Highlights for last week include the use by a number of Ethical Societies of the Connections calendar. There were twenty public online events posted by eight Ethical Societies for the week of April 5-11, which I think is a good start! There is still room on this week’s calendar if your Ethical Society is ready to offer activities that can be listed publicly. Use of the Connections web forum continued with posts about the CARES ACT, Payroll Protection Program, the AEU Virtual SEEK program, Zoom security updates, Zoom setup for hosts and presenters, an invitation to join an improv workshop, and a moving short film, Love in a Negative Space. Please visit the Ethical Community page on aeu.org and join the forum so you can add your ideas to the mix!

The organizers for the Virtual SEEK program met and discussed how best to move forward to meet the needs and interests of our children and families. Given that so many children are attending online education programs now that their schools are closed, it was felt that fewer Zoom meetings and a stronger focus on getting program ideas and materials to children’s program directors would be helpful, especially if the resources include creative (and safe) outdoor activities for children. If you (and/or your Ethical Society) would like to get access to the Virtual Seek materials, please send a request to ethical-education-list@aeu.org.

There has also been a lot of interest in the Payroll Protection Program, a provision of the CARES Act that was recently signed into law that provides for forgivable loans for employers who have suffered financially from the coronavirus outbreak. AEU Treasurer Tom Castelnuovo will host an information meeting via Zoom about the loan program this week to provide more details about the program and the steps for applying for the loans.

The AEU is launching two new initiatives this week. The first is the “Talk With a Leader” program. For many of the AEU’s Ethical Societies, members can connect with the Society’s Leader for support during difficult times, such as these, and all of our Leaders have been trained to provide pastoral services. Many of our Ethical Societies do not currently have a Leader on staff, though, and the AEU is offering the “Talk With a Leader” program as a support for those Societies. Several Ethical Leaders are volunteering hours each week to provide pastoral support in the form of phone or video conversations with Society members during the coronavirus outbreak. If you are a member of a Society that does not have a Leader on staff, you may request a conversation with a Leader by sending an email to twl@aeu.org (a confidential inbox) or calling/texting Bart Worden at (914) 263-6667.

The second initiative for this week is still under construction but I’m confident it will come together soon. We are calling it “The Art of Zoom” and the intent is to provide opportunities to explore and learn ways to improve the aesthetic aspects of using the Zoom video conferencing platform. We envision this as a virtual salon where individuals will be invited to present ideas and demonstrate techniques that help our Zoom meetings be enriching and enjoyable.

Going forward, we are looking to make our new Connections web forum even more informative, useful, and fun (in no particular order) and would like your help with that. The best way to help is to join the forum and start posting. If you are not ready to join the forum you are still welcome to provide feedback on what is in the forum and to recommend additions to it. The more the merrier!

Wishing you well as you navigate the week ahead!
Bart Worden
AEU Executive Director

Please note, this post originally appeared at aeu.org.