Tips for attending UUA General Assembly 2018

The UUA’s General Assembly conference is this month, June 20-24, in Kansas City, MO.

It is time to prepare, and if this is your first time, make sure to checkout our tips for having a great conference at  If you aren’t attending the conference on-site, checkout the many ways to participate off-site.

This collaborative post and “survival guide” features tips and reminders for attending the annual General Assembly conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association!  We started this post our UU Growth Lab Facebook Group in 2011 and I have been updating annually ever since.

Have a tip or resource to add?  Share it in a comment at the end of this post or share via Twitter and tag your tweet with #UUAGA and my username @UUPLANET.

Follow the UU World’s Coverage:

The staff of the UU World does an amazing job covering General Assembly.  Their GA blog and social media channels are the go to source for in-depth and breaking General Assembly news.

The Official Hashtag

The official hashtag for the UUA’s General Assembly conference is #UUAGA.  There is NO year in the tag. Every year a handful of UUs get stuck following the wrong hashtag because someone tweeted the hashtag and inserted the year.  There is no year. The hashtag is #UUAGA.

Preparation for General Assembly

To get the most out of General Assembly, schedule time to work through the UUA’s 2018 preparation guide:

Don’t think about the volume of content, you’ll go into shock.  SCHEDULE a time within the next day to review the list and schedule the time you’ll need to do your preparation.  You need to get it into your calendar.  Plan a time to plan your prep.

Prep includes content to watch, listen to, and read. The following video is an expample:

Learn about the racial and socioeconomic segregation that splits Kansas City geographically and explore current concerns around urban gentrification. First, watch this informative, locally produced 13-minute video, “Building the Troost Wall: Structural Racism in Kansas City.”

Delegate “What to Expect” Webinars

The UUA board is offering webinars to orient delegations.  You can join these live Zoom webinars on June 5, 7, 9, or 10.  Full details and registration:
“What General Assembly Delegates Can Expect at GA 2018”

Get the Offical General Assembly App!

The UUA GA Mobile App is fantastic.  If you have a smartphone, make sure to install it.  It will significantly improve your GA experience.  Plan on exploring and testing the app before you arrive. There are a lot of features. You can choose to follow posts by other attendees, share your own posts tagging which event you’re at, and much more.  The week leading up to GA, try opening the app each day. People will already be posting. It has all the program information and serves as a self contained GA social network.  Get it now!

 

Before You Go

  • Plan your life at General Assembly assuming you will not be able to access wi-fi in the convention center.  Internet access is always and issue. Bring critical information and contact numbers with you. If access is good, enjoy!  But be prepared.
  • Convention centers, especially the main halls, are usually freezing! Bring a layer you can easily take on and off so you’re okay going from outside to hallways to the general session/plenary ice box.
  • Hydrate! Bring a water bottle. If you’re flying, bring an empty one to fill at a water fountain after you go through security.  You can usually buy a reusable bottle in the Exhibit Hall.
  • If you are a delegate, READ related business materials before you come.  You are deciding our future. Visit the UUA’s page with information for delegates.
  • GA is amazing for network and learning.  Bring business or personal cards so that you can give your information to others.
  • GA is a great time to get on Twitter.  You’ll be surrounded by people to give you advice and amazing content to tweet about.  The following video was made before the 2014 GA in Providence. The process and tips still apply, just know that the GA specific examples are now from that past GA.  Just make sure you go to GA in the right city. Update to this video coming soon.
  • Consider leaving a copy of critical email, social media, and other passwords / pins with a family member or trusted friend. If you lost your smartphone and had to login to email via a public computer, would you be able to?

Again, this is an older video. Make sure to go to General Assembly in the right city — Kansas City, MO!

