Green Revolution VOLUME 5, NUMBER 2 // Spring 2013
OUR DEEP WORK
39 PLASTIC IMMORTAL
HOPE IN THE DARK
40 THIRTY-ONE DAYS OFF PLASTIC
Consp!re editors “Choosing to act when others do not is the work of prophets and holy people.”
“We have been given the opportunity to participate in what is perhaps the greatest human struggle in history.”
14 LOVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Sandra Folzer “We don’t want to face the truth: the plastics in our recycle bins live forever.” Jennifer deGroot “Without fanfare or planning, we swear off plastic.”
OUTPOSTS OF HOPE 13
WHOLE EARTH CONTEMPLATIVES
“We must act in the face of climate change – but our actions must be a questioning, a gift, a hope, a crying out.”
17 PEDAL PILGRIM
18 ALMOST AMISH
21 SEED POWER
Nancy Sleeth “I’d always thought of myself as a good environmentalist, but giving up everything to ‘save the planet?’”
22 PROGRESS, REGRESS
Joshua Peebles “If we want to live more sustainably, we will need to take away the choice to do otherwise.”
24 LIFE ON A BUS “If we wanted the privilege of living near rivers and mountains, we had to contribute to our sustainable future.”
30 TURTLE ISLAND RESISTERS Idle No More
33 WEB OF CONNECTION
POETRY 26 JANUARY IN THE CALIFORNIA DESERT Michael Toy
50 WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
28 TURTLE ISLAND LAMENT
Vonahe’e “When I heard about the three Rs—reduce, reuse, and recycle—my Indigenous spirit was uneasy. How far were people willing to go?”
THE COMPANY WE KEEP
Lenore Yarger “When we decide how we want to live, anything can happen.”
35 HOMELESS PLANET “For poor people, the environment is a looming issue. Ending homelessness and poverty demands a fundamental shift in how we relate to land.”
DEPARTMENTS 42 REVIEWS Books and resources
44 BREATHING TOGETHER: SING JUBILEE! Josina Guess celebrates a harvest day that heals the land and reconciles with a painful past.
46 NOTES FROM SCATTERED PILGRIMS News from our coconspiring communities.
37 TURNING THE TIDE
Christina Nichols “The planet is far from lost, and average people have the power to shape its future.”
Coconspirator communities share green experiments and challenges at www.conspiremagazine.com/green. Also see our provocative study guide!
Our Deep Work O
ur story begins with the gift of the earth, carved from the void. Light and darkness,water and land. Life comes, each layer more complex. As we sometimes tell the ancient narrative, the chain ends with humans at the apex of creation. But in the middle of the twenty-first century, there are a few kinks in the plot, and humans seem to carry most of the responsibility. Not that Scripture does not foreshadow this place. Genesis gives the word that the earth will not be flooded again—devastation by fire next time. The closing passage of Revelation refers again to that day which will come, burning like a furnace. Embedded in the Torah are reminders that if we do not care for the earth and community, the earth will spew us out. We have fouled our home beyond habitation—or at least a minority of us are in the midst of ruining it for all of us. As we are plunged into storms and temperature extremes, as species go extinct daily, as plastic and pollution pile up in landfills and seas for the next hundred generations, and as potable water shrinks, it sometimes does seem as though the spewing earth is shaking us off its back. Meanwhile, the most powerful (those in the First World) live the way humans love to live—in denial. We’ve spent decades arguing about human causality as glaciers get smaller, coral reefs die, frogs, bees, and bats go into distress. We do not want to give up our comfort, yet it is precisely our incalcitrant 10 percent of the world population which must make the about-face. The vast majority of human beings live on less than US $2 each day. The too-comfortable of us need one hundred times as much, more than US $200. (Almost half the population of the United States is in this latter category.) As earth changes because of the habits of the $200/day people, it will be the $2/ day people who suffer first. If you yearn to live the way of God, this is your season. You are needed to protect the vulnerable and to offer courage—reassurance that the journey toward less has its own liberation. We will have to remind each other that we never really needed all the stuff, however convenient (cars, large homes, summer food year-round, second homes, endless new purchases, disposable goods). We have little time to argue the point. Becoming less selfish for ourselves and our own is deep spiritual work. Choosing to act when others do not is the work of prophets and holy people. Here are the stories of people who answer that challenge with courage. May they stoke your heart. —The Editors
CitraSolv Abstract II by Christie Melby-Gibbons
Hope in the Dark David Hilfiker
reventing climate change is no longer possible. It’s already here, and major future damage is inevitable. The forces arrayed against environmental sanity are simply too strong for the usual political or personal fixes to be effective. Western consumerism, the nature of our economic system, the dysfunction of government, the power of corporations, and dominant media messages form a tightly interwoven web which is virtually invulnerable to any attack that might lead toward a different future. Our country’s historical optimism and positive outlook are blinding us to the painful future that awaits us. Until the last fifty years, our national experience was that we could accomplish what we set our minds to. But historical circumstances have changed dramatically, and our persistent optimism is obscuring reality and diverting us from our true work. Any one of the environmental challenges we face is a profound threat to civilization. These include climate change; loss worldwide of farmland; decimation of ocean fisheries from overfishing; species extinction and loss 8
