S&L – Issue 4
Salt and Light
Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter
“We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”
Matthew 5:13-16: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
The aim of this Newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator – Jessica Morthorpe.
l Letter from the Editor
l Update on Five Leaf
l Current Issues
l A Stirring of Hope
l Monthly Action Tips
l Volunteers wanted!
l Call for submissions
Letter from the Editor:
Greetings everyone, I hope this newsletter finds you all well.
It is Melbourne’s turn! This month I will be holding a series of events in Melbournewhile on a work trip in the city from the 4th – 19th of July. There will be a Five Leaf Eco-Awards Information Session held on the 16th of July and I will be hosting a workshop and speaking at the Students of Sustainability conference this week.
In news at the moment we have the sad tale of over forty endangered lungfish killed by water spills from the North Pine Dam last month. Scientists are outraged by the loss of these incredible creatures. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25737856-30417,00.html
Orangutans have also taken a step closer to extinction with the announcement of plans by one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies to log large tracts of their habitat in Sumatra. It is sad to think that next time you use some generic copy paper, paper cups or tissues you could be helping Orangutans become extinct within a decade. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/paper-plan-threatens-orangutan-survival-20090703-d7sp.html
In more bad news, the NSW Animal Research Review Panel report has found that one animal is killed per hour in NSW testing for new medicines and cosmetic products. An additional 16,000 were subjected to a moderate or large degree of pain/distress. These figures have gone up, despite a three year campaign for the use of animal testing alternatives. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,27574,25725635-5006009,00.html
Mixed news from Victoria as the Upper House vote on the solar feed-in tariff legislation has improved the proposal, increasing the size of eligible systems to up to 5 kilowatts and allowing community buildings and small businesses to participate, but environmental groups are saying it is not enough, and calling for a gross feed-in tariff to strengthen the growth of solar power in Australia and lead where Canberra has backpedalled.
In better news, the breeding program for critically endangered Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is going well, with three new babies being born.
Update on Five Leaf
Five Leaf has made some exciting progress in the last month. The Basic Certificate Information and Equipping Workshop inCanberrawent very well, and we would like to thank all who participated, and the community of O’Connor Uniting Church for hosting the event.
Since the workshop Five Leaf founder Jessica Morthorpe has received several exciting speaking invitations. Expect to hear a lot more from her in the coming months.
Five Leaf Eco-Awards Information Session: Thursday 16th of July
10:30am – 11:30 am
Uniting Church Synod ofVictoriaandTasmaniaOffices, Room G3
130 LittleCollins Street,Melbourne
Do you care about the environment?
Does your church care about the environment?
Then become a part of the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program.
The Five Leaf Eco-Awards are an ecumenical environmental change program for churches. It provides incentives for churches to green their buildings, worship, congregation, outreach and church life. They can walk your church through the process, providing information, support and resources on your church greening journey.
Find out all you need to know to get your church involved at this information session.
Melbourne Screening: A Sea Change – Imagine a world without fish
The Australian Marine Conservation Society is thrilled to invite you to a charity screening inMelbourneof a film that is changing life in our oceans. Join AMCS Melbourne and guest speaker for a fundraising screening of A Sea Change.
A Sea Change is the first high profile global documentary about ocean acidification. It follows the journey of retired history teacher Sven Huseby on his quest to discover what is happening to the world’s oceans.
A Sea Change is both a personal journey and a scientifically rigorous, sometimes humorous, and unflinchingly honest look at the reality of what’s happening beneath the waves.
All funds raised will go towards protecting our precious ocean wildlife.
When: Monday 20th July, 2009
Time: 6pm for a 6:15pm start
Where: Hoyts Cinema,MelbourneCentral,Swanston St
Cost: $25 ea (no concessions).
All proceeds from the night will help protectAustralia’s precious ocean wildlife.
Bookings call 1800 066 299
Seating is limited – be quick!
Other states coming soon!
