Month: March 2019

Catherine Flowers Gives Testimony to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges

Excellent testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment by at 31:30 mark on this link.

We must confront inequities in wastewater treatment+ invest in sustainable solutions for those most in need.

LiveStream from 10 am, Thursday, March 7th

Witnesses:

Mayor David A. Condon, City of Spokane, Washington, on behalf of the United States Conference of Mayors

Mr. John Mokszycki, Water and Sewer Superintendent, Town of Greenport, New York, on behalf of the National Rural Water Association

Ms. Catherine Flowers, Rural Development Manager, The Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery, Alabama

Ms. Maureen Taylor, State Chairperson, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Detroit, Michigan

Mr. Andrew Kricun, P.E., BCEE, Executive Director/Chief Engineer, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, Camden, New Jersey, on behalf of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies

Professor Jill Heaps, Assistant Professor of Law, Vermont Law School, Burlington, Vermont

What is the Doctrine of Discovery? Why is it relevant in our world today?

In a nut shell, the Doctrine of Discovery, which is based on the Papal Bulls of the fifteenth century, is the origin of the European colonization, providing the answer as to why and how the actual degradation of peoples and nations began globally.

For me, as a historian, knowing this information serves to understand the context for why enslavement, genocide and ongoing suffering exists. It explains the imbalance of power which is supported and maintained by countries who claim to be democratic and justice seeking.  As Indigenous peoples work to decolonize, knowing the origin history helps to understand what is operating in our society and what needs to change.

I have made this my work because history matters. This is the mechanization of systemic subjugation which has remained in place for over 500 years. Unveiling this is akin to revealing the wizard behind the curtain. We are taught about Manifest Destiny, in order to participate in promoting it. That allows us to be in lock step with Empire; removing Indigenous peoples and clearing the land of them.  Our country does not teach this history, but uses this system to maintain power. Teaching this history helps people to understand why efforts to create a just society fall short. Unless we confront this reality, we will be at a loss to understand the systems which impact every aspect of our lived experience.

Theologically, the Papal Bulls are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus, who did not endorse stealing, subjugation or enslavement. His message lifted up and liberated the lowly, the oppressed, and taught us to welcome the stranger and to treat others with dignity and love. The Christian world follows the dictates of empire in conquering peoples and taking all of their possessions and land. In following Jesus, one would be more closely following the practices of Indigenous peoples, who worship God, lived communally and respected the earth.  

Now that we are in a crisis with our earth, we are turning to Indigenous wisdom, the very wisdom that has been demonized for centuries by empire for pagan practices.  And as we are looking to access this wisdom, Indigenous communities are still under attack with threats to water sources and sacred sites. Our system of hierarchies run counter to practices of community. Our society needs reorientation and to stop the subjugation of vulnerable peoples and communities.  Will empire let go of its greed for resources and land in an effort to renew the practices of Indigenous peoples? Will they be willing to let go of their pre-conceived fears of The Other in order to save our world? These questions and many others need to be examined.

People can educate themselves by researching the Doctrine and its use in removing people’s possessions and land, connecting to the legislation which supports these practices and advocating for justice (Johnson V. McIntosh, breaking of treaties with Native nations, relegating Indigenous rights to ancestral lands to merely the right of occupancy). Many of the traditional writings of our flawed history need to be re-examined, unlearned, rewritten and taught in order to create a more equitable society. Our constitution needs to be rewritten in order to represent all people, not just land-owning men of European ancestry. The mainstream societies fragility around these issues and unwillingness to change, need to be addressed in order to make any progress. (Columbus was not a hero, the civil war was fought to end slavery, etc.).

Petra Thombs is an Intern with the Original Caretakers Initiative at the Center for Earth Ethics. Petra is a recent graduate from Union Theological Seminary earning a degree in a Masters of Divinity, where she majored in Church History. She is currently interning as the Center for Earth Ethics, as part of her path towards Unitarian Universalist ministry. 

CEE Update: Water, Women and Planting Seeds of Change

IN LOVING MEMORY

We ⁦at the Center for Earth Ethics and Union Theological Seminary were honored to know Grandmother Josephine and give thanks for her life and teaching.