of biological diversity at a rate of one thousand times normal; air and water pollution; and loss of fresh water, which will almost certainly lead to resource wars in coming decades. But let’s look at just one, our changing climate, the result of a drastic rise in greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and others—unlike any the earth has seen in two hundred thousand years. Sunlight passes through the gases, but the warmth produced when it strikes the earth is trapped inside. Already earth has warmed an average of 0.8º Celsius (1.4º Fahrenheit) above a baseline which
Mustard Seed by Charlene Chow
has been consistent for millennia. Reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn that the likely consequences of a 2º Celsius rise are too great a risk to accept. Our consumption accelerates the rise in temperature. Almost all climate projections predict a rise of at least 2º Celsius by 2050. And it will keep on rising. What some are just beginning to acknowledge is that the battle to prevent climate change is already lost. Given the unwillingness of major CO2 emitters (China and the United States) to consider substantial changes and the time it would take to reach sustainable levels of emissions even after they com-
mit themselves to such radical action, atmospheric carbon levels won’t begin to decrease for decades. Certainly not before further climate destabilization and its rapidly increasing impact: rising oceans; frightening shifts in disease distribution; increasing occurrences of record-setting heat waves and droughts; and record floods, hurricanes, and tornados. By all indications, even the current small rise in temperature has begun to bump the earth off balance. As environmentalist Bill McKibben writes in his book Eaarth, we live on a new planet … and we won’t get the old one back. Yet mainline environmental groups
still talk—publicly at least—about avoiding the coming tragedy. Few voices on climate change (or other environmental crises, for that matter) address political and economic realities, consumerism, the power of media, and the influence of corporations to prevent regulation. (This is something like ignoring sexual desire when considering overpopulation.) Each one of these forces is powerful, but it is their interaction which creates the impenetrable web that makes escalating climate change inevitable. We are deeply committed to our material lifestyle, but any effective approach will require a radical downsizing of that lifestyle. A sustainable level of carbon emissions is an average of two tons of carbon per year per person. The average American uses twenty tons. As China, India, and other poor countries develop economically, it’s utterly unrealistic—to say nothing of unjust—to expect them to keep to a two-ton limit unless the Western world reduces consumption accordingly. What would this mean for the average American? For starters, it would mean no air travel (period), mostly local transportation on foot or bicycle, vegetarian diets, locally produced food (even in winter), no air conditioners (anywhere), elimination of individual ownership of luxuries (including TVs, computers, washing machines), and reducing the average home size by at least half. Changing to highefficiency light bulbs, driving a Prius, recycling, and buying carbon offsets are like taking a BB gun to a charging elephant. How many U.S. citizens will voluntarily vote for such changes? Only powerful economic disruption, causing a major, imposed decline in personal 10
income, will break the vise-like grip of American consumerism. Our current economic system has been one direct cause of our environmental crises. Consider these fundamental assumptions of capitalism: Self-interest should be the primary economic motivator. Monetary profit is the only goal. The value of everything is measured by money, and who gets what is determined by how much money they have. Property is private, and owners can use it as they wish, regardless of the suffering it may cause. Who would not find these assumptions immoral as a basis for private behavior? Why are they acceptable economic assumptions? Capitalism “externalizes” environmental costs, and this is a major contribution to our plight. When a coalfueled electric plant discharges carbon, the company doesn’t pay for the cost of the resulting damage. The rest of us do. If companies had to pay the full cost of energy production, we’d switch quickly to wind and solar power. Equally destructive is capitalism’s insistence that businesses must grow to survive. Growth is fueled by powerful advertising which increases consumer desire and ingrains the sense that luxury items are actually necessities. The spiral continues uncontrolled. Finally, the private nature of property legally inhibits the government from imposing regulations that might limit greenhouse gas emissions. Capitalist theory constrains government from interfering in the market, but only government can control capitalism’s built-in environmental devastation. Today corporations have tremendous influence over national policy. Corporate political contributions and
