Profile

Petra Thombs

Original Caretakers Intern

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. She is also serving as a course assistant for CH109. Her focus is largely addressing the Doctrine of Discovery as it has fostered racism and extreme marginalization for communities, globally. Petra is working with and advocating for the rights of Indigenous People, which includes climate justice.

Prior to coming to Union, she retired from her career in the NYC Dept of Education. A lifelong poet, she writes about historical, cultural, religious and personal experiences, expressing the perspectives of marginalized communities. Petra is married, has two adult sons and two cats.

Q&A with Andrew

What got you involved in the environmental movement?

During my second year at Union i served as a Youth Representative to the United Nations and focused on Rio+20 – a major conference in Brazil about climate change. Before taking the position I didn’t know or care much about the climate crisis but that changed.. Climate change threatens every part of our lives and has the ability to unbraid our collective future. Working on climate change allows me to work for a better future by advocating for a better more equitable society that values people over profits.

What is the connection between social justice and climate change.

Our society is built upon consumption and domination. We take and take and take without worrying about the consequences. The West was and is built upon the exploitation of the poor here in America and across the world, taking from them their labor and resources with little recompense. It’s unjust and killing the world.

How can we stop the climate crisis?

The cycles of oppression, consumption, and exploitation that precipitate the climate crisis have been normalized to the point that many people don’t see them as a problem. Or, for those who do, the systems that perpetuate these ways of thinking and being seem too big to overcome. The great lie about climate change is that it’s up the individual to stop climate change but instead we must disrupt the systems which is done through movement building, policy creation and public education. Yes everyone can do something in their individual lives but it’s much more important for us to work in community to disrupt the climate crisis inducing systems of consumption and exploitation.

How do you understand CEEs role in this work?

CEE approaches the climate crisis through the lens of equity, morality, and justice. We challenge the environmental community and broader society to see how the people and planet suffer through the lens of morality rather than stats and figures. Too much of the climate movement focuses on the science of climate change and the impacts it has on nature. It overlooks the very real suffering people around the world and here in the United States are experiencing right now. Climate change is not a far off thing that our kids have to worry about. It’s something we need to and can address right now.

From the Blog

Reflections on the Conference on the Doctrine of Discovery

By Petra Thombs Attending the conference on the Doctrine of Discovery, provided an opportunity to deepen our collective understanding of these edicts, which are based on the Papal Bulls issued by the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century. I find that I always have to start at the beginning in… Read more

September Musings

By Shep Glennon September, you need a makeover. You need a name change, first of all. Your name literally means 7, yet when we write the date on government documents, we have to mislabel you as month number 9. All because some Christians thought it would be cute to make… Read more