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

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Hudson River Project and our Garrison Institute visit

On Friday morning Pam, Diane, and I took the train to the Garrison Institute. Patricia Ackerman, a staff member at the Garrison, had generously offered to help us with our project (see previous post. The Institute is a nonsectarian organization that studies how the world's contemplative traditions can lead to social change. Currently they have four program areas: service & society, education, peace & reconcilliation, and the environment. Patricia, who is an Episcopal priest and activist, is the staff member in charge of the environmental programming.

The Institute's current environmental project is "The Hudson River Project: Caring for Creation and the Common Good". The project has three parts: (1) create a network among the religious communities along the river (during her work Patricia has identified 150 faith communities along the Hudson), (2) draft a statement of shared values, and (3) bring environmental education and projects into these faith communities. Currently the Institue is hosting monthly conversations which bring together faith leaders from a variety of communities to discuss how to protect the Hudson River Watershed. In addition to being interfaith the discussions are also interdisciplenary, bringing together scientists, activists, and theologians. The series began in September with a discussion on "Seeking Common Values" and the most recent conversation occurred last week and was on "Working with Nature." The next conversation, "The River Community and the Global Ecosystem: Promoting Public Understanding," is April 20th and I will attend. In addition to hearing the conversation which will feature speakers from The Nature Conservancy, GreenFaith, and Muslim Peace Fellowship, I will get a chance to present our project.

During our visit with Patricia she provided us with a list of resources to aid in our research. A major component of our project is making three brochures (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism) which summarize each faith's philosophy on environmental issues, provide relevant scriptural passages, list helpful websites and books, and suggest ways you can get involved. Patricia offered the help of their graphic designer in creating the brochures and the Garrison Institute will also cover printing costs. The brochures will then be available at their conversation series. Pam and I were both very excited about this development.

Finally the Museum of Art and Design is currently showing an exhibit called "Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art" and is holding an open house for regional environmental groups on Saturday April 8th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Garrison Institute was invited to participate and I will be going to represent the Institute at the open house.

The trip on Friday was a rewarding experience. It was a gorgeous day, and the Institute and the town of Garrison were both beautiful. Patricia provided us with tons of information which will be invaluable for our research and creating the pamphlets. Finally, having a discussion with someone whose job is to meld religion and the environment really brought our project to life and provided inspiration for the work ahead.

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