I became interested in the Eco-Stewards Program through an e-mail that was sent through my seminary campus. When I read it, I loved what the e-mail had to say. This is in large part because I am from West Virginia and was born and raised in Braxton County. I feel called back to this place to give back to my community and to learn a little about what mountain top removal can do to communities. I also love to do work that has palpable results. Eco-stewardship puts faith into practice in a very concrete way, and I long for concrete ways in which to make a difference.
Care for one’s environment is care for those with whom you share it. It is care for the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer’s work in and through us and all of creation. We all need each other to survive. A Bible verse comes to mind, Romans 8:22: “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” The text seems to be referring to the effects of the fall. I would take it a bit farther in my own interpretation and say that it is also about how humans can and often do degrade our world and fellow creatures.
As an Eco-Stewards Intern, I hope to learn how to lessen the groan caused by the negative behaviors of the human race and how to live more simply. I also wish to learn more about gardening, as helping to begin a community garden will be one of my primary roles of my work with the McGraws/Ravencliff community. I can’t wait to get started.
Joanna Rittmann, 24, is pursuing a Master’s of Divinity degree at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This summer, she will work as an Eco-Steward Intern on the McGraws/Ravencliff Foodbank Garden project, which seeks to provide fresh produce in season and engage community volunteers in helping their neighbors.