Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment

Religion and the Environment: A Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Environment and Discover Common Ground in the Judeo-Christian and Buddhist Communities

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Garrison and the Environment

Last we were were given the opportunity to travel up the Hudson to the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York. Diane was kind enough to accompany and help us set up the visit. For those of you who have never been to the institute, try to go. Right when you step off the train there is a breath taking view of the hudson, and the surrounding woods. It is quite the difference from city aesthetics and much more relaxing.

Patricia Ackerman met us at the train station and took us a mile up the road to a magnificent building that overlooks acres upon acres of land (noting that Barnard rests on 4 acres of land, this was a magnificent sight). My partner Jessie has described much of the visit, so I will attempt to discuss it in a different light.

Until two weeks ago, I was unaware of the importance that the Hudson plays in the Hudson River Valley. To me, it has always been that body of water that runs alongside of Morningside Park and seperates New Jersey from New York. I often look at it from my window, enjoy the way the water appears during a beautiful sunset, and never think twice about how vital it is to the environment that srrounds it. At the Garrison Institute, Patricia was explaining her passion about the conservation and need to preserve the Hudson. It was inspiring to see someone who is determined in everyway possible to alert the community about this issue. But, the way in which she is trying to appraoch the issue is that most interesting part. Patricia oversees The Hudson River Project: Caring for Creation and the Common Good. It is a project which incorporates the use of religious as a means of awareness towards the environment, and in this case the Hudson and water preservation.

In relation to our project, The Hudson River Project sevres as an example of religion being put to use to grab the attention of society about environmental issues. Because religion is such a major force in many idividuals lives, it only makes sense that by utilizing that aspect groups such as the Garrison Institute can focus in on more specific topics such as the Hudson River. They have made it a multi-religious issue which allows for more discussion, research and areas to work in to enhance the importance of this need. They are bringing in speakers, musicians, artisits, dancers, and other types of medium to attract different venues of people. Patricia said that too many people think of the Hudson as just a river that runs through New York. Instead, she believes that it is more of a bio-region that affects life to a greater degree.

I was in awe with all of the knowledge she presented us with and even more so by the building. Included are photographs of the Garrison Institute and the surrounding area.

take some time to look at the meditation hall. You will notice the large statue of Buddah in the center. There are 4 other curtained panels that surround it and they are currently trying to find statues representing other religions to fit those areas. You are asked to remove your shoes before entering the hall as a sign of repsect, and it is breath taking to see the large space when the sun trickles in from the windows. Also, the artwork that Jessie mentioned in her posting (the well) is also included. The other photographs are of the view from the Garrison Institute onto to Hudson, the building itself, artwork and tapestry inside of the bulding, and Myself, Diane, Jessie, and Patricia.

Jessie and I have also changed the name of our project from Greenfaith to Be-leaf. Greenfaith is actually an organization that sets out to unite peoples spiritual sides with nature, and their information and site will be very helpful for our project.

One exciting part of the visit was the discussion of our pamphlets. Patricia loved the idea and said that she could publish them for us for free. This is an amazing opportunity and we are very grateful for their assistance. Also, she would love both Jessie and I to come back to speak at some point this summer during a seminar about our project which is an incredible opportunity. It is nice to know that this project will extrend beyond the classroom walls.

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