Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center launch “Earth Stanzas,” an interactive online Earth Day Poetry Project
April 17, 2020
New York, NY / Kent, OH
The Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University are launching Earth Stanzas, an interactive poetry project in honor of Earth Day. Earth Stanzas draws on the inspiration of eight poets who engage the beauty, depth, and interconnectedness of the Earth, and invites readers to interact with the poems and find their own poetic voice.
Each model poem and its prompt invites participants to reflect on their relationship to the Earth and to share their voice in an online gallery. Another feature of the project invites readers to use the Wick Poetry Center’s Emerge™web-based app to create their own digital “erasure” poem from a pool of primary texts, including excerpts from an International Panel on Climate Change report, historical documents such as the Haudenosaunee Address to the Western World and Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, celebrated in 1970 when 20 million Americans gathered across the country to raise awareness to the growing destruction of our planet. Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. 50 years later as these protections are threatened we again must sound the alarm for dynamic action to be taken.
In this unprecedented time of planetary crisis, it is important to remember the beauty of the world, the wonder of nature, and the deep connection we have to it and each other. This is why on the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, we are offering this platform for the creation of “Earth Stanzas” and asking your networks to help us spread the word. Please join us along with Poets for Science, The Academy of American Poets, The Climate Museum, Earth Day Network, and many others.
Full Link: www.earthstanzas.com
The Center for Earth Ethics is a forum for education, public discourse and movement building that draws on faith and wisdom traditions to address our ecological crisis and its root causes at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
The Wick Poetry Center, in Kent State University’s College of Arts & Sciences, is home to the award-winning Traveling Stanzas project, and is one of the premier university poetry centers in the country. It is a national leader for the range, quality, and innovative outreach in the community.
For more information please contact:
David Hassler, Director, Wick Poetry Center: [email protected], 330.221.9913
Andrew Schwartz, Deputy Director CEE: [email protected], 541.760.2067
The coronavirus pandemic should be understood as a dress rehearsal for climate change. The rapidity and breadth of its impact has been too much for our systems to bear. It’s put health care, social security, food systems, sanitation, and most everything else to the absolute test. Thus far food is still getting to the grocery stores and medical care continues to be given but the question remains for how long? If the pandemic continues assaulting the world for months on end can we trust that our supply chains will continue to hold steadfast? Our globalized world is absolutely dependent upon safe, efficient, and guaranteed shipping.
Depending on perspective, globalization and free trade are a gift. It created huge wealth across the globe, decreased costs associated with manufacturing and trade, and developed a model that maximizes efficiencies across the entirety of the global economy. Geographic regions around the world contribute to the creation of singular products, with favorites in separate companies making component parts for a whole product that is sold globally. It’s efficient, low cost, high revenue, and creates cheap replicable products that weed out competition.
Seen another way, the globalized model rooted out the ability for local development of goods and services, notably manufacturing and agriculture. It’s why there are food desserts, which should more appropriately be called food apartheid zones in cities surrounded by farmland. The majority of farmland around the world has been dedicated to monocropping staple crops that are then shipped globally rather than locally. For instance, half of the United States arable farmland is monocropped.
The global food chain of course allows there to be bananas in Wisconsin in the winter and wheat from the United States is sent to food starved areas across the world. But it also means that our food access is completely reliant on a complex exchange between nation states and private enterprises rather than local farmers and ranchers. If any links in the supply chain break then a global food crisis would be inevitable. We are not that far away. The United Nations has provided warning that food shortages may be imminent with food production facilities and farms losing workers to the disease.
What the coronavirus has demonstrated is that our system of global interdependence is not as stalwart as we would like or need it to be. South Korea is using the unfortunate opportunity provided by the coronavirus to push for greener economies and infrastructure. They see what needs to be done to encounter climate change and are working towards it. Some countries are going the other direction. China recently announced 34 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power — equivalent to Poland’s annual output — adding to the 147 GW it already produces annually from coal. The China Development Bank (CDB) and China Export-Import Bank (CHEXIM) — have also provided over $226 billion in loans to South East Asian countries — Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines over the past two decades. It’s created a boom of renewed production and confidence in the fossil fuel sector while dealing a huge blow to conservation and environmental efforts, let alone the hope of hitting the Paris Climate Agreement targets.
Not only are these actions inane they are deeply immoral and make very little long-term economic sense. What does make sense is a re-evaluation of and a commitment to investment strategies that fund locally focused regenerative agriculture projects and renewable energy production. Regeneration International describes regenerative farming as: ”farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity — resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.” At present, agriculture globally is responsible for nearly 30% of global emissions. Regenerative farming techniques, on the other hand, have the potential to to sequester upwards of two tons of carbon per hectare. Additionally, it is estimated locally focused regenerative farming has the ability to employ upwards of 32 people for every million dollars in production revenue creating a net-positive boon for local economies and mitigating climate change.
