Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Cities We Want

Putting People at the Center of Sustainable Development with Real World Thinking


An artist's depiction of an Oklahoma City streetscape
after the completion of Project 180.

As the OKC Metro Area Grows into a "World City,"
We Look at the UN's Proposed Goal for Cities in 2030

  

by Bill Bryant
Communications Director
Oklahoma City Chapter
United Nations Association of the USA

During this weekend's Community Consultation on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (as proposed by the UN's Open Working Group), I moderated a discussion of Goal 11:

"Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable."

Our discussion started by considering our experience in Central Oklahoma. We know a lot about building cities that are resilient. One of the best attributes of Oklahomans is our ability to bounce back from natural disasters -- we have so many of them.

Now home to over half the world’s
population, productive, inclusive,
safe, and resilient cities will lead
the way to sustainable development.”
--Professor Cynthia Rosenzweig, 
Senior Research Scientist at the
NASA Goddard Institute for Space
Studies. She served as the Co-
Chair of the SDSN Thematic Group
on Sustainable Cities.
 
In Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, Yukon, and beyond, we're hard at work building an urban environment that provides shelter from storms, floods, drought, etc. We're also building cities that are inclusive, safe, and sustainable.

First of all, I should say that the people in our small discussion group agreed, unanimously, that it makes sense for the UN to have a goal related to sustainable cities. More and more people are living in urban areas. Improving the quality of life in these urban areas is a common concern of a majority of the world's people.

(According to the World Health Organization, "The urban population in 2014 accounted for 54% of the total global population, up from 34% in 1960, and continues to grow.")

We began by thinking about our own urban landscape in Central Oklahoma.

With regard to inclusiveness, we recognize that the OKC metro area is enjoying more diversity in its population, as more and more people choose to move here from elsewhere in the United States as well as from other nations. We are growing into a world city, with a diversity of cultures, languages, religions, etc., represented in our numbers. We view the growing diversity of our state and metro area as a good thing. New populations add to the knowledge, strength, and vitality of our communities.

We view the growing diversity of our state
and metro area as a good thing.
Yet, we also see that there is, at times, an unfortunate degree of resistance to the growth of our city.

We have witnessed this resistance as it is expressed in the hateful comments of a few reactionary politicians. Sometimes, the friction expresses itself in vandalism or in acts of unlawful discrimination.

To sustain the peaceful growth of our metro area, we support our elected officials who work to protect the civil rights of all of our neighbors. Likewise, we support the efforts of those who work to create appreciation for the cultural diversity of our communities. For example, we applaud the advocates of inter-faith dialog who are acting to build solidarity among people of good will. We believe our chapter of the United Nations Association can contribute to the growth of a culture of peace within our metro area.

With regard to safety, we are fortunate to live in an era when crime rates in the United States are generally falling. We're glad to note that violent crime rates in Oklahoma were lower in 2012 than they were in 1967. We appreciate the good, smart work of law enforcement professionals in our state.

We appreciate the good work of law
enforcement professionals in our state
At the same time, we are alarmed by the persistently high levels of domestic violence and child abuse in our state. We're ashamed to know that, according to Sheriff John Whetsel, the Oklahoma County jail is the largest mental health facility in the state.

We believe Oklahoma policy makers and administrators need to do a better job of identifying and addressing the root causes of violence in our metro area.

"Sustainability" is a huge concern for an expanding metro area like Oklahoma City. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined "Sustainable Development" as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." 

There are many dimensions of sustainable development, and our small group considered what some of these might be for the OKC metro. We identified:

  • Safe, affordable housing;
  • Reliable transportation to support commerce and other human needs; and
  • Convenient access to food markets, including sources of fresh, locally-grown produce.

The Oklahoma City metro area generally has a good supply of dwelling units (houses and apartments). Even so, access to this supply of housing is limited by Oklahoma's median family income, which is significantly below the national norm. We know that low-wage workers, in particular, struggle to afford a decent house or apartment.


Affordable housing is a major concern in cities across
the United States -- not just in Oklahoma.
With regard to income and housing, we noted that several cities and states have adopted local minimum wage laws that serve to support their local needs. In the 2014 mid-term elections, for example, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota chose to increase their states’ minimum wages. San Francisco opted to start paying workers $15 per hour, following the lead of voters in Santa Fe, Oakland, Seattle, and other urban areas.

