Author: Shannon M.D. Smith

Original Caretakers Director, Mindahi Bastida joins Indigenous Voices Gathered in Manaus, Brazil to Support Global Efforts at Achieving the SDG’s

In the International Decade of Action for Water (2018-2028) and International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, and coinciding with the international day of indigenous peoples (August 9), the international hydrological program celebrated with a seminar on Indigenous Knowledge for Integral Water Management in Latin America and the Caribbean in Manaus, Brazil, August 8-9, 2019

Following the seminar, on August 10th in Manaus, indigenous leaders met for a time of reflection and discussion of Agenda 2030 for the Sustainable Development Goals. Indigenous peoples across the globe have long understood the value of water and the way it connects us.  CEE supports opportunities for indigenous peoples to gather, fortify their alliances and articulate wisdom that can inform new models of economic and environmental health for the well being of our people and our planet.

Center for Earth Ethics participates in the Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings

From the report by the Parliament of World Religions blog:

On Monday July 15th, 2019 the UN Task Force on Religion and Development and the Multi-Faith Advisory Council (CA) gathered for the Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings in New York.

In 2019, the program focused on the theme of Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality: The Role of UN and Multi-Faith Collaboration and included keynotes from high-level experts and five panel discussions. The panel discussions focused on issues like multi-faith collaboration, intergenerational dialogue, the rights of children, and climate change. Explore the full list of programs here.

The Parliament participated in discussions moderated by Charles McNeill and Rev. Victor Kazanjian of URI and included eminent speakers including Jamil Ahmad from UN Environment,  Mary-Evelyn Tucker from the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, Gopal Patel from GreenFaith, Rev. Ken Kitatani from Forum 21, Karenna Gore from the Center for Earth Ethics, and Audrey Kitagawa from the Parliament of Worlds’ Religions.

More photos and Complete pdf Report

Council on Foreign Relations: CEE’s Karenna Gore presides over Combating Climate Change conversation

CEE Director, Karenna Gore presided over the conversation Combating Climate Change, Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at the Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Distinguished Panel:

Jason Bordoff, Founding Director, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change, National Security Council

Brenda Ekwurzel, Senior Climate Scientist and Director of Climate Science, Union of Concerned Scientists

Kanta Kumari Rigaud, Lead Environmental Specialist and Regional Climate Change Coordinator in the Africa Region, World Bank Group

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Karenna opened the panel with this introduction:

“This is an important discussion to have in this place and time with exactly this group of people. The impacts of climate change are already here—stronger storms, record downpours and floods, deeper droughts, more destructive wildfires, melting ice and rising sea levels, loss of whole species of life in the sixth great extinction, and an increasing amount of strain and suffering among the most vulnerable peoples of the world. Week after week we see both scientific analysis and snapshots of experience. The news media is starting to connect the dots a bit more. This week, there are record high temperatures in Miami and Europe. This Friday, on the same day that our women’s soccer team is playing France in France, the temperature is expected to reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the southern part of that country.

The causes are also quite present among us. And if we can see them clearly, and confront and change them, we might be able to stop this tragedy from getting unimaginably worse. In addition to that, we must simultaneously work to adapt to the damage that has already been done to our ecological system, including those worsening impacts that will come no matter what we do now. And we must work to protect as many people from harm as we can.

The climate crisis is not merely an environmental crisis. It is an economic crisis. Yesterday’s New York Times included a report that Florida may have to build $76 billion worth of sea walls by 2040, perhaps causing some new thinking in that hotbed political state.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston issued a report this week saying, “Climate change threatens to undo the last fifty years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction. It could push more than 120 million more people into poverty by 2030 and will have the most severe impact in poor countries, regions, and the places poor people live and work.”

It is a political crisis. We are already seeing the effect of the new government’s policies in Brazil in the Amazon rainforest and, of course, in this country as well. The outlines of the future of public discourse on this topic are already taking shape due to the demands and actions of a younger generation that is living the consequences. As the Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg has said, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

It is a national security issue, as the United States military and intelligence communities have recognized and stated for decades. It is also a moral issue. It requires deep consideration of our moral obligations to one another across time and space. It asks us to consider our interconnections to nonhuman life, and whether we will value and protect it. It requires us to separate truth and delusion, and to have the courage to face down powerful interests as well as our own misguided habits and patterns. And for many, many people, it presents the question of the role of God or the divine, in whatever form or forms it takes, in the world.

