Tag Archives: Paris

Foxdale Retirement Community — caring for Creation in shared spaces

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11, while the international climate talks (COP 21) are going on in Paris.  News is about faith voices again!  Hear voices directly from the talks in these podcasts.

Tomorrow: some immediate actions for individuals and households!

Foxdale Village Retirement Community, a Quaker-directed community of incredibly busy “retired” people, partners with PA IPL in sponsoring and hosting programs for residents and the greater State College community, as well as in our tangible service project, Weatherization First. Their Foxdale Village Greens group is doing an incredible job of finding ways around apparent roadblocks, and always looking for the next challenge as they continue to shrink their community’s footprint.   They wrote up a number of their efforts for the county Waste Watchers Award, and kindly shared it with us.  They’ve been recognized by Centre County with an Emerald Award.

Foxdale Village has continued its active recycling program, this year recycling over 37 tons of glass, metal, plastic, and paper products, through Centre County recycling (who provided the statistics).  In addition, we recycle batteries, styrofoam, plastic bags, clothing, cardboard, CDs, DVDs, and other items to community sites throughout the area, and continue our twice a year yard sale that enables us to reuse and re direct furniture and “zillions ” of other items we no longer need. We even collect 1-5 gallon buckets that arrive via our food service, cleaning them, and distributing them for reuse.

New this year, with the help of county resources, we’ve expanded our composting,  giving any resident who wishes the opportunity to compost food and yard waste.  As far as we know we are the first (and maybe only) multiple-residence community to do this. As a result, our compost figures have grown significantly. In less than a year, we have contributed over 30 tons of food and yard waste to local composting.

This year Foxdale Village Greens have broadened their activities to partner with others in our community. 

  • This spring, we participated in the Sustainable Communities Collaborative partnership between PSU and the State College Borough. Two teams of students from Communication 420: Research Methods in Advertising and Public Relations Class came to Foxdale, conducting a survey and holding focus groups to help us take a deeper look into our recycling program and helping us to understand “The Motivation to be Green” in our community. The research produced good, useable information. In addition, the two student groups earned top honors at the Borough presentation at the end of the semester. 
  • This summer Foxdale was able to participate in the zero waste program at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. We were able to obtain large compostable bags that  enabled the environmental safe collection of food and compostable materials at the festival.
  •  EileenFlanaganHeadShotResized_miniWe have partnered with PSU’s Rock Ethics Institute, PA Interfaith Power & Light, and local churches in bringing two programs to the community. 
    •  In the spring we joined in bringing Eileen Flanagan, Quaker author, speaker & activist to Pasquerilla Spiritual Center for an, open to the public, talk and discussion of her newest book, Renewable.
    • This fall we co-sponsored and hosted an interactive talk covering the main points of Po12000841_10156255009660105_7046955859817689565_ope Francis’s encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’ on climate change, led by PA IPL’s Executive Director, Alison Cornish. The event was held in Foxdale’s auditorium the week before Pope Francis’s visit to the US and Philadelphia, and was well attended.
  • Residents in our workshop and members of our maintenance staff have participated in PA IPL’s community winterization program, Weatherization First. They have created insulating window panels and completed energy saving house repairs for folks who are not able to do their own.   
  • September 24, as a part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we hosted Business After Hours in the auditorium. We provided composting etc.. and had signs on all tables announcing that the event was a zero waste event and suggested that they should all adopt zero waste in their businesses. It was also announced, and a couple of us were there as resource folks. We have been members of the Chamber for 25 years also. It was well attended and we had a lot of interest.

We continue to look for ways to improve and expand our sustainable practices both with our Foxdale family and with the broader community.

We truly appreciate being part of the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority’s Green Partnership.  

A prayer for the midpoint of the Paris talks.

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11, while the international climate talks (COP 21) are going on in Paris.

