Hop over to the Stories from the Road page to learn more about this online celebration we’ve been hinting at. Sign up for a weekly email with the new video and stories, watch this space, share with friends and neighbors, and join in!
Our traditions refer to trees as rooted-and-reaching symbols, as wise teachers, or as important and respected resources. We have so much to learn from them. In this post you will find several tree resources. We’d like to do an additional post around our secular arbor day, so please share your favorite tree poems or stories (even if you’re sure we must have them!)
We begin with a poem we shared as the meditation at the end or our Sustained Advocacy call near Tu B’Shvat 2019, and continue with hands-on work PA IPL groups are leading, and two learning and worship resources.
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
In several collections including This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems
Tu B’Shvat is a minor Jewish holy day that, in Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s words, “celebrates the bare beginnings pf the reawakening of trees in mid-winter, and was seen by the 16th-century Kabbalists as the rebirth of that Tree of Life that has its roots in Heaven and its fruit in the existence and creativity of us — the whole of life.”
The festival itself and its amazing Seder come at the full moon on the 15th day of the Jewish lunar “moonth” of Shvat, this year from Sunday evening January 20 through sundown Monday January 21. That means it falls this year on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday.
Consider registering for the Shalom Center’s Tu B’Shvat webinar (webinar on January 9, 2019; Tu B’Shvat begins the evening of January 20, and is January 21this year — there are also webinars preparing for earth-climate-justice rooted Passover celebrations as part of their Sacred Seasons for Sacred Earth series. The webinars include tools for holding your own celebration.
Martin Luther King’s birthday (and birthday-as-observed) are always close to Tu B’Shvat on the calendar, but in 2019, they fall together. While we focus on the struggle for civil rights for people of all races in our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his work, in fact, the larger trajectory of his work was justice. In 2014, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, then a board member of PA IPL, wrote this piece about the connections between the two holidays.
The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade left Pennsylvania when she took a job teaching at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, but we remember her well, and are pleased to share this 8-week devotional connecting trees and faith “Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith”
Each spring and fall, the Germantown Tree Tenders plant and tend urban trees in publicly-available space from sidewalks to houses of worship. They do so in community, and often include opportunities to offer blessings and dedications (and sometimes chances for shared food together)
In Central Pennsylvania, under the energetic leadership of Greg Williams, groups of community members, the 3rd Way Collective from Penn State, congregants, and Central PA IPL regulars have been joining for work parties to clear space for native trees and tender plants to thrive, adding diversity and resilience to our forest systems. Much of this work has been removing invasive plants and staking out the beginnings of the native seedlings, but the have also done successful bareroot tree plantings, live staking (along the Juniata River), (over 600 trees in 2018!), as well as native wildflower meadow plantings. Over time, inspired by a Joanna Macy practice called Honoring our Adversaries, they have challenged themselves to recognize and honor the tenacious and exuberant qualities of the very invasives they are working so hard to hold back so the diverse native plants can thrive.
We’ll close with this browsing link on tree writings over at Baha’i Teachings.
Our 2018 statewide Annual Conference Facing the Climate Crisis: Called to Save our Sacred Common Home was a wonderful conference, beautifully planned, filled with deeply generous leadership and participation. It was also in Pittsburgh, on October 27, 2018, the day of the hate-motivated killings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. The terrible news broke just as the first people were arriving. Most people heard the news at the conference. We made space for prayers together, and songs and prayers already planned took on different significance. A few were unable to be there. Those who were gathered found comfort in the chance to be in a community of caring. By the time we adjourned, thanks to the strength of the Pittsburgh networks present, people left with times and places for multiple vigils and services over the next three days.
We will continue to share resources from the day here as they are shared with us. We are so grateful to the volunteers, leaders, speakers, musicians, sponsors and attendees who made it all possible.
- Gathering song
A version of the Buddhist Metta Sutra (Loving Kindess), led by George Hoguet. Sung to the tune of Amazing Grace
May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy
- Litany of sorrow from the UN Environmental Sabbath Program
- Return to the Home of Your Soul –song written by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, led by Barb Ballenger, and sung by all present, audio captured by filmmaker (and workshop leader) Kirsi Jansa
- Conference welcome message, from Dr. Patricia DeMarco
- Remembrance of the 1948 Smog of Donora.
