What is Critical Mass/GWA-UUYAN?

Updated September 29, 1996

What is Critical Mass?

by Peter Dahlstrom

Critical Mass is a network of Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Groups.

Young adults are nominally people aged 18 - 35 years, but a more accurate (and yet, extremely arguable) definition may be people who are no longer teens, but who are still in transition -- who have not yet settled down. In order to better provide for the needs of this age group, young adult groups have sprung up at many of the UU churches in the Washington D.C. area -- Arlington, Rockville, Reston, and Fairfax, to name some of them.

The main activity of these groups is hosting events, such as: retreats, games nights, discussions, hikes, pot lucks, non-fluff movie nights, Frisbee games, contra dancing, lunch, ski trips, bike rides, worships, social justice projects, and many others. The types of events vary from group to group and year to year. Currently, there is a good mix of events (and groups) available.

Critical Mass provides a common hub for these local groups and other young adult activity. The main resource provided is a newsletter published 4 or 5 times a year which lists upcoming events and other information. This newsletter, also named Critical Mass, is available on-line. Critical Mass also provides advice to fledgling groups, leadership for area and district wide events, and a financial base for YA projects.

If you are interested and want to become more involved, find an event that interests you and join in. All are welcome. You may also want to find a local group near you and contact the leader, get to know them a little bit, and attend one of their events.

If you have ideas or comments about the newsletter or this page, contact the editor, Eric Carlson. If you have ideas or comments about the Critical Mass network, contact the emissary, Peter Dahlstrom.

A brief history of Critical Mass/GWA-UUYAN

by Eric Carlson

The Greater Washington Area Unitarian/Universalist Young Adult Network (GWA-UUYAN) was founded by Mark Guttag, from the River Road Church in Maryland, sometime around 1990.

Mark developed the idea for an organization to promote UU young adult (18-35) interest and activity in the DC area. He arranged funding from the Greater Washington Area Association of UU Congregations (GWA) and from donations of other young adults. Funding is used mainly for printing and mailing our newsletter. It is also used for making deposits to reserve locations for retreats, and this money is returned to our account when participants have paid for the retreat.

Mark was the first editor and database coordinator of the GWA-UUYAN newsletter. Steve Oppenheimer took over next, and gave the newsletter its current name, "Critical Mass". I, Eric Carlson, took over in March 1994. I also started the Critical Mass web page in February 1996.

Susie Riggs was the first (and only) president of GWA-UUYAN. There is now myself, the editor, database coordinator, and treasurer, Peter Dahlstrom, our hard working "Emissary" and all around nice guy, and many other people who make things happen. (See DC Area group contacts page.)

Where did the name "Critical Mass" come from?

by Steve Oppenheimer

In case you or anyone is wondering, I had three ideas in mind behind the name: (1) It just sounded cool; (2) It suggests that a certain number of people -- a critical mass of individuals -- have grouped themselves together to make things happen; and (3) It is intended to convey that this is a thinking group, people who can approach life critically and creatively. I suppose it *could* suggest that UUs go to Mass sometimes, or at least participate in the life of the congregation, though not everyone does.

Send your questions, comments, suggestions and information to:
Eric Carlson at ecarlson@InvisibleRobot.com