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Past Fora in 2011 at
Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

"There was something about driving to work every day and you go past the ruins of the forum and think, God, you know, these people actually walked the Earth."
-- Lindsay Duncan, actress who played Servilia of the Junii in the 2005 HBO-BBC series Rome.

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) in Knoxville, Tennessee, usually complements its Sunday morning worship services with a "forum" on various topics. In 2007, there were 44 fora, all of which are described below. Click here for information on the current forum and on future fora.

Click here for the home page of the church website.
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Click here for information on all past fora in 2008 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
Click here for information on all past fora in 2009 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

Sunday, January 2, 2011: NO FORUM Today -- Closest Sunday to New Years Day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Our Green Sanctuary." To become a Green Sanctuary, TVUUC must adopt an action plan for "living in harmony with the Earth" which involves our worship and celebration, religious education, environmental justice, and sustainable living -- our grounds, parking lot, location, transportation, facilities, kitchen, food, recycling/reuseables, office and cleaning supplies, energy use, and investment policies. Sue Evans and Gene Burr, current and past chairs of the TVUUC Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC), will lead a discussion of TVUUC's efforts to become a Green Sanctuary, including preparation for an upcoming congregational vote which would commit TVUUC to an on-going Green Sanctuary program. Sue has corporate experience with environmental regulation, remediation, planning and innovation. Gene is an architect, urban planner, past president of Scenic Tennessee, and former member of the UUA Accessibilities Committee.

Sunday, January 16, 2011: Forum at 10:10 AM -- "Sustainability" An overview and discussion of the energy situation in our region, the evolving role of local governments in driving national sustainable best practices, and the City of Knoxville's efforts "grow economic prosperity through environmental responsibility." Presented and led by Knoxville's Sustainability Coordinator, Jacob Tisinger, whose job is to promote a healthy and energy-efficient city through government and community-oriented initiatives. Jake holds a degree in Landscape Architecture from the Iowa State University. As Sustainability Coordinator, he administers the Solar America Cities Program and serves on Knoxville's Electric Vehicle Advisory Board. On his own time, he volunteers with Knoxville's More Community Gardens initiative.

Sunday, January 23, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Reflections on Arizona." Everyone is deeply concerned about the attack in Tucson on January 8, the TVUUC email discussion list has been over active, and several church members have proposed our taking action of some kind, perhaps in connection with the UUA Standing on the Side of Love campaign (SOSL). The forum hour is limited in time but conveniennt to the greatest number of people. Retired history professor John Bohstedt will facilitate this forum to share information, insights, views, questions, and suggestions, and partly to see whether we might agree on some future paths. Another forum related to the Standing on the Side of Love may be held on February 13, the Sunday nearest Valentine's Day.

Sunday, January 30, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "TVUUC Social Action Over the Years: Ruth Martin's Story." In recognition of Martin Luther King Day (January 17) and Black History Month (February), Ruth Martin (assisted by Ed Goff) will recall our own participation in social action over the years. Ruth got her masters degree in social work in 1951, joined the Knoxville/Knox County Office on Aging in 1977, and has been an advocate for seniors ever since. She received the Covenant Platinum Award in 2008 (along with Roger Frey, Robert Hayes, Libba Jaco, and fellow UU Shigeko Uppuluri). At this forum, she will tell us about TVUUC's Fellowship Camp, interracial mens group (which met at the bus station), lunch counter sit-ins, and chicken processing war in Morristown. She'll also recall TVUUC's sponsorship of a family from Guatemala (with whom Ruth shared her home for seven years) and her accompanying two medical mission teams to Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Sunday, February 6, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "How to Do Things with Words." What is the power of words, and where does it come from? How can we use our own speech to counteract the destructive power of polarizing language and unleash the creative power of humanizing language? TVUUC member Laurie Knox will introduce some concepts from linguistics that might help us get a handle on these questions and help us use linguistic concepts to exploit the generative power of language to speak on the side of love. As a full-time lecturer in Rhetoric and English at the University of Tennessee and long-time student of linguistics, Laurie has for years been seeking a way to satisfy her father's wish that she "do something practical" with her life. Recent events suggest that devoting one's professional life to musing about language may have some real-world value after all.

