Workshop Descriptions – EUU 2021 Spring Retreat

We have 13 fascinating workshops proposed for the upcoming spring retreat! The leaders include our UUA Ambassador, Diane Rollert, a Harvard scholar of African American studies, and dedicated EUU members and friends. They’ll be telling us about topics ranging from resilience during the pandemic, to race and reparations, to fellowship development. And of course, several workshops will be about the retreat theme, food and the ethics of what we eat!

All those who have registered for the retreat can now choose their workshops preferences (see further down to learn how).

The workshops will take place on the Friday evening (23 April) and Saturday afternoon (24 April) of the retreat for those in Europe (so Friday afternoon and Saturday morning for participants in North America).

Here are the workshop descriptions.

Friday evening workshops:

1) When everything is a gift, presented by Rica Kaufel

While awareness and knowledge are a first step towards making eco-friendly life-style changes, they are often not enough, leaving us struggling. In this workshop, we will talk about these struggles, and about how we can change our consumer behavior by emphasizing gratitude and exploring the concept of a gift economy and the effect this can have on our attitude, behavior, and the world at large.

Rev. Rica Kaufel was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. She is currently the part-time minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Anaheim, California, and also teaches at the University of California – Irvine.

2) What is a plant based or vegan diet? Why are many Unitarian Universalists following or considering a vegan diet?

A workshop offered by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose

The four legs of the vegan table are health, compassion for animals, sustaining the environment and spirituality. We will explore each of these and go into more detail. Mainstream medicine has been producing a considerable amount of research on how a plant-based diet can prevent and treat a very wide variety of diseases. Compassion for farm animals is a concern many have. We’ll look at some critical questions such as can animals feel pain? With increasing stress on the environment, our food choices are becoming more and more important. We’ll take a look at the connection between raising meat and global warming, but we’ll also take a look at soil erosion and water pollution, which often don’t get enough attention. We’ll talk about the current trends and social considerations surrounding a vegan diet.

Let’s put it all together. What should we include in a healthy vegan diet? How do we go food shopping and how can we save some money? How can we navigate social situations such as holiday dinners? What is the best way to explain your vegan diet with others? Bring your questions!

Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose founded a regional vegetarian society, Vegetarians of Washington (based in Seattle, WA), in 2001. It has since grown to be one of the largest veg societies in the United States. They produce Seattle Vegfest and host monthly dinners and teach classes to a wide variety of people. They take a gentle mainstream friendly approach. They have authored and co-authored several books including The Vegetarian Solution, Say Not to Meat, In Pursuit of Great Food and the VegFeasting Cookbook. They are also the coauthors of 26 articles published in medical journals. Recently, they have written The Prevention and Treatment of Disease with a Plant Based Diet, a medical textbook written for doctors. Amanda was born in England and now lives in the state of Washington on the American west coast with her husband Doug. Stewart was born in New York City and now lives in the American Pacific northwest with his wife Susan. Why do they do it? They do it because they care.

3) The World of Organic Food. WHAT’s BIO, WHAT’s NOT and WHAT’s in it for YOU? 

Presented by Aude van Lidth de Jeude

This workshop explores the origins of bio to what it is today. What does “BIO” mean in different parts of the world? How is it defined and by whom? Is it regulated? Let’s understand how bio products improve my health and well-being as well as the environment.

Aude van Lidth de Jeude has been in the UU community since childhood. She is half Belgian half Tunisian and was raised in a multicultural and multi faith family. She grew up in the United States and returned to Belgium after her engineering studies. She is fluent in French and English and also speaks Dutch and Arabic.

Her career has been in applied research and development, continuous improvement and quality, as well as patient rights She volunteers in her community to help children with their studies and has many interests including yoga, meditation, traveling, and calligraphy and is a judge in international rose trials.

4) It’s Not the Rules, It’s the Relationships: Why and How to Covenant

Facilitated by Rev. Diane Rollert, UUA Ambassador to the EUU and minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal 

In this workshop, Rev. Diane Rollert offers us a starter kit for becoming more covenantally engaged. As Unitarian Universalists, we choose to be in covenant with each other, rather than to insist upon specific beliefs, doctrines or dogma. This is a living, breathing process that requires constant commitment and engagement, as we continually review and refine what unites us. It’s not about rules, but about relationships, and how we choose to weave together our dreams, aspirations and challenges as human beings in diverse religious communities. Highly recommended for fellowships groups to attend together.

5) Race and Reparations, presented by Jesse McCarthy

This workshop will be based on my essay that was originally published in the magazine The Point (the link will be emailed to those who register for this workshop). That essay is included in my book, which was published at the end of March here in the US. It could also be extended to include a discussion on the proposed UUA 8th Principle, though I am not able to advise whether or not that should be adopted by the denomination.

Jesse McCarthy is an assistant professor in the departments of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His writing has appeared in The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, n+1, Dissent, and The Point, where he is also an editor. His first book, Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul?, a collection of essays, was published by Liveright in Spring 2021.