  • Be sure that someone from your congregation is bringing the banner for the banner parade.
  • Plan out what workshops you want to go to.  Have a tentative choice made for all time slots in advance. You’ll need time between schedule blocks to take care of biological needs, talk to people, and change rooms. You won’t have time to pick as you go.
  • Pick a 2nd workshop for each time slot. You may find that when you arrive at your first choice it’s not what you expected and it will be good to know exactly where to go to get to your 2nd choice.
  • Pack comfy shoes.
  • Bring a bag you can carry comfortably with you at all times, like a shoulder bag or light backpack.
  • If you’re asked to carry your congregations banner during the banner parade, figure out how the poles/carrying PVC pipes go together before hand.  Here are banner specs from the UUA (pdf).
  • “Last year I had a binder where on the back cover I had a map of the area in the plastic cover thing, the front with my delegate card and other really important info, and inside my travel info, the program book, the business resolutions, etc.  It really helped me stay organized throughout.  Put in paper to take notes on, bring pens, etc.  I had that with me in my laptop bag and it was great.”
  • Talk to people in your congregation to find out about resources you can scout out and bring home. There is an amazing collection of resources available in the exhibit hall, including books from the UUA Bookstore.
  • Use General Assembly as an opportunity to connect with leaders in congregation near you. You can use the GA App to network. You might even reach out to your neighboring UU congregations in advance.
  • If you can’t walk more than a mile easily, you will want to rent a scooter through GA Accessibility Services. If you often use hearing assistive devices in crowded settings, you will want to use GA Accessibility Services. Better to reserve equipment you turn out not to need than arrive & be blocked from participating because no extra equipment is available.
    GA Accessibility Services. 
  • If you have special dietary requirements, scout out the food vendors before departure and plan well ahead. Make reservations at places that will accept them. Pack extra food if you have really specific needs. It isn’t uncommon to have to wait at GA area restaurants for a long time, or to have relatively few places that can accommodate vegans, folk who need to eat gluten-free, or even offer acceptable fast alternatives for diabetics.
  • Plan a check-in breakfast/lunch/dinner with some people you know at some point.  Even if you’re the independent or introverted type, GA is really overwhelming in the sheer mass of people and having a drink with some familiar faces can be really nice
  • If you don’t know anyone going to GA, start making connecting with people via the GA app and on Twitter.  For example, on Twitter you might tweet “Looking forward to _____ at this year’s #UUAGA conference.”  Fill in the blank with what you’re excited about.  By including the #UUAGA hashtag we can find your tweet on Twitter.  On the GA App you can share posts with photos.  You might share a photo of yourself and share what you’re looking forward to and what leadership role(s) you have in your congregation.
  • If you really want to spend time with someone you haven’t seen in ten years, email them now and ask to get together.  You don’t need to finalize plans now, but many people plan how they are using meals in advance. When you ask they will either say “yes” or “I’d love to talk to you for a minute at some point, but my schedule is totally booked.”
  • Prepare your Unitarian Universalism elevator speech. Local folks ask questions; be prepared to answer.  What’s a Unitarian Universalist?  What’s your conference about?

While you’re there

  • Now that you’ve arrived, remember to HYDRATE!  And take time to eat and pace yourself.  GA is a marathon.
  • You don’t have to go to everything.  And that’s ok.  I ended up skipping things last year, including the Ware Lecture, because I needed a breather.  And dinner.  Besides it will be online.
  • You need to eat.  You’ll need to schedule that in.
  • Attend the orientations, from GA for First Timers to your regional/district ones.  They help.
  • Avoid picking up paper – use digital notes whenever possible (they’re tending toward less paper).
  • Say “Hi” to people & don’t be shy to tell them that you’re a first timer.
  • A great way to meet people is to introduce yourself to people when you sit down in a workshop.  You already know you have a common interest.  Say hello and strike up conversation.
  • Whatever you do, go to the Service of the Living Tradition, the Ware Lecture and the Sunday morning service. See program highlights.
  • Don’t miss the Synergy Bridging Service! We’re the only denomination that honors the transition from youth to young adulthood at our annual assembly.
  • Having a meal with other UUs from across the country can sometimes be more valuable than going to a workshop. Prioritize relationships.
  • I was told this by my congregation and it really made a difference for me.  During a general session (previously called plenary) , if you aren’t sure what you’re about to vote on, don’t hesitate to ask for a point of clarification from the procedure microphone.  Because if you don’t know what you’re voting on, at least 100 other people there don’t know either.
  • There’s this GA tradition that I don’t fully get – getting as many possible ribbons from booths to hang from the bottom of your nametags.  When you check in, at least last year, you even got some “coupons” to take to certain booths to get certain ribbons.  I just followed the crowd on that one.
  • Wear comfy shoes.
  • GA volunteers are often wearing specific shirts or pinnies that identify them easily. They’re there to help you. GA is really possible because of the kindness and support our volunteers give.
  • If you are in need of emotional or spiritual assistance, if you experience any kind of harassment, talk to any shirted GA volunteer and ask them to help you be connected with either the Right Relations Team or the chaplains.
  • You are an ambassador of Unitarian Universalism!
    Many people in and around the convention center will be meeting their first Unitarian Universalists.   While at General Assembly, bring your best self and make living our values an intentional practice.  Sore feet because you forgot your comfy shoes is not an excuse.  Be kind. Be generous. Smile. Pick up trash. You are not a tourist. You are not a business conventioneer. You are an ambassador of our faith.

Play with Video!

  • Going to film video at GA with your smartphone? Checkout my video tips page. Whether you are tweeting or sharing on Facebook or another platform, GA can be a great place to record videos.  If you are at GA with a team, you might take turns filming video updates from GA.

Tourism / Local Information

Have a tip or related resources to share?  Comment on this post or comment wherever I’ve shared this post on Twitter or Facebook.  Thanks! Peter

Tips for attending UUA General Assembly 2016 Edition

PrintThe following list of tips for attending the General Assembly conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association was first made collaboratively by the UU Growth Lab in 2011. I have been updating based on your comments.  Have a tip? Add it as a comment on this post. UUA’s 2016 General Assembly takes place June 22-26 in Columbus, OH.