lobbying control our leaders, shape our economy, and influence international economic agreements. While small or local businesses tend to moderate capitalism’s underlying assumptions—through loyalty to employees and concern about impact on the community—large corporations do not. Their “owners” are many thousands of investors who have bought stocks for the sole purpose of financial return, and their one mandate is to maximize profits. Intertwined is the power of media, especially advertising, to keep us addicted to consumerism. We can be sold things we don’t need, don’t really want, and certainly can’t afford. Even the upper-middle-class lifestyle in most television programming—though not technically advertising—is powerful propaganda for a consumerist lifestyle. Only government can mandate the necessary limits on carbon emissions or other important changes. U.S. voters could radically change the system to reduce carbon emissions, but the likelihood of the electorate demanding such painful lifestyle shifts is miniscule. The necessary change is simply not possible within our current social, economic, and political structures. We need to consciously face up to what most of us already know at some level. Despair, grief, cynicism, and apathy are normal responses to the coming tragedy, and we must help each other navigate these painful waters. What is coming will make it even more important to find hope within our grief and to act with courage and decisiveness. Although we can’t make it all better, we have been given the opportunity to participate in what is perhaps the greatest human struggle in recorded history. As Helen Keller once
said, “I rejoice to live in such a splendidly disturbing time.” What can we do? One response is to continue our work to reduce carbon emissions even in the face of the lost opportunity to prevent climate change. One of our great tasks is to alleviate as much as possible of the human suffering that is coming. Because there will be so much pain, even our seemingly small responses—reducing our own consumption, educating others about coming realities, working for (even minimal) political change—can still have profound impact on this greatest of all challenges. Another important task will be to mitigate impact. Climate change will disrupt the economy, and such disruptions affect the poor first. Creating structures that contribute to our best chance for survival in a post-carbon world (communities of sharing, farming, and basic life skills) is critical. The localization movement is particularly important. Even modest responses by individual citizens, small cities, or regions with common interests are crucial to our survival. This localizing is well underway. In his book Blessed Unrest, environmentalist Paul Hawken describes that after his lectures, people approach him to share their (mostly) local environmental or political projects and hand him business cards. He has thousands. He estimates that there may be more than a million such groups, from the massive Sierra Club to individual people selling local produce in the farmers’ market. This is not an organized movement with any kind of central leadership. Goals often vary and sometimes work at cross-purposes. Groups come into existence and disappear. Hawken likens this loose network 11
to the human immune system, which is much less organized than most people think. It is made of many different parts that are often not particularly coordinated with one another; and each part comprises millions of individual elements which do their job with considerable independence. Though it is made up of diverse, disordered, and imprecise entities, without it we’d die in days. Like the immune system, these countless organizations have little individual power to cure the earth’s sickness. Given the vast and powerful forces aligned against them, you might think their uncoordinated efforts would have only minor impact. But Hawken’s work suggests that the whole may be much greater than the sum of its parts. Its grassroots origins, minimal ideology, and loose coordination give this movement a resilience that no top-down organization could ever have. You can’t co-opt the leadership because there isn’t any overall leadership. Use of modern communications technology gives the whole a power never before available to dispersed groups. More important than their direct impact on the system, however, are the common values that bind them: concern for local community, identification with the poor, compassion, human well-being over profit, environment over efficiency, sharing, equity, and so on. Do I think that these organizations are going to fix the system and save the environment? No. The system cannot be fixed. But the system also cannot sustain itself. And when we are ready to rebuild out of the rubble, these many little organizations will have prepared us to build a new society based on spiritual values rather than only economic 12
and political ones. If the future is so bleak, where do we find hope? Hope for what? Hope that we will prevent climate change? Or that our lifestyle will survive and our grandchildren will inherit the same earth we have known? I don’t know where to find that kind of hope except in illusion. But if our hope is to ameliorate the worst of climate change and to prepare to minimize the damage or to create new structures that provide for local communities, then there is reason for hope. If we hope for fulfilling and deeply meaningful work; if we hope for joy in participating with others for the common good; or if we hope for community or any of the most important things in life, then there is hope and a lot of it. Given the uncertainty of the future, we can’t know the outlines of the new society. But we do know that loving others, practicing compassion for neighbors, prioritizing the poor, caring for the earth, and following our deepest yearnings must be the hallmarks of the society that will survive. Anything based on these is worth doing. So we follow the leadings we’re given to localize and shift our lives. If our understanding of reality is not blinded by optimism, we are less susceptible to being disheartened, and we live under fewer illusions. We cannot get the same earth back, but we can hope to soften what lies ahead. We can find the hope we want in the process, in the community, in our work together. These are hopes we can count on. An expanded version of this article, with additional references and information, is posted on our website at www. conspiremagazine.com/green.
