Climate orphans – urgency, action, innovation, and our human community.

Spiritual activist and teacher Eileen Flanagan recently posted an important article and video from Ncholas Kristof, but she had an important prologue — based on her own experience living and working and talking with friends in Africa.  She’s given us permission to repost here.  Check out her upcoming web course!  

EileenFlanagan.jpgI always hesitate to post images that reinforce stereotypes about Africa. The truth is that African farmers have been leading the way in climate adaptation for decades, changing the way they plant crops to adapt to less rainfall, while western politicians debate whether climate change is real and human-made. [Lesotho, Nile, keyhole how-to] Last year at the Paris Climate Summit, I spoke to Africans who are both savvy about world politics–and the injustice of larger economies dragging their feet– while also courageously pushing for bolder action on renewables within their own countries. So this video represents only one African reality, but it is an important and tragic one. It’s also the reality that made me take up climate justice as a calling, especially being the descendent of famine survivors myself. This is why we can’t just wait four years or rely on phone calls to our fossil-fuel-funded politicians. We need courageous action here! The good news is that moving to solar here could also create jobs in the US neighborhoods that need them most, so it’s good for justice all the way around. It’s clear the Federal government is not going to solve this for us. It’s up to us.

The article and video from NIcholas Kristof are at the New York Times.

Other friends have posted and shared this as well.  Over at Beloved Planet [a specifically Christian faith-and-climate blog], the post on this article includes these two paragraphs:

“So, meet two little boys, Fokandraza and Foriavi, among the millions now dubbed “climate orphans” – their parents having left long ago to find work and money in desperate hopes of feeding the family. They live with their aunt, who can’t afford to feed her own children, let alone Fokandraza and Foriavi.

…Remember their names: Fokandraza and Foriavi. We will certainly hear them again, when the Son of Man comes again in his glory. “What you did for Fokandraza and Foriavi, you did for me. And what you did not do for them, you did not do for me.” (Adapted from Matthew 25: 31-46)”


Food Waste Weekend

GreenFaith and have teamed up to create supports for Food Waste Weekend.  Use them on September 23-25, or schedule programs for another time — this is important all year long!

We recommend:SamShain

  • this great background video to get a sense of the scope of this problem
  • This blog post about food waste (with tips and videos) from November 2015
  • this site, which will connect you with recipe ideas, storage plans to keep food fresher for longer, planning tips, and there’s an app you can download
  • this site, which has lots of eat low carbon tips, including limiting waste.

GreenFaith has made sample sermons and background information on food waste available on the Food Waste Weekend website for Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Unitarian and Secular communities. You can also download the Food Waste Weekend Gameshow lesson plan for children in faith communities, and other free resources.

Here in the US, more than 30% of all food is wasted. In a world with so many hungry people, that’s a terrible shame.

Sadly, it gets worse. Wasted food rots and creates greenhouse gas emissions. A lot of them. If you compare the emissions from food waste globally to the world’s nations, it comes in third place – following China and the US.

Fortunately, we can all make a difference. Take part in Food Waste Weekend.

On the weekend of September 23-25, faith communities across the country will celebrate the first Food Waste Weekend, or will commit to do so later this year. Food Waste Weekend is a partnership between GreenFaith and, a nonprofit that reduces food waste and hunger by empowering growers to donate excess produce to food pantries.

70% of America’s food pantries are located in a house of worship. Faith communities are key partners in helping to ensure that excess food gets to hungry families.

We invite you to take part in Food Waste Weekend. Sign up now to take part on Sept. 23-25 or to schedule your Food Waste Weekend later this year.

Spread the word by using #foodwasteweekend on social media.

SCRANTON: Terra Preta hosts a PA IPL Earth Hour evening

This year, Terra Preta will be hosting an Earth Hour gathering. The lights will be out during dinner from 8-9pm. We invite you to join us in celebrating and making a difference for our planet!

Terra Preta has partnered with Rabbi Daniel Swartz of Temple Hesed and PA IPL Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light to bring this global event to Scranton!