YairaThis prayer was written by Yaira Robinson of Texas IPL.  She wrote it for her home congregation to use on the Shabbat before the climate talks began.  Today is not Shabbat.  It is the midpoint of the climate talks.  It is the second Sunday of Advent (Christian), and the first night of Hanukkah (Jewish).  It is 2 days before Rohatsu, and we are all readying for the return of our Northern Hemisphere light beginning on the Solstice.

Tonight is a great time to settle in for a prayer that links us to the depths of our own faith traditions, that asks for help, and hope, a way forward through fear, rooted in deep conviction; asks for forgiveness, and for strength for us all, leaders and regular people alike.

Yaira’s beautiful prayer is below; her original post can be found here.  Do click through on the images to learn more about the art and artists.

We have some links to Paris COP background and more Abrahamic resources prepared in connection with the Harrisburg and Philadelphia vigils. Looking for resources from non-Abrahamic faiths?  Find the links you want on this page of encyclical-linked resources.

A Prayer for Paris Climate Talks

Adonai Eloheinu, v’Elohei Avoteinu v’Imoteinu—
Lord our God and God of our Ancestors—

God who separated the light from the darkness,
upper waters from lower waters,
and seas from land.

"Burning Bush" Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik Image Source

“Burning Bush” Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik Image Source

God who appears in a whirlwind,
in a burning bush, and
as strangers standing at an open tent.

Do You remember?
You freed us from that Narrow Place and
guided us through the wilderness,
appearing as a pillar of cloud by day,
and as a pillar of fire by night.

Do we remember?
You thundered, shook the mountain, and gave us Torah.
We were awestruck. We said:
“We will do and we will hear!”

Help us remember.
God, we’ve kind of messed things up.
We didn’t mean to. It was science and progress,
electricity and cars and plastic!

Chris Jordan "Cellphones #2, Atlanta 2005" from Portraits of American Mass Consumption

Chris Jordan “Cellphones #2, Atlanta 2005” from Portraits of American Mass Consumption

Plastic is amazing, God.
So useful.

But now, we’ve upset the delicate balance of Your Creation—
this beautiful, wildly diverse, interconnected,
pulsing, breathing planet full of life—

The storms are stronger now.
Drought more frequent, more severe.
Ice is melting, seas are rising, crops are shifting.

Hunger and disease, disaster and thirst
lead to suffering
and strife
and people—so many people—
having to leave home
in search of a safe place to live.

We didn’t mean for this to happen.
But now we know.
And now that we know, we are responsible—
we must act.

Please help us, God.
We need to make some changes, and fast—
but it’s hard.
We can do it—but it’s going to require a lot of work,
and we’ve never had to cooperate quite like this before—
all of us, all your diverse peoples, all over the world.

Climate change is a big challenge.
We’re going to have to work together,
somehow.

But it’s really, really hard.

Leaders from 196 countries are about to meet in Paris
to try to agree on a way forward.

God, please help them.
Give them wisdom, and the courage to do what’s right—
rather than what’s politically expedient.

God, please help us.
Global warming is scary.
Change is hard.
Give us strength, imagination, and hope.
There’s so much we can do, right here at home.
Help us meet new challenges with hearts that are open
and attuned to You.

the "tree" of the Lena Delta wilderness in Russia. Image Source

the “tree” of the Lena Delta wilderness in Russia. Image Source

For this little blue planet,
gift of water and breath and life amazing—
Thank you, God.

Please be with us.
Guide us.
Help us mend our ways,
heal,
return,
and repair—
Soon.

And let us say: amen.

 

Invite everyone, but don’t wait, Part 2.

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11, while the international climate talks (COP 21) are going on in Paris.

Today’s post shows how a small group can act meaningfully within a congregation before the whole congregation is fully and enthusiastically engaged, and how that engaged action can grow the “choir”.  It is a story that originates in my parents’ Friends Meeting (Quaker) in Western Massachusetts.  The idea is spreading quickly among New England Quakers, is being used by a Unitarians congregation in Virginia, and there is active interest from some groups here in Pennsylvania.   Want to try?

2. Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness

mt_toby_climatewitness

A few of the original members of Mt. Toby’s Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness group.

Since we are a multi-faith group here at PA IPL, before I turn this over to the Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness group of Mt. Toby Meeting,  I’ll note that Quakers often use the word witness to indicate that they are making a choice to live out their faith.  It’s a way of saying “This isn’t just a thing I am doing.  It is a thing I am doing because of my Quakerism.”  Similar ideas are called “carbon tithes” in some circles.

The basic idea is this:

  1. A group of interested people agrees to “tax” themselves a percentage of their spending on fossil fuels for their vehicles, their electricity (if applicable), their home heating, and their air travel.  Each makes their own commitment.  Names, but not amounts are publicized.
  2. They send their fees in to a dedicated sub account at their congregation.
  3. They decide quarterly where to gift those fees, giving to climate-related causes (emissions reduction projects, climate justice, adaptation projects, response efforts and more).
  4. They share their results with their congregation and beyond.

Members of this group have spoken about how meaningful it is to join together for this witness,  how heartening it is to see the amounts donated grow as the group grows— and sometimes shrink as people are able to reduce the amount of  fossil fuel they are using.

They encourage everyone to start at a low amount of voluntary tax, and then to revisit the amount and consider raising it.   The group has grown steadily in size, and conversation around climate justice and climate action at fellowship time occur more often and draw in more people.   Participants also talk about how much more aware they are of their fuel use now, but how that awareness is accompanied by a sense of empowerment and hope, rather than a sense of paralyzing guilt.

Check out their very helpful Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness page, with sample forms, a list of where they have made their quarterly donations.

Listen to Alan Eccleston of Mt. Toby describe the program, in context, in under 5 minutes, at the meeting of New England Yearly Meeting.

 

Invite everyone, but don’t wait.

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11.

Lots of times, people talk to us about feeling stuck in their institutions.  Here is the advice I always give: invite everyone, but don’t wait for everyone.  It’s remarkably simple, but remarkably powerful, too.  Some people are just worried about changing the place that they look to as a steady, stable presence.  Once they get a look at some of the changes, they don’t feel so scary.

Today and tomorrow we’ll share solutions stories about ways to start when there isn’t enthusiastic consensus.  Today’s story below (I’ll try to grab some photos of the cup cart on Sunday.. I thought I had some already!):

1: Don’t mess with my coffee hour!

1527133_10153692416215105_1314606005_nI go to a large church.  Four-services-a-Sunday large.  When we feed people and give people drinks, and even when we give them bulletins to read, we use a lot of stuff.  A few years ago, the Green Team wanted to move us away from styrofoam (yay, Green Team!).  They didn’t really want to deal with a Policy Decision because that felt too much like a Federal Case, and it might wear people out too much to get other things done, like Weatherization First projects.

Honestly, they felt a little stuck.  Then they had an idea.  What if there was a choice?  That might work for Sunday Coffee Hour, but how about all those meetings all over the church all week long?  What about the smaller coffee hour in the commons area off the Narthex after the earliest service?  The superstar sexton came back with the ansswer.  He recycled two cabinets that were pulled out of the kitchen when it was renovated.  He took the doors off and the drawers out.  He added some crossbars on the top, and added cup hooks.  He added industrial wheels.  He added towel-bar handles.  He added cushy non-skid shelf paper.  He added a small laminated sign that said “dirty cups” to the bottom shelf, which was big enough to hold an institutional-sized dish bin.

The Green Team put out a request for mugs.  They filled the mug carts and stationed them by the coffee.  They left the styrofoam, but pushed the stack back next to the urns, instead of in front, so the mugs would be the first thing folks would see.  Know what?  People don’t actually like drinking out of styrofoam. It’s still there, but it’s almost never used.   People are curious and sometimes amused about the origin of the mugs.  They’re sometimes conversation starters.  Personally, I like the mug that says if my dog thinks I’m the best person in the world, I shouldn’t get a second opinion.