Follow the UU World’s Coverage:

Before you go:

  • Plan your GA life assuming you will not be able to access wi-fi in the convention center.  Internet access is always and issue. Bring critical information and contact numbers with you. If access is good, enjoy! Otherwise, be prepared.
  • Order a Standing on the Side of Love yellow shirt if you want to join the crowds who will wear these shirts during the Public Witness event.
  • Convention centers, especially the main halls, are usually freezing! Bring a layer you can easily take on and off so you’re okay going from outside to hallways to the general session/plenary ice box…
  • Hydrate! Bring a water bottle. If you’re flying, bring an empty one to fill at a water fountain after you go through security.  You can usually buy a reusable bottle in the Exhibit Hall.
  • If you’re representing your congregation and they have a budget, you might be able to get some good discounts on curricula, books, and marketing materials (banners, postcards, etc.) but remember you’ll have to have a way to get them back.
  • If you are a delegate, READ related business materials before you come.  You are deciding our future. Everything delegates need to review is  available here.
  • GA is amazing for network and learning.  Bring business or personal cards so that you can give your information to others.
  • Be sure that someone from your congregation is bringing the banner.
  • Download & review the Program Guide and/or Mobile App ahead of time.
  • The UUA GA Mobile App is amazing!  If you have a smartphone, make installing it a priority. It will significantly improve your GA experience.
  • You downloaded the Mobile App, now make sure you play with it before you arrive. There are a lot of features. You can choose to follow posts by other attendees, share your own posts tagging which event you’re at, and much more.  The week leading up to GA, try opening the app each day. People will already be posting.  Give it a try!
  • Plan out what workshops you want to go to, but don’t be wedded to the idea.  Pick a few you certainly want to go to, but be open because you’ll change your mind at least once while there.
  • Pick a 2nd workshop for each time slot. You may find that when you arrive at your first choice it’s not what you expected and it will be good to know exactly where to go to find your 2nd choice. (Also, at some GAs, the rooms were too small and you could find yourself unable to attend your 1st choice because it was full.)
  • Pack comfy shoes.
  • Bring a bag you can carry comfortably with you at all times, like a shoulder bag or light backpack.
  • If you’re asked to carry your congregations banner during the banner parade, figure out how the poles/carrying PVC pipes go together before hand.  Here are banner specs from the UUA (pdf).
  • “Last year I had a binder where on the back cover I had a map of the area in the plastic cover thing, the front with my delegate card and other really important info, and inside my travel info, the program book, the business resolutions, etc.  It really helped me stay organized throughout.  Put in paper to take notes on, bring pens, etc.  I had that with me in my laptop bag and it was great.”
  • Talk to people in your congregation to find out about resources you can scout out and bring home and questions they might have, especially if your congregation has a very limited budget and will be under-represented by delegates. It is even nicer when you reach out to area congregations if your cluster is composed of smaller, less financially able congregations, and see how you can help.
  • If you can’t walk more than a mile easily, you will want to rent a scooter through GA Accessibility Services. If you often use hearing assistive devices in crowded settings, you will want to use GA Accessibility Services. Better to reserve equipment you turn out not to need than arrive & be blocked from participating because no extra equipment is available. GA Accessibility Services.
  • If you have special dietary requirements, scout out the food vendors before departure and plan well ahead. Make reservations at places that will accept them. Pack extra food if you have really specific needs. It isn’t uncommon to have to wait at GA area restaurants for a long time, or to have relatively few places that can accommodate vegans, folk who need to eat gluten-free, or even offer acceptable fast alternatives for diabetics.
  • Plan a check-in breakfast/lunch/dinner with some people you know at some point.  Even if you’re the independent/introverted type, GA is really kinda overwhelming in the sheer mass of people and having a drink with some familiar faces can be really nice
  • If you are the only one you know going to GA, start making connecting with people via the GA app, on Twitter using the official #UUAGA hashtag, on the official GA event page.
  • If you really want to hang out with your former minister that you haven’t seen in ten years, email them now and ask them to breakfast.  They will either say “yes” or “I’d love to talk to you for a minute at some point, but my schedule is totally booked.”  If you wait until GA to ask, the answer will almost certainly be the second one.  Ministers are really busy during GA.  I’ve found that breakfast is the meal they are most likely to be free.
  • Prepare your elevator speech about what Unitarian Universalism is and why you are one. Local folks ask questions; be prepared to answer.