Friends of Mt Painter / Friends of Aranda Bushland Joint Work Party – 11 July
WHO: Friends of Mt Painter are holding a joint work party with Friends of Aranda Bushland
WHEN: Saturday, 11 July from 10am – 1pm
WHERE: In the strip of Red Gums south of theCommunityGardenon the west side ofBindubi Street
MEET: Enter the Red Gum strip at the stile near theCommunityGardenentrance
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING? Cutting out and poisoning woody weeds, especially hawthorns
BRING: Warm clothes, water, and tough gloves if you have some – hawthorns have thorns! Other equipment will be provided
ACT Waterwatch School Holiday Program – July 2009
For Primary School Kids:
There are things in your water: creepy, crawly, wiggly other worldly things!
Meet creatures that breathe through their bums, are fiercer than lions, more delicate than snowflakes, and masters of disguise. Discover the mini-monsters living in your neighbourhood, get up close and personal and learn what these beasts can tell us about their world and ours.
Adventurers aged 7-10 can embark on a watery safari on 6 July setting off from Unit 13 Cassidy’sArcadein Queanbeyan (located behind the Q, next to the Queanbeyan City Council Chambers).
Gathering at 9 am this free all-day program will lead young explorers in adventures along our local waterways with science, arts, games and crafts.
Adventurers must be booked in advance by contacting the ACT Waterwatch Facilitator, Tanya Noakes at 6207 2246 or emailing email@example.com by COB on 3 July
Be sure to read the boring but important stuff for parents/guardians on the flyer. Download flyer
For Secondary School Students:
ACT Waterwatch Seeks Student Activists for Winter Holiday Program
Students aged 12 and over are invited to join Waterwatch stencilling urban stormwater drains.
The free program will run from 1 – 4pm on Wednesday 15 July starting and finishing atUrambiPrimary Schoolin Kambah.
Students will need to wear old but warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes.
Bring a drink, a hat and some afternoon tea!
Book in advance by contacting the ACT Waterwatch Facilitator, Tanya Noakes at 6207 2246 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by COB on 13 July
Be sure to read the boring but important stuff for parents / guardians on the flyer. Download flyer
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BECOME INVOLVED IN ANY ACTIVITIES MENTIONED ABOVE OR IN THE GINNINDERRA CATCHMENT PLEASE EMAIL LANDCARE@GINNINDERRALANDCARE.ORG.AU AND WE WILL PUT YOU IN CONTACT WITH THE GROUP(S).
ANBG Lunchtime Talks (12:30 – 1:30 pm, Thursdays, February to November)
The Australian National Botanic Garden Lunchtime talks are held every Thursday in the Theatrette.
For more information, please see the ANBG website at http://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/index.html.
The Nature & Society Forum – 15 July
New Community-based approaches to sustainability in our region:
In this talk local activist and community mobiliser Cindy Eiritz will outline the diverse range of sustainability initiatives emerging from concerned citizens in our region. She will discuss how these groups can learn from each other and co-operate while still retaining the distinct features and missions which have been at the core of their success. We are inviting representatives from a number of these groups to this meeting to share with us their successes and their visions for the future.
NSF meetings are held at CSIRO Discovery’s theatre at 7.30pm.
Conservation Council’s Gungahlin Heritage Competition
Please support the launch of our Gungahlin’s Treasures Booklet by entering our creative competition.
First choose a natural or cultural heritage site in Gungahlin, then create a painting, drawing, sculpture, writing piece or anything creative to show how you respond to your chosen site.
Prizes range from a $50 Gift Voucher for Yarralumla Nursery to vouchers for businesses inGoldCreekVillage.
Please see attached document for more details.
Bike Ride with a Ranger
Come and enjoy a scenic bike ride led by a ranger through Mulligans Flat.
