The Eco-Stewards Program is happy to announce that our 2014 Eco-Stewards Program will be held in Gainesville, Florida from May 18-24, 2014. The application for the program is posted here on our Gainesville page. Please spread the word to any 20-30 year-olds you encounter over the Thanksgiving weekend. This is a wonderful opportunity for young adults to connect their faith and environmental stewardship as we unite together and study food and faith in a southern foodshed.
This year’s place-based program explores the connection of communities to the land as we look at how Gainesville, Florida utilizes its surrounding natural resources to build life-giving, meaningful relationships. Our time will focus primarily on the interconnected food and water webs of North Central Florida. Our trip will include discussions on local food, faith, nutrition, workers’ rights, intentional Christian communities, sustainability, and the ever-pressing water issues faced by much of this region. The week will consist of service, community dialogue, and an exploration of local areas including but not limited to community gardens producing food for homeless shelters, a local micro-farm rethinking the food system, a house of hospitality, nearby springs, and the Ichetucknee River. Throughout our program, we will be reflecting on and sharing our own Eco-Faith journeys.
The trip will likely be held in May. Check back for exact dates and to download the application!
by Vickie Machado (Montana ’11, Boston ’12, Portland ’13)
I found Eco-Stewards Portland to be a breath of fresh air in a world that tends to place faith and environmental issues in two separate categories. During the week, I experienced first hand these two aspects of life break away from their boxes and amalgamate into the realm of the Columbia River Watershed. We packed a LOT into our week: meeting with a coffee roaster who delivers all of his beans on bike, a visit to Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to talk about sustainability, weeding garden beds at Zenger Farms, talks on gentrification and issues of race, pulling invasive ivy inside the country’s largest urban, forested park, a full day of biking, dinner with our hosts, the Earth Care congregates of First Presbyterian Church of Portland, chats with co-housing groups and a meditating labyrinth walk at Menucha Camp & Conference Center, just to name a few. It was through these adventures (which took us all over Portland) that I recognized how individuals and the groups we met manifested their respect for the earth and our Creator in distinct ways. They fulfilled their own ecological niche, acting as stewards of their area and care-givers to the people around them.
Two months after Portland, I reunited with fellow Eco-Steward Daniel Loya and 2011 Montana Eco-Steward Dave Grace to table at the Wild Goose Festival, which took place near Hot Springs, NC. Our table focused on building connections with other young adults and trying to grow the Eco-Stewards family so more young adults might benefit from our place-based programs. Our presence as Eco-Stewards provided us the opportunity to build community while connecting faith to environmental stewardship. We sold recycled art including peace cranes made from recycled magazines and repurposed beads, tooth brush bracelets, and bags made crocheted from t-shirt yarn. Additionally, our banner was handmade from extra paint, canvas and fabric materials.
Bordered by the Appalachian Trail and the French Broad River, Hot Springs and the people it attracted offered another amazing place in which I saw the confluence of Christianity and the environment come to life. I suppose this over lap of faith and ecology is best explained through the festival’s name, “wild goose,” the Celtic metaphor for Holy Spirit. Though each day brought scattered thunderstorms, blue skies always followed. Again echoing the wild, unexpectedness, peace, and beauty of the Spirit. The Wild Goose allowed us to listen to others experiences while sharing our own Eco-Steward stories. These talks broadened our connections and promoted friendships rooted within life and nature.
By Scott Crane
When I first became involved with my colleagues to set up and mentor the Eco-Stewards Program (then PCC) in 2006-2007, I was carrying out a personal extension of my own young adult ideals and goals in the area of environmental stewardship as expression of my faith. I was already on board an “environmental movement,” but struggling to place it within the context of my Christianity and my workplace.
In the past several years, the zest and vigor I had for following my earlier eco-steward ideals waned in the face of “real life” issues such as growing older, getting married, owning a home, commuting to work, having children, and just trying to stay afloat during all those changes in my life.
This year’s program in Portland came at a pivotal moment for me as I begin to settle better into my current chapter of life (married, raising children, etc.). That means I am ready (I think!) to do more than just tread water. I hope and pray I will have more energy, finally, to re-engage my ideals and goals for applied eco-stewardship. My next steps? To integrate these ideals and goals into my family and work life in practical ways…that is my hope!
For myself and my current chapter of life, “Connectional Living as a Creative Response” means, “Living within my context and applying the best ecologically-sound stewardship practices available to my means and station.”
To that end, I re-commit to being present not only to community of place and family, but to the community of Eco-Stewards, the earth, and all its creatures. To accomplish that, I pledge to work earnestly to:
- Reduce the carbon footprint my family makes on the planet (our house remodel will result in more efficient systems and lower energy use)
- When the time/pocketbook is right to trade my car for a more efficient hybrid or EV for my 40+-mile commute each day
- Educate others about choices for more conscious environmental stewardship
- Plant over a hundred trees by this time next year
- Explore potential for off-grid living in the next chapter of my life.
May this reflection inspire all of us to think deeply about our engagement with applied eco-stewardship, in whatever chapter of life we find ourselves. Let us all share and inspire one another!
Our 2013 Eco-Stewards Program begins today in Portland, Oregon! We are so excited to welcome both new and old members of the Eco-Stewards community as we explore Portland’s creative approach toward living in ways that connect faith and environmental stewardship. We will be visiting urban church gardens, organic farms, co-housing communities, coffee houses, community cooperatives and homeless shelters- and putting our hands to service where we can. Stay tuned for “postcards from Portland” that we will send via this blog throughout the week. Please keep our group in your prayers. Thanks!