Sanctuary by Paul Bond, oil on panel
Love at the End of the World
“What would I do if the world were to end tomorrow? Today I would plant a tree.” —Martin Luther
recently sat with a distinguished group of scholars discussing one path to the end of the world as we know it. Climate change isn’t expected to kill species with anything like the raw efficiency of an alien invasion or nuclear holocaust. What it is doing and will continue to do is raise sea levels and create an unpredictable climate—more frequent and more violent storms, drought, flooding, heat, and wildfires. This is a result of the billions of metric tons of carbon we emit by burning fossil fuels and massive deforestation. Our main point of discussion: If the scientific consensus is overwhelming, why does less than half of the public believe in the reality of climate change? Those who stand to lose billions to clean energy shifts and pollution restrictions create enough public doubt around scientific consensus that people are unmotivated to change. But I was more shocked by the apathy in our little circle. Said one climate scientist: “How many people do you know who live below the average carbon footprint? I don’t know anyone.” My heart fell. Why try to change minds about climate change if the convinced do nothing? This academic gathering coincided with a discussion on the practice of creation care in my intentional community. We listed what we are doing and what we want to do in response to what we know of our planet’s plight. I can’t be smug about where we are. Yet having one foot in the academic world—where we tend to talk much and do so little—makes me so grateful to be among people who are living into a hope for God’s coming justice for the cosmos that God loves. Three of us work full-time in urban farming, and one works to renovate a crack apartment into affordable eco-housing. The rest of the community works in different ways to express their hope for a new world—from sharing cars and washing machines to buying used and buying little, eating local organic, recycling, gardening, and working better paying jobs to support those working for little more than love. We might all agree it is great to plant trees, but why? Is it a way of saving the world, or waiting in active faith for a new world? Are we polishing brass on the Titanic?
Most of our neighbors live well below the average U.S. carbon footprint. They live in small houses and don’t fly. They often don’t own cars. Climate chaos and eco-shed collapse is an affliction created and doled out by the wealthy to the poor, and it is the poor who will die first. They have to live near (or in) toxic dumps with polluted water and unbreathable air. They survive by melting down toxic metals from our e-waste in their cooking pots. The poorest of the world will be the first forced off their ancestral fields by drought. The seven hundred million poor who live on coastlands can ill-afford to rebuild when superstorms demolish their homes and sea levels rise. As the poor are hung on these crosses, we witness Christ being crucified anew in the industrial destruction of creation. When I look at the challenges of survival, I see no evidence that we are going to change soon enough. “The powers and principalities are everywhere victorious,” as Walker Percy says. They are poisoning and fishing out the seas with their mercury, plastics, oil spills, and trolling nets. They are eroding the soil with their ruinous tractors and polluting with their tailpipes and smokestacks. They are emptying giant aquifers with their pumps and poisoning them with their hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. They are militantly exhausting all mineral wealth. They are us; but more than us. We have unleashed these demons into the world, but they have broken our tethers. What does it mean to plant a tree in the face of the end of the world? First of all, we have to accept that no faithful action in the name of the crucified and resurrected Christ is performed as a calculated bid for survival, although much of our environmental movement uses that language. If we try to save our lives, we will surely lose them. Any minor clerk of the empire can teach us the statistics of survival in this world. To enter into the world that is coming, God’s Spirit descends to inspire communities with the poetry and courage to sing and inhabit a life of imagination and faith. Who knows what God will make of such peoples? In the face of the death of our world, love invites us to hope for our world to be made new. This hope will involve real action in the form of an unconditional repentance of our complicity in the death of the world. It will involve a total realignment of how we eat and buy and how we clothe and warm our bodies, of our transportation and housing, our entertainment and livelihoods. This, however, will not be enough. We cannot repent our way into global health. We cannot march backward toward Eden and pre-industrial carbon output. We must act—but our actions must be a questioning, a gift, a hope, a crying out. Planting a tree is an act of weakness—in itself, totally absurd. We might as well offer up a child’s lunch to satisfy a hungry crowd. Our only hope is the possibility that God will make something of our actions. All our humble acts of caring for a dying creation—biking, growing tomatoes, hanging clothes on a clothesline—are worthy of the Lord only if they are a way of dying daily with Christ in the hope of God’s resurrection. Academics looks for wisdom and politicians seek power, but we preach Christ crucified and resurrected—foolishness to the academy and weakness to the politicos, but to us, the power of God for the world that is to come. Another world is not possible. Yet, beyond all reckoning, it is coming. 16