Saturday afternoon workshops:

1) SUPER FOODS – Pondering Taste and Nutrition

(Presented by Martha Hicks with hosting help from Peter Davies)

In this workshop we will be discussing the different “super” foods we eat and why.  Are the foods we select considered “super” because of their culinary value or more their nutritional value? (or in many cases both) With our famous European “open air” markets, we never need question the infinite variety or freshness of the items we purchase. How can we balance taste with nutrition and a concern for the earth? We will exchange experiences about our food choices and discuss food trends of the future (i.e. insect based items?) and the damage some super foods cause in the countries where they are grown. (i.e. avocados) How have our tastes and choices been influenced over the years by advertisements? What items are now regularly stocked in our food stores and on restaurant menus thanks to the Millennials? I look forward to your ideas!

2) WE shall Overcome. Did we?
What we wanted — What we became

Presented by Wolfgang Jantz

Joan Baez, the voice of the peace walks of the 60s and 70s turns to 80 – The death of Martin Luther King was similar long ago – Something has been achieved.

But many problems often appear unchanged. All over the world national orientated parties are on the rise. Do we have a chance to turn things around again with our two global networks. Can we change something with IARF and ICUU in the direction of religious peace and total peace?

After looking back at the history of the IARF and ICUU, with personal statements from me, citation documents and photos from the founders, we want to find out what possibilities there are for us.

Religion is a call for action — How can we act?

3) Food for your thoughts: How to maintain UU values and remain healthy, loving and resilient during Covid and other challenges, presented by Patricia Biondo

This interactive workshop will cover basic principles such as how to best provide your body, mind and spirit with life-giving sustenance and how to use your personal purchasing power for good. You will learn practical kinesiological exercises for your daily use to keep your body balanced and thriving.

Patricia P Biondo is a U.C. Berkeley scholar, lyricist, practicing kinesiologist and communication coach in Munich Germany.

4) What is Eco-Kosher to consume? presented by Shulamit Levine-Helleman

Eco-kosher, a term first used by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in the late 1970s, urges us to consider the entire ecosystem, connecting concerns about factory farms, GMOs, global warming, fair treatment of workers, fishing practices, and more, in deciding what is “kosher” to consume.  While those who started the movement came out of the Jewish Renewal tradition, this idea can easily be an inspiration for UUs to look at our own consumption choices. This workshop will start with a short presentation, followed by discussion on how we can put some or all of these ideas into practice in our daily lives, even on a limited budget.

The presenter, Shulamit Levine-Helleman, is a Jewish UU and an At-Large member of the EUU.

5) Meal Planning to Cut Down on Food Waste, presented by Karen Kyker and Shellie Holubek

In this workshop we will cover the topic of food waste, its impact on the environment, along with practical things you can do to cut down on waste both at the systemic level and right in your own home. After a brief overview of the topic and some time for discussion, we will move to a hands-on session where you will build your own meal plan for the next 7 days. We’ll provide some tips for how to improvise a meal out of what’s left in the fridge and cupboards, and how to create a personal collection of meals that you can choose from when deciding what’s for dinner every week. With a few quick hacks, you can dramatically limit food spoilage at home, and we look forward to hearing even more ideas from you!

Karen is a science teacher in Paris and EUU Vice President. Shellie joins us from Edinburgh, Scotland.

6) Constructive Engagement with Those We Love in Challenging Political Times by Matt Gilsenan

We are living in increasingly divisive times. Some of us are torn by the struggle between holding true to our deepest values and engaging in constructive dialogue with loved ones whose seemingly different values have been laid bare.

We can learn to expand our frame of reference to see things from another person’s perspective and better communicate our truths. Matt Gilsenan leads this workshop exploring how stretching ourselves to better understand  those we disagree with can enhance our relationships and help us live up to the values embodied in our seven principles.

You will leave this workshop with practical tools you can put to immediate use.

Matt Gilsenan has been an active member of EUU for nearly a decade and is a founding member of UU Basel. He works as a leadership coach in intercultural settings. 

7) Eat and find your balance – What the “Five Elements” tell us about food and well-being, presented by Michael Gellings

In the West, our approach to food is highly analytical: We count calories and carbs, we avoid additives, and an insufficient number of trace elements in our blood sample will confirm to us that we are ill. Another approach is to look at what effect does a certain ingredient have in the body? Is it warming? Is it cooling? Does it direct our energy inward and downward? Or does it lift our spirits upward and outward? In this interactive workshop, I want to give participants an opportunity to explore how everyday recipes influence our well-being. The “Five Elements” are not a diet that aims to restrict anything. Rather, it reinforces positive effects. If at any given moment, you feel sluggish, or tense, or agitated, knowing how food actually works in your body helps you to regain your balance.

Michael Gellings works as an IT consultant, and has a whole range of other interests that he pursues in his free time. He is usually weary of extremes, be they in politics, temperatures, or workloads, and prefers a happy medium. He lives in Mannheim, Germany, and is a member of KMCUU (Kaiserslautern).

How to register

If you haven’t registered for the retreat, you need to do this first – here’s the link.

If you did register for the EUU Spring 2021 retreat, you will have received a link to use to sign up for workshops. The link is in your confirmation email, unless you registered very promptly: in that case, you were recently sent a special registration update email containing the link.

After reading the descriptions, be sure to click on the link in your registration update email or confirmation email to actually register your first, second and third choices for each time slot.

If you have any technical problems, please contact  

For any other questions about the retreat, write to