Here’s the other thing that made it work, and it made the Super Wednesday supper switch to china work, too: no one expected the existing kitchen crew to do the dishes.  The Green Team volunteered —and got new volunteers.  The dish crew is one of the places that youth work alongside adults, and get to do real, valued volunteer work that helps the church run.  It has even lightened the (still enormous) load of the kitchen crew a tiny bit, since the dishwashers help with pots and wash the serving pans, too.

Helpful hint: a paste made of baking soda and a little water (or a wet sponge) gets coffee and tea stains off fast.  We like to spread out a big tarp and bring in a group of elementary and middle school youth and give the mugs a good cleaning once or twice a year.  The kids play music, and we buy them pizza and do some extra kitchen cleaning.  It’s time to schedule a mug night now!

Below Zero. Behold the power of the BHAG.

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11.

A BHAG is a Big, Hairy Audacious Goal (pronounced “bee-hag”)  Pretty great, right?  Read on for Central Baptist Church’s story of dropping BELOW zero, including member transportation to and from church.  There are a few links to previous stories here, and we hope to have some more pictures and some follow up pieces as time marches on, but this story just couldn’t wait any longer.

207826_214699188546806_5287405_nGetting To Zero (CO2 Emissions) at Central Baptist Church

Summary: On Sunday, October 11, 2015, Central Baptist Church (CBC) in Wayne, PA, celebrated achieving “minus Zero” in its Getting to Zero campaign to reduce congregational carbon emissions.  The campaign was designed and conducted by the Ecology Mission Group (EMG) at CBC.

Chuck sells LED'15w

Chuck Marshall selling an LED as part of the CBC Ecology Mission Team.

  CBC’s EMG decided to offset its CO2 emissions several years ago, and focused at first on offsetting emissions from the operation of the building; i.e., the emissions from the use of electricity and natural gas, which the EMG estimated to total 41,000 pounds per year. The EMG developed three programs, described below, to offset these emissions:  solar panels, light bulbs, and wind energy. 

After these programs brought building use to carbon neutral in 2014, the EMG realized that an even greater carbon footprint than building use was probably congregational travel.  During 2015 the Getting to Zero campaign encouraged families to estimate and then to purchase offsets to their own CBC-related travel.  With help from the congregation, EMG estimated these emissions at 66,000 pounds per year. Over the summer of 2015, more than enough offsets were purchased to declare the congregation “minus Zero”.

central baptist church, wayne rooftop solarDetails: To offset the building emissions, CBC has three programs. One is a set of 48 solar panels installed on the flat roof of a wing of the church building. The panels were started in May 2009 and, since then approximately 71,000 Kwh of electricity have been generated. This is only an offset program because it lowers the electricity that CBC purchases from PECO. CBC does not count as offsets the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) it receives and sells, because the sale of the credits allows someone else to emit carbon dioxide.  

CBC also offsets building operation CO2 emissions through a program called Bright Idea under which CBC yearly gives approximately 800 compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to social centers which then give the CFLs and LEDs to their clients to install in their homes or apartments. Based upon a survey done of the hours that the replaced bulbs operated, those emission offsets amount to 7,800 lbs. per year.

CBC also purchases wind energy from a supplier for 100 percent of its electricity use. The amount of electric consumption is metered after the solar panel electricity is used within the church or the excess is placed on the grid. Between Bright Idea and the purchase of wind energy, CBC offsets all of its emissions from the burning of natural gas and the electricity used.

How they got there: celebration display!

How they got there: celebration display!

