Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revolution! The film screening.

Revolution is a film about changing the world.
In an effort to uncover the truth and find the secret to saving the ecosystems we depend on for survival, Rob Stewart  (Sharkwater) embarks on a life-threatening adventure. From the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea and deforestation in Madagascar to the largest and most destructive environmental project in history in Alberta, Canada, he reveals that all of our actions are interconnected and that environmental degradation, species loss, ocean acidification, pollution and food/water scarcity are reducing the Earth's ability to house humans.

How did this happen, and what will it take to change the course that humanity has set itself on?
Monday, Nov 18
Hamilton Central Library
55 York Blvd, Hamilton.
Wednesday, Nov 27
Burlington Central Library
2331 New St. Burlington.

Beatrice Ekoko bekoko@environmenthamilton.org

Doors open at 6.30pm. Film starts at 7pm.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Green Faith

I wrote this article a few years ago and thought I'd put it here. It was in Hamilton  Magazine:

Green Faith


By Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko     Illustration by Nancy Douglas
Listen. Church bells are pealing out “Joy to the World,” that joyous holiday standard. Now listen closer. They’re also ringing out a summons and a call to action. Faith organizations, long associated with the promise of the next world, are also grappling en masse with the environmental problems of this world. Worldwide demonstrations and interfaith summits in recent months have showcased the sort of in-it-to-win-it teamwork usually reserved for disaster movies, the kind where an alien invasion triggers world peace. It’s all leading up to the Copenhagen Climate talks in December. And the sound of bells? They’re alerting us that time is running out for a sustainable planetary future. 

Faith organizations are feeling the heat to take action. The Archbishop, the Pope, the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders are sayingwhat was said universally in all teachings long ago. Acting on behalf of our environment is a core part of being faithful stewards. The impact of their words is palpable. The Dalai Lama’s well-publicized anti-fur exhortations in 2005 – an environmental message couched in Buddhist teachings – jolted the Tibetan people awake. The message resulted in countless bonfires across Tibet, where the skins of endangered animals were burned by the tens of thousands. The country is now all but free of fur or fur-trimmed clothing, despite festive seasons that were once synonymous with ostentatious displays of animal skins. 

But it’s not just in sermons and faith teachings, but also in their institutional influence as property owners – by some estimates, faith communities control more than 7 percent of international financial investments, own between 7-8 percent of the planet’s habitable land, are somehow involved in half of the world’s schools – that organized religion is able to express its clout. There’s never been a more daunting time, a more exciting time to walk the talk. People of faith are in a unique position to change the way we think about our relationship to the planet.
“For a long time, many people took the ‘dominion’ edict of Genesis the wrong way, as opposed to ‘stewardship’,” says thoughtful and jovial Reverend Ted Vance of Millgrove United Church. “A lot of times religion’s influence can supersede countries, but this is a global problem, and it supersedes even religion… the entire planet needs to get involved in this if we’re going to survive. That message is frequently there on Sundays – we have to consider creation in all that we do. It has certainly come to the fore. We realize now that it’s not just dominion over the earth, that it’s stewardship over creation, where it’s now part of our 2006 creed A Song of Faith, which deals with living in harmony with the environment. We’re trying to be much more conscious and responsible in the church, just as we are at home.”

Reverend Vance notes that Mardi Tindal, the new Moderator of the United Church of Canada, is strongly geared toward environmental stewardship, so it’s likely to be a focus for the church in the coming years. “I am deeply committed to [a] right relationship with creation, in and beyond our faith community,” she said upon her election to the position. “I will be inviting the church to imagine new ways of caring for creation.”
Between prayers, meditations, petition signing, promoting eco-walks and marches, many are taking on a long-overdue activist role and making sure the call is not going unheeded.When a group of seven churches band together under the name of Eco Churches of West Hamilton (and the square but memorably poppy acronym ecoWHAM), you know that the spirit of change is blowing across our local communities too.

St. James Anglican in Dundas is one of these churches setting the pace. Sue Carson is one of the bell pullers who rang the church’s bells 350 times this past fall in support of a global campaign that would see carbon dioxide emissions come down from 390 parts per million (ppm) to a sustainable 350 ppm. In the past year alone, she has been responsible for organizing blue bin demonstrations, taken part in an energy audit of the church, contributed to plans for using non-toxic cleaning products and helped host two large and delicious “celebration of local foods” brunches.

