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Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth in November

Updated: Oct 20, 2021


First a shout out to members who participated in the EcoChallenge in October. It was certainly a good experience for me, as I have lowered my carbon footprint while learning to live more intentionally. In my lead-in to the monthly MSJE Lat column, I like to spotlight an environmental or social justice issue that many may be unaware of. This month’s topic focuses on a small environmental movement I learned about during a previous EcoChallenge event. “Solutionary Rail” could have a big effect on reducing carbon emissions in the U.S.

Lately supply chain issues have become a dinner table topic as much as a boardroom table focus, yet a technology dating from the 19th century holds the key not only to solving the truck driver shortage but would lead to a near zero carbon intermediate and long-distance transportation system, building on an existing infrastructure. While it will require government investment, much of that expenditure will be returned over time directly in loan repayments and broader economic benefits.


By upgrading and electrifying our existing rail freight system, we would reap benefits on multiple levels.

  • Improving existing track and converting to double trackage would increase speeds and capacity. The trains do not have to pull off onto a siding to allow another train to pass and speeds of over 100 MPH are feasible, easily tripling capacity.

  • Even diesel-powered trains use a quarter to a third of the fossil fuel energy of trucks in carrying long-haul freight. Electrification using overhead catenary lines would allow trains to convert seamlessly to wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. Rail freight for agricultural products as well as imports from the west coast travel through areas especially rich in sun and wind resources.

  • Rail transportation lends itself to technologies that improve safety and logistics. This also holds the promise of creating passenger rail that would compete very favorably with air and automotive travel over moderate distances.

  • It would also save billions of dollars in wear and tear on our highways from trucks, while making them safer, by greatly reducing truck traffic.


There are various reasons why the U.S. rail system, while still extensive, is lagging behind other developed countries. Much has to do with the financial system which has hollowed out the rail carriers and penalized innovation in the pursuit of short-term, quarterly profits. A public-private partnership would go a long way to reinstate the regulation that has been part of the bargain between the railroad companies and the federal government since the Progressive Era.


For more information on solutionary rail, check out their website: https://www.solutionaryrail.org/


Jerry Wagnon


CROP Hunger Walk is November 7th


There is still time to sign up and get donors for the annual CROP Hunger Walk to be held Sunday afternoon, gathering at 2:30 PM, November 7th, at Veterans Memorial Park in College Station. Participants can join Team Brazos UU’s at the CROP Walk at the website: https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/team/brazos-uus You then invite friends and family to donate through the website or social media. If you are unable to participate, you can sponsor one of our participants at that website.


This is a favorite outdoor event that is family friendly (a lot of youth participate) and dog friendly (on a leash, of course). The route is also wheelchair and stroller accessible. Please wear your Side with Love T-Shirt if you have one to show Team UU solidarity.


Jerry Wagnon

Confronting Our Racism Group (CORG) Updates

The purpose of the CORG is to provide a forum to effectively engage, sustain and deepen interracial dialogue in the BC/S area so that, as a community, we can make changes that will benefit all.

The CORG had its last meeting on October 7th. Pam Johnson (chair), Jerry Wagnon, Eleanor Ford, Maya Lazarus, Allison Faber, Jennifer Ross Hasan, Bill Salin, and Isabel Lambert attended the meeting. We are proud to present the upcoming events as described below. As you can see, we are making progress in reaching out and starting conversations to the community.

We have several different programs for you to attend, and I will keep you updated with their progress.

I. Film: November 3rd 6-9 PM - Troy Harden - Director of the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute (RESI) at TAMU - in partnership with the TAMU Data Justice Group - invites us to the showing of Coded Bias - an American documentary film that explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini's discovery of racial bias in facial recognition algorithms. Panel discussion will follow the film

Please Note: Special permission is required to register for the film showing. Please contact Pam Johnson at prljohnson@yahoo.com for more details.


II. January Race & Faith Forum in January 15, 2022. An Interfaith Discussion with the focus on solutions. Live and Live-streamed on ZOOM.

  • Reverend Ted Foote, First Presbyterian Church, Bryan

  • Pastor Eleanor Colvin, First United Methodist Church, CS

  • Rev. Dan De Leon, Friends Congregational Church, CS

  • Pastor Kiya Heartwood, Unitarian Universalist Church of Brazos Valley

  • Additional religious leaders from Bryan/College Station

III. Movie - Judas and the Black Messiah with speaker, Actor Melvin Bowser who was in the movie. January 14, 2022 at First United Methodist Church, CS

IV. Multi-Church Small Reading Groups & Conversations - starting in January 2022


By Pam Johnson

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