It also occurred to the EMG that a lot of people drive vehicles to church every Sunday and that there are a lot of trips to church for meetings during the week, a lot of staff trips to and from church and several members and the pastors take long distance trips to Baptist board meetings and other conferences and events. The EMG felt that these CO2 emissions be counted also as an effect of operating a church. In fact, EMG did a gross estimate of these emissions and they were at 66,000 lbs. per year while the emissions from the electricity and gas were 41,000 lbs. The EMG also decided to find an emission factor for paper as a proxy for all of the emissions from the purchasing of products that support the worship services and communicate with members, like paper. The emission rate found for paper manufacturing was 27.5 lbs. of CO2 per ream of paper for 112 reams per year.

Having determined that travel-related emissions exceeded all other emissions, CBC decided to embark on a program called Getting To Zero. Each person or family unit was asked to complete a form that would result in an emissions figure for their church-related travel. More than one-half the people did not complete their form but gave the committee permission to fill it out for them. This detailed emission inventory was very close to the gross estimate of emissions made for CBC. The range of CO2 emissions for most people/families was from about 100 lbs. per year up to 2200 lbs. per year. The staff emissions were from 800 lbs. per year up to about 3500 lbs. Next, the committee produced the table shown below as Table 2 and a set of instructions that help individuals and families chose how to offset their emissions. Not going to church was not offered or encouraged. The choices were installing LEDs or CFLs, buying wind energy from a supplier, or any other option the family/person could choose (e.g., geothermal energy).

CBC children made a giant ZERO to parade with in the sanctuary in celebration!

CBC children made a giant ZERO to parade with in the sanctuary in celebration!

The options have subtle differences. For example, the tree plantings must be done every year while the LED lights offsets occur for as long as the bulbs are used. The option chosen the most was tree planting. We are working with a non-profit organization called Trees, Water, People in Fort Collins, Colorado.   The cost only amounts to $1 per ton of offset which we will pay for each year. The organization is not certified for their tree plantings because of the large cost it would take for a relatively small non-profit to become internationally certified. TWP plants trees in several counties, one of which is El Salvador. CBC has a sister church, Shekina, in Santa Anna, about 12 miles from one of TWP’s tree nurseries and forests.

CBC estimates that for the first year of this program, the baseline CO2 emissions of 108,000 pounds per year have been exceeded by the offsets of 123,000 pounds of carbon dioxide; getting to minus zero.

Table 1. Estimated CBC Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Source Category Algorithm CO2 Emissions Rate Emissions of CO2 Source of Data and Comments
Electricity 36,000 kwh per year (PECO bills) 0.44548 Kg CO2 per kwh 16,037 kg*2.214 lbs=35,507 2012 EPA data.
Natural Gas 6228 CCF gas consumed per year (PECO bills) 0.1848 Kg CO2/ccf 2548 lbs. + 876 for mission house= 3424 2012 data. AP-42 shows 0.12 lbs per ccf.
Paper purchases #reams = 135. *3 pages/copy*54 services=44 reams plus 20 newslttrs *5 sheets*50 copies = 10.0 reams plus copies of 2 reams per week * 52 weeks 12.5 Kg CO2/ream of paper = 112*12.5 kg*2.2 lbs per Kg 3080 pounds CO2 per year Paper industry website
Travel To and Fro
   Staff 3 cars *5 days/wk*48 weeks * 10 miles/trip = 7200 miles/yr 0.260585 Kg CO2e/mile 4154 pounds CO2 per year
   Sunday 110 people/wk/1.5 families per car= 73.3 trips*48 wks*20 miles/trip- 70,368 miles 0.260585 Kg CO2/mile 40,598 pounds CO2 per year
   Weekday mtgs. 50% of Sunday 20,299 Assumption

                                                                                 Grand total           107,886 lbs. CO2 per year

The summary of carbon dioxide emissions by category is as follows.

