Tag Archives: sustainability

Muhlenberg College President Kathleen Harring and Other Pennsylvania Leaders Urge Lawmakers to Accelerate State’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy

Muhlenberg College Interim President Kathleen Harring was one of 18 signatories of a letter sent in November to the Pennsylvania General Assembly urging lawmakers to enact market-based solutions aimed at reducing carbon pollution and increase in-state investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation.


In a news release announcing the efforts, Harring comments, “As an institution of higher education, we have knowledge and understanding of our most pressing environmental issues, including climate change. It is our responsibility to transform this knowledge to meaningful action, leading the way to a low-carbon clean energy future by supporting policies that will help us get there. These policies will enable us to use our campus as a living laboratory, provide opportunities for our academic programs and innovate in our physical operations in a way that can be replicated by others.”


In the letter, Harring notes that Muhlenberg’s environmental commitments include “reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and educating our campus community about these efforts as outlined in our Sustainability Strategic Plan. We have reconfigured our campus infrastructure, installed high-efficiency lighting, applied a variety of energy efficiency technologies, metered and measured our emissions and incentivized bikes and buses among other initiatives as part of our commitment.”


Read the rest of this story and the letter sent to the Pennsylvania General Assembly from Muhlenberg College.

Student group pushes St. Olaf to divest from fossil fuel companies

Last year, a student group at St. Olaf took action to push the school to divest from fossil fuel companies.  Here is a portion of the article from the Manitou Messenger.


The Climate Justice Collective (CJC) is a new student group dedicated to increasing awareness about climate issues and pushing St. Olaf to divest its endowment from fossil fuel companies and reinvest those funds in socially responsible corporations. Formed Feb. 20, the group evolved from what used to be Divest St. Olaf, a student organization that also pushed for divestment.


St. Olaf’s endowment currently stands at about $520 million. Around 8.4 percent of endowment assets are invested in energy companies, according to Assistant Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Mark Gelle. In 2016, St. Olaf had invested over a million dollars in ExxonMobil, Chevron and Schlumberger, respectively, though Gelle said current investments are substantially different.


“Investing money in fossil fuel companies not only supports them financially but also morally,” CJC member Isaac Nelson ’21 said. “It is important that St. Olaf divests from fossil fuels because it sends a message that we do not support an industry that jeopardizes the wellbeing of future generations and the planet in exchange for short-term profit.”


One of CJC’s primary concerns about St. Olaf’s current investment policy regards the College’s January 2018 hiring of the investment firm CornerStone Partners.  St. Olaf no longer publicly discloses its various investment managers or specific investments because CornerStone Partners considers this information proprietary.


Making the investments visible “is the only way that you can make sure those investments are ethical,” CJC member Abby Becker ’21 said.


“Under the Admissions tab on the St. Olaf website it says ‘Oles are the people the planet needs,'” Nelson said. “If this school is truly interested in what the planet needs, it will divest. We believe that St. Olaf has a responsibility to its past, present, and future students to do so.”


Read the whole story from the Manitou Messenger.

Carthage College Switches to Environmentally-Friendly Projectors

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.

EPA’s Energy Star Congregation’s Guide

The United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) collaborated through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Commercial Buildings Research Group to create this workbook.
This workbook serves as a resource and planning guide for clergy, staff, and laypersons of houses of worship who want to increase the energy efficiency of their facilities by implementing realistic and cost effective energy improvement projects. Download the guide and appendices for free below.  Be sure to also find out who near you  (see map) has become a part of the EPA’s Protfolio Manager program +/or has tried some of these suggestions in their house of worship.

