One of the seven goals of the Laudato Si' Action Platform is "ecological education." How can we teach about ecology and care of the Earth?
"Called "the coolest summer camp in Louisville," Camp Odyssey at the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center in Louisville, immerses children entering grades 1-6 in the three main aspects of the Earth & Spirit Center mission: spiritual practice, compassion for others, and connection to the Earth. As they explore the woodlands and meadows of our 27-acre nature sanctuary, work and play with our artists, garden and environmental educators, chefs, yoga and meditation instructors, and musicians, kids come to understand how ecosystems work, where their food comes from, and how to be more mindful and compassionate toward themselves, others, and their surroundings. "
Read more and explore Camp Odyssey
Merely technical solutions run the risk of addressing symptoms and not the more serious underlying problems. There is a need to respect the rights of peoples and cultures, and to appreciate that the development of a social group presupposes an historical process which takes place within a cultural context and demands the constant and active involvement of local people from within their proper culture. Nor can the notion of the quality of life be imposed from without, for quality of life must be understood within the world of symbols and customs proper to each human group. Laudato Si', Pope Francis, 2015, Chapter 4, #144.
Are there connections between systemic racism and environmental threats and degradation?
In Lessons for Catholics from the life of Hazel Johnson, Mother of environmental justice," National Catholic Reporter's EarthBeat marked the end of Black History Month with a profile of Hazel Johnson, a Black woman who left an indelible mark on national environmental policy while remaining deeply rooted in Altgeld Gardens, the southeast Chicago neighborhood where she spent her life fighting polluters.
Johnson, who died in January 2011, is considered the mother of the U.S. environmental justice movement. She is known for her relentless battle against the evil that surrounded her neighborhood in the form of toxic dumps, lead paint and other pollution that sickened her neighbors and shortened their lives.
That is why someone said at a recent meeting (on Zoom of course) that we are not working to protect the planet “in order to maintain the lifestyle that we have” but to “create a system and a society where it is possible to live with integrity”.
The human race needs to live in the green space in the ‘donut’, above the social floor or ‘foundation’, but within environmental limits or ‘ceiling’
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"A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act”. Today, in a word, “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle”. (Laudato Si' 206)
An international grassroots effort beginning to develop and grow is called the Glasgow Agreement. The Agreement believes that genuine "people power" will create the political and economic will to make the changes needed to save the planet and her people. The climate justice movement "cannot be stopped by the global narrative of institutional impotence."
The framework for this movement is defined as a "social and political demand that advocates for the redistribution of power, knowledge and wellbeing. It proposes a new notion of prosperity within natural limits and just resource distribution, advocating for a true connection between traditional and westernized knowledge systems. It calls for a public and participatory science to address the needs of humanity and of the earth, principally to stop the climate crisis."
Question: How can we heal our integral ecology as individuals or small groups in the face of international inaction and corporate resistance?
Paul Bodenham is the Chair of Green Christian, a UK Passionist Partner, and here reflects on the charity’s work and mission.
Over the last year we have seen a succession of dire scientific reports on the environment. Surely now no-one can now doubt the crisis we’re in. With climate change approaching tipping-point, dwindling wildlife, and rising tides of plastic waste, this is a hard time to hope.
On the face of it there are two alternatives: succumb to despair, or whistle a happy tune and kid yourself that easy solutions are in our reach. If we talk about the environmental crisis at all, we incline to one or other of these alternatives. In our heart of hearts many of us know that they are both dangerous fallacies. But there is a third way.