In a counter move, though, the Oklahoma Legislature imposed a new law on municipalities in our state, barring them from enacting their own city-level minimum wage rates. The participants in my small group expressed frustration with this state action. We believe that cities and towns should enjoy a greater degree of freedom to enact local minimum wage laws -- in order to support the economic vitality and sustainability of their local economies.
Light rail transit in Denver.


In terms of reliable transportation, the OKC metro area lags behind other modern cities (Dallas, Denver, etc.) in our development of public transportation. The members of my small group were quick to express their support for a more robust public transit system. We also support the creation of "walkable" communities with a mix of commercial and other community resources located in close proximity to residential areas.

With respect to food markets, our small group expressed general support for local entrepreneurship. We value the economic contributions of local businesses. We would like to see continuing efforts to promote "Shop Local" campaigns. We believe that greater access to affordable, fresh produce will help to improve the overall health of our community.

After our review of local issues related to sustainable development, we took a look at the proposal from the UN's Open Working Group (OWG) on the 2016 - 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

We found a lot of common ground and like-minded thinking.
The Devon Tower is the largest building
in Oklahoma to earn a gold certificate
for Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design. LEED
certification means the building
was built with an eye toward
sustainable site development,
water savings, energy efficiency,
materials selection and indoor
environmental quality.


For example, our local goal of building a more resilient urban landscape is reflected in the OWG's Goal Number 11.5: "By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths... caused by disasters...."

Our concern about Oklahoma's meager family income level is mirrored in the OWG's Goal 11.1: "By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing...."

Goal Number 11.2 of the Open Working Group is focused on building "safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems" -- which is a need for Oklahoma City just as much as it is for every other city in the world.

Looking over the OWG's recommendations, we agreed that -- by and large -- the goals described in the proposal are based on real world thinking. They reflect a common sense approach.

From a personal perspective, I appreciate that the proposal of the Open Working Group is built upon an understanding that, "People are at the center of sustainable development." The OWG proposal was constructed with input from lots of different stakeholder groups, and it includes a promise "to strive for a world that is just, equitable and inclusive."

It is clear that the proposal is designed to benefit everyone -- men and women, young and old, rich and poor -- without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, etc.

It isn't a set of goals designed by and for the global elites. It isn't only for people of the developing
nations. It is for ALL of US.

Here are some excerpts from the OWG proposal that I really like:

"The Open Working Group underscored that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions."

September, 2014 -- Mayors from 10 major cities
attended a meeting to discuss the proposed UN
goal on sustainable cities and human settlements.
"In the outcome document, it was recognized that each country faces specific challenges to achieve
sustainable development."

"Each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development and the role of national policies, domestic resources and development strategies cannot be overemphasized."
 
"In the outcome document, it was reaffirmed that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country, in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities, to achieve sustainable development...."
 
"In the outcome document, it was reaffirmed that, in accordance with the Charter, this shall not be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action against the... political independence of any State."
 
"The sustainable development goals... constitute an integrated, indivisible set of global priorities.... Targets are defined as aspirational global targets, with each Government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition, but taking into account national circumstances."
 
"The goals and targets integrate economic, social and environmental aspects and recognize their
inter-linkages in achieving sustainable development in all its dimensions."

As the cities of America deal with the challenges of the 21st century, it makes sense to compare our progress to the efforts that are being made by similar cities in other parts of the world.

For the OKC metro area, in particular, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals will serve as a roadmap and a benchmark for measuring our future success.
  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Join the Global Conversation

Enjoy Warm Company,
a Friendly Environment,
and a Good Breakfast
on Saturday at UCO (Edmond)


Our Community Consultation on the UN's new Development Goals will begin at 9am on Saturday, November 15th.

You're invited to join us as we gather in the Nigh University Center -- 3rd Floor, Ballrooms A and B -- at the University of Central Oklahoma. The Nigh Center is located at 100 N. University Drive, Edmond, OK 73034.

Our hosts at UCO will provide some good breakfast food to get us started. Hot coffee? You bet!

We're expecting members of the UN Association to be in attendance as well as students from UCO and other area colleges. In fact, the general public is invited to attend this facilitated conversation about "The World We Want." If you have a mind to speak, you're invited to join us.