Almost Amish Nancy Sleeth
t began with two simple questions. A decade ago, my husband was a wellrespected physician at the top of his career. He loved taking care of patients, and I loved caring for our two children. But something was missing. We had all the nice things that were supposed to make us happy, yet we still felt frazzled and empty inside. Then, while on a family vacation, just after putting our kids to bed, I asked two questions that would change our lives forever. “What do you think is the biggest problem facing the world today?” Matthew offered a reply that I was not expecting: “The world is dying.” We cared about the future. So I followed with a second, more difficult question: “If the planet is dying, what are we going to do about it?” My husband did not have a ready answer. But a couple of 18
months later, he finally did get back to me—with an answer I wasn’t prepared to hear: “I’ll quit my job,” he said, “and we’ll spend the rest of our lives serving God and helping to save the planet.” My reply: “Are you sure we need to do that much?” The thought terrified me. I had always thought of myself as a good environmentalist. I understood why recycling, picking up litter, and shopping local was important. But giving up a career that my husband loved, as well as the steady income
Restoreth by William Butler, acrylic on canvas
and security that came along with it, to “save the planet?” My stomach turned inside out just thinking about what we might lose—our home, our neighborhood, our health insurance. The selfish part of me began to whine: What about the ten years of school and residency we had gone through? Wouldn’t he be wasting all that training? Then there were the practical concerns: The kids were approaching their teen years. College was just around the corner. How would we possibly save enough money to pay
for their education if our income dropped suddenly to zero? How, for that matter, would we put food on the table? What followed was a tense time, full of anxiety and conflicting desires. Walking in faith may sound good (when it happens to other people and everything turns out okay in the end), but I was terrified to take even the first step. People ask us if we had any arguments. Of course we did! I’d be lying if I said that there were no raised voices or sleepless nights. But gradually I came, if not to peace, 19
at least to acceptance of the new direction our life would take. The transition—as much emotional and spiritual as physical—took a couple of years. One of the very first things we did was to take a measure of our ecological footprint. We had always thought of ourselves as environmentally aware—using cloth diapers, packing healthful lunches in reusable containers, hiking and camping with our kids. But when we actually calculated our total use of resources, we found ourselves exactly average for Americans: and using six times more energy than our neighbors around the world! So we took Jesus’ advice about removing the log from our own eye first and began cleaning up our household before worrying about cleaning up the rest of the world. Over the next couple of years, we downsized our lifestyle, getting rid of half of our possessions—making donations by the truckload, finding new homes for sentimental family “heirlooms,” and giving away most of our books (ouch!) to libraries destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Like any weight-loss program, not gaining it all back—and then some—is the real test of success. So we took our names off catalog mailing lists. We avoided malls and big box stores. And, most importantly, we began keeping a weekly Stop Day, a Sabbath. Sabbath does not just happen: you have to prepare for it. On Saturdays, the kids helped
us clean the house and got their homework done. On Sundays we walked to church, then spent time reading, napping, praying, and playing outdoors in God’s creation. We unplugged, played Scrabble, and talked. Perhaps more than any other change, this biblical rhythm of life reduced our impact on the planet by helping us become content. We turned from restless human doing, and that turning made us more human. Eventually, we sold the big house and moved to a home the size of our old garage. We planted two-thirds of an acre of wildflowers instead of grass. We hung a clothesline and ditched the dryer. Our garden doubled, then tripled in size; we canned vegetables and grew enough potatoes and onions for the winter. We collected rainwater off the roof and installed dual flush toilets. We weren’t exactly Amish, but we went as “almost Amish” as we could get! Our energy use dropped by more than two-thirds and our trash production by nine-tenths. Along the way, our family’s faith life and way of life became one. Years ago, two questions— prompted by God—launched our family on this journey. Today, when making any choice, purchase, or decision, we ask ourselves two new questions: Does this bring me closer to God? And, does this help me love my neighbor? The answers always lead us down the right path. .
