Fall 2016 — Attleboro Conference

“The Creative Process: Minds at Work Together?”
October 3-6, 2016

Fall 2016 Conference Attendees

Fall 2016 Conference Attendees

Don Chery and Ginger Luke

Don Chery and Ginger Luke

Perfect autumn weather gilded the lily at the excellent Attleboro Fall Conference of 2016 at La Salette Conference Center. Many hands contributed to the success of the event, but special credit goes to Ginger Luke and Don Chery, this year’s co-chairs, for the degree of preparation that made everything run so smoothly.

"Grandfather" (Dave Hunter) and "Sarah" (Sophie Philibin)

“Grandfather” (Dave Hunter) and “Sarah” (Sophie Philibin)

The theme of Creativity was carried consistently and successfully through various activities for the entire conference, beginning with an inspiring program presented by Andy and Chris Backus. They made some observations about the creative process and how they work together, followed by a glimpse into their creation of the two-act musical, “Older But Not Wiser,” with live music performed by Dave Hunter and Sophie Philibin, a member of the nearby Foxboro Universalist Church.

Group Singing their Lyrics to "For the Beauty of the Earth"

Group Singing their Lyrics to “For the Beauty of the Earth”

Working groups of six or seven UURMaPAns were then assigned the task of re-writing words to the familiar tune of “For the Beauty of the Earth,” with astonishingly successful results.

Andy and Chris had invited reflection on these words by Neil Gaiman, adapted from a commencement address:

And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, a minister, a minister’s partner, whatever you do you, have one thing that’s unique. You have the ability to make good art.

And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that’s been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.

I’m serious. Your spouse leaves you? Make good art. Seriously injured? Make good art. Alone in the World? Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take away the sting, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.

UURMaPAns conquer the Providence River

UURMaPAns conquer the Providence River

Afternoon workshops included pottery, photography, further explorations in the creative process with Chris and Andy, and several other well-attended offerings — followed, of course, by the familiar social hour in “the cave.” (Thank you, Sandy Fitz-Henry, for organizing this.) Wednesday brought several choices for exploring the nearby city of Providence, RI, with tours of the Rhode Island School of Design Art Museum, the Culinary Arts Museum, or First Unitarian Church; boat tours on the Providence River; and various options for lunch.

Victor and Cathe Carpenter

Victor and Cathe Carpenter

That evening we enjoyed an Odyssey delivered by Dick Fewkes. Worship services offered by Phyllis Hubbell, Carol Taylor, and Kerry Mueller continued to explore the theme of creativity, while Joyce and Dick Gilbert’s evening worship gave us a glimpse of their recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa, followed by a slide show giving more detail. Victor and Cathe Carpenter made a surprise appearance; Victor was the Unitarian minister in Cape Town in the 1960s.

Thursday’s business meeting brought us news of UURMaPA’s recent activities and the announcement of the 2016 Unsung UURMaPAn, Chris Lilly Backus.

First Time Attendees at Fall 2016 Conference

First Time Attendees at Fall 2016 Conference. L to R: Nancee Campbell, Susan Lamar, Janet Newman, Neil Gerdes, Judith Smith-Valley, Paul Smith-Valley, Carol Rosine