The Earth, Spirit, Action Team Newsletter
St. Matthew’s United Church
January 2024 No._23
Welcome to the New Year 2024 issue of “Good Tidings” the ESA Team newsletter that provides information on local and global environmental and climate change issues; suggestions for personal and political actions that will build a healthy planet; information about resources, and actions from other environment and climate change organizations; and information about environmentally themed worship and prayer opportunities.
We welcome feedback from readers who would like to share their thoughts with us. Our email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Margaret Machum
January 2024 has finally finished. It has been a difficult month. Following the celebration of Jesus’ birth and the message of ‘Good Will Towards All’, we have witnessed a level of violence in several areas of the world that competes with the tragedies of the last great war. Our hope is that countries, governments, and people can come together to counteract the forces that have brought the world to this juncture.
In This New Year Issue
In this issue, the EarthSpiritAction group offer a book review by John Nesbitt, a write-up of our recent Lunch & Learn by Anne Marie Dalton, actions for the world, nature, and people provided by Margaret Sagar, and ideas for Lent and a recipe from Margaret Machum. Our hope is that our Newsletter gives inspiration for change.
Excerpt from Metamorphosis Sophia Ocean
Let Earth kiss your feet
And bring you home
Where we belong
To this moment
As a heart that is free to love
And be the alchemy of
Our collective metamorphosis.
Book Review John Nesbitt
Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis by Elin Kelsey, Greystone Books, 2020.
Erin Kelsey begins Hope Matters by outlining what for her is a major problem, that media coverage of the climate crisis and environmental issues too often suggests doomsday scenarios that terrify, depress, and immobilize us, leaving us with the belief that nothing we can do will make things better. Her encouraging antidote is hope which she describes not as a feeling, wish or aspiration, but meaningful action. Hope, she believes, is a discipline that requires that we “look truth in the eye”. Then, we must affirm that our actions might make things better and that we have the capacity to plan and carry out these actions. Finally, we commit ourselves to purposeful action even when unsure that our actions will bring a complete fix. In turn, this ‘meaningful action’ will generate more hope in us, especially when undertaken with others. Kelsey refers to Vaclav Havel, the former Czech Prime Minister, who ‘saw hope as an orientation of one’s spirit, a state of mind and heart, rather than a state of the world’. “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Kelsey’s message is bolstered with many references to current research, studies, and anecdotal accounts and is based on her assessment and conviction that hope is a necessary key to solving the climate and environmental crises we currently face.
Kelsey finds hope confirmed in successful environmental strategies in recent years, including the global agreement on the protection of whales and its positive effects on marine life, increase of fish stocks, and even carbon capture. She points to programs of rewilding degraded ecosystems to regenerate wildness and natural ecosystems. She talks about the Global Deal for Nature, the 2010 agreement by many countries to set aside 17% of land mass in protected areas for regeneration, and to act as climate stabilization areas. The idea has gained momentum, and the current goal is 30%. Kelsey adds stories of nature’s resiliency after environmental catastrophes; the recovery of coral reefs at Bikini, a US Army H Bomb testing site; and the recovery of a thriving wolf population following the Chernobyl disaster. She argues, “the stories can change” and her message is: “we can change the stories”, by rejecting doomsday scenarios and embracing a discipline of hope, pursuing “ways that make sense”, that will make the world a better place. Hope Matters is an inspiring message, well worth reading in this winter season.
Lunch & Learn with “HalifACT– Acting on Climate Together
Anne Marie Dalton
The first Lunch & Learn of 2024 was held on Sunday, January 26. Our speakers were Megan Fong, one of a team of 25 working to publicize and implement HalifACT; and Kate Oland who works for the Ecology Action Centre (EAC).
HalifACT is the Halifax plan to reach net-zero by 2050. You can read more about this plan at: https://www.halifax.ca/about-halifax/energy-environmental/halifact-2050-acting-climate-together.
EAC is one of the key organizations partnering with HRM in the implementation of HalifACT.
Megan and Kate introduced their talk with a presentation of some of the major impacts of climate change on Nova Scotia and HRM in particular, followed by information about current projects.
Boulevard Gardening: bringing neighbourhoods together to create gardens in front of their houses.
Solar City: offers free advice to homeowners regarding the installation of solar panels.
Lake Watchers: engaging those living near lakes to collect data on the health and usage of the lakes.
CEO Charter: bringing together leaders of companies and business to draw up and commit to a charter of accountability and transparency in response to climate change.
Other opportunities for involvement: The Human Library: ‘humans as books’ event in April where people and organizations are available to advertise what they do in response to climate change and to encourage participation.
A Kind of “Nocturne on Climate”: series of events from April 18 to 22, calling on groups and individuals engaged in actions such as artistic and other initiatives to decrease our ecological footprint, including nature appreciation, to participate with presentations,
The Badge Project: primarily planned by the EAC, the focus in on recognizing people making significant contributions in addressing climate change, including reconciliation, home renovations, and leadership to publicize public concern and to show the positive efforts being made.
Questions and concerns regarding building policy in Halifax, invasive species, conflicting decisions (such as bike lanes vs the removal of trees, city density vs green belt protection), and the relevance of food sustainability to HalifACT were raised. Further questions can be forwarded to either Megan or Kate.
They concluded their presentation with a significant quote from Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Next Lunch & Learn, February 25th, 2024.
Recipe Margaret Machum
Mean Bean Soup 8 servings
1.5 cups mixture of any of navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, yellow eye beans, white pea beans, Jacob’s cattle beans
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbs marjoram
1 Tbs oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp savoury
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup fresh parsley
Actions for Hope Margaret Machum
Give to organizations providing food, health care, and support to those in need.
The groups below are committed to working on environmental and climate crisis issues by providing information and research on current environmental threats, planning advocacy efforts, and by offering ways to contact political leaders to register your opinions on critical issues through petitions, letters, and phone campaigns. You can support their work through membership and donations.
Kairos Canada (A program of the UCofC) https://www.kairoscanada.org
For the Love of Creation (UCofC program) https://fortheloveofcreation.ca/
Citizens for Public Justice https://cpj.ca
David Suzuki Foundation https://davidsuzuki.org/
Greenpeace Canada https://greenpeace.org/canada/en/
Nature Conservancy of Canada https://natureconservancy.ca/
Ecology Action Centre, Halifax https://ecologyaction.ca
It is essential to increase the development of clean technologies and increase access to affordable, secure, and renewable energy.
Canada: Through the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, the Government of Canada is moving towards its goal of generating 90% of its electricity from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2030. Find out how Canada supports sustainable development at https://ow.ly/mBqo50Qv21F
Local: Efficiency Nova Scotia will assess your home for energy solutions. Visit their website at https://www.efficiencyns.ca/residential/services
Thoughts for the Day
We are not our own. Nothing is itself taken alone. Things are because of interrelations and interconnections.
- Wallace Stevens
It is notable that none of the world’s religions has as its maxim: “Blessed are the greedy" - Sally McFague