 

While you’re there:

  • Now that you’ve arrived, remember to HYDRATE!  And take time to eat and pace yourself.  GA is a marathon.
  • You don’t have to go to everything.  And that’s ok.  I ended up skipping things last year, including the Ware Lecture, because I needed a breather.  And dinner.  Besides it will be online.
  • You do still need to eat.  You’ll need to schedule that in.
  • Attend the orientations, from GA for First Timers to your regional/district ones.  They help.
  • If you’re on a budget, check out the map for what part of the Exhibit Hall you need to avoid
  • Avoid picking up paper – use digital notes whenever possible (they’re tending toward less paper now any way)
  • Say “hi” to people & don’t be shy to tell them that you’re a first timer.
  • Whatever you do, go to the Service of the Living Tradition & the Sunday morning service. See program highlights.
  • Having a meal with other UUs from across the country can sometimes be more valuable than going to a workshop
  • I was told this by my congregation and it really made a difference for me.  During a general session (previously called plenary) , if you aren’t sure what you’re about to vote on, don’t hesitate to ask for a point of clarification from the procedure microphone.  Because if you don’t know what you’re voting on, at least 100 other people there don’t know either.
  • There’s this GA tradition that I don’t fully get – getting as many possible ribbons from booths to hang from the bottom of your nametags.  When you check in, at least last year, you even got some “coupons” to take to certain booths to get certain ribbons.  I just followed the crowd on that one.
  • Wear comfy shoes.
  • GA volunteers are often wearing specific shirts or pinnies that identify them easily. They’re there to help you. GA is really possible because of the kindness and support our volunteers give.
  • If you are in need of emotional or spiritual assistance, if you experience any kind of harassment, grab any shirted GA volunteer and ask them to help you be connected with either the Right Relations Team or the chaplains.
  • You are an ambassador of our faith. Many people in and around the convention center and downtown area will be meeting their first Unitarian Universalists. This is another chance to make a good impression, invite folks to check us out, and show what great community members we can be. Pick up trash. Be kind. Be generous. You are not a tourist. You are not a business conventioneer. You are an ambassador of and for our faith

Joining the GA Choir

  • If you love to sing, GA Choir is your cup of tea. Rarely do we belong to congregations that can boast so many great voices or musicians.
  • You need to register to sing in the choir. Plan to be there for registration as soon as possible, every year it is different but it does fill up.

Get on Twitter!

  • GA is a great time to get on Twitter.  You’ll be surrounded by people to give you advice and amazing content to Tweet about, including the public witness event.
  • Checkout my UU Twitter Resources page and How To Video

Learn More About Our 2016 Public Witness Event

TIP: Going to film at GA with your smartphone? Checkout my video tips page.

stateofemergence1

UU Gotta Tweet at #UUAGA video Crash Course

Update:  If you’re watching this in 2016, remember this year’s GA is in Columbus, OH.

Friends, I told people using the UUA’s mobile General Assembly event app that I’d make a quick tutorial on how to get started on Twitter.  Here it is!

In this video I walk you through the process of setting up a Twitter account,  connecting with UUs on Twitter, and a few basics on hashtags.   This is not a comprehensive training, it is just intended to help you set up a Twitter account before General Assembly.  You can learn during GA and in the #UUsGetSocial workshop series.

I look forward to seeing you in Providence, RI next week and on Twitter.  Once you’ve created your account, make sure to follow me at @UUPLANET.  I will also be announcing new UU social media events for the Fall shortly, ranging from Colorado Springs, CO to Providence, RI.

In cooperation,
Peter

#UUsGetSocial workshop schedule and recording

UPDATE:  You may access resources and recordings here.

I’m excited to announce that the four-part #UUsGetSocial workshop series at the UUA’s General Assembly conference is going to be video taped. It will not be live streamed.

If you’re going to General Assembly, I hope you’ll join us. You may find the full program book online here. If you’re going to be at GA and have a smart phone or tablet, make sure to get the official UUA GA event app.

Workshop Schedule

204 #UUsGetSocial: How Congregations Can Deepen Engagement Online
Thursday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

260 #UUsGetSocial: Updating Your Web Presence: Tools and Tips
Thursday 4:00pm EST
RICC Ballroom BC

306 #UUsGetSocial: Reaching “Nones,” Activists, and Spiritual Seekers
Friday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

408 #UUsGetSocial: Digging Into Facebook, Twitter and Video-Making/Sharing
Saturday 10:15 am EST
RICC Ballroom BC

The Hashtag

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you can search for the tag #UUAGA to pull up all associated tagged posts and Tweets.  Search for #UUsGetSocial, click these links to give it a try:

#UUsGetSocial on Facebook
#UUsGetSocial on Twitter

Connect at GA!

I’ll be at General Assembly all week, including during ministry days, so make sure to connect.   Besides helping to lead this series, I’m going to be talking with clergy colleagues about a new series of social media learning opportunities specifically for parish ministers on making your public ministry more public.  Yes, if you are a professional minister being paid to do public ministry,  I think it is critical that you have a strong online identity — YOU, not just your congregation.  Oh yes, I’m talking about using clergy personal branding as a catalyst for Unitarian Universalist growth.

Look for our Leading Congregations ad in the program book. It shares contact information for contacting  me and Amy at General Assembly, plus an invitation to subscribe to our newsletter.  I’ll be sharing new social media educational offerings and resources via the newsletter following GA.  Don’t miss out!  Some offerings are going to have limited participation, and I’m going to share invitations with subscribers of our newsletter first.