Despite a pledge to green their portfolios, the majority of MDBs continue to heavily resource fossil fuel infrastructure. This is true for other banks and crediting agencies. For instance, “from 2016–2018 Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) provided $31.6 billion annually to support fossil fuel projects” — $7.1 billion for coal and $24.5 billion for oil and gas. By comparison, ECAs only gave $2.7 billion per year for renewable energy. Common wisdom has held that investing in fossil fuels is a guaranteed money maker. This belief continues to hold even though half the coal plants in the world are projected to lose money in 2020. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic has plummeted oil to nearly $10 a barrel. Rather than bet on oil rebounding and investing heavily in it, let’s make moves in the other direction.There is no better time than now to transition away from fossil fuels. Renewable energy has a higher economic upside and the long term viability that fossil fuels do not. We need MDBs and ECAs to move their investments towards renewable energy and local economies. It will strengthen local resilience and create new energy and economic pathways that are not dependent on fossil fuel economies. This transition will be slow but it is necessary if we want to guarantee a future worth living into.
Ethnoecology is an interdisciplinary field of study that enables a human group with a land-based culture to share how they conceive the ecosystem they inhabit. The root ‘ethno’ points to the native character of the human group; however, ethnoecology is also pertinent to those who are indigenous to a place, meaning those who have been interacting in harmonious and reciprocal ways for decades or generations, such as forest or desert dwellers, or small farmers, herders or fishermen. In all instances, what characterizes the human groups is the way in which they perceive the web of life and conceive their participation in it. They have come to understand, from accumulated experience, that dynamic processes are constantly shaping the way they see and interact with the natural world. The resulting outcome of such interaction is a bioculture, and, even if it retains identifiable and distinguishable features over time, the bioculture is always susceptible to acquiring, modifying or losing some identity traits.
Ethnoecology encourages people from a common bioregion to come together and integrate a ‘descriptive picture’ of how they have been living with the natural world that they call home. There is both a theoretical and a methodological framework that facilitates the integration of such picture. It is a description that includes detailed mappings of skyscapes, landscapes and underworlds—or subsurface territories— where both tangible and intangible aspects are equally relevant. The full picture is achieved by integrating three main dimensions which we call: kosmos, corpus and praxis.
Kosmos refers to the belief and value systems that give sense to the mysterious aspects of the world. Belief systems produce societal cohesion, and the human groups that are immersed in the natural world and are connected to its unfolding get to experience biocultural cohesion. Among indigenous peoples who have intentionally remained in the margins of colonizing paradigms, the natural world enables the development of a spiritual reverence to, and respect for, the seen and the unseen. This is easily ascertained by those who, when collaboratively integrating this kind of information, do so from a neutral place in terms of religious dogma. All in all, the kosmos dimension highlights the symbolic and spiritual world of these peoples.
Corpus refers to the knowledge acquired about the natural world by minds that periodically come together and integrate information perceived through the senses and apprehended and assimilated in different ways. In general, indigenous minds have been culturally induced/educated/motivated to discern what information from the natural world is relevant in order to maintain or recover collective harmony—and never to secure immediate individual satisfaction. In favorable conditions, indigenous people become skilled in paying attention to how healthy ecosystems—and all within— act and interact. Whilst keeping track of predictable and cyclic unfoldings, they are also mindful that nature is always experimenting; thus, surprising emergences, creative responses and innovation of are carefully observed. Wisdom goes beyond the capacity of the mind to rationally process information at different scales of time and space. It requires a prayerful and meditative way of being in the world and the capacity to connect to dreams and to the realm of the intangible world. The corpus of knowledge and wisdom enables human groups to contribute in a creative way to the overall purpose set by their anteceding generations: one of building endurance and resilience with the ecosystem they inhabit, so to become a single entity which we call a socioecosystem.
Praxis refers to the practical and technological systems that enable the physical, hands-on interaction with both the tangible and intangible aspects of the natural world. There are many skills that people develop in order to grow crops, farm animals, cultivate bees, forage edible plants, fruits, mushrooms and medicinal plants, fish or hunt. These skills go hand in hand with knowledge that has been accumulated, affirmed and complemented for generations. Complementary to skills are the ritual acts that are performed to ensure good communication with the spirit world. Asking for permission to sow seeds, to set up a beehive or to fish, and asking the spirits when and how much can be grown or fished, or when and how much it will rain, is all achieved through rituals; and it is only after listening to the spirits, that the tangible aspect of praxis may be carried out. Technological systems developed in these socioecosystems avoid being invasive or disruptive to natural cycles—small or large—because there is an understanding that their thresholds cannot be surpassed. There are all kinds of creation stories, songs, traditional dances, elder-youth dialogues, initiation rites, planting and harvesting feasts and healing practices that keep community members in a harmonious connection with the complex and mysterious living systems. Such is the way in which, in ideal conditions, these societies have put in place an observance system so to prevent human interference with natural processes.
