The Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways (GCILL)

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.

Here are GCILL’s current focus areas:





Environmetal Racism and Flint Water Crisis

“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


History Professor Explains Religious Origins of American Environmentalism

9780190230869Texas Tech historian Mark Stoll‘s latest book, Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism (Oxford University Press, 2015), details how religion provided early American environmental leaders with the moral and cultural basis to champion the protection of the natural world.

To hear Jan Oosthoek’s environmental history podcast interview of Stoll, click here.

Stoll argues in part that Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, is nothing new, but points environmentalism back towards its moral and religious roots.

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Earth Keeping Summit: There is a Balm… Eco Justice, Renewal and Hope


The Earth Keeping Summit 2016 was held at the Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources. The summit went deeper than the importance of recycling, shutting off your lights and using less energy, and addressed questions of ecology, justice, and race. Dr. Melanie Harris was the keynote speaker of the event and also spoke on the importance of sharing stories. She is an Associate Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.

Dr. Harris spoke of the importance of diversity in ecology and how social justice relates to the environmental movement. She talked about how sharing our stories and experiences plays a part in taking care of the environment and having a connection to the environment and to each other. In this environmental movement we must listen. We must reflect on our experiences. We must take race, class and gender very seriously. She gave the example of Eric Garner whose life was taken by police but before that he struggled with asthma. Melanie talked about our air and how the earth is barely breathing. When we heal our earth we will then heal ourselves.

Earth connection begins by sitting with difference. Sitting with nature and seeing things in a different kind of lens. You can hear Melanie’s powerful message here.

Faith Community Impacts on Earth Day

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Since the founding of Earth Day, faith communities have been getting ready more and more involved with the activities of the day. Various religions have taken the lessons to heart, urging individuals to be more aware of their personal impact on the environment as well as their impacts as a community. For a thorough history on the involvement of faith communities with Earth Day, check out this link.


Engaged Organizations: National Religious Partnership for the Environment

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This is a network of 4 major religious coalitions. They seek to preserve the planet by providing outlets and resources for anyone and everyone. To check out this excellent resource, follow this link to their homepage.


Sustainability in Religion: A History

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Sustainability has been developing for a long time. It has recently been featured more prominently, as various world events and cultural changes are pushing it to the forefront of modern issues. Churches and religious houses are no exception when it comes to adopting sustainable goals and ideals. To read a history of how these two intertwine, click here.


Some Religious Views on Fracking

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Fracking is, and has been, a highly controversial and political issue. Various religious leaders of many different faiths have come out within the past few years to advocate against the use of this practice. Most, if not all, are citing the need in their religious text to preserve and care for the earth. They are all getting very involved in their communities, which range from New York to Colorado. Find out more about this ongoing issue at the following link.

Tu B’Shevat

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Tu B’Shevat is the Jewish Arbor Day. Students of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley Religious School have recently prepared for and decorated the building to get ready for the holiday. To read more about what the students did to celebrate this day, click here. To get a better idea of what Tu B’Shevat is, check out the following information located at this link.


Changing the Columbia River Treat

Many groups, including faith communities, have called for a restructuring of the Columbia River Treaty. The original treaty was written in 1964, and has become outdated. The people calling for the change want the river to be valued for its ecosystem services that were not included in the original treaty. To read the full letter to government officials in Canada and the United States, click here. To read an overview article about this story that goes into more of the history of the treaty, click here.


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