Thanks to Rev. Kris Litman-Koon, as the South Carolina’s Synod Creation Care convener, a group of ELCA members from across the country came together for rejuvenation and inspiration in November 2019 at the Coastal Retreat Center.
The plant giveaway at Luther College is sponsored by the Center for Sustainable Communities and Luther College Wellness. The event is made possible through the hard work of Luther College Facilities staff who cultivate and love these plants.
This event is a great opportunity for students to build their collection of plants, learn more about sustainability and wellness at Luther, and have a chance to connect with Sustainability Educators and Wellness Ambassadors.
Ashalul Aden is a senior this fall at Luther College. Asha is originally from Rochester, Minnesota. She is double majoring in Political Science and Religion. Asha chose to work for Iowa IPL this summer because she wants to do her part as a global citizen in the world to combat climate change. Asha believes in the power of individual and collective action. Climate change is a wicked problem that does not have a simple solution. Asha does not see climate change as just an environmental issue, she also sees it as a social justice issue. The most marginalized and poor people on Earth will face (and are already facing) the impact of climate change. Asha believes that a person cannot truly combat climate change unless they act like the change they want to see in the world. If we truly want to combat the wicked problem of climate change, we need to start off by taking a critical reflection of ourselves. She believes that once someone holds themselves accountable, they can work with others to create a sustainable future so every single human being can live on the Earth for generations…and generations.
See the original post from Iowa Interfaith Power & Light.
Muhlenberg College has been recognized as a top performer in the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, receiving a score of 100 percent for best practices in the area of water conservation. The College tied for the fourth spot among all higher education institutions nationally for water conservation and reuse, as well as effective rainwater management practices.
A publication from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing sustainable colleges and universities overall and in 17 impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Last winter Muhlenberg received a STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability Achievements, the highest level of recognition received by any Lehigh Valley higher education institution, for five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration and innovation and leadership.
In the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, the College was recognized for a 52 percent reduction in water usage over five years. Campus landscape initiatives included eliminating water hoses and favoring native plants and hearty grasses. The plant operations department also decentralized the boiler plant. The campus’s multiple new boilers use less water and are more efficient, leaky pipes are no longer in use, and an organic water softener additive enables water to be reused in the boiler system, mitigating issues with Allentown’s hard water.
Students have been part of Muhlenberg’s water conservation efforts. “Our students have been involved in water reductions through peer-to-peer advocacy,” says Kalyna Procyk, sustainability coordinator and an adjunct professor of sustainability studies. “They’ve led residence hall programs to encourage shorter showers, turning off the water when brushing teeth and reporting leaks.”
“We are happy to recognize Muhlenberg College for its leadership in advancing sustainability,” said AASHE’s Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “I’m grateful for the work being done by this institution to help move society toward a more equitable and sustainable future.”
Read more from Muhlenberg College.
Here’s a bright Idea… projectors that use lasers, not lightbulbs!
Carthage College recently switched to Panasonic’s SOLID SHINE series of overhead projectors.
In place of a lightbulb, there is a LED-based laser as the light source. The design is eco-conscious with no lead, mercury, or halogenated flame-retarding materials throughout any of the laser projectors. This will reduce waste because these projectors last approximately 20,000 hours compared to lightbulbs that need to be replaced after 3,600 – 4,000 hours!
Keep up with Carthage Going Green on Facebook.
This fall, Wagner College will begin offering a new major in Environmental Studies, building on the strength of its existing minor in Environmental Studies.
“We have a number of students interested in serving others and making the world a better place,” explained Celeste Marie Gagnon, head of the Anthropology Department. “This major equips students like that to bring an environmental perspective to bear on world problems.”
“A lot of other colleges have developed programs like this over the last 10 years,” added biology professor Elizabeth Suter.
Students enrolling in the multidisciplinary major will be able to complete their senior capstone work in either the Biological Sciences or Anthropology department.
“Your concentration will be based on what kind of research you want to do, or where you want to go with your bachelor’s degree,” Gagnon explained.
“I was an environmental studies major as an undergraduate, and I became a scientist,” Suter said. “There are many kinds of work you can do with this: policy, law, management, risk management, NGO work in the fields of the environment, social justice, the impacts of the environment and environmental change on economics. Even local NGOs, such as those focusing on asthma.”
