We’ve got so much to share with you this month, we’re skipping the introduction and getting right down to business:
Welcoming the City’s new Sustainability Planner
At our May monthly planning meeting, Hope for Creation was honored to hear from the newly hired Sustainability Planner for the City of Kalamazoo, Justin Gish (far left in the photo below). In his first month on the job, he fielded all of our questions -- from native planting to environmental justice -- with passion and humor. We're looking forward to organizing the faith community in support of his top three goals: municipal composting, decarbonizing City energy use, and working with neighborhoods on outdoor spaces.
This monthly planning meeting was hosted by Westminster Presbyterian Church, which is currently hosting the annual Westminster Art Festival. This year's theme is EcoWisdom, and the artists' interpretations are gorgeous and full of meaning. The show runs till June 15; check it out!
Strategy Saturday Part Two Yields Clear Priorities for Our Work
Earlier in May, after our four-part “Analysis to Action” series in the winter, we gathered for our second Strategy Saturday, to map out steps toward collective action on four top-priority issues: land use, resource sharing, waste reduction, and local advocacy. Working groups began to map out strategies that Hope for Creation will support. It’s not too late to join one of the working groups focusing on these areas; express your interest at [email protected]. Thanks to People's Church for hosting us and sharing information on your congregation's award-winning net-zero plan.
Congregational Spotlight: Temple B’nai Israel Cleans Up Along the Kalamazoo River
Partnering with the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, Temple B'nai Israel has adopted a section of the Kalamazoo River on Riverview Drive in Kalamazoo. On May 21, we successfully held our first "Reverse Tashlich” there. Tashlich, which literally translates from Hebrew to mean “casting off,” is a ceremony where Jews symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing pebbles or bread crumbs into flowing water. The idea of “reverse tashlich” is to cleanse the waterways from the trash humans have left, removing our collective “sins.”
In a collaboration between Kalamazoo’s Jewish congregations, 37 people from Temple B’nai Israel and the Congregation of Moses participated, including families from the congregations’ shared religious school. With reachers and garbage bags in hand, we spread out along the river bank and easily found trash to dispose of.
In the fall, we will join Jewish congregations around the world in a global Reverse Tashlich (https://www.repairthesea.org/rt2023).
Opportunity for Congregations to Save Energy, Cash, and the Planet
Michigan Interfaith Power & Light (whose Southwest Michigan chapter is Hope for Creation) is pleased to be working hand-in-hand with Michigan houses of worship and faith-based nonprofits to achieve efficiency goals, cut costs, and care for Creation in the process. Since 2015, over 1,400 Michigan congregations and nonprofits have participated in the Light the Way program and received an average of $1,300 in free energy efficient upgrades such as LED lighting, smart thermostats, and low-flow faucet aerators. As a result, these congregations are saving an average of $600 per year on energy bills—savings that can go right back into their vital missions and ministries. Your congregation can take advantage of this free opportunity by contacting Kate Poirier at [email protected] or (231) 970-0434. (So far, 5 Kalamazoo houses of worship have participated in Light the Way this year, and more are in the pipeline – we hope you’ll join in too!)
We Invite You to Support Our Work
From green teams to green energy, commission meetings to congregational gardening, Hope for Creation’s work depends on the support of individuals, congregations, and foundations. You can donate to support our efforts anytime, with our gratitude and commitment to careful stewardship of resources.
If you are inspired by what you’ve read, please share this newsletter with someone and invite them to subscribe – we are always eager to grow our network!
We’ll be back in touch later this month with several July opportunities to engage, learn, and act.
With hope for Creation,
Joan Hawxhurst, Coordinator of Hope for Creation