The types of things she’s doing are reflective of a new kind of person of faith, though she herself admits to being an old hand at this. A self-proclaimed “ultimate green baby since the ’60s,” Carson’s own personal influence is far-reaching: “Our rector, Jim Sandilands told me I was the one who made him go get a rain-barrel to conserve water,” she laughs. 

Greening isn’t easy when you’re dealing with a congregation on the older side and often set in its ways. So it’s a welcome break when the young step up and lead their elders. The Youth Representatives of the Niagara Diocese (a group of 85 churches, of which St. James is one) put forward a motion at the 2007 Synod to ask that every Anglican church in the diocese be accountable for the amount of GHG it was emitting. Carson is part of the working group that came out of this process. The group, supervising a greening pilot project at nine churches, will be asking the other churches of the diocese to implement the accreditation program they’ve designed based on what they learn along the way.

“The whole thing is not rigid, but they'll be expected to do their best to fulfill some of the requirements over the next five years even if not all are completed,” explains Carson, who gracefully leads by example. “Not everybody is at the same level,” she allows. “As with walking the journey with Christ, we are at different stages. We have to give that respect. Besides, it’s just sensible: “Who can argue with the value of turning off the lights to save money?“
Saving money becomes particularly pressing when you could be using it for important programming rather than funnelling it into running an antiquated boiler and heating a drafty sanctuary.

Matt Xagoraris of Hamilton’s Melrose United Church is working on making changes. “It’s a moral imperative,” he insists. “There’s the idea that we walk into the ‘house of God’ where we’re supposed to be its stewards – yet look at all this waste and overconsumption.”

Stately Melrose proudly takes up a whole city block. Built in 1929 to house a thousand souls, it now receives about 150 on a regular Sunday. The standing joke? Back then, they didn’t need to heat the sanctuary because of all the bodies. 

“We believe in ministering to the community and setting an example,” Xagoraris says. “How can we do that if we ignore the building?” You often have to spend money to save money, but this is one faith group that’s exploring innovative ways to get around the problem. Calling on Greening Sacred Spaces Hamilton, a joint collaboration between Environment Hamilton and interfaith network Faith and the Common Good, the church was able to get assistance for an energy audit that qualifies them for government rebates after retrofits.

Looking to cut retrofitting costs further, they're bringing in a contractor who will provide a teaching environment as part of the deal that allows interested persons to learn skills in exchange for labour. “So it’s good for the community too,” Xagoraris exhorts.

Melrose prides itself on having a practical approach to programming events that are in alignment with what’s going on in the world. “We’re a hands-on ministry,“ Ian Brisbin, Chair of the Office Board, explains. “It’s one of the ways we stay relevant to the community, drawing in a remarkable diversity of age and participation.” Some activities include a monthly breakfast with speakers, regular film screenings and most recently a farmers’ market. Counting on the strength of the community and the kindness of its members, “You open the doors, set an environment so things can get done and people rise to the occasion.”
Just as often, the decision to do things differently is fiercely challenged. When the greening team at Denise Neutel’s church started thinking about building their new faith home using a geo-thermal system, architect, builder, congregation, virtually everybody questioned the idea. Opinions changed when naysayers saw the spectacular results. Completed in 2005 and the largest installation of its kind in North America, Meadowlands Christian Reform Church is heated and cooled entirely by geo-thermal energy, drawing its heating and cooling power directly from the Earth. You can’t get any closer to the Mother than that. Thanks to grants for building with alternative energy, they ended up spending only $4,000 more than a regular system (the system normally costs $60,000 more than a regular system). Sensor light switches, zero paper cups and plates and waterless urinals are the church’s other claims to green.

A congregation of largely young, first-generation Canadians, the frugality of their upbringing combined with their Reformed theology means they work hard at a challenge but know how to have fun too.

Winners of Greening Sacred Spaces’ friendly interfaith Worship Without Your Car competition this past summer, the church had the highest number of participants arriving to worship on bikes, on foot or carpooling. Future plans include planting a vegetable garden bound to draw the community closer.