Reciprocity, Responsibilities, Hope

“We’ve known for a long time that water is alive. Water can hear you. Water can sense what you are saying and what you are feeling… Give it respect and it can come alive. Like anything. Like a person who is sick… if you give them love, take care of them, they’ll come alive. They’ll feel better. It’s the same with our mother, the earth, and the water. 
Give it love.” 
Grandmother Josephine Mandamin Remembered
by Water Docs Films and the trailer for The Water Journey

ORIGINAL CARETAKERS

Marrying Indigenous Wisdom & Scientific Knowledge:
Reimagining the Human Place in Nature

A very special evening with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer in conversation with Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence for Union’s Center for Earth Ethics and Union Theological Seminary faculty member John Thatamanil.

 

Reflection by Geraldine Patrick Ensina and Complete Program Video

 


The Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America and the Abya Yala

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida, will travel to Colombia to participate in this sharing between indigenous thought leaders and tradition keepers of Central and South America.

The Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America and the Abya Yala, will be an expression of dialogue and reciprocity to heal Mother Earth for present and for future generations. It promises meaningful discussions, as well as the development of pragmatic action plans.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Earth Ethics, ICCS – International Center for Cultural Studies, and The Fountain.


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE / CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

Catherine Flowers to Testify for Congressional Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

“The Clean Water State Revolving Fund: How Federal Infrastructure Investment Can Help Communities Modernize Water Infrastructure and Address Affordability Challenges”

LiveStream March 7th, 10 am EST


A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis – Atlanta, GA

Thursday, March 14th
7:00 PM, Doors Open at 6:15 PM

Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
In the tradition of the mass meetings of the Civil Rights Movement, Former Vice President Al Gore, Bishop William J. Barber II, and CEE Director Karenna Gore will join Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock and other local faith leaders to gather inspiration from religious texts, and bear witness to the injustice of the climate crisis. The mass meeting takes place alongside a three-day environmental justice and climate activist training with taking place March 14th-16th. CEE’s Catherine Coleman Flowers also to join!  Learn More

ECO-MINISTRY

Annual Ministers Training May 30 – June 1

Application deadline is March 29, 2019. Applicants will be notified of decisions by April 30, 2019. Click here to submit an application.


 

You can support Grandmother Josephine’s vision
Women & Water Coming Together Symposium 
August 4-8, 2019
www.spiritofthewater.org

 

A Very Special Evening with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer: Reflection & Video

“Last night I had the joyful opportunity to interview Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. She is sweet as the sweetgrass, loving as a mother and attentive as a wise elder. She was delighted to hear that we, from the Center for Earth Ethics, are offering the course Plant Wisdom and Ecological Consciousness and wants to know all about it. Surely we will have opportunities to interact with her, as we actively engage in braiding together plant wisdom, science and traditional knowledge as a practice of being in the world. Certainly all of humanity needs to remember that communing with all sentient beings is the original purpose of living a human experience. The art of reminding about this purpose is something that Robin has become exquisitely passionate about. Last night, over two hundred people stood in ovation to express their deep gratitude for her overflow of wisdom, joy for life and caring for Mother Earth. Let us spread her word and make her dream –a shared dream– come true in her lifetime.”
~  Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina
***
Join us for a conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer as she helps us rethink, reimagine and, renarrate our relationship to the sacred and the natural world. Can the objective, data-driven approach of science be enriched by non-anthropocentric spiritual worldviews? As a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Dr. Kimmerer draws on both indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge to enrich and animate our understanding of the natural world. This expansive way of seeing and relating to creation privileges regeneration and reciprocity, and offers novel solutions for ecological restoration and climate change resilience.

Dr. Kimmerer will be joined in conversation with Union faculty member John Thatamanil, and Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina, Scholar in Residence for Union’s Center for Earth Ethics.

 

About Robin Wall Kimmerer:
Dr. Kimmerer is a mother, plant ecologist, writer and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She serves as the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an active research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. Read More.

About The Insight Project:
The Insight Project is a new multi-year program series that explores modern conceptions of theology and spirituality through a diverse array of thought-provoking lectures, screenings, performances, and on-stage conversations. Click HERE to learn more.