Friday, October 31, 2008

Face and Food

By Deanna Matzen

Newborns instinctively have a connection with their mother. Infants recognize their mother's face as being the source of food. Yet as we've grown up, we lost sight of the face behind our food. All of our food - from the grocery store, fast food restaurant, or the food that is overly processed into an unrecognizable paste, came from a person with a face. We need to reconnect with our food's roots, if you will. That's why I want to tell you about a new book called Simone Goes to the Market: A Children's Book of Colors Connecting Face and Food by Dave Westerlund of Bellingham, WA.

Dave told me that his desire was "for children to see that colors have roots - all sorts of amazing colors come out of the earth". And there are people behind those wonderful foods. What came out of that desire was Simone Goes to the Market, which is full of pictures from the local farmer's market in Bellingham.

The book is relevant for a range of ages – for infants learning to focus on faces, small children learning colors, kindergarteners learning to read, and all of us relearning the joy of eating locally. You can buy a copy of the book from the author, see, pick one up at the Public Library in Bellingham, or borrow a copy from Earth Ministry.

Happy Local Eating!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day of Prayer for Creation Care

By Chris Olson, Outreach Coordinator

Throughout my college experience I learned about the problems facing the environment on a daily basis, but seldom heard about the faith-based call to be stewards of the environment. As I was considering my post-graduation options last winter, one of the reasons a job at Earth Ministry was so appealing to me was that it was a way to integrate the environmental education I received with the call to care for creation that I knew was an important part of my faith. And yet, I rarely heard about this synergistic connection in my college classes or faith community.

Working at Earth Ministry has already been an incredible learning experience. I have been motivated to reach out to my friends still in college who long for developing a clear connection between the role of faith communities in addressing environmental issues. A task that can seem daunting and hopeless. It is the unique aspect of the faith perspective that brings hope to such overwhelming issues and inspires youth and students to become involved in creation care efforts.

By mobilizing college students, a new energy and imagination can be brought to the work of building positive change both locally and globally. That is why I'm so excited that today is the National Day of Prayer for Creation Care! Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Across the country, people will be joining together to lift up their prayers about environmental concerns and global issues. The brainchild of this national movment is Renewal: Students Caring for Creation. While Renewal's mission is focused on mobilizing college students to care for God's creation, that doesn't mean that the rest of us college graduates can't participate!

Please, on this national day of prayer, lift up your voice and stand in hope with many others for the beautiful creation of which we are a part.

If you would like more information about The Day of Prayer for Creation Care please visit:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog 101

Since many of our blog readers may not be as familiar with how the bloggosphere works, for today's post, I'd like to offer a little tutorial on how to make the best of your blogging experience.

Right-side navigation
  • Contributors - this section includes links to pictures and short profiles (where available) of all the contributors to the Earth Ministry blog. Contributors include staff members and interns.
  • Receive Earth Ministry's Blog in Your Email Inbox! - by submitting your email address in this box, you can receive the newest blog as an email at the end of the day on which the blog was posted. This is a great feature if you don't want to keep checking the blog manually but want to keep up to date on the latest reflections at Earth Ministry!
  • Blog Archive - I'm sure most of you know that the newest posts are at the top of the page with older posts below it in order of appearance. But what you may not know is that you can view all of our older posts, organized by date, in this section.
  • Labels - The Earth Ministry bloggers all make painstaking efforts to label our posts with keywords so that if you can read by subject matter or author. Want to see all the blogs on the topic of climate change? Click on that keyword "climate change" and you'll see all of them in one place. Or want to read all the blogs by Beth Anderson? Click on "Beth" and there they will be. Now isn't that a great feature?!

Inside the Post

At the bottom of every blog post, there are a series of buttons. Let's get to know them now.

Comments! - The ability to post comments and interact with the thoughts and ideas of bloggers is what makes the blogosphere go round. We would love to hear more from our readers. Tell us what you like. Tell us what you think. Do our blog posts move you or cause you to reminisce? If so, let us know!

Email Post to a Friend - Ever feel so inspired by a blog post that you want to share it with your friends? All you have to do is click the envelope icon.