“Reformed believers profess that God is in everything – God created the world and found it good. This means that the Divine is revealed in Nature,” Neutel explains. “Traditionally, the focus has been on love: how you feel. Our denomination has been caught up in the ‘me and God.’ This is really individualistic. With sustainability we have the opportunity to converge again.”
You can choose to see it as an evolution or a revolution, as does Faith and the Common Good’s Executive Director Ted Reeves, who says that “a paradigm shift is occurring of how we see ourselves in relationship to the Earth.” And while the Christian community makes up the majority in the movement, there are many more non-Christians joining in. Temples, gurdwaras and synagogues are actively greening their faith homes. Reeves’ plans for the future of FCG include to actively green about 10,000 places of worship across Canada by 2012. “From there the hope is that greening places of worship will have become the norm and the rest will green as a matter of course.”
From these examples we can draw hope. In the darkness of apocalyptic proclamations of disaster, they serve as a ray of light.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eco-Theatre: Oct 29th. Come one come all!

Local Food, Global Peace and the Green Sacred Spaces Awards 2013

Thanks to Kirsten Pedersen for writing this wonderful depiction of the evening:

Greening Sacred Spaces Awards and Celebrating World Food Day with a talk on Local Food, Global Peace. 
Kirsten Pedersen
On World Food Day 2013, Greening Sacred Spaces/Environment Hamilton and United Nations (Hamilton) invited the community to celebrate the presentations of the 2013 Green Sacred Spaces Awards and listen to a talk on Local Food, Global Peace by keynote speaker Hannah Renglich. 
I celebrated with many others listening to an engaging talk on international and local food issues and met the faces of people really doing great work for our community and food systems.  

The Green Sacred Spaces Awards 2013 were presented for outstanding leadership in greening public or sacred spaces.  The Awards were presented to the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton and Victory Gardens. The First Unitarian Church of Hamilton had a group of volunteers who have worked to incorporate native species in their organization’s gardens and help educate others about these species. Adding solar panels and improving CO2 emissions in the building, allowed the First Unitarian Church to be recognized as leaders in “greening” a sacred space.  
Hamilton Victory Gardens is an organization that converts urban spaces into productive gardens and engages volunteers in learning about food production. All of these recipients are such active people bettering our community and deserving of these award. 
Following the Awards came an informative entitled  Local Food, Global Peace: Connecting environment, health and security. The keynote speaker, Hannah Renglich, involved with Organic Food Co-operatives Network, and Peace Meal Projects, gave a thought provoking talk.  Renglich is quite knowledgeable and effective at engaging the audience in thinking about these ideas. We began with discussing the words Food and Global and interacting with others around us. Reinforcing the concept that food is a shared and universal experience.    
To engage the audience, Renglich, invited us to participate in a mindful-eating activity. If you have not participated in a mindfulness activity I suggest you to do so. I had done a mindful-eating activity before, but this was a new experience.   In our large group everyone was given raisins, only a small handful.  Most people held them in their hand, I received mine and after mindfully looking at them I plopped them in my mouth! I mindfully chewed and swallowed them, yummy, done. Then the activity began!  
As this mindfulness activity was taking place, it was a lesson for me in how unmindful we can be of the food we eat.  
Renglich lead us to consider the how the raisins grew, where did they come from? How many hands had been involved in getting them to us tonight? What was the soil like? Then when tasting the raisins, she discussed the sun and rain that grew these raisins, these are the taste of the sun, rain and soil. This appreciation for food, seen often around this time of year, reached a new level of appreciation for farming and our food system.
Seeing food as a cycle was a theme discussed by several of the speakers. Learning or knowing where food comes from, and then composting food and how farmers are directly connected to food as they replant into the soil.  As consumers, we are often so disconnected from food as a part of cycle. It is interesting to be reminded of this throughout the presentations, and to learn how others connected to food in its cycle.  

A panel of volunteers, responded to the questions and discussion points. Panelists included:  Alvaro Venturelli (Plan B Organics), Dave Carson (Hamilton Food Charter), Lesley Davis (Hamilton Regional Indian Centre), Graham Cubbit (Mustard Seed Food Co-operative), Karen Burson (Environment Hamilton).  Each informed us of their missions and how they related to Local food, Global peace. 
Great things are happening here in Hamilton around food and our food system. Discussions like this open the conversation, so that we consider how local food can be accessible and affordable to the many in need here. It identifies what organizations are out there doing and where future needs might be met. Finally, many of these organizations want to be self-reliant, depending less on government funding and more on an accessible and affordable food system.     
This really was a  'food- for-thought'  event.  Terms, new to me, were discussed such as: food security, food sovereignty, food deserts etc. And I discovered the City of Hamilton is developing a Food Charter. All these concepts and organizations are vague to me, yet interesting to learn more about. I picked up a resource page, listing Web-sites, Films and Books lots to learn on the topic of food which is too often taken for granted. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nurturing our Youth (United Church Observer).

