April in Portland!

Did you know that Regional Assembly is coming here?! Well, across the river in Portland, to the Lloyd Center. This is a regional assembly of all Unitarian Universalist congregations from Hawaii to California up to Washington, from New Mexico to Montana and everywhere in between. The Pacific Western Region includes congregations in the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Central, the Pacific Southwest and the Mountain Desert districts. Regional Assembly happens April 27-29 at the Lloyd Center Double Tree in Portland, OR.

Regional gatherings are a great way to recognize that we are not alone. That our church is a part of a greater network of congregations. That issues which affect us, touch others. We learn from them, and they learn from us, and together we can make more happen.

Keynote speaker on Saturday, April 28 will be Congresswoman Pramila Jayapil from our great state of Washington. The newly elected president of the UUA, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, will share her emerging vision for our future. And on Sunday, April 29, the Rev. Dr. William Barber will lead worship. (Barber is the leader of the Moral Monday protests in his home state of North Carolina, and author of The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement.) So that you might all hear Dr. Barber speak, we are not holding competing worship here at the UU Church of Vancouver that particular Sunday. We will send all our people to the Lloyd Center. You do not have to be registered for Regional Assembly to join us for worship on Sunday morning! Worship begins at 10:30am (and will last until 12noon) and is open to the public. You can meet your carpool at the church parking lot at 9:00am and head over in groups.

This is a great opportunity that will not be here again for a few years. I hope you will get excited and join us for the last weekend in April. If you'd like to do more than attend Sunday morning worship, you may register for the entire weekend and attend workshops, etc. Here is where you can read more information about this exciting gathering of liberal religious people coming to our region very soon.

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Practicing Intention

Our January theme is Intention. One of the ways that we can invite intention into our hearts and homes is through a ritual of invitation. One such ritual that many practice is that of Sankalpa. Sankalpa is a Sanskrit term. It is thought that the term Sankalpa once meant to have a resolve. Today, many interpret it to mean more of a promise to focus on that which is already within oneself. In some traditions, a ritual of Sankalpa is practiced by beginning with a purposeful statement of "I will". In more recent years, Sanskrit scholars have determined that the English phrase of "I am" better reflects the original intent of Sankalpa. Many individuals take time to practice the ritual of Sankalpa before yoga classes, before large life changes, and at the beginning of the year. Some persons create both long term and short term Sankalpa statements.

A Sankalpa is not something that one can successfully meet or not meet. It already exists within oneself. However, Sankalpa statements can be reflected on from time to time to determine how great of influence it is having on one's life journey. They serve as sort of a compass so see if one is headed in the direction that they desire to go.

To create a Sankalpa, begin by sitting in quiet a space. Think about what you might wish you could do or be better at. Then, start to let the mind wonder about which of those things might hold some current presence within you. For example, if you want to be more fit, you might think about what kind of movement you are capable at this moment of creating or what kind of movement brings you joy. A Sankalpa statement for this might be, "I am moving. I am cultivating health in my body". If you wanted to be more peaceful, you might reflect on what you need to find peace. A statement for this might be something like, "I am listening. I am at peace."

The ultimate goal of an intention, resolution, or Sankalpa is to inspire one to be their best selves. What practices or rituals do you use to set goals on your journey? What are some of your goals for the year? We would love hear about the steps, practices, and intentions that you are taking to be your best self in 2018! Send your stories to lifelonglearning@uucvan.org.


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Resources for Online Writing

Whether it's an article in the weekly bulletin, a post on Facebook, or writing for this very website, a lot of communication both at UUCV and in the wider world happens online. But how do you write for an internet audience? Here are some resources for effective online writing. 

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For general writing tips, The Writer's style guide  is an easy-to-read general use manual for questions like: how do apostrophes work, again? Should I write 8 or eight? Do I want to use affect or effect?

If you want a more light-hearted look at casual grammar and usage, check out Grammar Girls's Quick and Dirty Tips, a podcast and blog about common mistakes we all make. For example, did you know it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition, or that one space after a period is standard when writing online?

To learn how to make your content more readable, Hubspot's The Art of Scannable Content offers a thorough guide on how to "write for scanners"; in other words, making your content quick and easy to digest even if people are just skimming through:

"Nielsen's research found that 79% of people scan web pages. That begs the question: If the majority of readers already prefer skimming, why wouldn't you want to make it an easy, enjoyable, and efficient process for them?

Ultimately, if you want people to read your writing, you have to adjust to your audience. You have to be empathetic and courteous. It's not about you, it's about them. Don't forget that."

The University of Maryland also offers some tips on best practices in regards to tone, length, formatting, and more:

"Link, link, and link to relevant information. If you mention the UM shuttle, link to it. If you want to include someone's email address, link their name. If you mention a faculty member, link to their bio page. Don't make people go and search for something you mention if it already has a page somewhere."

Finally, if you want to make sure what you write is accessible to people with disabilities, The Web Accessibility Initiative has several tips on how to write accessibly. For more information, also check out their article on why web accessibility is important:

"The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.

Thus the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world. However, when web sites, applications, technologies, or tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.

Accessibility is essential for developers and organizations that want to create high quality websites and web tools, and not exclude people from using their products and services."

This is just a quick sample of advice on how to write online. Like all things, creating clear, well-written, and accessible internet content is a skill that must be practiced and can always be improved. Hopefully these resources can provide a helping hand when navigating the world of writing for online readers.


Danielle Ebert
Office Assistant


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