Does God independently intervene in the course of events? Is God expressed within the laws of nature, in the chemistry, physics, and metaphysics of our world, in the very essence of the relationship between cause and effect, leaving us with free will to discern our fate? What is sacred? What is evil? The expertise of the world’s faith and wisdom traditions are seriously needed for this challenge.”

Combating Climate Change – complete video and transcript.

PBS News Hour Reports on UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty Visit

CEE’s Senior Fellow on Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement, Catherine Coleman Flowers, was among those interviewed by PBS for The Story of American Poverty.

More than 18 million Americans live in “extreme poverty,” according to a report from the United Nations, which ranked poverty in the U.S. alongside some of the poorest areas in the world. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty paid a visit to the U.S. last year, drawing worldwide attention to his findings. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky followed in his footsteps to report from Lowndes County, Alabama. This is part of an ongoing series of reports called “Chasing the Dream,” which reports on poverty and opportunity in America, and is supported in part by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Poor Peoples Campaign Moral Action Congress in DC 2019

See complete summary and videos originally published at RepairersoftheBreach.org and more coverage from the Observer online.

The Poor People’s Moral Action Congress was held at Trinity Washington University from June 17-19, 2019, by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Nearly one thousand poor people, moral leaders, activists, and advocates from over 40 states across the country convened in Washington, D.C., for three days to strategize, learn, and build power together.

During the Congress, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival launched the Poor People’s Moral Budget that shows concretely how to enact the demands of the Campaign. We held a Forum with 2020 Presidential Candidates when poor people from across the country will ask questions about the issues that impact their lives and we will hold a hearing from those most impacted by systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of Christian nationalism who are coming together to organize a movement.

On the second day of Congress, participants joined workshops or longer tracks to learn how and why we are building a moral fusion movement.

The last day featured a Congressional hearing before the house budget committee with voices from the campaign.

We closed with the exciting announcement of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington next summer: June 20, 2020. Save the date!

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Want to read more? 

How the Poor People’s Campaign is Building a New Electorate: A conversation with Rev Liz Theoharris and Greg Kauffman for The Nation.

Beyond Religion and the Pulitzer Center

BEYOND RELIGION took place June 8-9, 2019 at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C.

The Pulitzer Center serves to highlight journalism focused on the most pressing issues of our time. Their reporting and outreach on religion is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. Additional related reporting and outreach is supported by Humanity United (Peace and Conflict), the MacArthur Foundation, Omidyar Network (Property Rights), The Rockefeller Foundation, and individual donors dedicated to raising awareness of critical global issues.
CEE Original Caretaker’s Program Director, Mindahi C Bastida Munoz (center right in photo above) joined long standing colleagues to honor the important work of crisis reporting. (left to right) Co-Founder and Director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, Jhon Grim; Panel Moderator and Co-Director, Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University, Mary Evelyn Tucker; filmmaker, lawyer and storyteller, Kalyanee Mam;  Mindahi and First Nations Radio founder, Tiokasin Ghosthorse

See Conference Highlights here

See also: Pulitzer Center supports PBS NEWS Hour Report on Poverty in America.

Going Beyond GDP

Letting It In

Grief. It’s not that we need to stay there. It’s that we need to first let it in, consume us, before we can let it go and make room for what comes next. It’s true after a loved one dies, or the end of a relationship, and it’s true when we are grieving for our planet.

Holly Truhlar’s must-read article on how The Environmental Movement has Failed points to an issue any somatic practitioner knows – all trauma is stored in the body – whether you are aware of it or not. And it is through the vessel of the body that we can access both the trauma and the resources needed to move through and ultimately to release it. This is one of the key principles that those not well versed in the nature of trauma will forget or miss altogether – with trauma there is no way out but through.  And through means feeling it.

It won’t be enough to bypass your emotions and stay afloat. At some point you will have to drown so you can be reborn. Now, saying this doesn’t not mean there is a predicated timeline. Grief takes as long as it takes. But the more we are willing to spend time in the quiet, to be with our thoughts, be with and listen carefully to the voice underlying our emotions, then we can get on with the wailing that needs to happen… in the silence of the forest that is dying, face planted in the soil, listening to our bodies and to the body of the Earth. Those who can surrender enough to the grief to let it move through them from the depths of their being can then become the hand that holds, the arms that cradle, the next one ready to surrender.