EPA’s Energy Guide for Congregations

Appendices to support EPA Guide

Disclaimer

All energy, water, and monetary savings listed in this document are based upon average savings for end users and are provided for educational purposes only. Actual savings will vary based on energy, water, and facility use, national weather data for your locality, energy prices, and other factors. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are calculated based on emission factors reported to the U.S. EPA by the electric utility provider serving your ZIP Code. Data referenced in this document is provided by the U.S. EPA and the U.S. DOE’s NREL

Planning and Carrying Out Green Events

Guidelines for Ecologically Responsible Events

Prepared by Pilgrims Caring for Creation Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN in response to a request from Mary Beth Nowak, ELCA Churchwide Assembly Coordinator, January 22, 2009.*

Adapted for events in observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation by David Rhoads, Founder Lutherans Restoring Creation.

*please note some resources may need updating – if you find anything we should alter please let us know!

Publicity about sustainability efforts; through planning, implementation, and beyond:

• Use your website, event program, press releases, opening, signage and post-event publications to tell the story of the green event.

• Put together a brochure with actions taken by your organization to make the event green. Print a limited number for attendees and the public and make it available electronically. Include green actions that individuals can adopt at the event, in their congregations, and beyond. For example:

• Adjust the thermostat in the hotel rooms (and at home) when not there so the heat or air conditioning is not running unnecessarily. Take advantage of hotel policies for less frequent washing of linens.

• List other relevant information related to getting around in the location of the event.

• Set up an onsite sustainability booth to provide information about the event’s greening initiatives. Items at this table could include: transit passes; transit information/maps; bike rental/bike trail information; tips included in the above brochure.

• Invite the local and national Lutheran creation care organizations to have booths and provide consultation to congregations regarding their greening goals.

Procurement of services and products

• Purchasing staff can keep in mind the environmental, social, and economic impacts of purchased goods or services—throughout its lifecycle. Favor goods and services that result in minimal environmental impacts and create good social and economic development. Use environmental criteria as well as quality and price.

• For example, if speaker platforms are created by staff, the wood could be sustainably grown and harvested. If rugs or fabrics are used to soften the areas, they could have minimal adhesives and be reusable or recyclable.

• Develop contract riders to hold suppliers accountable to sustainability commitments.

• For example, ask subcontractors and vendors to consider the lifecycle of the products they use and create.

• There is a precedent for event sponsors to calculate the energy used by the whole event—services, transportation, venues and so forth—and then purchase carbon offsets to cover their energy use. They can choose to ask participants to help bear the costs. There are several calculators to use for this. Consider http://www.nativeenergy.com, but browsing “carbon calculator” on the internet yields comparisons among several. For carbon offset groups, try http://www.co2offsetresearch.org/consumer/OffsetRatings.html .

Communications to participants prior to the event

• Provide opportunities for sending conference information electronically.

• Reduce the use of paper and the need to mail that paper by providing as much pre-event information electronically.

• Allow for and encourage electronic registration.

• Whenever paper is used: Decrease the margins around printing to one-half inch,  copy on both sides of the paper, use 100% post-consumer recycled paper, print using soy/vegetable ink, avoid bright colored paper.

Travel to the Event

• Ask attendees to think about others living in nearby communities who will also attend the event and encourage them to consider renting a van or bus and traveling to the event together.

• Encourage each attendee/vendor/presenter/staff person flying or driving to the site of the event to consider purchasing carbon offsets to help mitigate the environmental impact of their travel.

• Visit http://www.nativeenergy.com or http://www.co2offsetresearch.org/consumer/OffsetRatings.html .

• Encourage people to bring their own water containers or mugs that they will rinse themselves. No Styrofoam or plastic bottles, please.

• Encourage delegates and others coming to the event to consider bringing their families and making the location of the event a vacation destination rather than taking a second trip and thereby emitting additional greenhouse gas emissions. Come early or stay later.

• Consider providing videoconferencing options to individuals who do not need to be physically present at the event.

Lodging for Attendees

• Inquire about the environmental practices of hotels, including their waste and resource management.

• Are bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps used in hotel rooms?

• Are low-flow water-conserving fixtures used in sinks, toilets, and showers?