What to expect: During the hour of 8-9pm, the lights will be out in the dining room and you will be eating solely by candle light. In addition to our dinner menu, we will have local and sustainable dinner features, utilizing our local farmers while reducing our waste. We will have a few special guests with us. You will have a chance to get to know local farmers (Fullers Overlook Farm will be there) and learn about ways to access locally grown food. From 6-9pm we will also have live music brought to you by Mark Woodyatt Violin and Entertainment.

We would like to invite you to join Terra Preta in what promises to be an amazing and inspiring global celebration of our collective commitment to the planet. Be sure to make your reservation soon by calling Terra Preta at 570-871-4190

Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement by World Wildlife Fund to unite people to take action for the planet. Earth Hour was started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and since then it has grown to engage supporters in over 172 countries and territories worldwide. During this global moment of solidarity, Earth Hour supporters around the world to take a stand to solve our planet’s biggest environmental challenge yet and shine a light on climate action.

To make reservations for Earth Hour Dinner, please call Terra Preta at 570-871-4190

Shrinking your foodprint part 2—habits

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.  Check out this piece from the World Council of Churches about food justice and climate change called COP 21: how climate change affects access to our daily bread

Today, in part 2 of Shrinking Your Foodprint: foodprint-shrinking, efficient habits… (what we eat is coming tomorrow, I promise!)  Want more inspiration?  Refer back to this post for videos where you can listen to smart people talk about food, faith and food justice.

  1. Put the lid on when you’re boiling water.
  2. Only boil as much water as you need.
  3. Cover or contain things in the fridge (moisture makes the compressor work harder, and your food will be less edible sooner, too)
  4. Store food that needs to be eaten in high-visibility places.
  5. Cook whenever possible!  You’ll create less landfill waste, and use fewer take-out containers.
  6. Think of the oven as the SUV of your kitchen.  Use it when it’s the right tool for the job, but don’t leave it running when there’s nothing in it, and try to use all the space when it’s on.  You can also heat once, cook twice to save a little warm-up time.  In the summer: avoid the oven, it’ll heat your house up.  Must use it?  At night, when you can open the windows!   In the winter, when you’re done cooking, leave the door open for a bit (if you can, safely) to let the heat into the house.
  7. Choose a strategy: EITHER make only what you will eat, OR purposely make extra and freeze portion-sizes, pack ready-to-go lunches, or share with a neighbor.   Do you make award winning chili?  If your neighbor has a different quantity-cook specialty, make double and swap — 2 meals for one prep!
  8. Buy things in less packaging.  When you have a choice of heavier or lighter versions of the same food (think canned beans v. bagged beans), or refrigerated or shelf-stable versions (think salad dressing) choose lighter (fewer emissions to transport) or stable (eliminate refrigeration.
  9. Pick a month (January?) and make that the month you clean the coils in the back of your fridge or the vent at the bottom, change any filters, and check for a good seal with no leaks on both fridge and freezer.
  10. There is need to run hot water in the sink to wash your hands —its the soap, water, and friction that get the job done.
  11. Clean-up: Be efficient with your hot water when you’re finished with your meal.  Scrape your plates.  If you’re handwashing use a basin or stop the sink rather than letting the water run. If you use a dishwasher, experiment to figure out if you can skip the rinse, and see if your model lets you air dry instead of heat-drying.

Mmmmm. Food. Shrinking your foodprint part 1

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.  Check out this piece from the World Council of Churches about food justice and climate change called COP 21: how climate change affects access to our daily bread

There are so many ways to shrink our “foodprints.”  Today, we’ll address the one part of the puzzle most people don’t associate with climate change: avoiding waste

Don’t waste.  Seriously.  Food waste is a huge problem.  Click on the graphic below for lots more info.  In 2013 alone, Americans threw out over 37 million tons—or 74 billion pounds—of food (source).  Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.27.35 PM

Improve together! There is so much generational wisdom to tap into here.  Think about interviewing all the folks in your congregation or community who lived through culturally lean times, and cooked most of their own food.  You’ll find people who know how to make amazing soup stock from not-so-edible remainders.  You’ll find people who know how to plan a series of menus that draw on part of the one before, making something different and new (so it doesn’t feel like leftovers) using some of the same ingredients, so that you can use everything up.  You’ll find people with amazing systems for freezing leftovers that will be the basis of another meal — and finding them when they’re needed.  You will even find people who know how to “put up” backyard garden overflow.    Add to that our much-easier modern access to varied spices and recipes, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a great potluck+PDF recipe or instruction book.