News from our Conspiring Communities CONSP!RE is sustained by communities and groups. Learn about what they are doing, who they are, and connect with great conspiracies of hope in your own backyard! For contact information and description of each community’s mission and activities, go to www.conspiremagazine.com. While there, join our conspiracy of goodness! Anthony’s Plot (Winston-Salem, NC): With the help of churches, educational and civic organizations, and numerous volunteers, we provided meals and a safe space for a good night’s sleep every night for Winston-Salem’s unserved homeless persons. We operated three overflow shelter locations in the city from January through March. We also provided a “job preparation fair” for our homeless friends with resume assistance and job search help in March (www.anthonysplot.org). Associated Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, Ind.): is launching a new Master of Divinity degree that does not require campus residency, more accessible to people already in ministry or a vocation. We’re excited about possibilities (www.ambs.edu). Camden Community Houses (Camden, NJ): 2012 was one of the most violent years in our city’s history, and 2013 started in much the same way. We have hope as the weather warms and crocuses push through, new life will find its way to Camden. It already has as Cassie and Chris Haw welcomed their second child, Amelia Rae, on January 31! We pray for her, Camden, and all the people and places that need our care. Chicago Catholic Worker (Chicago, IL): We’ve hosted seed swaps, performed germination tests, installed greywater and rain catchment systems, and harvested our worm and other composts. We’ve been layering and planning out our raised beds for months and now it’s almost time for our seeds to start sprouting! Come visit our farm and city gardens any time. Also, join us in Winona, Minnesota. April 26-29 for a Catholic Worker Gathering to Stop Frac Sand Mining. Call 402203-2173 for more details. Dathouse (Indianapolis, IN): We’ve gotten a lot of help on the community center and are progressing nicely. We hope to have a grand opening around Labor Day! Life is good, and it’s time to dream and plot this year’s garden spaces! (www.dathouse.wordpress.com). Detroit Villages (Detroit, MI): Academy for Missional Wisdom work continues, and friends in Bright46
Pictured above: Sprouts from East Central Ministries urban farm
moor are starting CSA-style homebrew service. David Janzen from Reba Place visited, and a new worship gathering for Detroit Villagers is launching at Metro UMC. New “Transforming Leaders Residencies” have been announced: six-month to two-year mission placements with intentional community living (www. detroitvillages.org). East Central Ministries (Albuquerque, NM): It’s planting time here, so we are in the cycle of veggies and food. Read more about that and the rest of our work in Morgan’s article on page 33 (www.eastcentralministries. org). Missio Dei Community (St. Petersburg, FL): We seek justice by partnering with the Edible Peace Patch to build schoolyard gardens in Title One schools (where the majority of students participate in free or reduced lunch). We hold services in the schoolyards and work in the gardens as part of our worship. We also harvest our gardens to pack weekend food for one hundred and fifty students. We joined the Coalition of Immokalee workers in their march from Immokalee to Publix Supermarkets headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. As the spring gathers, and renders the earth green, we seek to be the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ (www.themissiodei.com). ReIMAGINE! (San Francisco, CA): We’re grateful for our six weeks with new participants for our Experiments in Truth workshop, where we partner with God in our spiritual formation through fasting and engagement. Our Tribe Community is growing in connection and leadership, meeting weekly to share a meal and practice the teachings of Jesus together (www.reimagine.org). Relational Tithe (Oakland, CA): For seven years, we’ve seen the lives of hundreds of people change through deep relationships and generous giving. Common Change is a project that connects people and their resources with people in their lives. We’re currently looking for others to partner