Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Witness to Albuquerque About Climate Change

It was almost like having a big party on Saturday morning. There were about 400 of our friends the Albuquerque Climate Pilgrimage:Connecting the Dots, and some were not necessarily people I knew--just kindred spirits.

As we crossed the street, we got a few thumbs up and approving honks(I think they were approving)  from motorists passing by. One woman standing at the entrance to one of the public garages took time to read as many signs as she could.

And then it struck me that it's going to take more than just the 400 who started on the corner of Copper and Sixth St. to address the problems caused by climate change.  We need to get all of society behind this effort. We al --I mean not just you and I personally, but all of society--need to drive less (and I took the bus to the pilgrimage this morning), and put pressure on our government  to cut our carbon footprint.

Solidarity with Big March in New York City
Sister Joan Brown of  the New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and several local partners deserve kudos for organizing a meaningful witness to our community. Our pilgrimage in Albuquerque was our way of joining the huge People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21. 

"We Walk in solidarity with brothers and sisters around the planet and those joining in the People's Climate March in New York City tomorrow.  We walk to make our voices heard to our leaders and those gathered for the UN Climate Conference in NYC September 23.  The People's Climate March in NYC is billed as the largest climate march in history representing great diversity...Today we are connecting the dots as well as others you may not connect to climate change such as food security, immigration and refugees, national and international security, jobs, water, energy and faith."  -Program for Albuquerque Climate Pilgrimage: Connecting the Dots

Thinking About Eliza
Several individuals and groups prepared brief presentations  at six stops along the route. I was part of a group of four people who were asked to make a presentation at the fifth stop in front of the Federal Building. Kathy Freeze, Parish and Community Outreach Liaison at Catholic Charities, set the tone by talking about the impact of climate change on refugees. New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps and the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice also made presentations at this stop.

I was asked to make a brief two-minute presentation about the impact of climate change on a single person affected by hunger and poverty. I chose a picture and a message from World Vision. The caption of the photo to the left reads, "When children like Eliza don’t get enough food to eat, it affects their growth and development in many ways."

Eliza (Photo: World Vision)
And I read this brief message:  Climate change is affecting people’s ability to feed themselves. And when that happens, it is children who suffer the most. Because they are still growing, children are at greatest risk of injury, disability and death caused by the impacts of climate change. They are less equipped physically, mentally and emotionally to cope with life-threatening conditions. The greatest killers of children – malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease and malaria – will get worse because of climate change. Children living in developing countries face the greatest risks of all, not because climate change effects will be any worse there than in other countries, but because poverty limits their ability to respond.  Read full piece from World Vision.

Climate Change and Hunger
There is  ample evidence by now that the warming of the planet has created havoc for agriculture, not only through severe and devastating droughts, but also through untimely floods.

"The way forward is fairly clear, but the magnitude of this challenge is far greater than any other issue on the horizon.," the Bread for the World Institute in a series of reports on climate change and hunger.. At this point, the scientific evidence on climate change is unequivocal. If we don’t take strong action, the consequences could be catastrophic for everyone."

Kathy Chavez, New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps
Two of our partners in the fight against global hunger have also put together impressive reports on the impact of climate change on food insecurity.

Oxfam America's section on Climate Change tells us that those who are less responsible for climate change are suffering the most from its effects. "The carbon footprint of the world’s one billion poorest people represents just 3 percent of the global total. Yet as climate change advances, poor communities are hardest hit. Not only do we have a responsibility to avoid doing harm to others, we must help them adapt,"

And our friends at CARE have created a series of reports on hunger, poverty and climate change in its Climate Change Information Centre. The briefing paper "Adaptation, Gender and Women's Empowerment," provides some interesting information. "Vulnerability to climate change is determined, in large part, by people's adaptive capacity. A particular climate hazard, such as a drought, does not affect all people within a community – or even the same household – equally because some have greater capacity than others to manage the crisis. This working brief looks at why gender is central to CARE's understanding of and response to the impacts of climate change."

Terese Bridges chats with Jennifer Edwards
Bread members on the March
While I don't know the names and faces of all the Bread for the World in New Mexico, I recognized a handful of members of our organization at the pilgrimage: Terese Bridges, Sara Keeney, Rev. Stephen Miller, and Pat Sheely. They were not necessarily here as Bread members but as individuals concerned about the environment. Pat Sheely traveled from Gallup to take part in the rally, and  Rev.  Miller was the song leader for the theme song of the march: We need to wake up, We need to wise up, We need to open our eyes, And do it now now, We need to build a better future, And we need to start right now...