Electricity Consumption                                33.2 percent
Natural Gas Consumption                             3.2
Operations as rep. by paper reams             2.8
Staff travel to CBC                                           3.8
Sunday roundtrips                                          38.0
Weekday trips to CBC                                   ­­  19.0__
Total                                                                  100.0

Table 2. Carbon Dioxide Offset Options for CBC Members

(Lbs./yr) CO2                         KWH/Yr                           LED Lights                         Trees to Have
Emissions                            To Offset                         To Install                          Planted

100 71 1 1
200 143 2 1
400 286 3 2
600 429 4 3
800 571  5 4
1000 714 6 5
1200

 

No need to wait— the Paris Pledge

Check back here for a one-a-day series of actions and solutions from now until 12/11.

International leaders brought emissions-reduction commitments with them to this conference.  Those commitments are not yet binding, and they’re not yet enough to keep us under 2 degrees Celsius* of warming, but they’re working on it (keep those prayers flowing—they’re needed!)  We, however, don’t have to wait for an international agreement to make our own changes.  The  Paris Pledge is open to both congregations and to individuals; it is a promise to cut emissions 50% by 2030 and to zero by 2050.

Benedictines getting ready for the drive back to Erie after the Interfaith Moral Advocacy Training in Harrisburg in August 2015.

Benedictines getting ready for the drive back to Erie after the Interfaith Moral Advocacy Training in Harrisburg in August 2015.

One institution that signed on issued the press release that follows.  Thank you for your leadership, Sister Pat Lupo and the Benedictines of Erie!

NOTE: Both congregations and individuals may continue to add their commitments at the Paris Pledge website.  Signatures through last Wednesday have been added to a large scroll that is with the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham and Sister Joan Brown in Paris, which will be presented on December 11 at the conference, in the Blue Zone (that’s the zone with the international bigwigs).  Tune in tomorrow for the story of a congregation that has REACHED carbon neutral — including members’ transportation to church!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Benedictine Sisters of Erie Sign Paris Pledge

Erie, Pennsylvania – November 24, 2015 – Long known as environmental leaders in the Erie area, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie have taken a decisive step in their commitment to environmental sustainability by pledging to reduce their carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050. They along with 150 other Religious Organizations and 3,500 individuals have signed the Paris Pledge. A scroll with the pledge and all its signers will be presented at the international climate conference being held in Paris, France over the next several weeks. It is hoped that the 150 nations represented at CPO21, the 21st “Conference of Parties” will establish internationally agreed upon targets to curb ongoing Climate Change.

The Paris Pledge was developed by Interfaith Power and Light, an organization of 18,000 religious congregations and organizations located in 40 states throughout the US. Through this pledge they intend to lead by example and clearly state that Faith Leaders in the US are committed to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the impact of human activity on Climate Change.

“Care for the earth has been integral to the Benedictine Charism since our very foundation in the 6th century,” explains Sister Anne Wambach, Prioress. “The Erie Benedictines have consciously and deliberately included this responsibility in our community’s Corporate Commitment and have taken significant steps, both as community and as individuals, to deepen our understanding and take concrete and intentional actions toward sustainable living.”

Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si`, clearly lays out the crisis that our planet faces and calls all of us, all nations, all religions, all people, to a find a common solution to Climate Change. In his words: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. . . .  Regrettably, many efforts . . . have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. . . . All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (14)

“We urge everyone to make his/her their own commitment to reduce carbon pollution through energy conservation, purchasing electricity from a ‘green provider,’ and making use of renewable energy products and sources,” Sister Anne continued. “If we expect nations to commit to significant energy policies, then we should do so ourselves, at home, in the workplace, in our churches, and in all the places that touch our lives.”

For further information regarding the Paris Pledge and practical ways to reduce carbon pollution, please contact Annette Marshall, OSB (572-8325) or Pat Lupo, OSB (490-3108).

 

*2 degrees Celsius never sounds like much.  It’s important to realize that that’s a global average.  The 20th century global average that is the baseline against which that change is marked is 13.9 degrees Celsius.  That means that a 2C increase for the Earth is proportionally the same as a 14 F increase in body temperature (for a deadly body temp of more than 112F) for a human being.  Perspective is everything!