• Are paperless check-in and check-out available?

• Are post-consumer recycled paper products used?

• Negotiate room blocks with hotels that are within walking distance, are on the transit line, and/or have green policies.

• Ask guests to participate in linen re-use programs at their hotels. Ask them to shut off lights, TVs, and heat/ A/C when they leave their rooms.

• Ask that the hotel staff to put the thermostat up/down when the room is empty. This is already the standard practice in some hotels.

Transportation around the Event Site

• Discourage the use of single rider rental cars, and encourage carpooling.

• Encourage the use of local transit.

• Inform attendees that bike rental is an option for local transportation.

• Inform attendees that idling is prohibited in many areas, unless the car is in traffic. Avoid idling for more than three minutes.

Event Site Amenities

• Inquire about the environmental practices of the site where the event is being held, including their waste and resource management:   Do they employ energy- and water-efficient equipment and practices?  Do they minimize the use of harmful chemicals when cleaning? Is recycling available in all common areas Are recycling receptacles readily available and clearly marked?  Is staff trained to ensure that recycling and garbage are not co-mingled?  Are food-rescue, food-to-animals, or food composting practices followed? Ask if they could schedule heat/ A/C resources around meeting requirements. Can the temperature be changed a little, keeping the halls comfortable but conserving energy?

• Encourage the event site to purchase wind energy during the period of the event. If not, consider purchasing carbon offsets for the event itself.

• Do not distribute plastic water bottles. Instead each table should have a pitcher of water and glasses.

• If you choose to use disposable products such as cups, and cutlery, consider purchasing compostable products made from cornstarch or similar materials. If this option is chosen, then provide for composting services and education to attendees to ensure success.

• Be sure not to put compostable waste inside large non-compostable plastic bags for disposal.

• Encourage attendees to bring their laptop computers and then provide wireless internet service to them. Make all printed materials available electronically so participants can choose to read the materials from their laptops rather than receiving handouts. Individuals may also choose to take notes on their computers rather than on paper.

Meals/Refreshments/Breaks

• Compost food waste.

• Request that food providers use organic, locally produced food and beverages (contract with the site to use local food as much as possible). If it is not possible for all meals to be from local sources, have one or two meals designated as locally grown and publicize them that way.

• Provide only Fair Trade organic coffee and tea throughout the event.

• Direct event staff NOT to pre-fill water glasses at meals. Allow guests to fill their own glasses with pitchers at the tables.

• Do not use disposable water bottles. Provide for glasses and pitchers of water.

• Eliminate disposable items, including containers, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins, and tablecloths. Earth-Centric has cups that are compostable: http://www.Earth-Centric.com

• Arrange to donate leftover food to local charities. Local charity organizations may be able to assist with this effort. Individuals or groups can volunteer to assist.

• Ensure that any seafood served is harvested responsibly.

• Provide vegetarian and vegan meals or options.

• Choose reusable centerpieces and decorations.

Registration

• Make on-line registration an option and encourage attendees to use it.

• Encourage attendees to bring their own name-tags if they have them. Encourage them to be reusable.

• Provide lanyards that are made from recycled materials. Ask participants to return them after the event to be used again later, and provide an incentive for them to do so. For example, if there is a drawing at the end of the event, let people know that their name will be entered only upon the return of the lanyard.

• Give everyone a reusable event bag. The bag can be made of organically grown cotton or canvas, or recycled plastic. Put a logo on it that people will be happy to reuse. This reduces waste and is good advertising.

• Consider the environment when determining giveaways. Provide giveaways that are useful and sustainable, like a bicycle (LED) flasher, keychain with light on end, 3” x 3” recycled leather paper pad.

Exhibits

• Encourage vendors and exhibitors to consider the environment when making choices about giveaways, banners, displays, paper, post-conference waste, etc.

• Encourage them to provide giveaways that are made from recycled materials, or will biodegrade, or are reusable, or are consumable (e.g. note pads made from recycled paper, coffee mugs, Fair Trade chocolate).