That concludes our tutorial, Blog 101. Please let us know if there is a topic you'd like addressed in the blog or just let us know what you think at all. Happy blog reading!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get Outside, Rain or Shine

A couple weeks ago I started my fall courses at Seattle University’s School of Theology & Ministry. Back together after a months-long break, classmates can be heard asking one another, “What did you do this summer?”

For many of us, the answer includes activities like family picnics, hiking, swimming, outdoor festivals or concerts, and generally lots of time soaking up sun and fresh air.

The highlight of my summer was a four-day backpacking trip in the Glacier Peak Wilderness—we walked to Spider Meadow, up and over Spider Gap, down to Lyman Lakes, up and down over Cloudy, Suiattle, and Buck Creek Passes, and finally down the Buck Creek valley to the old mining town of Trinity.

You can tell from the photos that we enjoyed AMAZING weather during this trip—all sun and stunning views and not a drop of the wet stuff. In weather like that, one could hardly imagine spending time indoors.

Fast forward to the October—the beginning of the school year and the start of the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest. Not only is the weather unsettled and the sky dominated by clouds but the sun rises much later and sets much earlier, leaving little light outside standard workday hours.

Lakes no longer invite swimmers to refresh themselves in their clear waters; the mountains are hidden behind a veil of mist, warning potential hikers to think twice about venturing onto the trails.

During these rainy months I am torn between gearing up and continuing to spend time outside or taking the path of least resistance…straight to my couch.

Yesterday I suited up in raingear, packed my school books in plastic bags, and headed to class on my bike. Once I was soaked to the bone, I made peace with the weather—the rain and I were able to coexist rather nicely on the 35-minute ride.

And although it would be hard for me to speak about the rainy bike ride with the same affection I had for the sunny backpacking trip, in both circumstances I was able to connect with the natural world. That connection is my motivation to get outside, rain or shine.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Celebration of St. Francis Sermon Contest!

On Saturday, October 4th, Earth Ministry held its 16th Annual Celebration of St. Francis. This year's celebration featured a Creation-Care Sermon Contest. We received neraly 50 sermons from members in 13 states. We chose six finalists to present their sermons at our event on the Feast of St. Francis:
  • Annette Andrews-Lux, Freeland, WA
  • Tom Walker, Clinton, WA
  • Sherry Golden, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Rev. Mary Brown, North Bend, WA
  • Rev. Gerry Porter, Kingston, WA
  • Sister Mimi Maloney, Olympia, WA

At the Celebration we also honored four new Greening Congregations:

  • First Presbyterian Church, Port Townsend, WA
  • Woodland Park Presbyterian, Seattle, WA
  • Wesley UMC, Yakima, WA
  • Grace Episcopal, Bainbridge Island, WA

In addition, we were uplifted by creation-themed choral music provided by the choirs of Trinity UMC and Plymouth UCC. It was indeed a celebratory service!

Those gathered chose Sherry Golden as the winner in the lay category and Sister Mimi Maloney was selected as the winner in the clergy/vowed religious category. Congratulations to Sherry, Sister Mimi, and all the finalists. We were blessed and moved by all of your homilies!

A video of each sermon is posted below in the order in which they were given along with the title of the sermon and name of the contestant. Enjoy!

Lay Category

"Renewing the Earth Community" by Annette Andrews-Lux

"Renew a Right Spirit" by Tom Walke

"Keeping the Sabbath to Keep the Earth" by Sherry Golden

Clergy/Vowed Religious Category

"Staying Awake" by Rev. Mary Brown

"Abundance: Answering God's Call" by Rev. Gerald Porter

"The Care of Creation as a Moral and Ethical Imperative" by Sister Mimi Maloney

Thank you very much to all who entered the contest and congratulations to the winners!

Advocacy in Times of Change

by Jessie Dye

One voice makes a difference; one vote makes a difference; one letter to the editor or cloth bag changes everything!

Is that naïve? No, in fact recent surveys are confirming what community organizers have known for years: the confident words and visible behavior of one person or a small group of people have an influence far beyond their own sphere.