When: Sunday 26 July
Time: 1pm – 3:30pm
Where: Mulligans Flat Carpark
Bring: Bike, helmet, water
ACT otherWISE sustainability workshops
“Come and be part of our next workshop series”
Start Time: Wednesday, August 5 at 6:00pm
End Time: Wednesday, August 19 at 9:00pm
Where: Griffin Centre, meeting room 7
To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:
‘Electric Vehicles: here now’
This is the theme of National Electric Vehicle Festival to be held inCanberraon the 4th of October, from 9am to 4pm – near Old Parliament House.
The Festival is hosted by the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA). There will be vehicles old and the new, including: a 1917 Detroit Electric and an ultra-new Tesla Roadster electric super car. Come and see it zipping down the road. Of course there will be old and new production and converted cars and bikes on display, stands, displays, fun for the kids – and lots, lots more.
Walk through Goorooyarroo
Come join a walking group for a brisk stroll through Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve (Mulligans Flat ‘s neighbour!). Ranger Grant will take us through the park giving us an opportunity to learn more of the less talked about, but equally important, nature reserve.
When: Sunday 9th August
Time: 10am – 12pm
Where: Meet at “The Rocks” carpark, offHorse Park Drive(not too far from theFederal Highway)
Sustainable Living Workshops
The Conservation Council in conjunction with Forde is hosting a series of Sustainable Living Workshops.
The next workshop will be “An Introduction to Bird Watching”.
Workshop When Venue
Intro to Bird Watching September 19, afternoon Mulligans Flat Trailhead
Cycling Workshop December 5, 10am – 1pm HeritagePark
All workshops are FREE
To register phone 6229 3204 or email email@example.com
Act now to avoid climate poverty: Oxfam
Oxfam says climate-related hunger will become a problem around the world if there is not immediate work to deal with environmental issues.
The organisation has released a new report on the issue today.
The report found that in some regions, seasons have changed and generations of people with farming experience are facing failed harvests.
Oxfam spokeswoman Julianne Richards says climate change is adding to poverty.
“Without urgent action, climate change could reverse 50 years of work to end poverty,” she said.
“Without urgent action to reduce our emissions, climate-related hunger could be the defining human tragedy of this century.”
Ms Richards says farmers in many poor communities can no longer trust the weather.
“They don’t know when to plant their crops, or what crops to plant, and they’re losing crop after crop,” she said.
“As a result, thousands of communities are facing hunger and destitution already.”
OxfamAustraliaexecutive director Andrew Hewett called climate change the “central poverty issue of our time”.
“Climate change is happening today and the world’s poorest people, who already face a daily struggle to survive, are being hit hardest,” he said in a statement.
“The evidence is clear – the human cost of climate change is as real as any redundancy or repossession notice.”
Mr Hewett called for the Federal Government to show leadership in delivering a “fair and safe global deal” to tackle climate change.
“Australiamust show leadership at the UN climate negotiations and contribute to a global climate deal which has the needs of the world’s poorest people at its heart,” he said.
A Stirring of Hope
Bright idea puts paid to power bills
Valuable sunlight … solar power cells earned the Mosman house a $10 energy credit. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
July 5, 2009
AS ENERGY bills rise by 20 per cent, meet the man who pays nothing for electricity to power his four-bedroom house.
Warren Yates even managed to score a $10 credit from EnergyAustralia for selling electricity back to the grid – he is believed to be the only person in NSW to have done so – after covering his roof with a three-kilowatt solar power system.
While average households will spend an extra $182 a year on electricity bills after last Wednesday’s price rise, the Yates family home in Mosman creates more energy than it consumes.
When domestic solar feed-in tariff rates rise from 27 cents for every kilowatt hour not used, to a predicted 60 cents next January, Mr Yates estimates he will earn more money from electricity providers.
“I have become an energy geek,” the 65-year-old engineering academic said. “I bought an appliance that measures how much electricity each appliance consumes so we can work out the most effective things to do for the least cost. It’s become a game to minimise energy use without sacrificing comfort.”
Mr Yates spent $30,000 installing the 18 solar panels, but he managed to claim $8000 back through the Howard government’s solar power rebate scheme.
