Movie – “Before the Flood”

Whether we like it or not, Climate Change is upon us – and unless we take action now, it will destroy civilization as we know it today and many forms of life on the planet.

Readers of this notice are invited to a free showing of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “Before the Flood” to be presented by the Wildflower Terrace Environmental/Climate Change Committee in collaboration with the Ethical Society of Austin, in the Wildflower Terrace Auditorium, at 3801 Berkman (cross street Tom Miller) on Sunday April 9 at 2:00pm (doors open 1:30pm). Parental discretion advised regarding the attendance of children.

The 96 minute film illustrates dramatically the current effects of the forces of Climate Change. After the showing there will be an opportunity for discussion on what we can do, individually and collectively, to turn around the tide of destruction before it is too late. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to become more informed and hopefully more involved.

If you plan to attend, please let Joan Quenan (e: jequenan at or Rich Harrison (e: rth12000 at know in advance.  (replace ‘at’ with @)

Day of the Fallen- March and Lobby Day – 3/1/2017

Worker’s Defense Project Lobby Day starts at 10 am.  March at 4 pm.
J J Pickle Federal Building
300 E 8th St, Austin, Texas 78701

Texas is the most deadly and dangerous state for construction workers’ to work in the country, but WDP is working to change this.

Each legislative session WDP works to defeat bills that harm workers and pass bills that will better protect the organization’s members.

WDP also conducts a statewide lobby day each legislative session where WDP members and allies visit the offices of all 150 legislators, the Governor and the Lieutenant governor in favor of the organization’s legislative agenda. The Lobby Day is from 10am-3pm and includes training. Please register at the ticketing link below for the Lobby Day.

In conjunction with our 2017 lobby day, WDP will hold a statewide action: Day of the Fallen, to remember the workers who have been injured and killed building our state and to engage a broad base of supporters. This year will mark the 4th Day of the Fallen and it is as critically important as ever to highlight the dangerous conditions that Texas workers face and to call for Texas to do more to protect them.

Mindfulness Meditation

Enjoy Mindfulness Meditation
Sunday, February 5, 2017 5PM – 6PM EST

Mindfulness meditation can help us feel more grounded as we go through our days. Many of us are feeling a great need for feeling grounded. Self-compassion meditation can help us be more grounded as we go out to do challenging work in the world.

Please join us for a meditation led by Ethical Culture Leader Susan Rose. We will gather by phone call. The call will be one hour with a ten minute introduction, 10 minutes of guided meditation and 10 minutes of silent meditation and 30 minutes for discussion and community connection.

This meditation will give you an opportunity to experience a time of being kind and caring to yourself, to be connected with others throughout the Ethical Movement and give us more resources to offer kindness and compassion to others.

Community meditations will be offered on a regular basis in the coming months. We will meet on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of each month at 5 pm ET (2pm PT3pm MT, 4pm CT). A variety of meditations will be offered including self-compassion, mountain meditation, and breath awareness. Join us and invite your friends for an ethically based meditation.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with info on how to  join webinar.

5604 Manor “Not-Really-that-Happy” Happy Hour

Friday, January 27, 4:30-6:30 pm

  The Workers Defense Project and Third Coast Activist Resource Center will host a “Not-Really-that-Happy” Happy Hour for progressive Austin residents to share concerns and strategize for the coming four years, and beyond.

The new administration in Washington and the Texas Lege will keep us busy with organizing efforts and critical analyses of the unjust and unsustainable nature of contemporary U.S. society. Our outreach and activism will be most productive with a vibrant progressive community for mutual support and networking. Folks can share stories and shore up each other for the work ahead.

Basic snacks and beverages will be provided; contributions of food/drink are welcome. There will be a short program at 5:30 pm.

5604 Manor was established by WDP and Third Coast in 2009 as a progressive community center for several groups. The building now houses an expanded WDP staff.

