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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon and Jean Rhoads, Bloomington IN: “We live in the country, and we got into the business of picking up trash by keeping our own road cleaned up—something we’ve done for many years.  Now we’re in our mid seventies and retired, and to keep ourselves active we walk on nearby country roads, and we figure that if we’re going to walk, we may as well take a trash bag or two and a “grabber” (which lets us reach into semi-inaccessible places) and pick up trash along the road…”

 

lesLes Kuiper, Mt. Rainier WA: “The book, Serve God Save the Planet, has helped teach me some things. I read the first chapter and set the book aside for over a month. I wasn’t ready to change and I didn’t want to be convicted about my lifestyle. I thought I was living a life with a relatively low carbon footprint. I didn’t think I really needed to change things. When I picked it up again, I read it like a novel until I came across things that hit home — I definitely cannot say I know more types of trees than types of cars! After reading that, my self-righteousness started to dissolve…”

 

hemlock6Chuck McQueen, Lexington KY: “I go among trees and sit still.” Thus begins Wendell Berry’s cycle of “Sabbath Poems,” conceived and written, according to Berry, in silence, solitude, and often in the outdoors. Berry’s reflection flows naturally from the directive of Psalm 46 to “be still and know that I am God.” On October 22, 2011, a small group of teens and adults from the St. Paul Parish youth group traveled to Kentucky Ridge State Forest in Bell County. There we partnered with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, under the leadership of Alice Mandt, for a day of education about the hemlock, and a service project in partnership with the Division of Forestry as a part of its ongoing “Save the Hemlocks” work. St. Paul Parish gratefully acknowledges the generous support provided by Blessed Earth for this project…”

 

dogLaura Hobgood-Oster, Georgetown TX: “Living in central Texas these days means heat, drought, and wildfires. The last month was particularly devastating as fires ravaged areas around Austin where we have lived years. As a person deeply involved in dog rescue, considering the plight of pets in homes threatened by wildfires is agonizing. Sometimes the fires come so quickly there is no opportunity to get back home; roads are blocked before you can make it back to save your pets from what could end up being an inferno. Images of cats with singed ears and whiskers, of dogs with burned paws and tails, and of wildlife running or flying or crawling as quickly as they could to escape the coming flames are embedded in my mind…”

 

desertMarcia Stanton, Namibia: “Ever since I was a child, God has called me to see Him in his Creation and to make a difference in the world. I have been living permanently outside the USA since 2005, with the last 4 years being in Namibia. In Namibia, much of God’s Creation is still wild and natural as He designed it. His invisible hand is at work in nature every day. It is deeply touching and inspiring to walk in the oldest desert in the world, to see flowers survive the harshest conditions, and to observe wildlife living in peace with each other and humans. It is what He intended for us in the spectacular gift of Creation…”

 

carpoolSherry Wagenknecht, MI: “Recently I organized a United Methodist Women’s Retreat on the theme of creation care. Nancy Sleeth was our retreat leader, and through discussion of the Blessed Earth Hope for Creation film series, we had time to swap stories and share ideas. I told the group about how living green through carpooling allowed me to pray with a new colleague who had lost touch with God. At the time of the retreat, I relayed how ride sharing opened a wonderful opportunity to do morning devotions together. Since then, the story has taken a dramatic turn that has revealed more clearly the greater purpose for our carpooling…”

 

signJason Hess, Hampton Roads, VA: “Since last April my family and I have begun taking steps, be it baby steps, toward a more environmentally conscious life. We contacted our local waste management company and signed up for their recycling programs. We’ve taken the step to change all of the light bulbs in the house from the standard bulb to the compact florescent bulbs. When we are able, we do our best to purchase “greener” foods (i.e., eggs from free range chickens, etc.). Additionally, in the summer we’ve turned the thermostat up a few degrees and have turned it down a few in the winter… much to our initial discomfort…”

 

farmCarrie L. Chandler, GA: “Genetically modified or God’s perfect organism? That’s a question that I now ponder on a daily basis, but for most of my life prior to this year, I never thought about what I ate. What changed in between then and now is that I am relying on food for my livelihood. Last year, my husband and I moved back to his family farm to raise grass-fed beef and grow vegetables, and we are striving to do this in a way that is pleasing to God. Daily, this requires us to choose to say no to the genetically modified seeds and food slowly taking over our farms and grocery stores.”

 

pigBill and Tara Haley, Corhaven, VA: “It was a cruel thing, perhaps, to do to Liam, our six-year-old son. His whole life to that point had been urban, as in the inner-city of Washington, D.C. Living in the broken places of the world and the city had been Tara’s and my past for a long time, and we expected it to be our lifetime. Then unexpected but not unwelcome, God surprised us with an invitation to move to a small farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. And we said, “Yes…”

 

storeAnna Clark, Dallas TX: “One soy-latte decaf Irish cream coming right up.” It’s my second time into Come Together Trading and already barista/owner Terry Marshall remembers my order. Easing into a comfortable chair, I sip coffee from the Ecotainer compostable cup and soak in my surroundings. Students cluster at one table; writers use free Wi-Fi at another. Piles of hand-woven beads and baskets and racks of colorful apparel line the shelves. It’s like some place out of Boulder, Colorado–not Canton, Texas…”

 

officeScott Steele, Raleigh NC: “My workplace has changed in the last eight years from a very hot, open-air room of my house in the Dominican Republic to an old repurposed furniture warehouse that became the first LEED Platinum office in North Carolina. I transitioned from working with poor teenagers in both countries on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) to running a foundation focused on brownfield remediation as a means of promoting environmental sustainability and funding poverty alleviation. Both experiences, along with help from colleagues and strong writers such as Matthew and Nancy Sleeth, have defined sustainability for me…”

 

hikeRachel Medefind, CA: “Call me a beginner. Having been raised in the densely populated city of Manila, I grew up with a vivid awareness of the myriad of human need, urgent and seemingly eclipsing of environmental concerns. As with triage, crises that called for immediate help rightfully take priority. I couldn’t help wondering if passionate concern for the environment might be the luxurious (and somewhat indulgent) outgrowth of a society largely unencumbered by disease, starvation, and squalor. Perhaps the sheer magnitude of the problem—including the black left in my own lungs from years of breathing in and out some of the filthiest air in the world—had me also feeling overwhelmed by the environmentalist’s task…”