“At first, we weren’t self-sufficient; it took us a while to get our energy consumption down,” he said.
Turning off the family computers overnight, running the dishwasher every couple of days and refusing to turn on the heating “unless we have visitors” were some of the tactics the family used to reduce consumption.
Most domestic solar electricity systems are only one or 1.5 kilowatts, which Mr Yates believes is too small to generate enough power to sell back to the grid.
He installed a larger – and more expensive – system to power the household and faced the roof panels west to capture the afternoon sun.
Most households with solar power face the panels north to catch the sun all day, but Mr Yates said west-facing panels caught more intense afternoon sunlight, helping to power peak energy consumption in the evening.
Renewable energy firm Green Project said that as government policies covering grid feed-in tariffs and solar incentives improved, there would be more “net winners”. Solar electricity “can put you ahead of the game to make sure you don’t have to pay high energy bills”, said the firm’s head of operations, Esther Bailey.
EnergyAustralia’s energy efficiency expert, Paul Myors, said most households with solar panels would need to significantly reduce energy consumption before earning money back.
“If you only have a one-kilowatt system, you will probably only generate around 20 to 30 per cent of the electricity an average household would use,” he said.
Energy consultant Bruce Taper, who created BASIX, the Building Sustainability Index, agreed households wanting to sell energy back to power companies needed to become frugal with their electricity consumption.
Monthly Action Tip
One of the biggest uses of energy in homes is heating. Turn your thermostat down a few degrees – you will barely notice the difference but the planet will.
Try and avoid portable and radiator heaters- they burn energy fast. Rug up in a jumper you can save up to $92 a month. One portable blow heater can use as much electricity as 25 standard TV sets. Gas heating or reverse-cycle air-conditioners are the cheapest options.
Also, don’t forget to make use of the government’s insulation rebates and invest in some cheap energy savers like drought stoppers and door ‘snakes’.
This month’s reading is an award winning eco-justice sermon from the USA. It might seem a little long, but it is well worth the time investment. (emphasis mine)
“From Apocalypse to Genesis”1
Today’s service is in honor of Earth Day, and yesterday, the Rock Spring community came together in an extraordinary way to celebrate the goodness of God’s creation and to highlight our role as stewards of creation in our first ever Earth Day festival.
The Earth Day festival was a symphony of creative and inspiring activities that demonstrated our love for the Earth and various ways that we can care for creation and minimize our harmful impacts on the planet. Yet while the mood was celebratory and fun, close attention to the creative exhibits revealed some discordant notes. For example, one of the exhibits that generated interest was the “enviroscape,” an ingenious model that demonstrated how different forms of pollution like pesticides, animal waste, construction materials, litter, agricultural runoff, and oily residue from cars get flushed into our local streams and rivers and run down into the Chesapeake Bay. Exhibits like this reminded us that Earth Day is more than a celebration of nature, though it is surely that. But Earth Day is also implicitly a recognition that something has gone wrong in our relationship with the natural world, something that needs fixing—something that we might describe in religious terms as a call to repentance, and even conversion.
Yet here we begin to tread on treacherous ground, because acknowledging the depth of the planetary crisis human beings have created is fraught with danger. I’m not speaking here of political danger, of the suppression of ecological truth by political leaders. I’m speaking of emotional and spiritual danger—the danger that recognition of the true magnitude of our ecological crisis will lead to paralysis and despair. If we are really paying attention, the drumbeat of news about ecological degradation and climate change not only evokes fear, but also a deep sadness. Because if we are tuned in, we sense on some level that the earth that we know and enjoy right now will not be the earth that our children and grandchildren inherit.