Greening Sacred Spaces in the News!!

Hamilton Spectator
Bill Johnston a member of the Unitarian Church on Dundurn Street,with some of the trees have been planted around the church to help green the environment.Bill Johnston, a member of the Unitarian Church on Dundurn Street, kneels in one of the gardens that the church has planted around its building to green the church environment. The church has earned one of this year’s Greening Sacred Spaces awards for its efforts in promoting environmental sustainability.Bill Johnston a member of the Unitarian Church on Dundurn Street, in one of the gardens that the church has planted around their building to green their church environment.
First Unitarian Church of Hamilton board member Bill Johnston is modest when speaking about the Dundurn Street church's efforts to become a greener place of worship.
"We aren't unique. Are we greener than any other church community? I doubt it," Johnston said. "But we've never had any particular problem when we do promote things that we do."
However, First Unitarian has become a standout among several local religious communities on a mission to get green.
It has earned one of this year's Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) awards for its efforts in promoting environmental sustainability.
Hamilton Victory Gardens is also being recognized for its seven community gardens, which give produce to local food banks.
Johnston's church is part of Faith and the Common Good, an interfaith network of religious communities formed in 2008.
The network is behind GSS, a provincewide program dedicated to helping faith groups get green. Locally, the funds for the program are dispersed through Environment Hamilton.
First Unitarian has taken several steps to update its building and make it more energy efficient.
The original flat roof was converted into a peaked shape and insulated. Reused fluorescent lighting was replaced.
Dropped ceilings were installed and walls were insulated.
Last April, it installed 10 kilowatts of solar panels.
"We decided we would only put up solar panels if people donated the money to pay for them. We raised a little shy of $45,000 to do that in a month," said Johnston, a former editor at The Hamilton Spectator.
Now, they're in the middle of a naturalization project in the church gardens.
Beatrice Ekoko is the project facilitator for GSS and says faith-based organizations get involved in many ways, from energy conservation, solar projects and growing food to using green cleaning products.
"Basically, the idea is to reflect your faith in a more sustainable way," Ekoko said.
"You'll find that almost every philosophy and faith teaches people that they should respect and take care of the Earth."
Transportation is a hot topic and, over the weekend, GSS put on its Get to Worship Without Your Car challenge. Ekoko thought it would be a fun way to encourage churchgoers to find ways to travel to centres of worship other than driving.
While many religious communities' green efforts are relatively recent, some have been around for decades.
Loueen Madill is the chairperson of SAGE, the Study and Action Group for the Environment, at Westdale United Church. More than 20 years ago, it started an organic garden that is still growing strong. All of its crops go to local food banks.
It uses a composter, a rain barrel and offers bicycle racks for parishioners. The church also installed sensor lighting and low-flow toilets. It raised money to purchase a commercial dishwasher that doesn't use as much power and, two years ago, installed solar panels on the roof. It also uses green cleaning and personal care products.
"The United Church has put into their mission statement … a line about caring for creation. For us, it's the responsibility, the stewardship of creation around us, what we've been given and our care for that," said Madill.
Westdale United also belongs to the Eco Churches of West Hamilton, a group started about four years ago to support its member churches through brainstorming, workshops and discussions.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Labyrinths: Mediation Gardens

 We have begun to explore the possibilities of creating labyrinth gardens with Martyn Kendrick who happens to be a local Hamilton artist interested in working with your faith community or secular groups to build these within our city.
Kendrick is a member of Culture of Peace Hamilton and is available to meet with you to discuss opportunities.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Opportunities for your faith group

Get to Worship Without Your Car Challenge
Win Prizes!!