Students enrolled in the Environmental Studies major will learn about the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental, and economic – and how culture functions as a mediating process between humans and their environment. They will also acquire an introductory knowledge of geographic information systems.
Learn more from Wagner College.
Last spring, the Texas Lutheran University chapter of Water To Thrive (W2T) successfully raised $7,922 through its annual benefit dinner and silent auction. The funds will complete TLU’s sixth and seventh wells and raised about $1,500 toward the cost to construct their eighth well in Ethiopia.
Since 2011, W2T and the Center For Servant Leadership (CSL) have raised $35,000 for sustainable wells that provide fresh and clean water to surrounding communities.
“The TLU Water to Thrive chapter’s success throughout the years can mostly be attributed to a strong group of student leaders that are passionate about involving the entire community of Seguin (Texas) in the mission of Water to Thrive,” Morgan Klaser, CSL director, said. “While the wells are impacting communities around the globe from Texas, Seguin businesses, churches, community organizations, and individuals have been inspired by the cause. Access to clean water is a universal human right and the students here have clung to their ability to make a difference about this issue through partnering with Water to Thrive.”
President Katie Morton has been involved with the organization since her sophomore year. She is a junior majoring in molecular biology.
“The most exciting aspect about Water To Thrive has to be the idea of sustainability,” said Morton. “Our organization focuses not only on building wells, but also on how to maintain them and keep them functional within the hands of the community. This is a huge challenge and I’m so glad to be part of something that sees a problem and actually commits to action. My favorite thing about what we do is how each well is marked with a plaque that has TLU’s name on it. It’s so exciting that we are physically able to see what our hard work and donations have gone to.”
Learn more on the TLU website.
The PLU Community Garden is completely run by students with support from PLU staff. The Garden is dedicated to adding local, fresh produce to the Parkland community while providing a resource to experienced gardeners and those just beginning!
The Garden donates a variety of fruits and vegetables to the nearby Trinity Lutheran Food Pantry.
The property is managed by a PLU student group, Diversity Advocates for the Garden. The student leader is supervised by the Coordinator for Sustainability Integration and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, for questions, inquiries about service opportunities or to reserve a plot. Contributions are also made by the PLU Garden Club and local volunteers.
Care for creation is central to the mission of Valparaiso University. The Office of Sustainability builds awareness, understanding, and a culture of sustainability on Valparaiso University’s campus.
The recent Campus Conservation Competition featured a friendly competition between the residence halls to promote sustainability awareness about energy and water consumption.
The residence halls competed in a 3-week competition in April to reduce water and electricity consumption, based on benchmark data taken two weeks prior to the competition. The Office of Sustainability also gathered information about sustainable topics and issues on campus by asking the students to fill out surveys. The survey results will be used to create better sustainable solutions. Four different surveys asked students about water and electricity usage, transportation, and living patterns.
Overall, the competition was a success, resulting in over 7,000 kWh of energy saved and 100,000 gallons of water. In addition, there was about 10% participation in the surveys designed to collect data to inform future energy saving measures in the residence halls.
The two plots below show how much energy or water was used each day throughout the benchmarking time and the competition for the top three scorers in each category. Overall, each tread line shows that the usage in each building went down from the beginning of the benchmarking time to the end of the competition. The strong slope of the sorority housing complex in both cases explains why they won first place in the competition.
Valparaiso looks forward to learning from this experience and hopes that this annual competition will spark increased awareness and conservation among students that live on campus.
Capital University has established the Merl and Margaret Primmer Outdoor Learning Center. The mission of the Center is to foster biological and related research experiences and to promote creative learning opportunities for the students, faculty, alumni, staff and friends of Capital University.
The center, located in the Hocking Hills regions of Appalachia in Logan, Ohio, preserves the natural resources of the land in a manner that exemplifies principles of ecological restoration, biological conservation, and environmental sustainability.
An ideal research and learning center, the 74-acre property has seven ecosystems, including approximately 15 acres of a high-quality wetland and an area of groundwater seeps, which feed into three small streams. The wetland features a heron rookery with over 30 nests, and a bald eagle nest.