Hope to see you at GA!
Peter Bowden

Tips for Your First General Assembly – 2014 Edition

The following list of tips for attending your first General Assembly conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association was  made collaboratively by the UU Growth Lab. It was first published in 2011 and has since been updated annually.    The UUA’s 2014 General Assembly takes place this June in Providence, RI.

Before you go:

  • Plan your GA life assuming you will not be able to access wi-fi in the convention center.  Internet access is always and issue. Bring critical information and contact numbers with you. If access is good, enjoy! Otherwise, be prepared.
    GA Planning Committee member say there will be multiple free wi-fi locations in the convention center.  I’ve yet to attend a GA without internet access issues…
  • Order a Standing on the Side of Love yellow shirt if you want to join the crowds who will wear these shirts during our Public Witness event on Saturday night.  Order via UUA Bookstore here.
  • Convention centers, especially the main halls, are usually freezing! Bring a layer you can easily take on and off so you’re okay going from outside to hallways to the general session/plenary ice box…
  • Hydrate! Bring a water bottle. If you’re flying, bring an empty one to fill at a water fountain after you go through security.  You can also buy a reusable bottle in the Exhibit Hall.
  • If you’re representing your congregation and they have a budget, you might be able to get some good discounts on curricula, books, and marketing materials (banners, postcards, etc.) but remember you’ll have to have a way to get them back.
  • If you are a delegate, READ the stuff before you come.  You are deciding our future. Available here.
  • Bring business or personal cards so that you can give your information to others.
  • Be sure that someone from your congregation is bringing the banner.
  • Download & review the Program Guide ahead of time.
  • Plan out what workshops you want to go to, but don’t be wedded to the idea.  Pick a few you certainly want to go to, but be open because you’ll change your mind at least once while there.
  • Pick a 2nd workshop for each time slot. You may find that when you arrive at your first choice it’s not what you expected and it will be good to know exactly where to go to find your 2nd choice. (Also, at some GAs, the rooms were too small and you could find yourself unable to attend your 1st choice because it was full.)
  • Pack comfy shoes.
  • Bring a bag you can carry comfortably for days, like a backpack.
  • If you’re asked to carry your congregations banner, figure out how the poles/carrying PVC pipes go together before hand.  I still think my congregation was hazing me last year…
  • Last year I had a binder where on the back cover I had a map of the area in the plastic cover thing, the front with my delegate card and other really important info, and inside my travel info, the program book, the business resolutions, etc.  It really helped me stay organized throughout.  Put in paper to take notes on, bring pens, etc.  I had that with me in my laptop bag and it was great.
  • Talk to people in your congregation to find out about resources you can scout out and bring home and questions they might have, especially if your congregation has a very limited budget and will be under-represented by delegates. It is even nicer when you reach out to area congregations if your cluster is composed of smaller, less financially able congregations, and see how you can help.
  • If you can’t walk more than a mile easily, you will want to rent a scooter through GA Accessibility Services. If you often use hearing assistive devices in crowded settings, you will want to use GA Accessibility Services. Better to reserve equipment you turn out not to need than arrive & be blocked from participating because no extra equipment is available. GA Accessibility Services.
  • Download the official UUA GA 2014 Mobile App:
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id874590675
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.doubledutch.uuaga
  • Don’t wait to download the app until GA, do it now and play with it so you’re oriented to this tool and ready to go come General Assembly.
  • If you have special dietary requirements, scout out the food vendors before departure and plan well ahead. Make reservations at places that will accept them. Pack extra food if you have really specific needs. It isn’t uncommon to have to wait at GA area restaurants for a long time, or to have relatively few places that can accommodate vegans, folk who need to eat gluten-free, or even offer acceptable fast alternatives for diabetics.
  • Plan a check-in breakfast/lunch/dinner with some people you know at some point.  Even if you’re the independent/introverted type, GA is really kinda overwhelming in the sheer mass of people and having a drink with some familiar faces can be really nice.
  • If you are the only one you know going to GA, start making friends with people in the UU Growth Lab at GA Facebook group and via the GA app.
  • If you really want to hang out with your former minister that you haven’t seen in ten years, email them now and ask them to breakfast.  They will either say “yes” or “I’d love to talk to you for a minute at some point, but my schedule is totally booked.”  If you wait until GA to ask, the answer will almost certainly be the second one.  Ministers are really busy during GA.  I’ve found that breakfast is the meal they are most likely to be free.
  • Prepare your elevator speech about what Unitarian Universalism is and why you are one. Folks ask questions; be prepared to answer.