• Request/require exhibitors to use recycled and recyclable paper.

• Invite people/companies to exhibit who can sell potentially green things to congregations (eco-friendly Good Friday palms branches, organic communion wine, etc.).

• Encourage exhibitors to reduce waste (and cost) by reusing or recycling displays and other materials, rather than disposing of them after the event.

• Request that exhibitors use sustainable design and construction of their exhibit booths, if possible.

Plenary Events

• Attempt to hire “green” display/decoration/production companies for décor (banners, cutouts, platform decorations, posters). Can you reduce? Do you really need everything you think you need? Using less is good for the environment and good for the budget. What are displays and decorations made of? Do they emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)? Can they be reused?

• Use organic communion wine and locally produced communion bread made from organic ingredients, at large group meetings. Practice intinction to avoid plastic communion cups or washing glass ones.

Consider who helped create the meal from field to table – and where the waste will end up, in whose neighborhood?

Breakout Sessions/Presenters

• Encourage presenters to provide their presentations in advance on discs or on the Assembly web site. Remind attendees that materials will be available on a designated website after the event.

 

Campus Conservation Competition at Valparaiso University

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. 

Upper Mississippi Center at Augustana College

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.

Concordia College Installs Geothermal System

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.

Gettysburg Environmental Concerns Organization

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.

Church Bulletin and Newsletter Input

There is plenty of information “out there” on how we can make steps to live a life with less of a negative impact on our neighbors and bring the Outside in… but that’s only if you happen to go looking for it. Perhaps adding a few simple pieces of inspiration that can work for your fellow worshipers in the material the read periodically can start new habits and open closed minds.  Below are some links that you can copy and paste shared by folks throughout the Lutherans Restoring Creation community. (Please acknowledge source when sharing!)

E – news “blurbs” for Winter 2020: 

Lutherans Restoring Creation

Never heard of us? Find out more below!

Our Mission

Lutherans Restoring Creation exists to inform, encourage, and uplift the discipleship practice of caring for the environment throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.This is accomplished by cultivating a network of dedicated stewards of earth and neighbor who proclaim God’s promise of hope and healing for all.

Who We Are

Lutherans Restoring Creation is a grassroots movement of Lutherans, driven by laity, pastors, lay professionals, synodical leadership, and others who hold positions in the ELCA and its institutions. This movement grows out of a long history of Lutheran concern (the 1993 social statement Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice).

Search “Congregations” for more resources at www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.

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Looking for a Lenten Discipline?

Every little thing can make a big difference when it comes to care for creation! If you are looking for ways to conserve energy and be a good steward to our earth, Lutherans Restoring Creation can help! They have developed a whole checklist for energy savings in your home and congregation! Visit www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org to discover what you may need for Personal Discipleship. Maybe each day of Lent, we can take some time to better care for God’s creation!

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Lutherans Restoring Creation Devotionals

We are facing a critical time in our world when we need to put extra focus on the environment and God’s creation. If you’d like to focus on care for creation during this season of reflection, you can find great devotional materials on www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org.

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Lutherans Restoring Creation Commentaries

Preachers: Are you looking for resources and commentaries about care-for-creation during this season? Lutherans Restoring creation has created a wonderful database of commentaries for the entire lectionary cycle. You can find them all by season and narrative sermons at http://www.LutheransRestoringCreation.org

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Care for Creation Congregational Covenant

Interested in taking the next step with Lutherans Restoring Creation in your congregation? Our congregational self-organizing kit — available for download at: LutheransRestoringCreation.org.   This is a step-by-step guide to help you function as a creation-care congregation as well as how to access to the resources needed to carry out this program on an ongoing basis. Whether or not you are already active in greening your congregation, this kit will enable you to identify yourself with Lutherans Restoring Creation, provide an overall plan for your efforts, and help you to further your congregational commitment to ecology and justice.