Every participant will receive a folder full of information about the UN's development goals. Best of all, it is FREE.

Even the parking will be free on Saturday -- so, don't worry about digging up any loose change for the parking lot in front of the Nigh Center. It will be open and free for our participants.

In fact, the only "change" you need to worry about is the kind of change we all want to achieve in the next 15 years -- improvements in education, food security, gender equality, sustainable development, etc.

Those will be the topics of discussion, and you're invited to share your thoughts, concerns, and
questions.

We're interested to learn what people in our community are thinking about the UN's global priorities for 2016 - 2030. The final iteration of the UN's goals will be announced within the next 12 months. How will the wisdom of our Oklahoma neighbors compare to the input that is being given by people in Europe, Asian, Africa, etc.? We're curious to find out.

The session will begin with a general overview of the UN’s development goals. Then, participants will be invited to engage in a discussion of 5 key topics:

  • Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.
  • Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities.
  • Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
  • Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
  • Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Each of these goals will be discussed in a separate break-out group. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in as many groups as time will allow.

The comments we receive will be collected and put into a report to our Washington, DC, office of the United Nations Association of the USA.

To pre-register for the Consultation, please use this online form ...

 https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WPLSJCR

... and please feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested.

We look forward to working with you in support of the American values that are reflected in the United Nations Charter.

“I want this to be the most inclusive global development process the world has ever known."

--Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General


Under the direction of the Office of the Secretary General, the UN has designed an open and inclusive strategy for setting the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The process encourages the participation of stakeholders at all levels. The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) is one of the contributors to this global process.

With less than a year to go until the Post-2015 Development Agenda is set, UNA-USA is helping to shape the policy debates at the UN. With 125 local chapters across the United States, we aim to energize our communities to take action and promote the importance of the SDGs at the local and national level.

This fall, we are sponsoring Community Consultations across the country. Together, we will lead a campaign to inform our neighbors of this important moment at the UN. We want to build a coalition of grassroots supporters for collaborative and universal global development.

See more at:
http://unausa.org/advocacy/post-2015-development-agenda#sthash.G8gSXEyM.dpuf

Our Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association is proud to be a part of this nation-wide effort to provide input into the UN’s development goals for 2016 – 2030.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Defining Our Global Priorities


Saturday, November 15th – 9am to 1pm

University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond)


Pre-registration is now open for the Community Consultation on the UN’s development goals for 2016 – 2030.

If you are planning to attend this historic event, please sign up here:


You’ll be asked to give your name and contact information. You’ll also be asked to identify the break-out group(s) you want to participate in.

The consultation will take place on Saturday, November 15th, 9am to 1pm, at the University of Central Oklahoma:

Nigh University Center
3rd Floor -- Ballrooms A and B
100 North University Drive
Edmond, OK   73034

The session will begin with a general overview of the UN’s development goals. Then, participants will be invited to engage in a discussion of 5 key topics:

·       End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

·       Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities.

·       Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

·       Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

·       Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Each of these goals will be discussed in a separate break-out group. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in as many groups as time will allow.

“Study Snacks” will be served.

At the end of the Community Consultation, all of the public comments we receive will be summarized and forwarded to our national office of the United Nations Association of the USA. An input report will be prepared – like this one from a group of similar Consultations that took place last year.

Context

(from UNA-USA)

For the past 15 years, the global development agenda has been driven and measured by the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Early on, the MDGs were criticized for being too aspirational and critics warned that setting lofty goals would result in disappointing outcomes. But since the adoption of the MDGs, the world has seen unprecedented progress in eliminating poverty, hunger and disease, promoting gender equality and education, and fostering international cooperation. Due to this success, a collaborative and global process is now taking place at the UN to form a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will continue the work of the MDGs beyond 2015.

Under the direction of the Office of the Secretary General, the UN designed an open and inclusive strategy for setting the Post-2015 Development Agenda that encouraged the participation of stakeholders at all levels.  UNA-USA became one of those contributors last year when it led the effort to organize over 30 Chapter consultations in the United States and reported the results of these conversations to the UN. With one year left until the Post-2015 Development Agenda is set, UNA-USA has an important role to play in shaping the policy debates at the UN and is uniquely positioned to energize communities to take action and promote the importance of the SDGs at the local and national level.