UUA General Assembly 2014 in Providence, RI

While you’re there:

  • Now that you’ve arrived, remember to HYDRATE!  And take time to eat and pace yourself.  GA is a marathon.
  • You don’t have to go to everything.  And that’s ok.  I ended up skipping things last year, including the Ware Lecture, because I needed a breather.  And dinner.  Besides it will be online.
  • You do still need to eat.  You’ll need to schedule that in.
  • Attend the orientations, from GA for First Timers to your regional/district ones.  They help.
  • If you’re on a budget, check out the map for what part of the Exhibit Hall you need to avoid
  • Avoid picking up paper – use digital notes whenever possible (they’re tending toward less paper now any way)
  • Say “hi” to people & don’t be shy to tell them that you’re a first timer.
  • Whatever you do, go to the Service of the Living Tradition on Friday night (updated)  & the Sunday morning service.
  • Having a meal with other UUs from across the country can sometimes be more valuable than going to a workshop
  • I was told this by my congregation and it really made a difference for me.  During a general session (previously called plenary) , if you aren’t sure what you’re about to vote on, don’t hesitate to ask for a point of clarification from the procedure microphone.  Because if you don’t know what you’re voting on, at least 100 other people there don’t know either.
  • There’s this GA tradition that I don’t fully get – getting as many possible ribbons from booths to hang from the bottom of your nametags.  When you check in, at least last year, you even got some “coupons” to take to certain booths to get certain ribbons.  I just followed the crowd on that one.
  • Wear comfy shoes.
  • GA volunteers are often wearing specific shirts or pinnies that identify them easily. They’re there to help you. GA is really possible because of the kindness and support our volunteers give.
  • If you are in need of emotional or spiritual assistance, if you experience any kind of harassment, grab any shirted GA volunteer and ask them to help you be connected with either the Right Relations Team or the chaplains.
  • You are an ambassador of our faith. Many people in and around the convention center and downtown area will be meeting their first Unitarian Universalists. This is another chance to make a good impression, invite folks to check us out, and show what great community members we can be. Pick up trash. Be kind. Be generous. You are not a tourist. You are not a business conventioneer. You are an ambassador of and for our faith

Joining the GA Choir

  • If you love to sing, GA Choir is your cup of tea. Rarely do we belong to congregations that can boast so many great voices or musicians.
  • You need to register to sing in the choir. Plan to be there for registration as soon as possible, every year it is different but it does fill up. This year (2014) it says “GA Choir registration will be held Tuesday 2:00pm– 6:00 pm and Wednesday 12:00 pm – 2:45pm at the kiosk in the West Prefunction lobby on the fifth floor of the Rhode Island Convention Center. Singers may register and pick up their music (for a $10 music fee). There will be a waiting list kept at the first rehearsal for spaces that may open subsequently.” Note all the rehearsals in the schedule. You may miss something else you’d like to do. You can’t do it all. Choir is a commitment, but worth it. I’ve heard the same about being a volunteer.

Before GA, make time to play — with the mobile app!

UUAGA 2014 App

If you’re going to the UUA’s 2014 General Assembly conference in Providence, RI this June and have a smart phone or tablet, you’ll want to make sure to download the brand new UUA General Assembly app. I just gave it a test drive and it is fabulous.  But don’t wait until GA, you’ll want to downloaded it now and start using it so come General Assembly, you’re good to go!

The UUA General Assembly 2014 app   is the official interactive mobile app for the annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Inspirational worship services, informative workshops, entertaining programs, and a bustling exhibit hall help make GA an unforgettable experience for the thousands of Unitarian Universalists that attend.  (From iTunes App Store)

Before GA, make time to PLAY!

The UUA General Assembly 2014 app is LOADED with features.  So many, in fact, that I think you need to spend some time with the app before arriving at General Assembly. You don’t want to waste valuable GA time getting oriented to the app — do that in advance.

This mobile app allows you to:

  •  View schedules, explore sessions, and find after parties.
  •  Create your own personal schedule and access location and speaker information.
  •  Access interactive maps and find local places.
  •  Check­in to sessions, meetings, keynotes, and exhibitor booths.
  •  View an entire feed of the event activity, including attendee check­ins, photos, and more.
  •  Earn points, badges, and prizes for being active on the app and at the event.
  •  Expand your professional network and have fun!

Listed features include:

  • Update ­ — a quick way to share photos, comments, where you are, and which session you’re attending
  • Activity — ­ keep your finger on the pulse of the event. See what people are doing, view photos from the event, find trending sessions and topics, and “like” and comment on other attendee check­ins
  • Agenda — ­ view the full agenda and related information (session time, room number, speaker info, etc.) Attendees ­ see who’s at the event, and connect with them on the app
  • Exhibitors — ­ find exhibitors and sponsors, check­in to leave comments and feedback
  • Profile — ­ your official app profile, highlighting your name, profile photo, title, and organization
  • Leaderboard ­ — see who has the most points at the conference and climb your way to the top with check­ins

See? It’s loaded… So, do take time to set up a profile,  figure out how to navigate to events and venues,  share photos, and follow people you want to connect with at GA before you arrive at GA.