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Lutherans Restoring Creation: Going a step further

We care for creation on more than just the individual or congregational level! ELCA members have the opportunity to be public witnesses through the process of submitting, educating fellow members, and eventually passing synod resolutions. Some of these public statements and declarations of change also move along to be a Memorial to be passed by the entire Church-wide body which meets every three years. For details about your local submission requirements contact your synod office. You can see examples of synod resolutions on the Lutherans Restoring Creation website.

 

 

 

Microscopic – Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Micro-Creation Service Bulletin – Click here – free to share! (wonderful readings, music, etc.)

Homily by Pastor Susan Henry, House of Prayer Lutheran Church – Hingham MA

Pentecost 13 B Creation  – –  August 19, 2018

Grace to you and peace from God our Creator and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

Because I was appalled at the prospect of dissecting a frog, I never took biology. My study of living organisms hasn’t been academic, but it has led me to love life, to stand in awe of God’s creative impulses and energy, and, lately, to feel more and more connected not just with human life, but with all of life.

I wasn’t in a biology lab, but I learned about dinosaurs, insects, and sea creatures because I was teaching four-year-olds about them. I know chicken anatomy because whole chickens are cheaper than chicken parts, so I long ago learned how to cut them up. I’ve milked goats and stirred a microbe-rich culture into that milk to make yogurt, and I’ve watched and smelled yeast at work in fragrant, rising bread dough. Most of what I know about plants comes either from gardening, being in the woods, or drawing what I see around me. Really, what I know about biology is more like having a pocketful of seeds, twigs, and shells than knowing where everything fits in a grand scheme. But, as a hymn puts it, I’m “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

This is the third of three summer worship services that have been turning our hearts and minds to God the Creator “of all that is, seen and unseen” – the God of galaxies so vast and so distant it’s hard to wrap our minds around them, the God of forests that breathe in the carbon dioxide we have exhaled and then breathe out the oxygen we will inhale, the God of a fungal network so infinitesimal that 800 miles of it runs through the soil beneath just one footstep that we take. Really, the mind boggles!

The biblical writers knew nothing of micro-organisms, of course, but they too were lost in wonder, love and praise: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!” Both worship and study can draw our attention to what we might often take for granted about God’s awe-inspiring, gracious, creative work made known in human and other-than-human life.

At Bible study Thursday morning, we read today’s verses from scripture, and then we sat in awe of how our bodies are able to heal when we get a cut or break a bone. We laughed in amazement at the number of cherry tomatoes a mere three plants can produce from three tiny seeds. We pondered what we can see through a telescope and what is far beyond our seeing. We caught a glimpse of how everything is connected, how everything belongs. We were lost in wonder, love, and praise.

It’s good for us to intentionally focus on the marvels of creation and on the Creator of all that exists. It’s good for us to contemplate how interrelated all of life is, so that we can honor, respect, and protect what God has made and continues to create. It’s good for us to acknowledge how the Earth suffers when we fail to care for God’s creation, so that we can confess “what we have done and left undone” and so that we can change our ways.

Our reflection today about “the zoo in you” comes from Larry Rasmussen, a Lutheran ethicist who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He too is lost in wonder, love and praise when he considers the sacredness of the web of life of which we are a part. But out of a passion for the well-being of that whole web of life, he is calling us to a life of faith that honors not only human life, but the life of the Earth itself. We’ve not been very good at that. We humans most often see our planet through the lens of how it can be useful to us, and we’ve gotten quite adept at consuming Earth’s resources – often without considering the consequences of what we do. Never before in Earth’s history have human actions been able to have such a massive impact on the web of life on Earth. That is no small thing.

People of faith bring a perspective to this situation that is grounded in knowing and loving God who creates, redeems and sustains us. And although we do think of God as the creator of all life, we probably haven’t thought much about God’s redeeming and sustaining work for the sake of all of life, for the sake of the web of life itself. Even less have we considered what it might ask of us to honor God’s desires for the well-being of all life.