The signs are everywhere. Headlines scream at us: three-fourths of the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bayare diseased. The Shenandoah river is now listed as one of the top ten most endangered rivers in the nation. Glaciers and ice sheets in the Arcticand Antarctic are melting much faster than expected. Warming temperatures over the next century could turn rich agricultural land into desert, dry out the rainforests, raise sea levels, extinguish countless species, and cause disastrous storms. In fact, most scientists now say that climate change is not something facing us in the future, but is already here. The debate over whether global warming is happening is over. The only question is how bad will it get? Dr. Gustave Speth, Dean of the school of forestry and environmental studies at Yale, was asked recently if environmental damage due to climate change could be prevented. No, he replied, it’s too late for that. But we may still be able to prevent catastrophic damage. He concluded, “This is our last chance to get it right. We have run out of time.”
Speth and many other scientists and theologians are speaking a language that sounds off-key to our modern ears. It’s a language that biblical prophets like Ezekiel and John of Patmos would recognize, however. It is the language of apocalypse—the imagery of the end times and the mysteries of God. The environmental challenges that face us are beginning to look apocalyptic, except now the apocalypse is not a fantasy of fundamentalists, or the stuff of science fiction, but the edge of an abyss that clear-eyed scientists peer over and tremble at. And the threats we face are not orchestrated by God but self-inflicted.
It’s hard to talk about these things, but we have to break the silence, especially within the churches, because here, above all else, we must speak the truth. As Daniel Maguire, a Catholic theologian, has said bluntly, “If current trends continue, we will not….If religion does not speak to [this], it is an obsolete distraction.” 2.And so we need to speak about it, and we need to weep about it, because it’s only when we allow ourselves to actually feel what is going on that we will have the capacity to change it. As one ecofeminist theologian has said, “the capacity to weep and then do something is worth everything.” 3This is the purpose of apocalyptic literature in the Bible and the purpose of the eco-apocalyptic warnings of scientists and environmentalists—not to paralyze us with fear, but to spur us to act, and even, to invest us with hope.
Ezekiel, writing to exiles, whose homeland had been destroyed, offered a vision of a new day—a dream of the time when they would return to their land and dwell in peace, when the land itself would be restored from its former desolation and bloom as if it were the garden of Eden. And the people who would dwell there would be different than the people who went into exile, because they would be transformed by their experience. They will return, but not as the same people, for we are told that God has cleansed them from their idols… and so, “a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.” Isn’t this what we so desperately need today? To have our hearts of stone removed, and in their place to receive hearts of flesh that can hear the crying of the earth? What we need, says Larry Rasmussen, is nothing less than conversion to the earth, because even our religion needs reformation. For too long, Christianity has been prone to earth-denying tendencies and nurtured fantasies of mastery and control over nature. The new reformation being called for means that “all religious and moral impulses of whatever sort must now be matters of unqualified earthbound loyalty and care. Faith is fidelity to earth and full participation in its ecstasy and agony.”4.
But the question remains, can Christianity be converted to the earth? Can Christianity become what Rasmussen calls “an earth faith”? It not only can, but it must. We search now for earth faith and earth ethics, because as Rasmussen explains, “society and nature together…is a community, without an exit. Whether we like it or not, it’s life together now or not at all.”5.
But there is good news. The good news is that we do have it within our faith to give us hope for the future and power to act and to change. The Bible itself is rich in resources, from its imagery of the garden of Eden to the new Jerusalem—a new kind of garden—in the book of Revelation, which holds out a vision of a different way to live. In fact, some people say that apocalyptic literature is more about earth than it is about heaven. Because apocalyptic literature is written to people who are in crisis, who are struggling and desperate, people who need hope. Another meaning of the word “apocalypse” is revelation. Apocalypse reveals to us a new vision, not of heaven as pie in the sky but as heaven on earth. In fact, in the book of Revelation, heaven is not something we are raptured up to, but heaven is raptured down to us! Heaven is on earth, and God dwells on the new restored earth, as poisoned rivers become the river of the water of life. In apocalypse, sometimes we’re taken through hell, but we return toEden.