- Charlie McCollester’s keynote.
- Reflection on the legacy of Rachel Carson.
Rev. David Carlisle had to miss the conference to be fully present for a family emergency; Rabbi Ron Symons was called to respond to the shootings.
workshops and workshop leaders
Workshops and workshop leaders are all cross-linked on our Annual Conference page. When “portable” materials are generously shared with us, we will share them with you — though they certainly will be pale compared to the richness of the interaction, leadership, and community of the in-person workshops.
- Kirsi Jansa’s slides (with video links) from Finding Our Power— Community Conversations
PA IPL’s 2018 Visionary Award to Dr. Patricia DeMarco was beautifully received by Mark Dixon and Kirsi Jansa, who delivered the plaque and award citation to her after the conference. We are delighted that Patty’s treatments have been successful, and she is now focused on regaining her remarkable energy.
These sponsors helped make the day possible
- Energy Independent Solutions (putting solar on St. Paul’s roof!)
- Green Mountain Energy (choose wind and solar generated electricity for your home, small business, or house of worship!)
faith community sponsors
- The United Methodist Church—Board of Church and Society
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- The Justice Committee of East Liberty Presbyterian Church
- The Open Door
- The Pittsburgh Presbytery
Gathering and break times were enriched by the presence of many allies at information tables.
- Association of Pittsburgh Priests
- The Breathe Project
- The Clean Air Council
- Conservation Consultants, Inc.
- Creatives4Climate and Sustainability Pioneers [sign up for Kirsi’s Sustainability Pioneers newsletter here]
- Dianne’s Dishware — Sustainable Alternatives
- The Donora Smog Museum
- Dylan Weiss, author
- Green Mountain Energy
- The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh
- Moms Clean Air Force
- Pittsburgh Friends’ Meeting
- 350 Pittsburgh
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- The Ujamaa Collective
- PA IPL’s tables included
- at-cost sales of useful books
Drawdown by Paul Hawken
Pathways to Our Sustainable Future: A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh by Patricia deMarco (signed!)
The Point of Pittsburgh: Production and Struggle at the Forks of the Ohio by Charles McCollester (signed!)
- carbon offsets for conference travel
- PA IPL program slips, resource pages, and conversation
- at-cost sales of useful books
Program book ads also helped underwrite the conference, and lift up the work of friends and allies. Thank you.
PA IPL’s 2018 Annual Conference was in Pittsburgh, on Saturday, October 27th, across the river from Squirrel Hill. The terrible news broke just as the first people were arriving. Most people heard the news at the conference. We made space for prayers together, and songs and prayers already planned took on different significance.
Filmmaker Kirsi Jansa was there, and captured the audio from the song “Return Again” by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, led by Barb Ballenger, and sung by all present. She set the audio to scenes from the following hours and days. Despite what the screen below says, the video link will work well, it just will take you to Kirsi’s vimeo page.
The song followed a shared litany that had the repeated line “We have forgotten who we are.”
Comments by the president of the national IPL network, the Rev. Susan Hendershot, and some further reflection about connections can be found on our Facebook page, where you are welcome to join in the conversation.
At PA IPL’s 2014 Annual Conference, Climate Justice: Faith in Action the Rev. Rhetta Morgan of the Ecclesia Spiritual Center drew participants in to the sanctuary for the keynote session by beginning her music in the sanctuary at Summit Presbyterian Church. After a few announcements, she re-centered us and drew us close in Spirit for an excellent entry into our ably-moderated keynote panel. Following the panel, Rhetta again led us in inspiring and energizing song, sending us forth from the keynote to the rest of the workshops. Thanks to Peter Handler, you can get a taste of that here:
Prior to the workshops, participants enjoyed really fabulous refreshments from Weaver’s Way Co-op (with support from the Rock Ethics Institute), and fellowship and conversation with our Green Resources exhibitors.