md-sedona-4[1] Keynote Friday Evening

THE REVEREND MICHAEL DOWD is an evolutionary theologian, bestselling author, and evangelist for Big History and an honorable relationship to the future. His 2009 book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. His work has been featured in The NY Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, Wired, Skeptic, and on CBC, CNN, ABC News, and Fox News.

Michael and his wife, Connie Barlow, an acclaimed science writer and evolutionary educator (both climate hawks), permanently travel North America promoting the inspiring side of science, religious naturalism, and one-story spirituality. They’ve addressed some 2,000 religious and secular audiences since 2002 — from Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical Christian churches, to Unitarians and freethinkers, to secular grade school, high school, and university students, to New Thought, Integral, and Eastern Spirituality groups.


Saturday Workshops

This is a preliminary listing and is subject to enhancement and refinement. Workshops are organized by tracks.


11. Don’t Frack with Florida – Kim Ross is the president and founder of ReThink Energy Florida, a non-profit dedicated to engaging, educating, and empowering citizens to take action and achieve energy independence in a healthier, more sustainable environment  Hydraulic and Acidic Fracturing (“fracking”) has now become a common method of oil and gas extraction, but it has always been extremely dangerous. Florida has only had one fracking occurrence and it was done illegally. That incident was quickly terminated after many strong citizen protests and rallies that surrounded the town in which it took place. Florida is known for its beautiful waters, wetlands, and wildlife and Floridian residents take pride in our ecosystems. Fracking is a threat to our environment and all of its residents but Escambia County can help stop fracking and keep our nature beautiful and pristine. Participants of this workshop will gain a greater understanding of the fracking practice and why it’s a health threat, and how current state policy does not protect our future.. This workshop utilizes reports developed by scientific organizations to provide citizens with the most current information on issues facing the Sunshine State surrounding fracking. It includes description of the status quo, and existing policies and policy options for the future.

13. Go Solar, Florida! Susan Glickman is the Florida Director of the Southern Clean Energy Alliance. She is one of the principal drivers of the amendment petition to allow third-party energy vendors. Currently, only licensed power companies can sell energy. This prevents non-power entities from financing solar arrays on Florida’s homes and businesses and then selling the generated energy to the home/business owner. Energy monopolies are the reason the Sunshine State is solar power deficient. Ending the monopoly will allow all consumers to access affordable solar energy. This campaign is very broad based, from libertarians to those on the far left.

9. Tech for Climate Action – Jeff Wolfe: co-creator and chair of the Steering Committee for the inaugural Our Children, Climate, Faith Symposiums in Strafford, VT, in August 2013, 2014, and 2015. Climate presents problems on many levels: cognitive and unconscious, faith, culture, and technology. Those who are immersed in faith often believe that technology is the difficult hurdle. Whether comforting or not, Jeff will show that technical solutions of the problem of climate change are mostly available today or in late stage development. He will survey a few areas of technology and policy, then show how our culture is presenting the largest roadblocks, and how we need to use our faith and action to clear our path. Jeff’s bio is here.   Jeff’s blog is here.
Joining Jeff is Justin Hoysradt, Regional Manager – Florida, Vote Solar. Prior to Vote Solar he spent 11 years with one of Florida’s largest residential rooftop solar integrators. He has a degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Justin is based out of West Palm Beach, Florida., 561.320.7786


2. Earth Recovery Groups: recovery and living a new story – Gregory Wilson and Helen Wilson, co-creators of Earth Recovery Groups. Earth Recovery is a process for individuals who have started to realize the extent to which we have damaged the Earth and begun recognize the consequences for ourselves and the ramifications for our society as a whole of such a predicament. It is intended to provide a framework for changing our way of relating to the natural world and enable us to reconnect with the whole. Gregory’s bio is here.

6. Spiritual Earthcare, a multi-religious overviewThe Interfaith Climate Group, Gainesville and Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, Hampton offer the Earth Charter as a guide for moving forward as one Earth community with one common destiny.  Our statewide Earth Charter Initiative in 2015-16 will use the visual and performing arts in a community-wide program of education, inspiration and action.  Our goal is to engage young people — and those who care about their future — in real-world and online activities for a sustainable, just and peaceful future.  In this workshop we will develop a plan for working with the Florida interfaith climate action network.