Other ecological factors contribute to the educational value of the property, including footage along the Hocking River and a riparian forest, a secondary-growth deciduous forest, old field and pasture habitats (some of which are slowly being converted to Ohio Prairie), and a pine/spruce plantation.
Continue reading about the Primmer Outdoor Learning Center at Capital University.
Augustana University’s sustainability committee has completed their first sustainability literacy survey for students.
The committee’s goal was to establish a baseline in order to measure where Augustana students currently are in terms of sustainability.
Out of the 1,160 on-campus students sent the Spring 2018 survey, 500 responded, a 43% response rate.
When asked whether they turn off the lights when they are the last to leave a room, students responded differently based on the type of room. Students said they turn off their dorm room lights the most often, followed by study rooms, day rooms, classrooms and, finally, bathrooms. While the sustainability team is encouraged by the frequency of students turning off lights in dorm rooms and study rooms, they find the other rooms to be areas that should be improved upon. They have discussed the possibility of motion detector lighting in bathrooms, day rooms and classrooms.
When responding to the question how they would rate their knowledge of sustainable landscaping practices on campus, students were not very confident. Only 7.6% of students considered their knowledge to be excellent, while 35.4%, 32%, and 25% of students believed their knowledge to be good, fair, and poor, respectively. As the sustainability team continues their work, which they consider to be only beginning, they feel confident that these numbers will rise in their upcoming surveys.
View the rest of the results of this survey from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Upper Mississippi Center (UMC) at Augustana College mobilizes faculty and students to help communities solve social, economic, and environmental challenges.
Communities sometimes lack the resources to develop and implement innovative solutions to sustainability challenges. Augustana students and faculty have the skills and knowledge but often lack real-world settings to put their expertise to work.
These sustainability challenges create opportunities for students to learn how to tackle and solve complex, controversial 21st-century problems. The UMC brings these groups together.
The center integrates knowledge and perspectives from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences to create solutions as students work with community members.
Since 2013, the UMC has created high-impact learning experiences across campus with community-based research projects, project-based learning experiences for existing courses, internships, and service-learning experiences.
Read more about the Upper Mississippi Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
Augsburg University has a “free” reuse table that is available to any student, staff, or faculty member in the Augsburg community.
WHAT CAN BE DONATED?
Any individual can bring items that are reusable and place them on the table; there is no need to check in with anyone. Items can include clothing, office supplies, equipment, household items, and much more.
CAN I DONATE NONPERISHABLE FOOD ITEMS?
Do not leave any food items on the Free Table. Instead, donated nonperishable food items can be delivered to Campus Cupboard.
WHO CAN TAKE FROM THE FREE TABLE?
Any Augsburg student, staff, or faculty member is welcome to take anything they see off the free table. There is no need to check in with anyone; if it is on the table, it is yours for the taking.
Learn more about sustainability at Augsburg.
The 2019 ELCA Advocacy Convening (April 29 – May 1) gathered over 100 lay and rostered leaders to be trained as advocates. The theme: “Prepared to Care: Our Advocacy in Light of Disasters Intensified by Climate Change.” Below are some highlights as I, Phoebe Morad, experienced them. Thanks to those who support Lutherans Restoring Creation and help get our voice on the scene and for sharing this information and inspiration with your congregations and communities.
April 29th, after an 8 hour train ride from Boston: (The passenger next to me said I was taking the train such a long way to “make AOC happy,” but I said I was doing it for my kids.)
Opening worship at the glorious new space of St. Matthew’s in DC set the stage. This part had to include a bit of hand-wringing; admitting that we are full of fear and that it paralyzes us. Director of ELCA’s Advocacy office, Amy Reumann shared that message of moving past fear in her sermon. Washington D.C. April 2019 Service (great hymns and sample litanies)
During dinner together we heard from Lutherans across the country and globe dealing with fires, floods, immigration and agricultural devastation. A disturbing collage of stories that are all magnified (if not caused) by a changing climate. The positive take-away from that evening: with our combined forces of ELCA’s Global & Domestic Mission, Disaster Response, Advocacy, AND the people power in the congregations (go LRC Green Shepherds!) we are uniquely poised to attack these issues on all fronts.