For example, in a recent note from Annette Frahm of Sage Environmental on energy conservation, she reports:

In a large-scale survey, people ranked the importance of several reasons to
conserve energy. The results, from most to least important:
1) it will help the environment;
2) it will benefit society;
3) it will save me money;
4) other people are doing it.

However, researchers found that the belief that others were conserving correlated twice as highly with reported energy saving efforts as any of the other reasons. A follow-up marketing experiment confirmed these survey findings.

This means your vote, your opinion, your choices make a big difference in influencing the direction of our country, especially during these heated national and local elections. Here are some specific ways you can use your voice for advocacy for God’s Creation:

  • Vote! Especially make sure your children and grandchildren and friends are registered to vote. The deadline in the State of Washington for in-person registration is Saturday, October 18th.

  • Check out the Scorecard of the League of Conservation Voters ( to find the record of your elected officials on the environment.

  • Vote all the way down the ballot! In King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties in Washington, Proposition One is a great bill to help reverse global warming pollution and improve our terrible traffic. But it’s at the end of the ballot! Vote all the way “down ballot” and vote YES on Prop. One.

  • Any chance you have, tell your legislators, your friends, and your colleagues that climate change is the great moral issue of our time and is your top priority for public policy. Explain that protecting Creation matters most to you in this election. Here’s one website that can give you specific tools to do this:

Your voice makes more difference than you can imagine! At Earth Ministry we see the wonderful possibilities for green jobs, clean energy investment, a healthy and secure economy, a renewed quality of life, and a return to respect for the common good. It can be done, and it can be done in time. It is your voice and your vote that will make it happen. The time is now.

(Originally written for the Episcopal Bishop’s Committee on the Environment newsletter)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Place Where We Stand

By Mikaila Gawryn Earth Ministry Outreach Associate

Today for lunch I will eat mashed turnips. Yes, you can indeed mash turnips and they have a wonderful, spicy flavor. I am new to turnip consumption and was reminded of this last night as I pulled the thick imperial purple skin off the plump tuber. My father walked in and immediately said, "Wow, what a great turnip!" (I of course looked up radish twice in my cookbook before remembering that what I actually had was a turnip, and this is after having pulled it from the ground myself!!)

It feels like even one generation ago children grew up more familiar with their food than they do today. My father is not very interested in cooking and I was expecting to explain to my family what beautiful earthy things I had brought home that evening. Yet to my surprise he recognized the vegetable at a glance.

The soil from which I pulled this magnificent bulb is on the Clean Greens farm, run by New Hope Baptist Church. Sara Jean Green, of the Seattle Times writes that Rev. Robert Jeffrey Sr. started the farm with the mission to "bring affordable, organic produce to the poorest families in Seattle's urban core." The project had a rocky start, but after set backs they started bringing in the first harvest last Friday. The volunteer based harvest events are called Clean Greens Harvest Parties. I had the honor of bundling verdant spinach and gathering collard greens the size of prehistoric dinosaur feet.

"The best place for each is where [she] stands."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said "The best place for each is where [she] stands." I believe Emerson is saying that knowing the earth we live on ought to be our personal work. Emerson quoted his life long friend Henry David Thoreau, who expanded upon this point: "I think nothing is to be hoped from you, if this bit of mould under your feet is not sweeter to you to eat than any other in this world, or in any world." Today the soil that Thoreau refers to still yields sweet things for us to eat. Both Thoreau and Emerson understood that a love of the earth directly beneath our feet should be cultivated before we head out into the larger world. What better time to learn this than as a child?

As I walked along the furrows of the Duvall farmland on Friday I felt cold rain from collard greens on my hands and heard birds speaking to one another in surrounding hedges. Clean Green Farm is organic, providing homes for birds and small snakes which keep insects and weeds at bay.

As one of the younger generation I know I lack familiarity with the earth that provides for my air, food, shelter and water. Working at the Clean Greens Farm gave me a taste of the sweetness that comes from knowing this land personally.