Well-being, wholeness, fullness of life, flourishing, completeness, harmony, peace – this is the future God is drawing us toward. Scripture uses the word “shalom” to speak of this kind of life. We can also recall Jesus’ many parables about the kingdom of God. People kept asking Jesus, “What is the kingdom of God like? What is life like where what God desires is how life actually is?”

One time, Jesus said, “[The kingdom of God] is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Now, you may find that as enigmatic a response as the Bible study group did, but that’s the nature of parables. Jesus didn’t hand out easy answers but instead left his hearers puzzling over his words, taking them back home with them, pondering what yeast is and what someone did and what the result was – and what all that has to do with wholeness and well-being and flourishing.
Among other things, perhaps Jesus was calling his followers to be leaven in the loaf of their society, to help create something life-sustaining and God-honoring. People of faith like us today can be the leaven mixed into critical discussions and decisions about the well-being of the Earth and about the flourishing of all life – the leaven, the soil, the wheat, the baker, and those who share the bread. In living out such an Earth-honoring faith, we may discover that the kingdom of God has come near.

Amen

Wartburg College REUSED Store

The Wartburg College REUSED store is a way for students, faculty, and staff to participate in sustainability on campus. It is a place to get and donate used school and office supplies year-round. All supplies in the store are free to encourage reusing materials to cut down on waste.

“By having a REUSED store on campus, it promotes second hand buying and donating unwanted items instead of throwing away things. Buying second hand and donating unwanted things is one of the many ways people can practice sustainable living,” says Ariel Hall, student manager for the Sustainability Department at Wartburg College. The REUSED store “encourages students to think about how the decisions they are making today affect the environment of their tomorrow. Preparing our students for their future, regardless of major or job choice is something Wartburg strives to do–especially when preparing students to care for their environment after graduation.”

The REUSED store has been around since the beginning of the sustainability program at Wartburg College. Hall says that it would not be very hard to set up a program like this at other schools. She suggests starting by getting students to donate used materials on campus. From there, it’s all about advertising to the community and getting students to donate and shop for REUSED supplies.

Learn more about Wartburg College’s Sustainability Office and REUSED store.

Staff Spotlight: Toby Cain, Luther College

After graduating from Grinnell College in Iowa and attending graduate school in Italy, Cain found herself in Decorah, Iowa working for various agricultural non-profits. Cain is now taking on a new adventure as Sustainability Coordinator in the Center for Sustainable Communities at Luther College. Expanding on her previous experience, Cain is excited to to continue working “at the intersection of agriculture and the environment.”

 As the Sustainability Coordinator, Cain is responsible for helping Luther meet its various climate goals, including the goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. She says, “My goal is to help the Luther community and our larger community of Northeast Iowa develop the skills, knowledge, values, and habits of mind necessary to be responsible citizens of communities that are striving for a more equitable, prosperous, and environmentally responsible world.”

When asked about the purpose of a sustainability coordinator within an institution, Cain answered: “Institutions that employ a sustainability coordinator are setting an example for other schools, colleges, businesses, and governments. When a college has a sustainability coordinator, they are proclaiming that sustainability is a priority and it is something that is worth dedicated resources. The role of a sustainability coordinator will help students, faculty, and staff coalesce together and work collaboratively to solve some of the biggest problems facing our communities and all species on Earth.”

Learn more about Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities.

Susquehanna University Employs Shepherd At New 3.9 MW Solar Project

Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., has flipped the switch on its 3.9 MW solar array, supplying 30% of the university’s electricity needs.

Built by WGL Energy Systems, the project is employing sheep to help maintain the surrounding grass and weeds. A flock of approximately 30 sheep will come from local Owens Farm in Sunbury starting in April 2019.