Location: Workers Defense Project, 5604 Manor Road, Austin, 78723

Is Darwin’s Theory Flourishing or Floundering? A Debate

You are invited to attend a debate about Darwin’s “Tree of Life” — the theory of common descent of all of life on Earth from a single organism. In this forum, two philosophers of biology with expertise in the area, Joel Velasco (Texas Tech University) and Paul Nelson (Discovery Institute), debate the current status and future of common descent. Velasco will defend the mainstream evolutionary position; Nelson will challenge it. The event promises to be a lively exchange, with rich details from genetics, comparative biology, and the philosophy of science. Audience participation during the Q & A will be encouraged.

The details
Where: St. Edward’s University (Ragsdale Center—Jones Auditorium)
When: Friday, October 21, 7-9pm
Admission: Free and open to the public

Austin Empty Bowl Project

Sunday, September 25, ESOA will be painting bowls for the Empty Bowl Project.

The Austin Empty Bowl Project is an effort by Austin area potters to fight hunger. Always the Sunday before Thanksgiving, this annual family-friendly event invites you to select your favorite from thousands of locally crafted ceramic bowls, have it filled with gourmet soup and bread and listen to live music while enjoying your lunch. Your $20 donation goes to Kids Cafe, a program of the Central Texas Food Bank, and Meals for Kids, a program of Meals on Wheels Central Texas. Take the bowl home with you to remind you that others have empty bowls. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, November 20, 2016 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Texas Food Bank, 6500 Metropolis Drive, Austin, TX 78744 . Hope to see you there!


ESOA Celebrates Life of Former Member Don Nelson

Remembering Donald Nelson

Donald Nelson, former member of the Ethical Society of Austin, passed away Wednesday August 10, 2016. Link to Statesman obituary.

Don was an active member of ESOA for several years. Rich Harrison notes that Don had a passionate love of philosophy and gardening, and fondly recalls time spent with Don and his wife Betty.

A visitation will be held Friday September 9, 6pm-8pm at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home at 3125 N. Lamar, and a Celebration of Life service Saturday Sept 10, 3pm, at St. Geogre’s Episcopal Church, 4301 H. IH-35.

Bending the Arc of History Toward Justice

Slides for the July 31 platform given by Dr. Carolyn Parker, “Bending the Arc of History Toward Justice,” are available for viewing here.  In her platform, Dr. Parker noted that there are many things that members can do right now to fight systemic racism in our society:

  • Speak Up — whenever racist or unjust words are heard.
  • Stand Up — whenever racist or unjust behaviors are seen.
  • Act Up — whenever the opportunity arises to protest or resist injustice and discrimination.
  • Put Up — some money wherever it is needed.

Good News on Texas Voting Rights

In a month of painful news in Texas, the US, and the world, small flickers of good news can sometimes be lost.  Mother Jones reports good news for voting rights in Texas as the law establishing onerous restrictions on IDs accepted for voting is overturned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.  While the case may yet be taken to the US Supreme Court, for the November 2016 election, at least, voter suppression in Texas will be reduced.

“But whatever comes next for the Texas case,” MJ writer Delphine D’Amora says:

the plaintiffs’ yearslong, million-dollar fight against SB 14 represents a new norm in the battle over voting rights. Without federal oversight, it is now up to civil society organizations to monitor the bills working their way through statehouses around the country and to fund suits against questionable laws.

As good as this news may be, it is a sobering reminder that the right to vote can be taken from us in so simple a way as making the act of voting an onerous burden.  We should, I believe, be mindful of  just how vulnerable this fundamental right is, even in America, and protect it with all our available resources.  More than that, we should use it!


The United Nations has set 17 global goals for sustainable development by 2030.  These sustainable development goals, or SDGs, encompass all of the areas of development for humans and the planet they live on.  Each goal has a set of targets for achievement, and each target is being worked on by many countries, especially as they apply to one’s own country, but also in concert with others to achieve a broader reach.