Click here for a special web page entitled
Aftermath of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona, at
Tennessee Valley Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC),
Knoxville, Tenneseee

Sunday, February 13, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Honoring Courageous Love," UUA's campaign to end bigotry and oppression -- Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) -- is rooted in the outpouring of love which followed the violence at TVUUC in July 2008. And SSL manager Dan Furmansky has come from Massachusetts on the Sunday nearest Valentine's Day to help us celebrate the 2nd annual National Standing on the Side of Love Day. Dan will talk about "Love People" from across the country who are seeking justice, equality, community, interfaith partnership, and inclusion. He will also offer reflections from his own life on how love -- in the form of work for social justice -- can help to heal the painful scars of emotional and physical violence. Dan has 16 years of experience working with legislators and with non-profit and progressive advocacy organizations focused on issues related to civil rights, the environment, animal welfare, hunger and poverty, consumer advocacy, immigrant rights, religious freedom, and economic justice.

Click here for a special web page entitledAftermath of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona, at
Tennessee Valley Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC),
Knoxville, Tenneseee.

Sunday Afternoon, February 13, 2011 (the day before Valentine's Day): Forum from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, in Sanctuary of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Chruch (TVUUC) -- Interfaith Forum: "Standing on the Side of Love -- Spiritual Approaches to Political Polarization." When election politics become polarized, it can impact relationships around the water cooler at the office, the coffee hour in a congregation, or the dinner table at home. The First Amendment guarantees every American freedom of speech. Spirituality invites us to express our views in the spirit of love; to respect the worth and dignity of every person, including our opponents; to refrain from violence of the body, mind or spirit; to seek justice not by humiliating an enemy but through actions that build up community and mutual respect. Some variation of the Golden Rule is found in all the major world religions, inviting us into relationships where we treat others the way we would want to be treated. A panel of interfaith leaders will share spiritual approaches to the challenges of political polarization that can help us reclaim the public forum, the water cooler, the coffee hour, the family table for friendship and community; to move beyond "us and them" to a deeper understanding of what it means to be "We, the people."

Click here for a special web page entitledAftermath of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona, at
Tennessee Valley Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC),
Knoxville, Tenneseee.

Sunday, February 20, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Solid Waste Guys Talk Trash" Frank and Dick know all about trash. They'll tell us where it comes from and where it goes. They'll show us The Story of Electronics, a new eight-minute film by Annie Leonard. They'll tell us about some new recycling programs at TVUUC. And they'll answer all our trashy questions. Solid Waste Guy Frank Sewell is executive director of the Knoxville Recycling Coalition (KRC). He worked 32 years for Anderson County -- including 15 years as Solid Waste Director -- and is a certified State of Tennessee landfill operator. Solid Waste Guy Dick Trowbridge represents the TVUUC Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC). He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, has been a cabinetmaker since 1983, and owns Trowbridge Fine Furniture & Cabinets in South Knoxville. Come to see Frank and Dick cope with trash.

Sunday, February 27, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "You Tube Anyone?" The TVUUC Forum on November 21, 2010, was devoted to seven different on-line videos. Here's a selection of more short videos thought to be fun and/or informative for a UU audience. We'll see as many as we can see in one hour. You can also click these titles on the forum's master video list ( and see them whenever you want!

Eight Videos Actually Seen During the Forum:

"Gotta Hoop" (5:49). Filmed in Los Angeles by Philo Hagen. Soundtrack is "Gotta Do" by Quentin Harris from his album "No Politics." Suggested by Jenny Arthur 24 Feb 2011.

"Right Here, Right Now," by Fatboy Slim (3:49). Suggested by Chris Buice 25 Feb 2011.

"Campaign Speech to a Black Audience" by Robert F. Kennedy, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 4, 1968 (5:28). Suggested by Rev. Chris Buice 2-3 years ago.

"Patience Waiting - Dedicated to TVUUC 7/27/08" (5:57). Produced in December 2010 by synthpop artists Bobby Clark and Stephen Pearlman.

"SSL Presents Courageous Love Award to Knoxville Churches" (5:25). Shows Dan Furmansky, national manager of UUA's Standaing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign, presenting the awards during the TVUUC forum on Sunday, February 13, 2011.

"Once Upon a Time in Knoxville: America's Third World Future" (3:15). Preview of a one-hour documentary by British film maker Will Fraser about Knoxvillian James (Rollo) Sullivan.

"The Joy of Stats (200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes)" by Hans Rosling of Sweden, BBC Four (4:48). See other Rosling videos. Suggested by Bob DeRycke 23 Feb 2011.

"Obama! A Modern U.S. President a la Gilbert & Sullivan (2:22).