In my time at Earth Ministry I have had the opportunity to work on the Caring for All Creation module At the Table. This module provides liturgical, educational and logistical resources to Christian communities interested in learning about why food choices should be sustainable choices if they are rooted in faith. Churches can choose to partner with a local farm or host a sustainable community meal after they learn about food and faith in their worship service.

Through my work I've found that Washington has numerous opportunities for people to learn about this land upon which we stand. Supporting the Clean Greens farm through volunteering is one of those opportunities. What is exciting about the Clean Greens farm is that it is also an opportunity to provide healthy food for people that need it the most. This is exactly where our faith based food choices should lead us.

If your congregation is interested in learning about the connection between food and faith the expanded version of At the Table will be out by the end of this year. But in the meantime you can still be involved! Stay tuned for information about future Clean Greens Harvest Parties on our digest.

Take some time to mash some turnips and if you can, teach a child, or yourself, to recognize the goodness that this earth beneath our feet produces. Perhaps if we do this, there can be hope for us after all.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Celebrating Even if We Stumble to the Finish Line

By Mikaila Gawryn
Earth Ministry Outreach Associate

Congratulations!! We crossed the finish line!! Our Three Month 300 Mile Food Challenge was successfully completed yesterday!! I must say though, my part of the completion was not as successful as I had hoped.

Okay... to be honest I practically fell across the finish line. It was hard!! Eating only local food for three months was more challenging than I could have expected, but even the times that I messed up provided opportunities for learning.

Two years ago University of Washington Professor David Domke addressed members and friends of Earth Ministry at our annual Celebration of St. Francis. I was attending as a volunteer, and I remember standing outside the sanctuary where he was speaking, straightening up brochures and snacks for the reception. From in the lobby I heard him say something that I will never forget. Professor Domke said that in the environmental community all too often "we sacrifice the good on the alter of perfection".

Having spent the last three years in an environmental studies B.A. program I know exactly what he was talking about. In my program I felt like I was practically eating, sleeping and breathing environmental topics. Pollution, extinction and degradation were all around and it was easy to fall into legalistic patterns of control when trying to cope with the impending doom I was reading about.

"All too often we sacrifice the good on the alter of perfection."

- Professor David Domke

Not surprisingly, this legalism can be accompanied by a holier-than-thou attitude, and I know because I had it! I started to believe that if I did everything right I could actually avoid being a part of the degradation of our natural world. This belief is clearly contradicted by the teachings of our faith:

Romans 3:23 says, "There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God."

It is also contradicted by the realities of our world. By participating in the systems of contemporary society, we become part of the injustice they bring about.

Unfortunately, I think it is this legalistic and arrogant attitude which keeps many people from getting involved in environmental action. I consider myself a part of the environmental community and I still hate it when someone makes me feel guilty.

Perhaps the greatest contribution the Christian faith community can make to environmental work is the acknowledgment that we are a fallen people. We don't have our act together, we unavoidably participate in the unjust processes in our world that victimize our fellow human beings and God's creation.

Yet, as Professor Domke explained, the inability to be perfect does not mean we should cease striving to do good. Our Three Months 300 Miles food challenge was just that, a challenge. But it was a good experience for me. It taught me to use muscles that I haven't been aware of before. Like the muscle of intentional meal planning that is required when I try to only buy seasonal produce each week. And the scheduling habits necessary for only shopping when the farmers markets are actually open.

Even though our food challenge is over the Earth Ministry staff is still still working to support local organic food. This week we'll be heading out to help bring in the harvest with New Hope Baptist Church! We'll be participating in the Clean Greens Project with a farm located in Duvall Washington. New Hope Baptist church has been working hard all season to bring in the crops that they planted themselves in the spring. If you're interested, please join us and New Hope members for a day of working in the earth and bringing local food to local people who need it.

Clean Greens Harvest Party

Friday, October 3rd, 9AM
Meet at New Hope Baptist Church, 116 21st Ave Seattle WA 98122

or at the farm,
20121 W. Snoqualmie River Rd. NE, Duvall WA 98019
Water will be provided, but please bring food for your lunch.

I hope to see you there!