At an event to unveil the solar system, Susquehanna President Jonathan D. Green called the sheep “the most environmentally responsible lawn-mowing team of any college or university.” The sheep were also on hand for Wednesday’s event.

“In nine years, we have gone from the Sierra Club’s list of ‘Schools Who Burn Coal’ to the Sierra Club’s list of ‘Cool Schools,'” said Michael Coyne, vice president of finance and administration and co-chief operating officer at Susquehanna. “It hasn’t been easy . . . but as the warnings about climate change have reached a new level of alarm, all that work has proven worth the effort. To shed some light – pun intended – this solar field isn’t our final destination; it’s a milestone along the way to the university being a carbon-neutral campus.”

Read the entire article from Solar Industry.

Augustana College Working Landscapes

Augustana College’s Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI) has expanded its program and will partner with the cities of Davenport, Geneseo, Morrison and Rock Island. Augustana students and faculty will be conducting research and creating solutions for real-life challenges facing each city. This is the third year the college has partnered with local communities.

“The partnership is a win-win for all those involved. It creates learning experiences for students while sharing Augustana’s most valuable assets, its students and faculty, with our local communities to help tackle the challenges facing them,” said Dr. Michael Reisner, the director of the Upper Mississippi Studies Center.

Beginning in 2016, the SWLI entered into a two-year partnership with the Scott County Health Department to identify a more preventative approach to solving the lead poisoning health crisis in the county. More than 300 students completed 14 course-based projects spanning 8 areas of study, including accounting, business, economics, geography, public health, psychology and environmental studies.

Learn more about the current projects in Augustana’s SWLI.

Midwinter Convocation

How do we care for all that God has created? 

What happens when our answer differs wildly from others?

This year’s speakers at Mid-Winter Convocation will help us navigate the challenges of how we live, what we eat, and our fraught relationship with the land.

  • Melanie Harris, Professor of Religion, Texas Christian University
  • Barbara Rossing, Professor of New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
  • Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Bible Division Chair, Luther Seminary
  • Norman Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology, Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Register by December 14 for the early-bird rate. 

Green IT

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) at Muhlenberg College has been on the forefront of campus sustainability initiatives. Not only do all the new college computer purchases meet EPEAT Gold standards, but energy reduction mechanisms are constantly being introduced.

Most recently, a pilot program to automatically hibernate public computers not in use for more than 10 minutes has been tested. Also, multiple servers have been consolidated into one. Both of these efforts have significantly reduced energy consumption.

Muhlenberg is also considering future expansions of the Green IT program with technology to detect room occupancy to turn off technology when a room is not being used.

Learn more about Muhlenberg Green IT initiatives.

The Green Pledge at Carthage College

“I pledge to preserve, conserve, and protect the world’s natural resources to the best of my ability. Specifically, I will follow the three R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in my local environment by doing as many of the following as I can, and I will encourage others to do so…”

This pledge began at Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, in October 2010. It is intended to serve as a model for college and university students and everyone else. Please feel free modify the text to fit your group or community and pass it along.

To view the rest of the pledge, visit Carthage Sustainability.

Valparaiso University shares tips about how to reuse plastic bags!

When one ton of plastic bags is reused or recycled, the energy equivalent of 11 barrels of oil is saved! By bringing your own bag to the grocery store, you can save thousands of plastic bags from ending up in landfills, or even worse in ecosystems where they can harm living creatures.

Look for alternate uses for the bags you’ve collected

  • Old bags make great in-car trash containers.
  • Use them as shoe protectors in the garden.
  • Re-use them to clean up kitty litter, or to pick up dog droppings when walking your pet.
  • Use them in your smaller waste bins around the house.
  • Fill a few with shredded paper and tie them off for cheap, reusable packing materials. They’re also a handy way to maintain the shape of your favorite tote.
  • Cut a slit in your bags and use them to protect clothes from dust, moths, and other pests.
  • Take them with you for easy disposal of diapers.

To see other tips, visit Valparaiso’s sustainability page.