited each of the grantees at their respective locations as part of the selection process. Without exception, the selected applicants were impressive for their operation, their vitality, and their dedication to their work.

Labor

Marvin Miller

Submitted by Marvin Miller

May Day, May 1, International Workers’ Day, which originated in the U.S. but is celebrated mostly elsewhere, is an appropriate time to think about labor.

Throughout human history until very recently, the acquisition of subsistence has depended on the effort of muscle, both human muscle and that of their domesticated animals. This dependence began to change with the industrial revolution when people learned how to use non-muscular energy — wind, water, steam, and electricity. Now, most of the energy that people use is not muscular.

Grantmaking 2.0

hewettSubmitted by Fred Hewett

The second year of grantmaking at Boston Ethical Community is now underway, following on our success in 2016. In our first year, we made grants to five deserving nonprofits, all of which, by the end of this program season, will have made presentations at our Sunday meetings. Seeing the full cycle, from the grant proposals through to the actual implementations, gives us confidence and encouragement to continue our philanthropic work

Resistance in the Age of Trump

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

As the Trump administration continues its march to Make America Great Again, it seems that on each day we are shocked by a new tweet, press release, or news item promoted by Sean Spicer, the Trump Press Secretary. There are so many issues that deeply concern us, as budget cuts or severe decimation seem likely: the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting System, public education, the National Science Foundation, and, of course, Obamacare. While we may be disillusioned or downright depressed, we need to focus on the types of actions that will bring about collective action to save the things we hold dear. Consider the following:

Efficiency

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

Religions and governments are involved in ethics: they tell people, by commandments, laws, etc., what they want people to regard as the right thing to do.

Our society is the most inefficient in the world.

In physics, efficiency is defined as the ratio of useful work done to total energy used. Americans use more energy per capita than the people of any other country. But we don’t live better than people do in other technologically advanced countries. Those of us who have jobs work longer than people do elsewhere. We don’t spend less time getting to and from work than others do. We don’t have more time for lunch breaks, vacations, leave for family care, or holidays than others do.

Pot Talk Redux

marijuana leafIn February of 2015, the Boston Ethical Community hosted a panel discussion featuring members of the Cannabis Society of Massachusetts. On March 19, the Cannabis Society returns to BEC to present a talk entitled High Ground.

Much has transpired since the  2015 session. Marijuana advocates were then primarily concerned with medical marijuana. The panel discussed difficulties that caregivers faced in growing and administering marijuana as therapy for a variety of medical conditions. At that time, no medical marijuana dispensaries in the state had yet gained approval to sell the product.

Media Matters

Submitted by Andrea Perrault

The story of how we, the public, get our news has never been more important. In 2008, Barack Obama broke new ground with his campaign’s ability to communicate over social media. The campaign built a stunningly effective strategy to mobilize the youth vote. Yet, how quickly the bright light of that effort dimmed. In 2012, many younger people felt disillusioned because change had not come fast enough.

Religion, Government, Ethics

Marvin MillerSubmitted by Marvin Miller

Religions and governments are involved in ethics: they tell people, by commandments, laws, etc., what they want people to regard as the right thing to do.

Religion and government have always been entangled with each other. In ancient times there was no distinction between them. Over time, specialization occurred; the people who led the societies’ religious rituals were not the same people as those who conducted its civil and military affairs. This separation didn’t happen all at once. Even today in our own society, religious leaders are authorized by governments to conduct ceremonies that change the legal marital status of couples.

A More Humane Society

marvin-headSubmitted by Marvin Miller

The American Ethical Union’s statement of purpose says that the supreme aim of human life is to create a more humane society. This idea is in accord with the recognition that humans are social beings and that every act of a living organism has the purpose of making life better for that organism and its species.

What would a more humane society be like?