7. Mindfulness & Climate Action– Andrew Rock.

Our situation requires the essence of the mindfulness practice: to see, accept and respond to the way things are with wisdom and compassion. Together we’ll explore:

  • what mindfulness brings to activism
  • mindful consumption
  • engaged Buddhism: taking meditation off the cushion
  • interbeing: our deep inter-connectedness with everyone and everything

3. Sacredness of food and climate change – Marty Mesh has been asked to speak at conferences all around the world on the subjects of organic production, food security, farm and food policy and sustainable agriculture. In 1987, Mesh helped form Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG). He is also active in local and state policy and represents FOG on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.


10. Cultural Change for Climate Change –  Juanita Baker, Ph. D., Professor emerita, Florida Institute of Technology, focuses on bringing about change in general in humans, cultures, communities, society, states, and the world. Juanita’s bio is here.

12. Organizing for Cultural Change – Tim Heberlein is the Beyond Coal Organizer at Sierra Club Florida, Vice Chair of Operations at Hillsborough Democratic Party and Disaster Volunteer at American Red Cross; previously he was an organizer with the Florida Consumer Action Network. Tim has a lot of field experience in organizing actions, building capacity, and designing advocacy campaigns. He’s bringing his experience to help us launch Florida’s interfaith climate action network (FICAN?!).

4. Hope’s Challenge: The Florida Legislature – Bob Keim will discuss the sea change in the Florida Legislature these last five or six years, particularly those during the time of Governor Scott; it will also identify some of the most important issues on the table so far this year, and offer guidance as to connecting to information resources to stay informed.  It will also provide some information regarding UU Ministry for Earth and their collaborative Ecological Justice work. Bob is a native Floridian, born in Polk County when Florida had 2 million residents (there are 16 million now).  Majored in Religion at Florida State University; then spent most of thirty years Managing Geographic Information Systems for Hillsborough County.  Since retirement in 2006, have served the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, UU Justice Florida, and the Board of Audubon Florida.  He has also been the Chaplain at UU In The Pines in Weeki Wachee since 1999, and a “roving” UU voice on Climate Change, Ecological Justice, and Green Sanctuary.


1. People of Faith and Conscience Commit2Respond  – Brock Leach,  Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Vice President for Mission, Strategy and Innovation, UUSC. Problem/Solution Statement:   How can we move from feeling overwhelmed to empowered in the face of climate change and the myriad justice issues it presents?  Joanna Macy advices us to practice “active hope”,   building hope as we actively build the relationships— communities, partnerships and coalitions— that will turn the tide.   Let’s get started together as people of faith and conscience and commit ourselves to respond.

5. Healing the Earth by Uniting in Faith and Ethical convictions– Michael Greenman of Move to Amend. Our planet is being perhaps irrevocably damaged by the irresponsible actions of global corporations that possess the constitutional rights of natural persons.  They singlemindedly seek to maximize profit at the expense of all other considerations. People of faith and ethical convictions can, should we choose to do so, unite to stop this process and to eliminate actions that do continuing damage to our planet. Learn and discuss this real opportunity by attending this workshop.  Michael’s bio is here.

8. Holistic Truth-Based Advocacy – Jan Booher: South Florida Climate Action Partners.

The way forward is the work of many: in all geographies, and at all levels of civic life. Honoring and respecting the work of others, and joining our voices with people of conscience working both within government and in secular advocacy efforts, will multiply our effectiveness. There is policy language at all levels of government, from the municipal level to Washington, DC, that resonates with interfaith statements on climate. This workshop will:

  • Examine policy language published by agencies at all levels of government that resonates strongly with the faith community. (Policy that calls for economic and environmental justice, care of the environment, and protection of public health and well being)
  • Identify allies within agencies at each level of government based on this language
  • Draft language from the interfaith perspective on the same themes found in policy language to be used as a basis for climate advocacy at each level of government that is aligned with policy language, and can be cited in advocacy work.    Jan’s bio is here.