with us. Learn more at commonchange.com, call us at 510-323-2349, or email email@example.com (www.relationaltithe.com). Social Action Committee at Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO): We’re looking at the source of our stoles and robes and how we can as clergy be more aware of our world. We are working on education reform with the Colorado Student Power Alliance and both the Rocky Mountain Student Power Convergence and the National Student Power Convergence. The Simple Way (Philadelphia, PA): We celebrated Easter with a great block party and egg hunt, added seven hundred baby tilapia to our aquaponic system, and had a send-off for village intern Sueihn Lee, now immersing herself in in intensive Spanish in Guatemala to return to work at Esperanza, the neighborhood health clinic (www.thesimpleway.org). The Vine (Haverhill, MA): We hosted our Free Market in March. Six hundred people gathered for clothing and household goods, lunch, and fellowship. Grace and Melissa return from an international mission experience in Guatemala, where 47
they worked with Salud y Paz (www.saludypaz.org) and other United Methodists from New England (www.thevinehaverhill.com). Tierra Nueva (Skagit Valley, WA): Founders Bob and Gracie Ekblad returned from a year of assignment in France, bringing new insight for Scripture study and holistic deliverance from the forces that keep us stuck. Bob is leading a group on “toxic” Old Testament texts. Each week, we wrestle with these Scriptures together, seeking Good News as we continue our focus on Word, Holy Spirit, and street (www.tierra-nueva.org).
More conspiring communities:
Alterna (LaGrange, GA) www.alternacommunity.com Alternative Seminary (Philadelphia, PA) www.alternativeseminary.net Castanea (Nashville, TN) www.castanea.org Centurion’s Guild (Honolulu, HI) firstname.lastname@example.org Church of the Sojourners (San Francisco, CA) www.churchofthesojourners.org Come Together (Canton, TX) www.cometogethertrading.com Community of Faith (Fallbrook, CA) www.life-reimagined.com Compost (Boulder, CO) www.compostme.org DC Area Community of Communities (Washington, DC) www.dc.newmonastics.org First United Presbyterian Church of Crafton Heights (Pittsburgh, PA) www.chup.org Georgetown College Campus Ministry (Georgetown, KY) www.georgetowncollege.edu/campusministry Hyaets Community (Charlotte, NC) www.hyaets.org Jubilee Food Pantry (Hubbard, OR) www.jubileefoodpantry.wordpress.com Jubilee Partners (Comer, GA) www.jubilee partners.org Likewise Books (Westmont, IL) www.ivpress.com Mercy Station (Anderson, AL) Mulberry House (Springfield, OH) www.mulberrycommunity.com Nehemiah Ministries (Springfield, MA) www.nehemiah-ministries.com Reba Place/Shalom Mission Communities (Evanston, IL) www.rebaplacefellowship.org Rutba House/School for Conversion (Durham, NC) Sacramento Conspirators (Sacramento, CA) Salado United Methodist Church (Salado, TX) www.saladoumc.org San Rafael First UMC (San Rafael, CA) www.sanrafaelfirstumc.org Servants Vancouver (Vancouver, BC) www.servantsasia.org Solomon’s Porch (Minneapolis, MN) www.solomonsporch.com The Book Parlor (Spokane, WA) www.TheBookParlor.com The GAPS Community (Downey, CA) www.downeymoravian.org
Contributing Artists and Writers Matt Adams (Illini Creation Story) is an artist, collector, contemplative, and alpaca-whisperer residing in northern Illinois with his wife Ang. He enjoys good scotch, dark skies, and ridiculously bad television. Matt teaches art part-time and is enrolled in the Journey program at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. His grandmother grew up on a Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, and her grandmother was a translator on the trail of tears (www.mattredbeard.com). Jason Adkins (“Love at the End of the World”) lives with his wife Stephani, his five children, and a loving group of friends near downtown Nashville. He teaches environmental justice and leads the Trevecca Urban Farm. Morgan Attema (“Web of Connection”) does a lot of the amazing farming at East Central Ministries in Albuquerque. Paul Bond (Sanctuary) here imagines a woman who is a respite to birds flying in mid-ocean. “We all have some place or person that serves as our personal sanctuary. In that safety we are free to grow and flower” (www.paulbondart.com). Charlene