GreenFaith in the Spring, Part 2

"For all that is our life" by Rev. Andrew

(Read Part 1 here.)

Today began with a POP — a way of talking about our work that focuses on purpose (the “why” we’re doing something) as the foundation distinct from both outcomes (the “what” we’re doing) and processes (the “how” we’re doing it). When it comes to purpose, the question is, What are we trying to change? There's no purpose in doing a project just for the sake of doing a project. It’s also important to ask, What is our theory of change?

As part of my GreenFaith Fellowship, my project comes from the Fellowship’s action plan to become a Green Sanctuary, originally submitted to the Unitarian Universalist Association in 2013. Namely, we proposed to host a Green Living and Congregational Sustainability Workshop, bringing together congregations and others from across the region. Thanks to today’s technology, we can resolve the contradiction of asking people to spend time in cars in order to drive to a workshop about about green! Using a videoconferencing platform such as Zoom, we can offer a one-day remote-access workshop for congregational groups and individuals, as well as offering an example for other organizers of green events to follow. However, these, as our discussion of POP explained, are outcomes. The purpose is to help congregations and households to reduce their ecological footprints — hence both the focus of the workshop as well as the method of convening it. (Stay tuned for more information about this workshop, which will likely take place in late August.)

A sign at the entrance to the Stony Point Center, where the GreenFaith Fellowship retreat is taking place.

Next we heard an update about GreenFaith itself from its Executive Director, the Rev. Fletcher Harper. Founded in 1992, and inspired in part by the Rio Earth Summit, GreenFaith is refocusing on its core purpose in order to more effectively and powerfully respond to the climate crisis from religious and moral perspectives. With a renewed international emphasis, including the launch of a Fellowship program in India, priorities include love, compassion, equity and justice, and concern for the vulnerable: ethnic minorities, women and workers.

We also heard from Martin Kopp, Director of GreenFaith’s Living the Change project. This is a program promoting green living — particularly in the areas of transportation, diet and energy use — that complements other necessary paths to environmental sustainability and renewal such as policy actions and cultural change. Individual action with supporting companionship to embrace climate-friendly lifestyles is a way of leading by example. Look for events this Fall, September 1st through November 3rd, under the banner of “Time for Living the Change”.

What is the world we'd like to see? What can faith communities do to see us through the climate crisis to get there?

Returning to our POP discussion, we considered “The Four Rs” as (complementary) ways of bringing about change:

  • Reforming is the slow but steady way of making change. Reformers work on policy changes, such as passing new legislation on clear air or emissions reductions or enacting company-wide sustainability plans. This change works from inside the system.
  • Resisting is the grassroots social change by saying “no” to systems that are ruining our world. This method may involve direct actions of resistance, including marches, on-line campaigns and non-violent civil disobedience, or it could involve publicly boycotting certain products.
  • Recreating is demonstrating the new ways that will be needed when the old systems die. This involves innovation and social entrepreneurship, the testing of new technologies that are more regenerative and better for the world and all peoples. This includes the production and distribution of renewable energies, permaculture and reforestation projects.
  • Reimagining is the big picture envisioning that is required. The “reimaginers” are those with the long view, predicting and forecasting what needs to happen in order for the system to embody a possible future beyond the current reality. They are the philosophers, authors, theologians and systems thinkers.

After last night's sudden downpour, it was a beautiful day at Stony Point!

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