Sunday, March 6, 2011: First of Two Fora at 10:05 AM -- "Masks, Badges, Uniforms & Titles -- The Uses and Misuses of Artificial Identity" Presented by Dr. Homer C. Wilkins, TVUUC member and "freelance UU minister." Exposing our true selves is risky. So we often adopt some form of artificial identity. This is unnecessary and detrimental to real communication. Truly authentic interactions should be our aim if we are to be fully human -- and humane. The pros and cons of artificial identity will be illustrated by reference to a few literary works, as well as some ordinary real life stories. Homer graduated from Harvard, then received a Ph.D. in physics from Washington University in St. Louis. After teaching for 26 years in several colleges, he earned a Master's Degree in clinical social work and become the administrator of a community mental health center. Since retirement, he has spoken at over sixty UU churches across the country.

Sunday, March 6, 2011: Second of Two Fora at 10:05 AM -- " Searching for a Permanent Director of Youth RE" Did you know that Jill Rochelson, who has been serving as interim director of youth religious education (RE), will leave the position over the summer? An RE search committee chaired by Mary Jo Holden is starting a wide-reaching search to find a replacement for Jill. Mary Jo and other members of the search committee will provide an overview and timetable for the search process. Then they want to hear from you -- parents, church school teachers, teens, and also members of the congregation who know the RE director only from the “Story for All Ages” segment of the Sunday service. What qualities and skills do you value most highly for the person who will fill this position? Our children truly are our future. Please come and participate in this endeavor that is so important to our church life.

Sunday, March 13, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Non-Violence: A Force More Powerful." Peter Ackerman, an authority on nonviolent strategy, and Jack DuVall, a veteran writer, made the film "A Force More Powerful" to tell how popular movements have used nonviolent weapons to overthrow dictators, obstruct military invaders, and secure human rights in country after country over the past century. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, the film contains six 26-minute epiosdes:

(1) Mahatma Gandhi in the 1930's,
(2) Nashville sit-ins in 1960,
(3) Mikhuseli Jack & South African apartheid in 1985,
(4) Danish resistance to the Nazis in April 1940,
(5) Polish Solidarity Movement in 1980, and
(6) Chilean workers resistance to Augusto Pinochet in 1983-1988.
We shall vote to determine which two episodes we want to see in this hour.

Sunday, March 20, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "The Evolutionary History of Flowers" To celebrate the arrival of Spring, we have invited Dr. Joseph H. Williams, Jr., Associate Professor in UT's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, to talk about flowers. According to Dr. Williams, flowering plants -- the angiosperms -- make up the vast majority of the green world in which we live, and the origin of flowering plants was truly a "big bang" in evolutionary history. In his presentation, Dr. Williams will show us what researchers have learned over the past 150 years as they came to understand the reproduction mechanism of flowering plants and why this unique process has been so successful. This condenses a two-hour presentation which Dr. Williams gave to the Rationalists of East Tennessee (RET) on Dec. 5, 2010.

Sunday, March 27, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "When We Were Strangers." Since we're a nation of immigrants, it has always been important to examine the immigrant experience, but doing so has never been more timely than during today's vitriolic public debate. Local author Pamela Schoenewaldt has just published "When We Were Strangers" (HarperCollins, 2011), an historical novel tracing the journey of a young Italian seamstress forced to leave her mountain village in Italy in the 1880's and stitch herself a new life in America. The novel is a Barnes & Noble Great Discoveries selection and has been called a "heartbreaking debut" by Publishers Weekly. Pamela will read from her novel, discuss fiction writing, and draw lessons for today's debate about immigration. She is the deacon for social justice at Church of the Savior. Her website ( contains excerpts, her bio, and critical praise of the novel. (This forum was suggested by Julie Harris.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011: Forum at 10:10 AM -- "The Last Reunion." Guest forum presenter Jay Searcy recalls a time when America was a team. A time when we made sacrifices without complaint, supported our president without question, and honored the standards of decency. A time of American patriotism and pride, of hope and love and humility. It was World War II, and the nation was one. Particurly in Oak Ridge where Jay grew up. Now, after a long career as sports writer and editor for the Kingsport Times-News, Chattanooga Times, New York Times, and Philadelphi Inquirer, Jay has written "The Last Reunion: The Class of 1952 Comes Home to the Secret City" about the near classless society he knew as a youth, a society of families and genius scientists who pulled off the greatest scientific experiment in history – the making of the atomic bomb. Jay and other members of Oak Ridge High School class of 1952 "joined hands as strangers and never let go." They came home for a last reunion in the summer of 2010 and brought their stories with them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011: Forum at 10:10 AM -- "How to House the Homeless." Ginny Weatherstone will talk about what works and what doesn’t based on her own experience and her studies of best practices around the country. She is Chief Executive Officer of the Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC), a non-profit, interfaith agency which facilitates permanent supportive housing for those who are homeless and provides services to prevent homelessness. VMC promoted the conversion of the Fifth Avenue Hotel into a complex of 57 one-bedroom apartments and efficiencies named Minvilla Manor as part of the Knoxville/Knox County Mayors’ 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. FYI, this forum follows another TVUUC forum which Stephanie Matheny presented about homelessness on September 19, 2010.

