How do you build sustainability action amongst members of your faith community? This was the topic of a networking meeting this past November 17th put on by Greening Sacred Spaces at Stanley Street Baptist Church.
With four speakers presenting the audience heard much to think about.
The evening kicked of with Environment Hamilton's Brenda Johnson who due to her efforts helped a Hamilton school reduce their waste from 94 bags down to 4 per month, explained that getting the janitor in your institution on board ('convincing the custodian') means including him or her in decision making. She also pointed out the importance on getting the kids involved as that sense of 'ownership' is a catalyst for promoting action.
Johnson insists that you take small steps; "Pick one thing otherwise you get overwhelmed,"she says.
Creating partnerships, pairing up with an event already going on, encouraging groups that rent from the faith community to be part of the greening efforts were other helpful tidbits of advice she offered.
Denise Neutel of Meadowlands Christian Reformed Church talked about the need to stay relevant to the community, to keep connected, maintain communication, using websites, list serv and email.
Again, the message was to really allow and encourage people to "do their thing," developing, in this way, that sense of commitment necessary to sustain sustainability.
Next came a delightful presentation by Chandal Kilgour and Dave da Silva from Cathedral High School's eco team.
The team started up when a dynamic teacher addressed the students personally about getting involved with creation protection.
There's a buzz going around now and everyone wants to be a part of it. Why? Because it is relevant and meaningful. And it's fun. From putting on a fashion show using recycled clothing to growing herbs,planting a garden and showing eco-films, these activities are speared headed by the students themselves.
Jody Van Dorp from Redeemer College wrapped up the evening by talking about the importance of leading by extension, "living it out for them."
Being told "you should" is not something that sits well with Dorp nor for most people. Rather, it is modeling why we care that works better for motivating long lasting stewardship.
Dorp suggests that we "spread love of God through Nature" by getting people outside more. "This creates love of Nature, " she enthuses.
After all, if you don't know it, don't love it, why would you fight to protect it?