We’re debuting a new feature inspired by our BFC Host profiles. We will now feature some of the members of the virtual Circle launched by 92Y in March 2020.
Name: Warren Uesato
Hometown: San Jose, California
Circle Member Since: March 2020
How has being a part of a virtual Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
I have attended several meetings offered by the Ben Franklin Circles team for prospective hosts, and picked up some valuable facilitation skills. In the weekly virtual BFC, it has been nice to engage in thoughtful discussion with others from all around the country. I enjoy having that hour and a half to listen and hear others’ perspectives and experiences. I have made some connections through the group that I’ve been able to take offline. I’m hopeful that if those relationships continue, I will have some more friends that I can visit, if I am ever in their part of the country.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
So far, in our virtual Ben Franklin Circle, we have covered the first 11 virtues.
By nature, I am a frugal and sincere person, so frugality and sincerity definitely speak to me. I also think that peace and tranquility (Franklin’s 11th virtue) are important. I strive to practice humility and place high importance on that virtue. But for me, justice is the most important virtue on Franklin’s list.
Earlier in my life as I was trying to make a living and raise a family, I did not think as much about social justice, but in recent times, with our country the way that it is, social justice has become all important to me. I am semi-retired now, and think that working for social justice is something that I want to be involved in for the rest of my life. At our BFC meeting to discuss justice, someone brought forth the Cornel West quote: “Justice is what love looks like in public.” I love that.
Are there any lessons from BFC you think are particularly relevant in the time of the coronavirus pandemic?
I am not sure how to answer that, but for me, I believe that being involved with BFC has reinforced the idea that we are all interconnected and interdependent.
What do you do when you are not part of BFC? Anything you’d like to share?
Before the pandemic, I was working at a part-time job and volunteering for several different organizations. With shelter-in-place, my job and regular volunteer activities ceased for the most part. I had been active in my church in a number of small study groups, and we were able to continue these online. I am part of a ministry team at my church that serves the local community, and through that group, we recently started a neighborhood food distribution program. I also belong to a couple of active social justice organizations, and we have been able to continue our activities online.
Because of shelter-in-place I was able start and discover new things. I formed a small group to study a book, and also discovered another church in my area. I now attend the services there, (on top of service at my regular church) and several other meetings that church offers. Through these activities, I have formed new connections and friendships. These things would not have happened were it not for the pandemic and so I feel grateful that I have been able to make the most of a bad situation. I also enjoy cooking, gardening and spending time with my dog that I adopted just before shelter-in-place took effect.