So today, I would like to suggest that we have to start reading the Bible backwards. That’s our starting point. We begin with Revelation, not with the pristine garden. But then, reading backwards with the saints of all times and places, we discern the possibility for a new beginning—we reach towards a new genesis, a new way of living in harmony with the earth, a change of consciousness and a re-rooting of all of our religious traditions in eco-friendly soil. We have this capability to envision a new earth, and that was in abundant view yesterday when we saw the next generation at the Earth Day festival—most of the people there were under 20! They are going to be our teachers; they will lead us forward. And all of this is tied into what we’re about to do, when we renew our baptismal vows in a few moments.
As we have this opportunity to touch the water—the water of life—which springs from the earth and is a gift from God—we have the chance to allow our consciousness to be transformed, to be converted to God and the earth. We have the opportunity to be born anew, not only as children of God but as children of the earth—as the new Adam and the new Eve who are committed to restoring creation, who are committed to serving the creation with nurturing love. And so as you come forward today, let this clean water wash away any indifference you have, any despair you feel, any fear which clouds your vision. And let it symbolize the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon a transformed people. Let it remind us of the thirst of the earth and the thirst of the people in many parts of the world who live parched lives. Let it remind us of the dream of children to dance and bathe and drink clean water. Let it remind us of the promise of scripture that streams will break forth in the desert, and that the river of the water of death will be replaced by the river of the water of life.
I would like to conclude with a poem by that great eco-poet Wendell Berry, who talks about how he deals with his despair and his fear and how he experiences grace:
When despair for the world grows within me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
1. The title of this sermon was borrowed from Anne Primavesi’s book, From Apocalypse to Genesis: Ecology, Feminism and Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
2. Cited in Larry Rasmussen, Earth Community, Earth Ethics (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1996), 10.
3. Greta Gaard, “Living Connections with Animals and Nature,” in Ecofeminism, ed. Greta Gaard (Philadelphia: TempleUniversity Press), 3.
4. Rasmussen, 10.
5. Rasmussen, 19.
Positions Currently Available:
Melbourne Church Project Coordinator (Melbourne)
This position will work under the National Church Project Coordinator to run the Five Leaf Programs within theMelbournearea. This will involve supporting the two churches currently involved in the pilot award program and getting additional churches involved.
If you care about Christianity and the environment you will love this position. Not only does it give you a real chance to make a significant difference, but as one of the first staff, you will be able to influence the direction and creation of the organisation.
The chosen candidate will undergo training with the National Church Project Coordinator. The Melbourne Coordinator will then be responsible for all activities of the organisation inMelbourne.
The volunteer will need to work from home and must have access to the internet. Regular travel aroundMelbourneto visit churches will be involved. Some professional training may also be provided depending on funding.
Victorian and ACT Ministry Team
Additional volunteers are also needed to assist the Melbourne and Canberra Church Project Coordinators in running the Five Leaf Eco-Awards and with various projects.
Marketing Research Assistant
A volunteer is needed to assist with a marketing research program to direct the development of Five Leaf. Working with the National Church Project Coordinator this assistant will conduct extensive interviews and surveys of church members and leaders and assist in developing the strategic marketing plan. Experience in social marketing would be ideal but training can be provided. Applicant should be sociable, dedicated and eager to learn. Location negotiable.
For more information on any of these positions contact Jessica
Last Chance to Send Us Your Church Greening Story For a Chance to
Win an Awesome Green Bible!
Five Leaf Eco-Awards are compiling a book of examples of actions churches have taken to become more environmentally friendly.
To enter, send us 300 words about what your church did, and any photos you have. Send entries to Jessica by the 15th of July.
Call for Churches to participate in Five Leaf Eco-Awards trial
This is an invitation to all church communities to have a go at trialling the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program in their church and help save creation. Please email for more information.
Is there anything you would like to hear about in this newsletter?
If there is a particular topic you would like to hear about in this newsletter – perhaps solar panels, water tanks, behaviour change campaigns…. let us know and we will put it in the next issue.
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any individual or group who may be interested.