As part of UNA-USA’s effort to participate in the setting of the SDGs and advocate for their successful adoption, 33 Chapters have been selected to hold Post-2015 events in their communities. These events are taking place across the country and together will lead a campaign to inform the U.S. population of this important moment at the UN and build a coalition of grassroots supporters for collaborative and universal global development.

See more at:

Our Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association is proud to be a part of this nation-wide effort to provide input into the UN’s development goals for 2016 – 2030.

We look forward to working with you to support the American values that are reflected in the United Nations Charter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Until We Meet Again

Human Rights Champion Michael Korenblit
will Speak on His Book, "Until We Meet Again,"
A True Story of Love and Survival in the Holocaust


Members and friends of the United Nations Association of the USA are invited to attend this program, which is being offered FREE at the University of Central Oklahoma, by our friends at the Respect Diversity Foundation:

Thursday November 6, 2014 -- 7pm
University of Central Oklahoma
Liberal Arts Building, Pegasus Theatre
100 N. University Drive
Edmond, OK


Michael Korenblit is co-author of UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, A True Story of Love and Survival in the Holocaust. This is the true story of his parents, Manya and Meyer Korenblit, who are Holocaust survivors. He speaks to students, throughout the United States, about the lessons of the Holocaust and how it relates to issues of today.

Michael Korenblit
"Until We Meet Again" reads like a novel, yet tells the compelling true story of two families decimated by the Holocaust.

In 1942 in a small town in Poland, 17-year-old Manya goes in hiding with her sweetheart, Meyer, also 17, & his family. For three long years, Manya & Meyer endure the loss of parents & siblings, separation from each other, & the horrors of labor /concentration / extermination camps, including Auschwitz - but are helped at key points by courageous Polish Catholics & are constantly sustained by their faith & their love for each other.

Co-authored by their son Michael, "Until We Meet Again" has been praised by historians for its vivid portrayal of the times, by teachers for its educational significance & by all readers for its absorbing & inspiring narrative.

Michael Berenbaum of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum says, "Korenblit & Janger show that whoever retells the story of one person recovers an entire world, in all its complexity & drama... One can only admire this well-written work of filial devotion."

For information about this presentation:
Phone: 405-359-0369
E-mail: rdfrdf@cox.net









The United Nations works to promote and develop educational programs to transmit the memory of the Holocaust to future generations so as to prevent genocide from ever occurring again. In particular, UNESCO -- the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization -- plays a special role in promoting Holocaust education around the world. For more information about how you can help, see our webpage, "Holocaust Remembrance."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The World We Want

Join us on Saturday, November 15th,
at the University of Central Oklahoma

 

Participate in a Global Process to Define the UN's Goals for the Next 15 Years


If you were the Secretary-General of the United Nations and you wanted to gather public comments on world goals for the next 15 years, where would you begin?

Certainly, you would want to have public listening sessions -- Town Halls meetings, so to speak -- in some of the leading cities of the world. You might convene a session in London or Moscow. Paris. Beijing. Cairo. Jakarta.

The members of the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association are proud to announce that a "Community Consultation" meeting will be held in Edmond, Oklahoma, for the purpose of collecting public comments / questions / suggestions / input into the UN's Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Community Consultation will take place on Saturday, November 15th, from 9am to 1pm, at the University of Central Oklahoma. You are invited to participate!

Our Community Consultation is your opportunity to address important global questions, such as:

  • How should the world continue its efforts to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture?

  • How do we ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all?

  • How do we achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls? 

  • How do we ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all?

  • How do we make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable?

The comments we receive will be collected and put into a report to our Washington, DC, office of the United Nations Association of the USA. From there, your comments will be shared with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other international leaders who will prepare the final iteration of the UN's Post-2015 Goals.

The world is at a decision point.

Over the course of the next 15 years, we have the opportunity to end extreme poverty. We can eradicate polio, once and for all. We can control malaria, promote increased political freedom, and put an end to child labor. We can open the doors of education to everyone -- boys and girls, alike.

All of these opportunities are ahead of us. The first step to achieving these results is to decide, as a global community, that these are the goals we wish to accomplish.

That's what the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals are all about. It is a chance to define the values that are important to us. It is a process by which global priorities will be established. It is how the human race will say, with one voice, this is the world we want.

Come and participate with us. Share your ideas. Express your thoughts. Let your voice be heard.