Traveling green is an important way we can be stewards of our planet.
Over the weekend of September 20th, 21st and 22nd, Greening Sacred Spaces Hamilton invites people of all faiths to travel to worship that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on foot, by bike, by public transit or carpool. Your faith group will be competing against other Hamilton faith groups for a chance to win prizes (TBA).The groups with the highest percentage of participants get the prizes.
Register your place of worship to participate and promote active transportation by emailing Beatrice at bekoko@faith-commongood.net or by calling Environment Hamilton at 905 549 0900. Once you register participants from your group can join your team.  Be part of the fun while promoting active transportation.
Let’s celebrate 'a greener way to worship' together!
Challenge requirement-We will need to know the number of people who attended the service and the number of people who took the challenge in order to calculate a percentage.

Free:'Do the Math' Screenings 
 Host your own DO the Math Screening.
The movie tells the story of the rising movement to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis and fight the fossil fuel industry.
Watch the Trailer. Ready to start a campaign?

The divestment from fossil fuel campaign is up and running at many University and Colleges across North America, including McMaster and Mohawk. Several religious institutions and municipalities have already divested their funds from these rogue industries. We're welcoming Hamilton religious institutions and other organizations to join us.  Do the Math, and an excellent introduction of why divestment is so important. We will work with your group to organize a free screening. If you are interested or have any questions please contact elysia@gofossilfree.ca
McMaster Centre for Climate Change: Get your project on the map!
Climate change is a global problem but to understand it we need to start locally. Here in Hamilton, people across the city are taking action against climate change in creative ways and we want to know about it.   Some people are noticing the impacts of climate change and we want to know about that too.  Help us put climate change on the map by participating in LEARN-CC. 
What is LEARN-CC?
LEARN-CC (the Local Education and Action Resource Network on Climate Change) is a tool that allows members of the Hamilton community to report actions they are taking to help limit climate change as  well the local impacts of climate change that they have noticed.  To add your project visit:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meditation workshop: June 17th, 2013

Here we are: all learning about quietening our chattering minds!
Unfiltered Facts Kids meditate before exams.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do the Meditation.

Still that chattering mind.


It will introduce participants to both the philosophy and practice of mediation.
The workshop includes on overview of the history of mediation. Participants are led through two meditation 'sits'.

Monday, June 17th.
Environment Hamilton office - 22 Wilson Street in the Sonic Unyon Records building.

Instructor is Kelly Hilton of KSH Meditation.

This event is  hosted by Greening Sacred Spaces and Environment Hamilton and is free for EH members.
$8 for non-members.

Space is limited.
To RSVP, contact Beatrice at bekoko@environmenthamilton.org

Please bring your own pillow or mat.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Powerful! Energy for Everyone: Screenings

Ngen Youth learning about jobs in the renewable energy sector with Ivan Sverko (Mohawk College).
Thanks to both the Laidlaw United Church (May 1) and New Generation Youth Centre (May 24th) for hosting HARE and Greening Sacred Spaces and the movie, Powerful: Energy for Everyone! We hope everyone who came to the event enjoyed themselves and learned a bit more about renewable energy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Film Screening: Do the Math.

Just so you know:

The divestment from fossil fuel campaign is up and running at many University and Colleges across North America, including McMaster and Mohawk. Several religious institutions and municipalities have already divested their funds from these rogue industries. We're welcoming Hamilton religious institutions and other organizations to join us.
Do the Math, and an excellent introduction of why divestment is so important. We will work with your group to organize a free screening. If you are interested or have any questions please contact elysia@gofossilfree.ca.
Watch the Trailer. Ready to start a campaign?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Movie Screening: Friday 24th, May.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Call for GSS Awards Application and Nomination. Due June 15th. 2013.

The Greening Sacred Space Awards recognizes the contributions of faith communities who demonstrate commitment in the care of the environment through action.

These awards provide a way for people from diverse faith traditions to come together in common humanity with the shared purpose of affirming and celebrating those who lead the way for all of us in stewardship.
 We want to know if your faith community has been involved in any greening initiatives! Send in a short description (word or .pdf) stating what your community has done to increase sustainability in your place of worship. The awards take the following areas of greening into consideration:

  1. Spirituality and Worship: Prayers and actions concerning Creation, environmental stewardship, social justice, and human rights
  2. Sacred Space, Grounds, and Activities: An earth-friendly policy that may include recycling, re-using, energy efficiency initiatives, water efficiency, building improvements, etc.
  3. The Wider Community:  Support stewardship (i.e. tree planting or clean-up events, encourage sustainable transportation, host environmentally themed  workshops, clubs, or presentations) and social justice (i.e. food security) issues. Send in pictures of your environmental initiatives, building, and/or community events and they will be included in a recognition slide show during the ceremony (Date TBA in July).
  4. An application is available for those interested. Please email Beatrice at beatrice.ekoko@gmail.com or bekoko@enviromenthamilton.org.
NOTE. 2012 winners were:
Melrose United Church earned a Green Sacred Spaces Award of Excellence for their work in conducting an energy audit, retrofitting with energy efficient compact fluorescent lighting, upgrading weatherstripping, and initiating a rooftop solar panel project.
Grace Lutheran was honoured with a Green Sacred Spaces Award of Excellence for their work hosting the Good Food Box program, growing a community garden, planting fruit trees, naturalization of the property and hosting a wonderful food fair featuring over 10 local food initiatives.
Grace Lutheran has completed an energy audit, basic retrofitting and upgrading of boiler and is exploring the possibility of going solar. Congregants are encouraged to take environmental messages home through weekly e-bulletins and e-newsletters. Grace Lutheran Church partners with various environmental organizations and the Victory Gardens Hamilton group.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Anglican Youth Synod: Day of Action. May 04. 2013.

Our day began with a question: What is eco-justice? Youth were invited to draw or write down in words their ideas on large pieces of paper. Everyone got a chance to tell the group what their drawings/thoughts were about.  One youth made the following comment (which I love): 
"Eco-justice is using the environment in a good way. It is allowing the space provided to be used fairly." Amen. 
This exercise was then followed by a powerpoint presentation on eco-justice where I was able to share some examples of Hamilton area environmental justice initiatives—specifically the work Environment Hamilton is doing in the community.
About to begin our work! Say 'weed.'
We then headed over to the Hamilton Victory Gardens  where we worked at the site (one of six gardens and expanding!) for a couple hours, pulling out rye weed that had been planted last year in order to renew the soil. HVG is a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty and food insecurity in our community of Hamilton, Ontario through urban agriculture. It is completely volunteer run!!! Volunteers grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and hot meal programs, transforming empty city lots into spaces of community, education, and growth.
Digging out rye weed at the Hamilton
 Victory Gardens.
A quick lunch before moving on to the Bike

After a quick lunch, we hopped on the bus and rode down to New Hope Community Bikes.
We learned about the origins of the initiative, starting of as an project  of New Hope Church. Here is their mission statement (which is brilliant by the way):
As a non-profit, social enterprise we seek to get more people on affordable, reliable bicycles and provide employment and job training opportunites for youth. We believe bicycles can help build a healthier, more environmentally friendly community and that everyone should have access to affordable, efficient transportation. We build and restore bikes to a variety of price points and rider specifications, offering everything from cheap winter commuters to unique one of a kind custom bikes. 

Our group then learned from a mere 13 year old—the competent Brett about how to dismantle an old bike to recycle still useful parts (keeping bikes out of landfills is a good thing people).
Here we are at the New Hope Community Bikes

Here's 13 year old Brett, a member of Community Bikes and already a wealth of knowledge!

Some of our team decided that they would rather paint the future home of Community Bikes (conveniently located across the street from the current location) and that's what they did!

Helping with the renovations at the new Community Bike location!

We then returned to the Cathedral where I handed out flyers with links to more eco-justice action and some fun swag to take home.  All in all, a satisfying day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

I AM: The film Screening on Earth Day. April 22nd.

Another wonderful Earth Day event!  In partnership with Hamilton Pubic Library, KAIROS,  A Tiny Shift, Environment Hamilton, IDEA Burlington and Hamilton 350, GSS screened the movie I AM (A life altering documentary). 
In the film, our guide Tom Shadyac (Director of Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, Pet Detective) confronts the most serious crisis humanity faces and reveals transformative solutions. Asking the questions "What's wrong with the world?" and "What can we do to fix it?", Shadyac interviewed scholars, scientists, authors, activists,and spiritual teachers who disclose truths about ourselves that prove that prove that we have the power to change and transform our lives and the world around us.

The film was followed by a presentation by Don Mclean of Hamilton 350 on the pipeline 9 reversal situation and the ecological upheaval and destruction it will cause if allowed to pass through Hamilton and other communities. Attendees were invited to take action.

