Sightings from the Treehouse: Wish Upon a Star

Recent discoveries and research suggest life is not an earth-only experiment.  The building blocks of life could be widespread throughout the universe.  Carbon and water are two vital ingredients for life along with a temperate climate.  During Thomas Berry’s life (1914-2009), he saw many discoveries in astrophysics which fed into his thinking for the new story about the creation of the universe, earth, life and consciousness.  New discoveries suggest there are 100-200 billion galaxies in the cosmos and billions of earth-like planets in our Milky Way.   The recently discovered building blocks of life found on Mars and Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, support the notion of life throughout the universe.  All would expand Berry’s creation story.  Continue reading

Install Solar. Plant Trees. Eat Your Veggies!

Last week was a real doozy. I was just beginning to digest the intense news that came from the United Nations’ IPPC latest report on rising global temperatures and the fact that we have far less time to turn this ship around. Then came Hurricane Michael, delivering a catastrophic blow to people and places I love along the Gulf Coast & South Georgia.  I join countless others now feverishly praying for those enduring the intensity of this massive storm. I am shaken by the profound vulnerability of the world in this moment.

Pema Chodron, Buddhist teacher & author,  writes of the power of such vulnerability, “This tenderness for life [called bodhichitta] awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others. We train so as to become open and take in the pain of the world, let it touch our hearts and turn it into compassion.”

Using the lens of this spiritual teacher, I now think it is quite possible to see the dire news from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an opportunity for the human family rather than a death knell. Our exposed vulnerability can move us towards hopeful action on behalf of G-d’s fragile planet.

I can attest through the hundreds of people and houses of worship with whom I connect through GIPL on a weekly basis that much of what is needed for course-correction by 2030 is already underway. And yet, we need to move faster. That’s the most important aspect of the report. We can no longer deny that the climate is changing rapidly and having negative impacts on vulnerable communities across the globe.

The collective actions required to keep us from warming the planet by another 2+degrees (Celsius) fall on industry and individuals, governments and NGOs. It’s not a matter of when, but HOW.

Fortunately, IPCC scientists didn’t just hit the panic button. They provided concrete steps forward for us. It’s as if Mother Earth called to say, “Install solar. Plant trees. Eat your veggies!”

Now I do not intend to make light of the IPCC report’s serious warning to us about our fate on this suffering planet. I do wish to highlight an encouraging word embedded in that historic document — our consumer choices matter. As people of faith, we must see ourselves as more than consumers. We are citizens of this world.

We are neighbors sharing a common home. All of the world’s major religions teach the value of showing care for our neighbors. Adopting the IPCC’s recommendations and embracing climate action shows love of neighbor.

Today, love of neighbor looks like:

– a new energy plan that provides affordable, renewable energy;

– a more sustainable, plant-focused diet that wastes less;

– planting trees one grove at a time; and

– engaging our elected officials to adopt climate action plans for all communities.

All of these climate actions can be practiced as individuals, as congregations, and as entire communities. GIPL has the resources to support you in making these changes – whether you join one of our Solarize campaigns, get serious about reducing food waste or support reforestation projects in Georgia or beyond.

Remember, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.” (with thanks to David Orr) In the wake of this game-changing climate report, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to hope!

(Connect with GIPL Team today and share with us ways that your faith community is responding to the United Nation IPCC’s call to action. Email us:  info@gipl.org)

 

Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley is GIPL’s Executive Director and Chief Officer for Hope.

 

 

Meet our Contextual Education II Intern: Tina Spencer-Smith

With a passion for the intersection of spirituality and sustainability, Tina is excited about serving as a Ministry Consultant with GIPL and carrying out the sacred work of God through environmental activism in the local community. She also serves on GIPL’s Advisory Council and holds USGBC’s LEED Green Associate accreditation. She is a member of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta, where she leads the Planet Preservers’ ministry. Continue reading

5 Reasons Why You Should Go To A Garba Raas Dance During The Hindu Holiday Of Navratri

GIPL is preparing for our first ever Community Garba Celebration, in honor of the Hindu holiday Navratri. Navratri is a nine-night, autumn festival which celebrates the triumph of good over evil and honors the different forms of Goddess Durga (Source: https://ndtv.com).  This year, Navratri begins at sundown on Tuesday, October 9 and ends Thursday, October 18.   In honor of this festival celebration, we are offering a post that originally ran in The Huffington Post on September 27, 2014: 5 Reasons you Should go to a Garba Raas Dance During the Hindu Holiday of Navratri. Continue reading

Four Directions Fund Grant Recipient: Emerson UUC Nesting Box Project Creates Healthy Habitats

In 2017, GIPL was pleased to provide a seed grant through our Four Directions Fund to Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church. One of ten grant recipients, Emerson UUC has a vibrant Green ministry that engages people of all ages. This past year, the congregation took on a nesting project, creating nesting houses for a variety of animals. Continue reading

Sightings from the Treehouse: Transforming to an Earth-Centered Economy

Several previous Sightings blogs have focused on the ecological underpinnings of our society and planet.  A sustainable earth must be one that mimics natural processes that maintain healthy ecosystems.  Ecosystems are the life support system for the planet and polluting them, hastening extinctions or changing their chemical makeup is contrary to their long-term sustainability.    Ecosystems have resilience and can recover from some abuse, but once an ecological threshold (tipping point) is crossed they change their character and makeup forever; generally, not conducive to existing populations.  Continue reading

Where will God Dwell?

This post was originally published on August 21, 2018 by Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. Dr. Stan Saunders writes: 

This post reflects thoughts on how Christians can prepare and preserve a fitting, earthly place for God to dwell in and around us.

As I write this, my son has just returned from a college internship in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Wilderness Preserve in Alaska.

Many of us may not have heard of Wrangell-St. Elias, which is one our newer National Parks, albeit the largest, comprising an area larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Switzerland (which is not one of our parks!) combined. Continue reading

My Summer as a Sustainability Ambassador

My name is Ben Wilkinson, and I am a rising senior at Dunwoody High School and a member of Dunwoody UMC. In June, I became a Sustainability Ambassador for the City of Atlanta. The Sustainability Ambassador program is a series of six classes, each one dedicated to a specific topic related to environmentalism, including food, power, water, waste, and weather. Each session features one or two speakers who work on projects pertaining both to the class theme and sustainability. For example, the speaker at the fourth class was the designer of forty miles of flood tunnels under Atlanta and specially-designed parks that can flood when needed to prevent dangerous sewer overflows. The second class featured representatives of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates some of the largest hydroelectric dams in the US, and an engineer tasked with designing and deploying windmills off the East Coast. Continue reading

Food Waste: A Social & Eco-Justice Challenge

by Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of GIPL

Last week found me “cooking down the pantry.” Usually by the end of the month, I’m a bit weary of the grocery lists and the meal prep. I have little energy to run one more errand to the grocery so I whole-heartedly accept the challenge to create meals my fairly patient family will eat from the food that already exists in our home. Like I said, it’s a challenge, and one that I like because it requires some pure creativity on my part. Google has definitely made it easier for me though. These days, you can type in the search bar a random list of key ingredients and a recipe will pop up that could prove useful in feeding a family. Continue reading

Readers Respond to NY Times Climate Change Article

On August 1, 2018, Nathaniel Rich had an article titled “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” in The New York Times Magazine. Editor Jake Silverstein writes: “This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.”

Continue reading