More details about the Community Consultation will be announced soon.

We hope to see you on Saturday, November 15th!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kobani, the UN Refugee Agency, and Human Rights

(Registration for our UN Day Luncheon is now closed. If you have reserved a seat for the luncheon, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 18th)

To receive information about future programs and activities of our Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association, please be sure to sign up for our email list ... HERE. Thanks!

The current violent onslaught against the Syria town of Kobani is the latest dramatic example of why the life-saving work of the UN Refugee Agency is essential in today's world.

By the time our UN Day Luncheon program takes place next Saturday, it is possible that Kobani may have fallen to the ISIS militants. If that happens, then a new wave of refugees may begin in Iraq or elsewhere in Syria. There is speculation that Baghdad may be the next target of the ISIS jihadists. The prospect of a million people fleeing from the Iraqi capital is chillingly real.

The UN Refugee Agency has twice been the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace. It is a recognition that, year in and year out, the world needs the United Nations and its specialized agencies.

In 1981, the Nobel Prize Committee wrote about the UN Refugee Agency:

"...The problem of refugees is one we encounter in every part of the world. We are face to face with a veritable flood of human catastrophe and suffering, both physical and psychological.

"The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has, in the opinion of the Committee, carried out work of major importance to assist refugees, despite the many political difficulties with which it has had to contend. This work is supported and supplemented by the large-scale contributions made by other international organisations, state-sponsored as well as private....

"The establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees was based on respect for human rights. It is on this basis that we must seek to find the answers to the refugee problems of our age, both on the national and international plane."

Today, in 2014, the number of refugees in our world has expanded to numbers that haven't been seen since the end of World War Two. When Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to the UN General Assembly last month, he noted that, "Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many people with emergency food assistance and other life-saving supplies...." 

When we meet on Saturday, we will reflect on the platform of human rights upon which the work of the UN Refugee Agency is built. We will consider America's response to the present crisis -- both as a national security concern and as a response of individuals acting in community.

We have assembled a panel of experts who can speak knowledgeably and passionately about The Refugee Crisis:

<> Joe Meinhart, a college professor who promotes social responsibility and international education;

<> Julie Lewis, whose every day job with Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City involves supporting the resettlement of refugees in Oklahoma; and

<> Imam Imad Enchassi -- the son of a refugee, a man who has lived in a refugee camp, and a man of faith who is celebrated as a defender of vulnerable populations.

Please join us in this timely discussion of one of the most profound issues facing our world today.
Tickets are on sale until Tuesday at Noon. After that, our online registration form will be closed.
Reserve your seat today ... We hope to see you on Saturday, October 18th.

Whirlwind of violence surprises some residents in northern Syria

8 October 2014
© UNHCR / I.Prickett

SURUC, Turkey, October 8 (UNHCR) – Faysal thought that the conflict plaguing Syria since March 2011 had bypassed his home in the north, so he was stunned when the whirlwind of violence came recently to Kobane (Ayn al-Arab).

Photo Credit: MSNBC
The 35-year-old civil servant had long seen TV news reports of Syrians fleeing into neighbouring countries from other parts of Syria. It filled him and his wife, a teacher, with a huge sadness. But somehow he believed that his family, including three children, was safe on the border with Turkey.

That all changed in mid-September, when ISIS fighters launched a major offensive to capture Kobane. The group had attacked the predominantly Kurdish area several months before, but this attack was different. Now, the militants were using tanks and artillery in addition to small arms, Faysal said.

Under cover of darkness, Faysal gathered his family and fled to the border, carrying his 90-year-old father, who was barely conscious, and skirting minefields along the way....

Continue reading at the UNHCR website,
http://www.unhcr.org/emergency/5051e8cd6-5435578cc.html

Watch "Faysal's Flight from Kobane, Syria"

-- a 4-minute video from the UN Refugee Agency.















http://youtu.be/IYaZ2CinRgo

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thought Leaders


(Registration for our UN Day Luncheon is now closed. If you have reserved a seat for the luncheon, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday, October 18th)
To receive information about future programs and activities of our Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association, please be sure to sign up for our email list ... HERE. Thanks!


One of the great things about living in a world-class city like Oklahoma City is that we have terrific local resources who can help us to understand and interpret world events.

For our UN Day program on "The Refugee Crisis," you have the chance to hear a top-notch panel of knowledgeable presenters.