April 30th, day two, of our training was focused on forcing ourselves into other people’s shoes. How do we talk to people who think differently, have difference perspectives/priorities? Ani Fete-Crews from ecoAmerica’s Blessed Tomorrow’s presentation on 15 Steps to Effectively Talk about Climate utilizes current statistics about what people actually hear (which isn’t always what you say). Time spent learning and practicing Talanoa Dialogue offered a tool for church leaders to bring back to communities with disparate views and learn how to listen to one another and find common solutions. Hearing from pivotal leaders from island nations surrounded by the threat of rising seas and our neighbors to the South fleeing from long-term drought made the current impacts on our neighbors very real.
The last day (May 1) of the convening we started out at a Mexican restaurant for (an awesome breakfast) and to be officially sent into the world – specifically to ASK our elected officials to consider the human toll of climate change. What exactly did we ask for? Download the 2019 Advocacy Ask here which led us in conversation with our public servants.
The energy was palpable in the ELCA DC Advocacy office as cohorts came/went to the Hill, and, it felt like – at least for a day – we were being heard. Bumping into other Lutherans among the offices and around the Capital was a thrill (maybe because I’m a public policy nerd). However, the reality of complex conversations and endurance needed for collaborative work hung in the air after hours of meetings. It was quite a refreshment to then be invited to a vibrant, grassroots reception in an inner-city church basement. With dozens of partner organizations invited to the Interfaith Power & Light’s event, we could be restored in each other’s company and be inspired by one church acting as a beacon of hope in the city. Reformation Lutheran Church was a not only a host to this rejuvenating event, but also invited us to transformational experience called the Healing Blanket Exercise, facilitated by Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA’s American Indian Alaska Native Program Director.
In a contrast to the “bottom-up” mentality of the evening before, May 2nd offered a very hopeful glimpse of what is happening from the “top-down”. Fortunately, our grassroots movement is in partnership with ecoAmerica which connects leaders from the health, policy, and religious realms so that we can leverage each other’s assets. There are MANY vignettes I would be happy to share in our next Connections Call, but if you can take the time to explore the recording below please do. Rep. Whitehouse (Dem-RI) shared a very clear understanding of what is the hold-up in his “habitat,” Dr. Gail Christopher shared a staggering account of the impacts on health care costs, and Rev. Dorhauer talks about privilege as an impediment to the church. If nothing else, let Shantha Ready-Alonso lead you through a guided visualization of why any of us do this work (start at minute 15 below).
Thanks again so much for being a part of this movement and helping ensure the concerns, efforts, and strengths that come from the Caring for Creation ministries within the ELCA are heard. Meeting with leadership from all sectors of our church in person and focused on the urgent issues of climate was more effective than dozens of conference calls and hundreds of emails. I returned home (via train of course) with a full plate of next steps and a full heart of hope.
“The College is pleased to offer this new partnership with LANTA which will provide free, convenient and environmentally-friendly transportation for our students, faculty and staff,” said Muhlenberg College President John Williams. “This service will make it easier for our students to connect more extensively with the Allentown community as well as the Lehigh Valley more broadly and it will be a great option for our employees to travel to and from work.”
Read more about this story from Muhlenberg College.
During February and March, Wartburg College is joining over 600 other schools in the RecycleMania program, a competition to decrease landfilled solid waste. Wartburg won $2,500 in 2012 by improving upon paper recycling the most from the competition. During these months, Wartburg will be tracking their waste going to the landfill and waste diverted to recycling.
This past January, 22 Luther College students along with two professors traveled to Germany and the United Kingdom to learn about the energy transition in these countries from fossil fuels to renewable sources.
Led by professors Jim Martin-Schramm and Soren Steding, the class visited and toured many sites including a wind turbine test field in northern Germany, an energy from waste plant in Berlin, a biofuel and coal-fired power plant in the UK, and Hinkley Point B, a nuclear power plant in the UK. Germany and the UK were interesting case studies for the class as both countries are committed to transitioning to renewable and low-carbon energy. However, these countries are achieving this in different ways. Germany is completely ending the use of nuclear energy and not allowing hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas, while the UK is investing in more nuclear power and has not counted out fracking to increase oil and gas production.