A Word of Caution
We don’t want to have thousands of UUs gather for General Assembly and then have all social media traffic for General Assembly get redirected into an app that only people at GA can see.  GA should be the most active UU social media week of the year, not a time when Unitarian Universalism goes silent.  Use the app, but don’t hide in it…

Keep it Social
Make sure that if you use the app, you still Tweet and share Facebook and other social media updates.  The app lets you connect Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to the app and select which updates get sent out via those channels.

Tag it #UUAGA
Don’t forget to include the #UUAGA tag in any update you post via the app that you are also sending to Twitter! The app does not hashtag for you.

Don’t Forget Your Friends
While this app allows us to connect with others at GA in powerful ways, much the way Twitter & Facebook connect us year round,  we need to make sure we don’t totally abandon those who are not plugged in!  Keep your heart open and your eyes out for those who are not digitally connected at General Assembly.

Photos of Public Witness
The app does let you take and share photos. However, if you take and share photos of public witness and and use the app to send them to Twitter, they appear as links in your tweets, not automatically displayed Twitter photos.   During public witness I’m going close the app and focus on sharing Twitter photos and videos made with Vine — that will get more reach.

Peter Bowden at #UUAGALet’s Connect!
You can connect with me, Peter Bowden, on the GA app and on Facebook & Twitter. During General Assembly, this year I will be focusing on talking ministry & media with all of you.

Also, look for my Leading Congregations ad in the GA program book. That’s the home for my interfaith congregational consulting practice . At General Assembly I’m going to be booking the rest of my speaking, training and coaching for the year. If you wanted to work with me in 2014-2015, make sure to connect with me at GA. I expect to be booked for year by July 15h.

Download the UUA General Assembly App:

Collaborative Mulitmedia Piece for Sunday Morning GA Worship

Photo by Jake JacobsonFriends, we are working on creating a multimedia piece for Sunday morning worship at General Assembly to the reading “Beatitudes for Justice Builders” by the Rev. Lindi Ramsden.

In order to bring this message to life, we are looking for additional photographs of people engaged in many different kinds of activities: social action, worship, meetings, tender moments, service, working, playing…

Do you have photos to contribute?  Please share them with us by this Friday, May 16th. Logistics and copy of the reading are below.

Our vision is to create a visual presentation that is colorful, creative, fun, and moving. In addition to being part of  worship at General Assembly, if all goes well, this piece will be available after GA for congregational use.

In the Spirit of Collaboration,
Amy & Peter

How to Submit Photos

1. To contribute photos:

  • Email: For one or a handful of  photos, please email them to us here.
  • If you use Flickr and have lots of photos to share (more than 5) post them to the UU Stock Photo group and letting us know via email that you’ve shared them there.
  • If you use Dropbox, email Peter and he can share a Dropbox folder with you.

2. Photo size:   Photographs are going to be included in HD video presentation at 1920 x 1080, so please only share photos at that can resolution or larger.

3. Please only submit photos that you have permission to share online or that are already publicly available online such as on congregational Facebook pages.  We do not want to spend time hunting down photo permissions and so prefer images already online.

4.  In sharing photos with us you are granting us permission to use them in the multimedia piece at GA, which will be live streamed, permission to use in an online video, and affirming that you have permission of people in the photo to share it.  Permissions are not needed for photos taken at larger public witness events.  Not sure if you have the okay to share?  Please do not share with us or ask those in the photo first.

5. Please include the names of photographers to include in credits.    We will be sharing names of contributors in a slide at the end of the piece.

The Reading

“Beatitudes for Justice Builders” by the Rev. Lindi Ramsden

1 Blessed are you who can question your own assumptions and listen with an open mind; you will receive new insights beyond your imagining.

2 Blessed are you who build friendships as well as justice; even when you lose an issue, you will have strengthened the foundation of your community.

3 Blessed are you who take delight in people; you will not be bored in meetings.

4 Blessed are you who agitate the placid waters of complacency; you will create waves in the inertia of privilege, and will know the thrill of riding the surf of change.

5 Blessed are you who lead with enthusiasm and confidence, resisting the temptation to shame the apathetic or self-absorbed; you will inspire curiosity and hope in others.

6 Blessed are you who play as well as work; you will have more fun, build more energy, and will draw the powers of the impish to your cause.

7 Blessed are you who ask for help in your role as leaders; you will find teachers at every turn, and your work will remain interesting and alive.

8 Blessed are you who do not demonize your opponents; your eyes and your hearts will be open.

9 Blessed are you who sing and dance; you will find energy and joy to lift you on your journey.

10 Blessed are you who offer thanks and praise five-fold for every critique; your children will want to visit after they are grown, people will want to serve on your committees, and friends will be interested in your opinions.

11 Blessed are you who study the rhythms of history; you will have knowledge with which to shape the future.

12 Blessed are you who work in coalition rather than in principled isolation; you will meet great people, learn things you didn’t realize you needed to know, and have partners for the journey when you are in the lead, or in need.