Enjoy our 2014 UN Day Program:
Saturday, October 18th -- 12 Noon
The Center
4325 NW 50th Street
Oklahoma City, OK   73112

Tickets are on sale now. Regular tickets are reasonably priced
at $25; student tickets are offered at a special discounted
price of only $10. Use the Online Order Form ... HERE.
They are prepared to address your questions about this multi-faceted subject.

Our panelists will be:

Dr. Imad Enchassi, president and founder of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City (ISGOC).

Joe Meinhart, Ph.D., director of the Oikos Scholars program at Oklahoma City University.

Julie Lewis, director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City.

Our moderator will be Dr. Marie Hooper, professor of history at Oklahoma City University.

Here is a little more about each of our presenters:

Dr. Enchassi is well-known in Oklahoma City. He is the recipient of the 2014 Humanitarian Award of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, the "Dialogue Award" of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, the Community Service Award of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma, and in 2011 he was recognized by The Oklahoman newspaper as a Visionary in Religious and Education Outreach. He is widely recognized as a voice for peace, interfaith understanding, and religious tolerance in Oklahoma and beyond.

Many of our friends enjoyed Dr. Enchassi's appearance at our 2014 program on the International Day of Peace. He has a warm place in his heart for refugees, having grown up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. He came to the United States after surviving the 1982 massacres in the Sabra and Shatila camps.

Joe Meinhart teaches in the Petree College of Arts & Sciences at Oklahoma City University. He is an assistant professor of Sociology and Justice Studies. Additionally, he directs the Oikos Scholars program and co-directs OCU's Social & Ecological Responsibility Initiative.

The Oikos Scholars program is a liberal arts program that helps prepare students to engage in lives of social and ecological responsibility. The program features an inter-disciplinary curriculum -- including courses in sociology, environmental science, religion and philosophy. All Oikos scholars participate in service learning projects, and they are required to complete at least one approved international education experience while at OCU.

Julie Lewis is the director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City. She has a background working in refugee foster care in the United States as well as an experience implementing an English as a Second Language (ESL) after-school program in the Dominican Republic. A graduate of Grand Valley State University (Michigan), Ms. Lewis holds a degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice.

Catholic Charities' Refugee Resettlement program assists hundreds of new refugees annually. The newly arrived refugees receive help in finding safety, stability, self-sufficiency, and integration into their new community. According to the Refugee Council USA, the largest refugee populations in Oklahoma are from Burma, Iraq, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Eritrea, Malaysia, and Cuba.

Dr. Marie Hooper
For any panel discussion, a good moderator should be smart, articulate, knowledgeable, and able to think on her feet. We're fortunate that Dr. Marie Hooper has agreed to ride herd on our high-powered panel. We think she will be just right for the job. Her academic interests include international relations, terrorism, identity formation and mobilization, and teaching and learning.

In her 15th year of teaching at OCU, Dr. Hooper routinely teaches World History, Methods, and various seminars under the heading of Ancient Cultures (Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia). She is an enthusiastic supporter and promoter of international education.

In addition to the informative panel discussion, our UN Day Program will feature a delicious meal prepared by our friends at The Center. And, we are looking forward to remarks by State Senator (elect) Kay Floyd as well as a special presentation by State Representative Richard Morrissette.

Not least of all, you'll get to enjoy the company of some of the best folks in all of Oklahoma -- that is, the members and friends of the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association. You won't find a nicer bunch of folks on any continent.

To reserve your place at our UN Day event, please buy your ticket(s) in advance. Find details at our "Tickets on Sale Now" page.

To purchase tickets online, use this link and follow the easy steps:

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e9shbqhehzncst3b/start

We hope to see you on October 18th!

Ban Ki-moon speaks to the United Nations General Assembly

The Seeds of Hope


“This year, the horizon of hope is darkened. Our hearts are made heavy by unspeakable acts and the deaths of innocents. Not since the end of the Second World War have there been so many refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers. Never before has the United Nations been asked to reach so many people with emergency food assistance and other life-saving supplies.... 

“It may seem as if the world is falling apart, as crises pile up and disease spreads. But leadership is precisely about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger. That is our duty. That is my call to you today.”

--Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations
From his address to the opening session of the 2014 United Nations General Assembly
September 24, 2014