On the course blog, student Ben Davidson writes, “Throughout this whole trip, we have enjoyed learning about the green energy transition throughout Germany and the United Kingdom. We attended over 22 events between 10 cities throughout Germany and the UK. Through these different presentations and discussions, we not only discussed the energy transition from a scientific or political view, but we also analyzed these current issues with ethical reflection and through creative processes. We realize now more than ever that our world is in the midst of a green energy revolution and that there may be different ideas of how to move forward, but the important thing is that the world continues to make forward progress on carbon reduction goals and continues to advance through this energy revolution.”
Read more about the trip from the course blog.
This fall major updates were made to Concordia College’s EcoHouse, a four-person campus residence for students who want to live more sustainably. The home’s aged heating system received an update through the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system. The project commenced in August 2018 and was operational by October.
Concordia has long been interested in utilizing geothermal on campus, so when it was determined that the EcoHouse was a viable candidate for such a system, the administration jumped on the opportunity. A rebate offered by Moorhead Public Service also aided the college in making the project happen.
The geothermal system utilizes four vertical wells that were drilled in the front yard of the house. An environmentally safe antifreeze is pumped through the wells, warmed by the ground heat, and then pumped through a system that transfers the heat into air which is blown throughout the house. In the summer the system will also provide air conditioning by utilizing the cooler ground temperatures.
Having recently signed Second Nature’s Climate Commitment, this project is the first of many steps Concordia will be taking toward carbon neutrality.
G.E.C.O. is the Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization, a student organization to promote sustainability on the campus of Gettysburg College. Founded in 1994, the group has been active since, currently with about 15 active members.
Co-president Samantha Pfeffer says that “students participate because they are interested in what GECO does. We do a lot of different activities throughout the year, including volunteering trips with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, hiking trips, kayaking trips, waste reduction events, and more. People are interested in participating in those trips and events, but more importantly they care about being part of a community where they can share ideas and be with people who care about similar ideas.” She continues, “I personally joined because I wanted to know about the sustainability and ‘green’ efforts being made on campus and I wanted to be an active member in changing and increasing those efforts. I wanted to be part of a club that not only did fun things, but that makes a difference in the campus and overall community.”
This past February, GECO hosted the 5th annual GreenAllies Conference. Pfeffer explained, “The GreenAllies Conference is an annual networking conference held where schools from around the region can send students and campus leaders to share ideas and brainstorm ways that they can either improve their campus sustainability or the quality of their club or organization. Gettysburg College and GECO were the hosts for this year’s 5th annual conference. GECO leaders were the primary organizers for the entire event, along with GreenAllies staff members, and GECO members were there the day of the conference to help more everything along.”
To learn more about GECO, visit their website.
California Lutheran University hosted a free clothing swap in conjunction with an art exhibit that examined the harmful effects of fast fashion.
People could drop off lightly used clothes they no longer want and pick up apparel that others had donated. The event tied into “Garment Girl,” an exhibit by Cal Lutheran adjunct art faculty member Jennifer Vanderpool that explored the textile industry and labor activism. The art exhibit highlighted the hidden costs and consequences of clothing production, including the sweatshop conditions in developing nations, the chemicals used to dye fabric, and the volume of water used to grow cotton.
The clothing swap provided people with a way to reduce their clothing footprint by extending the life of discarded items. Participants could bring in as much or as little usable clothing as they wanted, or none at all, and take as much as they wanted.
During the exhibit’s opening run in Vietnam last year, Vanderpool and Hanoi-based artist and fashion designer Phạm Hồng organized an event called “Remake” to extend the life of clothing. They converted the art gallery into a “factory” with sewing machines in imitation of Vietnamese sweatshops. They invited Hanoi garment and apparel industry workers to work with them and visitors to create new garments from scraps and fix damaged clothing.
“Garment Girl” features photographic prints, textiles and videos of Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles sweatshops and female textile laborers in Hanoi telling their stories. Vanderpool also conducted interviews with scholars and activists in both locations. In one of the videos, Phạm asks people to think about the efforts of workers who designed and manufactured the clothes they wear, the social and environmental impact of the global supply chain, and their responsibility as consumers.