Ethnoecology is based on a approach. Conventional science requires a subject-object approach to indigenous and small farming communities, whereas post normal science, as proposed by Functowitz and Ravez, dissolves those categories and recognizes expertise in every member of a society, especially in times of crisis. Ethnoecology uses tools from disciplines as varied as cultural geography, new ecology and . All of these share in common a perspective, challenging to deconstruct concepts—starting with the ‘human’ concept— and questioning long-standing statements about the ‘human condition’. In the past few decades humanities have thus been addressing the ontological exceptionality of the human, and more particularly, of the Westernized and colonized person. In this regard, the sense of superiority of the Western scientist over nature and over communities linked to nature, is also dissolved, eliminating—or, at least, minimizing—the possibility of reductionism, misinterpretations and the detrimental outcomes.
It is comforting to see the emergence of indigenous thinkers and scientists like , or , and , for they offer the foundational basis of native thought to begin dialogue with those who are ready to go beyond the boundaries of anthropocentrism and its paradigms. In these times of civilizational crisis in tandem with planetary crisis, we are offering the ethnoecological framework to enrich such a needed dialogue. This framework has been mainly cultivated by my Mexican mentors , founders of the , and it has shaped participatory research in land-based communities in in empowering ways. Hopefully it will become adopted by indigenous communities and their younger members. Regardless of whether they are attending or not formal education, they might find benefit in Ethnoecology to communicate, in a holistic way, their way of thinking and living in community with all their relations.
The Center for Earth Ethics Stands with the Masphee Wampanoag Tribe for the protection of their homelands and all lands, waters and sacred sites of tribal nations and indigenous peoples around the world. During this time of the Coronavirus the Mashpee have received notice of dissolution of their lands (statement on Mashpee Wampanoag Website) and have since filed a court injunction.
“The Mashpee Wampanoag tribal people have called this land home for over 12,000 years. Their history predates the United States and they were the tribe who welcomed the Pilgrims in the 17th Century. The Tribe fought the U.S. government for recognition for nearly 40 years before finally becoming a federally recognized tribe in 2007. However, they have remained landless.” – From Massachusetts Congressman, Joe Kennedy’s statement of support.
The Unitarian Universalist Association has compiled a list of resources for faith communities to learn about the case and take action in solidarity at this critical time.
You can also sign the MOVE ON petition here.
Letters can be sent to:
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
CHAIRMAN Sen. John Hoeven – Senator for North Dakota and
VICE CHAIRMAN Sen. Tom Udall – Senator for New Mexico
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2251
U.S. Department of the Interior, the Secretary David Bernhardt and our bureaus:
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Phone (with employee directory): (202) 208-3100
We were honored to have Dr. Marium Husain present on Health, Covid-19, and Climate Change for our most recent webinar. With so much information out there on the coronavirus, we deeply appreciated Dr. Husain’s informative presentation on what we can be doing now to help our communities and those on the frontlines. If you have any resources to share or stories of what you’ve been doing in your community we’d love to hear them.
Please watch the video of the webinar Health in the Balance where you will also have access to the Center for Earth Ethics and Climate Speakers Network’s past webinars!
Dr. Husain is the Board Vice President of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA). In related news, we would also like to thank and congratulate IMANA for their recent “decision to divest IMANA’s endowment fund from all fossil fuel companies.”
“Human activities, especially the burning of dirty fuel sources, are the primary cause of climate change. Individuals, organizations and businesses acting in concert to collectively divest from fossil fuel companies is an important step toward generating increased attention toward the urgency of the climate crisis and building a healthier future for all of creation. We need to flatten the climate curve.” – Dr. Nabile Safdar, President of IMANA
Let’s flatten the curve.
Contemporary Views of Indigenous Peoples in Mexico summarizes a broad discussion on the role of native groups in Mexico and the condition of ethnic groups throughout the national territory. For hundreds of years, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples have been excluded from the central development of Mexico, and to a greater or lesser extent, these groups have occupied a residual place in the public policies of the different governments, and have regularly suffered discrimination for part of the rest of the population.
CEE’s Mindai Bastida contributes, authoring the first chapter in the publication, “Los Pueblos Originarios en el Contexto de la Globalización” (The Original People in the Context of Globalization).