Chow (Mustard Seed) is learning how to be just and merciful in how she uses her resources. Jennifer deGroot (“Thirty-One Days Off Plastic”) cares for her children, grows food and makes stuff near Morden, Manitoba, Canada. This article first appeared in the spring 2009 Geez magazine. Katherine Anne Erickson (“Life On a Bus”) works at the Grunewald Guild, an art and faith community in the Cascades, where she facilitates a writing group and works on her own creative writing. Sandra Folzer (“Plastic Immortal”) taught thirty years at the Community College of Philadelphia and is now active in environmental causes, specifically anti-fracking. Kathy Grant (photograph, p. 50) is a teacher, mom, and photographer from Charlottesville, Virginia. Josina Guess (“Sing Jubilee!”) lives with her husband and four children at Jubilee Partners, a Christian service community that offers hospitality to newly arrived refugees. David Hilfiker (“Hope in the Dark”) is a doctor living in Washington, D.C. He helped to found Christ House, a shelter for people recovering from medical procedures, and then Joseph’s House for formerly homeless men with AIDS. Taliah Lempert (Elgin Sketch) believes bikes are important, beautiful, and worth a close look (www. bicyclepaintings.com). Christy Melby-Gibbons (CitraSolve Abstracts) pastors the Moravian Church of Downey, California, and lives in The GAPS Community. She’s an artist who specializes in junk-reclamation and innovative ways to use ordinary things. Phil Nellis (Ghost of the Chinook Salmon) is a
pastor, artist, and teacher in Seattle, Wash (www. flickr.com/photos/el_nellis). Christina Nichols (“Turning the Tide”) is an energy activist dating back to her early days in the Appalachian coal fields. She currently serves the U.S. Department of Energy in the SunShot (solar) program. Will O’Brien (“Pedal Pilgrim”) works on the editorial team of CONSPIRE. Joshua Peebles (“Progress, Regress”) is an ex-pastor, aspiring novelist, and dog trainer. He lives in rural Ohio and hopes the most memorable thing about him will be love. Annette Penniman (“Who Will Speak for Us?”) has been writing poetry for more than eight decades. She lives in Philadelphia. Sarah Pruett (“Whole Earth Contemplatives”) is a former apprentice with Emergence who now lives and gardens in South Lake Tahoe as she studies to be a dietician. Jan Richardson (Labyrinth, Getting Grounded, On the Seventh Day) is an artist, writer, and ordained minister. She lives in Florida with her partner, musician Garrison Doles (www.janrichardson.com). Clare Seek (“Seed Power”) is passionate about developing the future (her two kids), encouraging community, and changing the world one step at a time. Erika Slaymaker (“Homeless Planet”) is the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia. Nancy Sleeth (“Almost Amish”) is co-founder of the Christian environmental nonprofit, Blessed Earth, and author of Almost Amish. Hillery Sproatt (Specks and Keepings) did this etching in a series on people and their work, the weight of weightlessness, and uniting labors of love. See her amazing shop at www.specksandkeepings.com. Michael Toy (“january in the california desert”) is a programmer in Silicon Valley who writes poetry at lunchtime. Nicole . Vance (Someone Stayed) is a wife, mother, artist, teacher and tender of the earth in her corner of Vermont. Vonahe’e (“Turtle Island Lament”) is Northern Cheyenne from southeastern Montana. She does social-justice work on Indigenous issues through a decolonization and authentic relationship lens and enjoys her three nieces. William Butler (Restoreth) is a graphic designer and visionary. He and his wife, Ronja, are the owners of Gallery Eleven One in Camden, NJ. They and their two sons work to help bring hope & restoration (www.art11one.com) and (www. thomaslift.com). Lenore Yarger (“The Company We Keep”) lives at the Silk Hope Catholic Worker in Silk Hope, North Carolina. 49
PO Box 14668 Philadelphia, PA 19134
Getting Grounded by Jan Richardson
The earth is sick. We have fouled our home — or a minority of us are in the midst of ruining it for all of us. This issue is not about switc...
Published on Apr 23, 2013
The earth is sick. We have fouled our home — or a minority of us are in the midst of ruining it for all of us. This issue is not about switc...