The only timeline is this… Mother Nature is waiting on us. The longer we hold out, the more species die. The longer we wait, the more our world becomes the dystopia of Total Recall with humans living in oxygenated domes or Avatar’s vision of humanity looking for a new home planet because we ‘already killed our Mother’. As long as we are insisting nothing is wrong – or maybe knowing something is so very wrong it feels impossible to face head on – we are not just delaying the inevitable, we are actually choosing to let the entire planet’s ecosystem collapse while we close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears and sing “Mary had a Little Lamb” at the top of our lungs. This is a choice.

It is not just ignorance anymore, it is willful ignorance.

And it’s not because the news media is talking about it more, it’s that you know the weather – and the climate – has changed.

You have already experienced or are presently experiencing storms, fires, floods, unseasonable weather at any rate. You are maybe hearing less bird songs or seeing fewer flowers and fewer bees. Your grandchildren are talking to you about it and even walking out of school to get your attention.  And if you are poor, well, you know it’s coming even if it hasn’t already arrived on your geographical doorstep. You know because you are vulnerable and that vulnerability means if anything should happen…

This is Climate Apartheid.

If you have money, you own your house, rooms for your family, maybe even a nice yard or land, you might be outwardly denying anything is going on.  However more than likely, just in case, you are preparing –  making sure your windows are energy efficient, replacing the roof, keeping a store room of bottled water and food stuffs. You know how to access your funds should you need them. It is likely that you have insurance and if you lose your home in a flood or fire you can afford to acquire new accommodation elsewhere while your insurance company pays to rebuild your old house where it stood. It might be uncomfortable, and certainly a bit of a hassle but you won’t actually be hurting. You won’t be in a shelter having lost all your belongings with no way to replace them, or be sleeping a family of four on a floor in your friend’s living room.

This is the difference in perspective when we talk about Environmental Justice, why we say the poor and disenfranchised are hardest hit.  This is why the poor, and therefore often minority groups, are labeled those on the front lines of climate change.

Those who are most vulnerable may not survive.  Whether we are talking about Pacific Islanders preparing for migration as the rising tides slowly engulf their home of generations, whether we are talking about Cancer Alley in the South and mortality rates among those living in and among raw sewage and hookworm, or those who have no clean water from Alabama to Michigan… India or South Africa.  This is what we understand when hearing the testimony of a 14 year old Sioux girl begging for our intervention so her tribe does not meet it’s final end by pipeline.  She’s consumed by the absolute terror that her entire tribal race will be wiped out by a pipeline spill destroying their water source.  And the horror that no one seems to care about it.

This is the grief we must face.

Facing the reality that in the United States, still calling itself the wealthiest country in the world, families & children have gone without clean water in Flint, MI since 2014 and that the federal government has not allocated the funds, created the jobs and hired the necessary people to fix it in five years.  This, too, is the reality of our paralysis.  Our inability to respond in the face of these crises.  Even when people need jobs.  Even when our neighbor’s lives are at stake.  Even when we have more money than any other country in the world.

The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells has shaken some readers into action.  As Mark O’Connell writes in his review for The Guardian:  “Because as dire as the projections are, if you are surveying the topic from a privileged western vantage, it’s easy to overlook how bad things have already got, to accept the hurricanes and the heatstroke deaths as simply the unfortunate nature of things. In this way, Wallace-Wells raises the disquieting spectre of future normalisation – the prospect that we might raise, incrementally but inexorably, our baseline of acceptable human suffering. (This phenomenon is not without precedent. See, for example, the whole of human history.)”

And it seems this is not the future after all – we, in fact, are already there.  A society allowing children to die quickly in gunfire at school and slowly in detention centers or by poison in the water.

Holly Truhlar attempts to bring it home:

Essentially, the environmental movement failed because it’s not big enough. It lacks both width and depth. It’s based on an old paradigm, existing within a system which separates us from each other and the wild. Rather than being born from our hearts and soul, and connected to the anima mundi—the Soul of the world—the environmental movement was conceived through the colonized mind. This limited mindset breeds hierarchy, supremacy, and solutions of force. Within this space, we continue to oppress and abuse because it’s what happened, is happening, to us and we aren’t capable, resourced enough, to radically take it on and transform it.

So here we are.  Attempting to fall back in love with the earth so that we might protect it.  Here we are in a feedback loop of grief so deep we can barely perceive it.  Here we are with deep needs and with few therapists, counselors or spiritual leadership equipped to take on the transformation required in our personal journey out of the apocalypse.  If you made it this far in this post, then there’s a chance.

