The Earth and Spirit Council is a 501(c)(3) volunteer educational organization located in Portland, Oregon that was formed in 1991. They are a group of environmental and spiritual leaders who are on a mission to connect individuals to the natural world through art, education, ceremonies and cultural events. Learn more about the Earth and Spirit Council on their website (here) and FaceBook page (here).
In 2015, Roman Catholic Cardinal Peter Turkson visited Ohio and the proceeds from his talk with OSU President Michael Drake at Mershon Auditorium were used as matching funds in a grant from the Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFACT) discovery theme program to fund an agricultural exchange between Accra, Ghana, and Columbus, Ohio. Last week, three Ghanaian high school students involved in YMCA and 4-H visited Columbus in response to this sister city and sister garden initiative. The Columbus Dispatch reported on their visit… Read more.
The Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways (GCILL) is an informal umbrella created to support short-term and long-term projects that educate and inform people about indigenous ways of knowing and wisdom for modern times—spirituality that raises human consciousness and harmonious relationship with Mother Earth. The focus of the GCILL has evolved over time first focusing on public speaking by sharing the message of wisdomkeepers (including the work of Ilarion “Larry” Merculieff), helping others and Mother Earth. They then focused on speaking engagements in order to help people create programs to discuss good dialogue surrounding difficult issues. They hope to become their own 501c3 non-profit organization.
Kamara Willoughby is a lifetime resident of Columbus, Ohio. She grew up in the Ephesus Seventh-Day Adventist Church and was a believer in God and his creation of the earth. Though Kamara no longer attends that church she still considers it home. Kamara always had a passion for people. Even as a young lady she created various activities, with the help of her mother, for the kids in her neighborhood which at the time was Winchester Station. She also loved nature. She spent a lot of time outside as a kid and was able to ride her bike on the trail near her home when she got older. There was a creek near her house and along with friends and family they would sneak down and play in the creek and look for different things that they didn’t see on the playground and was in awe by nature.
Kamara attended Metro High School and they went on a lot of field trips and one particular trip to Camp Lazarus is where she learned about the career field of Environmental Science. She attended Columbus State Community College (CSCC) to receive her Associates of Science degree and there she helped start the Cougars for the Community volunteer club. Through this club and her job with the Peer Advocates in the Connect 2 Complete program she wanted to engage people with nature. She is now attending The Ohio State University at the School of Environment and Natural Resources. She was Majoring in Environmental Science and because of her experiences at CSCC and her involvement in her neighborhood she switched her major to Environmental Economic Development and Sustainability (EEDS). She now gets the best of both worlds.
In her neighborhood, Milo-Grogan, she is an Area Commissioner and a member of the Milo-Grogan Civic Association. Each group holds monthly meetings to discuss revitalization plans for the neighborhood. They are currently working on housing plans, job plans and engaging neighbors in community clean-ups. The Civic Association is working on a community garden where people can sit and enjoy the scenery, hold various activities and harvest produce from the raised beds.
“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ~Mother Teresa
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~Douglas Adams
The Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson, a native of Iowa, became the Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches in April, 1997. She has held ministerial standing in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1981. She is a graduate of Buena Vista University (1974) and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1981).
Rebecca served for 10 years in parish ministry in Iowa and Minnesota, as the Director of the Commission on Faith and Order for the Minnesota Council of Churches, and then joined the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991. While there she served as Associate, Women Employed by the Church, and as Associate for Call Referral Services. In the fall of 1998, the Ohio Council of Churches held their first forum on environmental concerns. They had been requested to do so by the National Council of Christian Churches in the USA. From that spun the Ohio Interfaith Power and Light program.
‘I believe in ecumenism….the church universal. This is vital to the Christian faith community’s presence today. We are pressed to witness to the convictions we hold dear which keep us from being competitive or minimally cooperative. We are ALREADY the Body of Christ. We are called to live that out as sisters and brothers. We each have gifts and traditions which enrich the other. I am blessed to work with such a wonderful tapestry of who this Council is. Thanks be to God.’
Color of Change is a racial justice organization that help individuals effectively respond to injustice in the world around us. Color of Change was launched September 1, 2005 three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast and the Bush administration’s failed response shocks the nation, James Rucker and Van Jones email roughly 1,000 friends asking them to pledge to make sure all Americans are represented, served, and protected–regardless of race or class.
“Environmental Racism” is a term coined in the 1980s by Benjamin Chavis, a civil rights activist. On February 18, 2016, Rev. Fletcher Harper, Rev. Lawrence Jennings and Rev. Dr. Melanie L. Harris gave a presentation: Flint, Environmental Racism and the Black Church, which talks about the history of environmental racism and religion, the Flint Michigan water crisis, and literature on African American Environmental History. The PDF presentation can be viewed here
Dr. Melanie L. Harris is Associate Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of Religious Social Ethics, African American Religion and Environmental Justice. Dr. Harris is a GreenFaith Fellow and co-director of Earth Honoring Faith with Ghost Ranch Education and Conference Center. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of KERATV/Radio in Dallas and facilitates contemplative retreats as a licensed Spiritual Director. Dr. Harris is the author of Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics (Palgrave) and coeditor of the volume Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation (Palgrave) and editor of Ecowomanism: Earth Honoring Faiths (Brill). Learn more about Dr. Harris Here.
More on Melanie and the organizations she’s part of:
Katherine Hayhoe photographed in Lubbock on March 31, 2016
Dr. Katherine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change. She is an associate professor in the department of Political Science and is the Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. Her research at Texas Tech University focuses on assessing the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change at the local scale. She also researches language so that her message on climate change reaches listeners with various backgrounds. Katherine was one of Time Magazine’s most influential people of 2014. She is a part of several organizations including her own, ATMOS Research. Along with her husband, who is the author of eight best-selling books, she wrote “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions”. To learn more about Katherine go to her website here.