Sunday, April 17, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Cool Minds and Coal Mines." On March 12-13, eight members of TVUUC's Environmental Concerns Committee (Ann McMahon, Phil Bilfulco, Barbara Taylor, Allen Monsarrat, Trish Wilksten, Brad Wilsten, Wendy Syer and Dick Trowbridge) helped plant 7,500 native trees and shrubs at an old mining site in the East Kentucky Coal Fields. For this year's Earth Day forum, they will tell us about their trip, discuss conversations they had with people who live in the coal fields, and show some short videos, including an interview with environmental activist Wendell Berry during the sit-in at the Kentucky governor's office on February 11-14 protesting mountain top removal (MTR). A representative of United Mountain Defense will visit the forum to update us on the current status of MTR legislation in Tennessee.

Sunday, April 24, 2011: Forum at 10:10 AM -- "Egypt's Miracle: An Outsider's View from Inside Tahrir Square." UT professor Brian K. Barber watched the ground zero of the Eqyptian Revolution fill up with protestors, empty out, and fill up again. He was in Egypt to see how the revolution would progress or disolve. In Knoxville, he is founding director of the Center for the Study of Youth & Political Violence, professor of child and family studies, and adjunct professor of psychology (also Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization and UNICEF). Dr. Barber researches adolescent development in social context in Africa, Asia, the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. He specializes in the study of adolescent development in contexts of political violence, with a particular focus on youth from the Gaza Strip, Palestine, and Sarajevo, Bosnia. His work has been supported by the US National Institute for Mental Health, the Social Science Research Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation of Switzerland, the Jerusalem Fund, and the US Institute for Peace (USIP). You can read Prof. Barber's blog at

Sunday, May 1, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "China: People, Culture & Politics -- Past, Present & Future." Presented by Justin Green, retired Professor of Political Science at Villanova University and member of the TVUUC forum committee since April 2007. Justin will be making the point that in the past and present and for the future Chinese culture fits perfectly with the model of controlled capitalism that has moved their economy so quickly to the forefront of economic success. And that the West's hope that China's ecnomic progress will lead to demands for more Western style freedoms is unlikely to be realized. Many in Asia are beginning to see Chinese capitalsm as the wave of the future and to conclude that China will once more be as it was 1000 years ago -- "the Center of the World."

Sunday, May 8, 2011: Forum at 10:05 AM -- "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" Ruth Martin revives a TVUUC tradition -- play reading. With the help of some veteran TVUUC actors (Ellie Gardner, Justin Green, Eleanor Peplow, Robert Porter, Homer Wilkins ???), Ruth will cast and produce a one-hour reading of Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a play by Brian Clark adapted from his 1972 television play of the same title. The play premiered at the Mermaid Theatre in London's West End in 1978 starring Tom Conti as Ken Harrison, a sculptor by profession, who was paralysed from the neck down (quadriplegia) in a car accident and is determined to be allowed to die. (In the US, the lead was played by Mary Tyler Moore, and the principal character's name became Claire.) The film starring Richard Dreyfuss can be seen (in 9 parts) on YouTube ( /// As everyone knows, Ruth received TVUUC's first annual Lifetime Achievement Award during the TVUUC forum on February 13, 2011.

Sunday, May 8, 2011: Special Two-Hour Forum from 3:00 to 5:00 PM -- The "Final Exit Network" Defends Death With Dignity. Presented by Judy Snyderman, Board Member, Final Exit Network (FEN), who is visiting Knoxville from her home in Mason, Ohio. FEN believes that mentally competent adults have a basic human right to end their lives when they suffer from a fatal illness or intractable pain, when their quality of life is personally unacceptable, and the future is hopeless. Ms. Synderman presented a forum at TVUUC on April 4, 2010, entitled "Death With Dignity: The Human Right of the 21st Century." Since then, FEN has become involved in law suits with the states of Arizona and Georgia. This longer forum will permit an update on FEN's legal status and a more in-depth discussion of end-of-life issues, including issues raised during the Sunday morning reading of the play "Whose Life Is It Anyway?"

Please email any comments or questions to geovisual at

Click here for information on the current forum.
Click here for a sample newsletter (PDF format, 341 kb).
Click here for the home page of the church website.
Click here to see The Forum in 2008 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.