Let us begin letting it in.

Dancing the EarthDream: The Pedagogy of Nature Connection

Somatic Resiliency:  The Work that Reconnects & Turning Towards Grief

Moving on Center (MoC)

VICE: Women Prisoners Heal Trauma with Dance

On Food & Faith: 2019 Ministry in the Time of Climate Change Highlights; Beyond Religion; and More…

Dear Friends,

What a weekend!  We had 150 faith leaders, activists, farmers, academics, and community leaders from around the Midwest (coasts too!) come together at Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO) to learn how our food systems and land use impacts and is impacted by climate change. There are so many highlights to share and here are two. One was touring Seminary Hill Farms at MTSO and seeing veggies harvested for dinner the next day. Another were the presentations from Dr. Rattan Lal and Mr. Al Gore who spoke of the massive challenges in front of us but also the opportunities for hope and change. Yes it will be hard but we left the training feeling more prepared, with a renewed sense of community, and ready to act. A special thanks to all of the speakers and participants at the training.  And of course, thank you to our partners the Climate Reality Project, the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation at Ohio State University, and MTSO.

Please enjoy our photo album of the event including several highlights from our speakers.

Andrew Schwartz, CEE Deputy Director 


CEE Team Members at MTSO left to right:  Karenna Gore, Peggy Cusack,
Andrew Schwartz, Mindahi Bastida, and Genie Cooper.

Original Caretakers Upcoming Events

Image result for pulitzer center beyond religion

Image result for mary evelyn tucker

CEE’s Original Caretakers Program Director, Mindahi Bastida Munoz, will participate in a panel discussion on Religion and the Environment with Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Kalyanee Mam and Marianne Comfort. The panel will be moderated by Mary Evelyn Tucker, Co-Director, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University. For the full conference schedule , visit the Pulitzer Center website.  Beyond Religion will take place June 8-9 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.


Environmental Justice: The Accidental Environmentalist

CEE’s Catherine Coleman Flowers at the MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL – Telluride, CO showing of THE ACCIDENTAL ENVIRONMENTALIST: Catherine Flowers.  
Watch this Documentary Short


Eco-Ministry & Sustainability and Global Affairs

CEE’s Director, Karenna Gore on today’s panel “Focus on Faith: Planting and Nurturing the Seed of Climate Responsibility” Civil Society Briefing at the UN in New York City.

CEE Spring / Summer Update

WORKING TOGETHER TO CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME:

Dear Friends,In Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis wrote, “It is essential to show special care for Indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed.”

Inspired, the Center for Earth Ethics partnered with the Indigenous Environmental Network and Forum 21 to host an intimate dialogue between Indigenous leaders and a representative from the Vatican. Read more…

The CEE Team


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT:

On May 17 and 18, Virginians from all across the state will unite in common cause to oppose unjust and unneeded fracked-gas pipelines anywhere in the Commonwealth, and to stand in solidarity for environmental justice and the climate.

On Friday, May 17, continuing the work of bringing people together for good, William Joseph Barber III, Co-chair of the N.C. Poor People’s Campaign Ecological Justice Committee, Karenna Gore (Center for Earth Ethics) and Pastor Paul Wilson (Union Grove Baptist Church) will join local leaders to march across the Robert E. Lee Bridge where 51 years ago, almost to the day, civil rights activists marched during Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic Poor People’s Campaign for economic justice. We’ll end at the Oregon Hill Overlook for a concert and rally.  May 18th events will happen in Leesburg.  More information…

Join us for this important event! #noMVP #noACP


ORIGINAL CARETAKERS EVENTS DURING EARTH WEEK:

Indigenous leaders from around the world gathered at the United Nations Headquarters and at events throughout New York City during Earth Week.


Delegates from the Mapuche Nation and Likanantay brought awareness to Human Rights Violations at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


ECO-MINISTRY UPCOMING EVENTS:

Special Evening Event
Wednesday, May 22, 7 pm

An Evening with Karenna Gore
Director, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary

The intersection of religion and the environment reflects on faith and love for the earth.
A reception follows.  

Throughout the Easter season, St. Bart’s is excited to present a variety of programs focusing on stewardship of the earth.  Other Upcoming Events in the series include: May 19th, Keep it Local: Addressing Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Climate Justice with Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, Uprose; and June 2nd, In the Garden: St. Bart’s and The Rooftop of the Waldorf-Astoria with Leslie Day, naturalist and author of Honeybee Hotel.