Here’s an excellent demonstration by a guy in England (who uses the Food 52 website based in NY as his resource).  I find that quesadillas or wraps, pizza, omelettes and salad can absorb many small-quantity leftovers.

The rest of his waste-less-food page has lots of tips: I recommend the first video on the page (though I haven’t done it yet).

Pro tip: Sell By, Best By, and Use By dates are all a little different.  Learn more about what you can really eat and when, and remember that if you pop something in the freezer by one of those dates, you can safely eat it long after the date has passed.

Compost.  Food waste in landfills often doesn’t get enough oxygen to break down well, and ends up producing methane, a much stronger greenhouse gas.  Plus, your flowers and veggies will looooove your compost.  If you go for an indoor worm bin, you’ll also get compost tea.  Your houseplants have never looked better.   Tune in soon for a story from St. Martin in the Fields’ Blessing of the Heap.

Waste matters.    Food waste (not including the linked land-use changes) accounts for  About 1/3 of our food waste occurs at the consumer level.  That’s the place where we are totally in control.  Nearly 2/3 is wasted in production and distribution.  Consumers can help with the 2/3 part, too, by asking groceries for special lower-price bins of not-so-beautiful produce for example, or by working with groceries, restaurants, kitchens and food pantries to help with a gleaning program.  (Get a glimpse of the problem and some solutions in this National Geographic article; this partner article is subtitled: producing the food we throw away generates more greenhouse gasses than most entire countries do)

I’ll leave you with this, quoted in an article about a Food and Agriculture Organization report:

“Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world’s agricultural land area.”

“We simply cannot allow one-third of all the food we produce to go to waste or be lost because of inappropriate practices, when 870 million people go hungry every day,” said the FAO’s director-general, José Graziano da Silva.”

The Good Earth: Creation and Ministry in an Ecological Age

Conference flier: SLC 2015 flyer 050915
Jump to conference info,  or  go to blog post to watch videos of the plenary speakers.

PA IPL will have a table on Monday and Tuesday — drop by and see us, or send news and photos of your most recent climate-response work for us to share with others!

Some parts of this conference are FREE, and there is a buy-two-get-one-FREE discount for registrants from the same congregation.  Attend all or part, but PLEASE REGISTER (for the sanity of the organizers and food-preparers)

NOTE: This conference by the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary department of Continuing Education was designed for pulpit clergy in mainline Protestant churches, but it is absolutely open to all — lay leaders, public, people from all faith traditions are welcome.  Attend and listen for the deep echoes from the scripture, wisdom, and practices of your own tradition and then SHARE SHARE SHARE with us!

The Good Earth:
Creation and Ministry in an Ecological Age


Fred Bahnson is director of the Food, Faith, & Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He is the author of Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith (watch Fred’s TED x Manhattan talk) and (with Norman Wirzba) Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation. He holds a masters in theological studies from Duke Divinity School. After being drawn to the agrarian life while serving as a peaceworker among Mayan coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, he returned to the U.S. and in 2005 co-founded Anathoth Community Garden, a church-supported agriculture ministry in Cedar Grove, NC which he then directed until 2009.

Norman Wirzba is professor of theology, ecology, and rural life at Duke Divinity School. (Watch an interview with Norman at Duke University on Food and Faith). He pursues research and teaching interests at the intersections of theology, philosophy, ecology, and agrarian and environmental studies. His work focuses on understanding and promoting practices that can equip both rural and urban church communities to be more faithful and responsible members of creation. Current research is centered on a recovery of the doctrine of creation and a restatement of humanity in terms of its creaturely life. Professor Wirzba has published several books; his most recent are Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating and (with Fred Bahnson) Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation. He is co-founder and executive committee member of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology.


Full Conference Fee (includes all events except the Farm to Table Banquet): $150

Individual Event Rates:

  • Sunday Only: $10 • Farm to Table Banquet on Monday evening (optional): $30
  • Monday, Tuesday, OR Wednesday: $75 / day
  • Tuesday Movie Night, The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year
  • Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson: $10 donation

More information: ~ 412-924-1345