13 Blessed are you who discover, train and encourage young leaders; you will see your work expand and grow beyond your own time and talent.

14 Blessed are you who can change your mind; you are still alive.

15 Blessed are you who will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good; you will see progress in your lifetime.

16 Blessed are you with an active spiritual life; you will find perspective and comfort in times of loss and betrayal, and will rise without cynicism to meet the challenges of a new day.

17 Blessed are you who live from a place of gratitude; for you will know the meaning of Life.

 

Start Tweeting at #UUAGA in 3 Easy Steps

Reprinted from previous UU Planet post.

You have a smart phone, you’re on Facebook,  you might even have an iPad.  If you DO and you’re at General Assembly, it is time to try Twitter.  I know you can do it and I want to follow your tweets.  Here’s a quick guide.

  1. Find someone you know who is techie and probably tweets.
  2. Offer to buy them an ice coffee if they help you get set up on Twitter.
  3. Do what they say.

I’m serious! GA is the perfect time to get some social media and tech coaching from friends and colleagues.

We need to help each other to learn the communication tools of our time.  I’ve found that one-on-one is best for some people, especially those who are anxious about trying. That’s why I’m doing more private clergy social media training these days.  But I can’t do that for everyone. We need to help each other. If you are at GA and Tweet, try and teach one person how to do the same during the week.

Now that you are set up, make sure to do the following while your coach is standing by…

  1. Write your first tweet. If you’re at GA, include the hashtag #UUAGA.
  2. Next, have them show you how to search for a hashtag, that’s the keyword tags we use to create conversations. Search for #UUAGA by clicking here.
  3. Follow other UU’s tweeting using that tag.
  4. Follow me on Twitter @uuplanet. I’ll follow you back.

Let me know via Twitter if you’ve started Tweeting this GA.

Don’t forget to use the GA Hash Tag!  When you tweet during GA, if you want all of us to follow it, include the tag #UUAGA.

Use Hahtag #UUAGA at GA

Videos: Thousands of Unitarian Universalists protest Arpaio’s Tent City jail

On Saturday, June 23, 2012 thousands of Unitarian Universalists and immigration partners protested outside of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Tent City jail.  The following are videos containing footage from this event, including UU World videos and media from vigil participants. For full coverage of this religious witness event and the 2012 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, visit the UU World’s GA blog.

UU World description: On Saturday, June 23, 2012, more than 2,000 Unitarian Universalists and their immigration justice partners protested outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “Tent City” jail in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Justice General Assembly in Phoenix. Read UU World’s coverage of the vigil and a tour Sheriff Arpaio gave to UUA President Peter Morales, United Church of Christ President Geoffrey Black, and other religious leaders:
blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2012/06/24/thousands-wage-peaceful-protest-at-tent-city/
blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2012/06/24/religious-delegation-visits-tent-city/

This 4-minute film includes footage from two previously published UU World videos:

Our colleagues with Denver Film & Video recorded the speakers at the vigil — 14 minutes.

Religious Leaders Tour Tent City

UU World description: The Rev. Leslie Takahashi-Morris was part of a delegation of religious leaders who toured the ‘Tent City’ jails in Phoenix, Ariz., on Saturday June 23, 2012.

UU World description: The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, describes the Maricopa County, Ariz., “Tent City” jail to the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries. Black toured the jail with Unitarian Universalist Association President Peter Morales and other religious leaders on Saturday, June 23, 2012, before an interfaith vigil outside the jail organized as part of the UUA’s General Assembly. blogs.uuworld.org/ga/2012/06/24/religious-delegation-visits-tent-city/

Black, Jaramillo, and the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, UCC Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer, attended the UUA General Assembly as interfaith guests. Black took part in the Sunday worship service.

ucc.org/news/ucc-leaders-to-join-unitarian.html

Three days before the Tent City vigil, the Unitarian Universalists Association held a rally following the opening of their 2012 General Assembly conference.  Event was held on the block adjacent to the Phoenix Convention Center. Read the UU World blog post about this event.

Additional Vigil Videos


GA Video Blog: Behind the magic curtain! Meet the streaming video team

During the 2011 General Assembly conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association I conducted a video blogging experiment in partnership with the UU World Magazine.  If you watch and share these videos, please share feedback with me.  Are these interesting, helpful, relevant? I want to know!

This is video #14 in the series.

Video description from post on UU World GA blog:

This General Assembly I’ve had the pleasure of working with UU World and other UUA staff, and some of the volunteers who make the technology powering GA work. I conclude  our video blog experiment—14 videos over 4 days—with a tip of the hat to the tech wizards behind the plenary curtain.


Follow the UU World Magazine

See full coverage of the 2011 General Assembly:
http://www.uua.org/ga/2011

Keep in touch! 
Follow me on Twitter @uuplanet and connect on Facebook via my UU Growth page and in the UU Growth Lab.  To subscribe to my e-newsletter for congregational leaders, click here.