Missa Gaia Choir, April 21st: A treat!

It was really enjoyable to celebrate Earth day with the Missa Gaia choir.
Westdale United Church and Greening Sacred Spaces hosted the singers to a church full of music and Earth lovers.
Thanks to Grant Linney for bringing the massive Earth Ball to the event. It was a beautiful visual representation of our dear home planet; a reminder that there really are no borders and that what is needed is a shift in the way we think and relate to each other and the non human life on Mother Earth.

Living with Toxins talk: April 19th. Youth make their own make-up: April 15th.

What an eye opening talk last Friday 19th at St. James Anglican church in Dundas!  Eco Churches of West Hamilton (Eco-WHAM) and Greening Sacred Spaces Hamilton brought in Maggie MacDonald from Environmental Defense to speak about the toxic content of most cosmetics.

Toxic Nation - Pollution. It's in You.

Maggie is a fantastic speaker: clear, engaging and entertaining. Let me tell you; I went home and dumped out all my moisturizer and makeup (not hard to do since I don't have much).
From now on, it's go toxic free or nothing. It's expensive to buy natural care products and that is why I was excited that the youth group at Hughson St. Baptist church got to make their own make up-coached by the talented and skilled Amina Suhrwardy. Here's what Melissa, the youth leader has to say about the workshop that took place on April 15th:

I run a program in the North End of Hamilton that provides mentorship for high school aged girls.  Last week we had Amina come in to teach the 20 girls how to make their own all-natural make-up and makeup remover.  It was an awesome opportunity to show the girls how to take care of their skin with the products that they use.  Amina kept the group interested, and all of the hands-on activities and opportunities to experiment with colors and elements like zinc and clay was so much fun!  It was definitely a treat to participate in the fun!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Nourishing Hamilton Fair April 14th, 2013: What they said.

Vendors had the following comments to say:
"I got to talk to quite a few interesting people (both vendors and attendees) and I think I may have recruited a few new members for my produce co-op (one has already emailed me to join), so quite a productive afternoon."
 "We had a great time and did some good networking and also meeting folks we already know. Nice that it rotates through the churches." 
"Thank you.  I found it worthwhile and enjoyed speaking with others.It was well run. Persons and families enjoyed the displays. Many handouts disappeared and there were non-stop questions. A very good thing. I would participate again and if you need a facility in the Hamilton  east end, Faith Lutheran church could be an option."
 "I'm wondering if the faith group members of Greening Sacred Spaces would consider having their youth groups as the presenters. By all means we "seniors" would educate/coach/mentor the young people to help them prepare for the event. I think it would also be helpful to attract younger people by having some form of live music. Perhaps a number of younger kids with the chance to sing or play their instrument would bring in their parents?
Another thought could be timing your event with the actual construction of a garden on the property of one of the members of Greening Sacred Spaces. I think it might be more attractive to people if they could see "hands on" what the people in the booths are talking about."
"Thank you for inviting us. We had several great conversations with people who share a similar passion with us to nourish people in a healthy way and make use of what is produced in our communities."

"Thank you for hosting Sprout Camp at the Nourishing Hamilton Fair; it was also great. It was a interactive, enjoyable afternoon. It would be nice to do the workshop again sometime." 

Nourishing Hamilton Fair: April 14th, 2013

Greening Sacred Spaces' 'Nourishing Hamilton Fair: Food, Faith and Justice' has become a yearly tradition in Hamilton. In it's third year, individuals, groups and organizations come together under one roof and offer the larger community an opportunity to learn about local food security initiatives that are working to ensure a stronger food system for our community. 

We were thrilled to feature community and school gardens including Westdale Secondary School's community garden and the Hamilton Victory Gardens. Other groups present included The Mustard Seed Co-operative, West Hamilton Food Co-operative, Ontario Christian Gleaners, Seeds of Diversity and more. Attendees learned about City of Hamilton's food security action and the developing of a Food Charter for our city.  They had the opportunity to ask questions about composting and green binning. 

Youngsters got their hands dirty at Camp Sprout's container gardening demonstration. 
A youth group from St. Marks Orthodox Church organized a 'scavenger hunt' where the youth went around the two rooms and answered pre-written questions concerning the various booths.  
This year, the event was hosted at Southgate Presbyterian Church.