Trees, Justice, and Faithful Learning

Bill Hemmerling, Friendship Trees

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.
                                —Wendell Berry

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.

image source

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”

intro   week 1   week 2   week 3   week 4
week 5  week 6  week 7  week 8

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. 

DECEMBER Sustained Advocacy Policy Update call

Email for call info. 

These calls are scheduled monthly, and are a chance to develop and maintain a base of knowledge about current  and emerging climate policy and legislation, municipal through federal, with a focus on important issues and/or roles for Pennsylvanians and moral, ethical, and faith-rooted messages.  More.

The calls are open to people at any stage of advocacy and policy involvement.  We begin and end with a short meditation, reflection, prayer or centering breath, and include both reports and discussion.  We will identify and/or choose a limited number of key actions for each month.

The resources that support this call come from and through a variety of sources: IPL national, the Washington Inter-religious Staff Community and connected organizations, the US Climate Action Network, and PennFuture.

4th Thursdays, 12:30-1:30
Calls can be made from your phone or computer.  The only charges are your normal charges for call or internet service.  There are no additional charges.

WEBINAR: An Introduction to Community Solar in Pennsylvania: Harnessing Sunshine to Lower Bills and Build a Brighter Future

Learn how you and your religious institution can benefit from community solar

September 20, 2018 7:00 p.m.

REGISTER HERE
get a flier to print and share

This event is free and open to the public.

Have an unavoidable conflict?  Register!  (Registrants can access a recorded version of the webinar to listen to (and view) later.)
Note: this webinar is specifically crafted for Pennsylvania. If you are part of our beyond-PA network, email us and we’ll find out if there might be a webinar in your state soon.

Affordable solar energy is giving families, churches, schools and many others a way to lower energy bills while serving the common good and being good stewards of the earth. However, rooftop solar simply isn’t an option for the majority of consumers who want it – families who rent, have shaded rooftops, or don’t qualify for standard financing solutions, for example. Community solar gives consumers like these a way to go solar, whether or not they own a suitable roof of their own.

Join us for a free webinar to learn more about what community solar is, examples of how it’s working around the country today, and ways that you can get involved in expanding solar opportunities for you and your community.

Agenda:

  • Introduction and welcoming remarks from co-hosts
  • Community solar 101
  • Expanding solar access to all, including low-income customers and faith based-organizations
  • Community solar barriers and opportunities in Pennsylvania
  • Audience Q & A
  • Next steps and ways to get involved

Presenters:

  • Pari Kasotia, Mid-Atlantic Director, Vote Solar
  • Marta Tomic, Community Solar Program Director, Vote Solar
  • Melanie Santiago-Mosier, Access and Equity Program Director, Vote Solar

REGISTER (free)

Hosts:

The Pennsylvania Council of Churches is a voluntary association of Christian churches in Pennsylvania. Through the Public Witness Ministry, we empower people of faith, through education and skill-building, to make a difference for the common good in the public square, and advocate on behalf of the Council’s member church bodies before Pennsylvania’s legislative and administrative branches of government.

United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania educates and empowers United Methodists to engage legislators and other state officials on social and governmental policy issues, as well as being a vehicle for that engagement. Furthermore, United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania collaborates with other faith-based advocacy networks.

Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania (LAMPa) is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and serves as a State Public Policy Office of the ELCA. In response to God’s love in Jesus Christ, LAMPa advocates for wise and just policies in Pennsylvania that promote the common good. LAMPa’s vision is centered in the ELCA strategic direction to “Step forward as a public church that witnesses boldly to God’s love for all that God has created.”

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL) is a network of individuals and faith communities responding to climate change in a variety of ways, practical and prayerful.   We work from a place of active hope, engaging our gifts as we seek to live as better citizens of our Common Home. PA IPL’s work includes a Sustained Advocacy initiative, which supports individuals engaging with their lawmakers and civic leaders in conversation about clean energy, just transition, and care for people and planet.

Vote Solar is a national, non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization with a mission to make solar a mainstream energy source. We aim to foster economic opportunity and support a cleaner, healthier environment by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Vote Solar is not a trade group and does not have corporate members. Since 2002, Vote Solar has worked in states all across the country to remove market barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale.

REGISTER (free)

 

 

 

 

WEBINAR—public voices, public witness PA IPL’s Town Hall Toolkit

As those on our email list know, PA IPL has adapted an expanded a PA IPL Town Hall Toolkit to help you

  • ask for Town Halls
  • register for Town Halls
  • attend Town Halls (whether or not you plan to speak)
  • create questions that build relationships – and put the legislator and the constituent on the same side of the desk, facing the problem.

There are even

  • prayers to use before and afterwards
  • questions for debriefing with other climate-focused attendees.

Join Chelsea Jackson, project coordinator, on this phone call to meet her, click through a few highlights of the Toolkit, and even brainstorm or practice.

Friday, August 25th, noon-1:00
OR
Monday, August 28th 7:00-8:00 PM

Use the links above to email Chelsea and let her know which call you’d like to be on.  She’ll send you information to connect via phone or computer.

WEBINAR—public voices, public witness PA IPL’s Town Hall Toolkit

As those on our email list know, PA IPL has adapted an expanded a PA IPL Town Hall Toolkit to help you

  • ask for Town Halls
  • register for Town Halls
  • attend Town Halls (whether or not you plan to speak)
  • create questions that build relationships – and put the legislator and the constituent on the same side of the desk, facing the problem.

There are even

  • prayers to use before and afterwards
  • questions for debriefing with other climate-focused attendees.

Join Chelsea Jackson, project coordinator, on this phone call to meet her, click through a few highlights of the Toolkit, and even brainstorm or practice.

Friday, August 25th, noon-1:00
OR
Monday, August 28th 7:00-8:00 PM

Use the links above to email Chelsea and let her know which call you’d like to be on.  She’ll send you information to connect via phone or computer.

Discernment WEBINAR with Eileen Flanagan: We Were Made for this Moment

This is an independent offering that we think will be timely and useful for many members of PA IPL.  Eileen Flanagan is a longtime member and friend of PA IPL, whose climate activism is deeply rooted in her spiritual practices and calling.

EileenFlanagan.jpgIn Eileen’s own words, from her webinar page

In this time of tumult, fear, and hatred, the world needs the gifts that you were born to share. You may not be sure where to use them. You may not know how to use them to greatest effect, or even if you can make a difference at all, but you know you need to do something to work for a more just and loving world. You are not alone! The purpose of this online course is to help you to meet this moment.

What is unique about this course is that it will blend three types of teaching: social change theory, spiritual discernment, and personal empowerment. For example, you will learn about different social change roles and what makes them effective. Then you will practice the tools of inward listening to access the wisdom already within you about what role you are meant to play. Finally, you will explore what gets you stuck and learn tools to help you take action even when you are afraid. These three types of teaching will be woven together, accessing our hearts, minds, and spirits for the work of creating a more just and sustainable world. Recordings of the class sessions will be available in case you can’t make every one.

BiYlsVSIMAAy9l0This course will begin Sunday February 12 and take place from 7:30 until 9:00pm EST each Sunday evening through March 5. It costs $99 for four weeks, $79 if you register by January 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) or if you recruit a friend to take the course with you. (The discount goes to the person who did the recruiting and is on the honor system).