March newsletter: Spring showers

Water flows from high in the mountains.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us,
and sustains all life.
                            —Thich Nhat Hanh

Springtime is a watery time – whether spring showers, snow melt rushing into brooks, streams and rivers, fresh dew on newly plowed fields, or puddles in winter’s potholes.  We celebrate spring – arriving March 20th this year, as the vernal equinox – with these notes about Water.

As our rainfalls become more intense, stormwater management — reducing impervious surfaces and slowing water down so it can soak in —is key to keeping pollution out of streams, and reducing the strain on municipal water systems.  The good news is that households and houses of worship really can make a difference — beautifully.

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is working with faith communities to better manage storm water, relieving stress on the city’s storm drains (and ultimately rivers, streams and the bay); reducing stress on congregational finances, by reducing stormwater fees; increasing cooling green spaces in the midst of urban heat islands; and creating local habitats for diverse species.  Sam Boden, an AmeriCorps VISTA staffer at the Philadelphia Water Department, wrote this profile of a congregation that benefitted from a Stormwater Management Incentives Program grant.  Great inspiration for congregations across the state (and links to some how-tos that are good for households, too!)

Earth Hour – For several years now, members of PA IPL have joined with thousands of individuals and communities around the world to join together near the vernal equinox by turning the lights off – and the inspiration on – this year’s international date is Saturday, March 24th  and we have a number of events on the calendar on that date, and for about a week in either direction.  Find an event near you, or plan your own.  There’s lot’s more on the events calendar, including film series, panels and speakers, habitat restoration parties, and even a moment to Sing to the Wissahickon on World Water Day (3/22)!

Designing your own World Water Day activity?  Feel free to use these water-linked activities with your congregation anytime, including in conjunction with Faith Climate Action Week [Kits are available for download, and a movie is available to order now…more on that from us in the next newsletter.]

Speaking of spring showers… request a free box of energy-saving devices from your electric company.  These new boxes include LED bulbs and nightlights.  If your hot water heater is electric, your box may also include a low-flow showerhead, and a sink aerator.   Whether you install a low-flow fixture from the hardware store or the electricity-saving box, each one of your quicker, water-saving showers will be more meaningful after reading the BBC’s list of 11 world cities on track to run out of drinking water — which includes both London and Miami.

Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.

                                    —Thich Nhat Hanh