Does It Matter? 
The pilgrimage organizers answer the question in the affirmative. Yes.What happens depends on what actions you take, how you convey your concerns and invite family, work colleagues, faith leaders, community and political leaders to act. We offer suggestions for action as we walk along.Thank you for saying Yes to Life, to the Future and to the Children.



 Here are More Photos of the Pilgrimage

 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Barrett House to Celebrate 30 Years of Service to Community


Click Here to Get Your Tickets Online or Call 505-246-9244  

The mission of Barrett Foundation is to provide housing and supportive services to women and children who are striving to break the cycle of homelessness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ONE Members: We Can Cut Poverty in Half by 2030

ONE members have a powerful message - extreme poverty has been cut in half and we can finish the job by 2030.



Just like Maragaret and Phil and Gustavo and Amy and Chijoke and Mitchell, you’ve helped cut extreme poverty in half. But we need your help - your voice - if we're going to finish the job.

So tell us the one thing you’ll do before the end of the year to keep up the fight. Sign a petition. Recruit three friends to join the fight. Write a letter to your senator. Tweet. Host an event. Pledge your one thing on our volunteer form right here and let's get this done!

Thanks -

ONE

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Art of Loving our Neighbors

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

-Frederick Buechner

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Place at the Table, a Mud Pie, Hunger in New Mexico and a Prayer for a World Without Hunger

Participants listen to speaker Ruth Hoffman
The second session of Hunger 101, cosponsored by the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and the Holy Rosary Social Justice Committee, attracted around 30 participants. A handful of the people in the room  had attended the first session back in February, but there were mostly new faces in the social hall at Holy Rosary on Sept. 7.

Both sessions were intended to provide information about hunger in New Mexico, although the first gathering back in February was also set up to collect feedback on how the coalition should proceed with its work.

This latest session--the first of several planned programs around Albuquerque over the next several months--featured a showing of the documentary A Place at the Table, a presentation by Ruth Hoffman of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico, a couple of  interactive sessions and prayers and reflections.. Here are a couple of highlights.

A Place at the Table 
This was the fourth time I had viewed  A Place at the Table. People who see a movie multiple times often tell you that they see something new each time.  The one thing I noticed this time around was that Janet Poppendieck, one of the experts/advocates interviewed in the documentary had traveled to our state capital this past October to make a presentation at a conference on Santa Fe's food future.

While the stories in A Place at the Table were now very familiar to me, a handful in the audience at Holy Rosary had not seen this powerful documentary and the message that 50 million people in our country—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This promo for the documentary is a call to action. "Ultimately, A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all," says


Photo: from Matt Wilkie's blog
A Mud Pie
One of the interactive sessions at the Hunger 101 session at Holy Rosary was described as a "snack activity." This was an a modified version of the Hunger Banquet, where participants represent various countries around the globe and receive a meal that corresponds to that country’s economic status. Instead of a meal, the event recreated the experience with snack foods for seven participants: one fancy chocolate bar, one bag of chips, two saltine crackers, two portions of a dried tortilla and one mud pie.

The mud pie was not the sweet snack popular in the South, but a different kind of item (and I don't know if you can even call it food).  Here is a description from National Geographic News.
It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some must take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places such as Cité Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings, and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal. 
Hunger in New Mexico
Ruth Hoffman, offered a modified version of the presentation that she made in February. She reminded participants of the statistics that we already know (or should know): Our state has a child poverty rate of 27% (140,000 children) and a senior poverty rate of  12% (35,000 seniors)..A total of 66% of students in New Mexico are eligible for free or reduced meals... Some 43% of the families in our state are "house-burdened," meaning that they spend over 30% of their income on housing.

There was a discussion of solutions that can be taken immediately, such as expanding school meals, increasing access to healthy and affordable food and removing barriers for people to access food stamps and other types of public assistance. Many of the systemic problems related to poverty and injustice were also addressed, such as: a low minimum wage, wage theft and other economic issues.

Commitment and Prayer
The program ended with an opportunity for participants to commit to take action. (The commitments were written on a blue piece of paper and offered in prayer)

And we ended with the following prayer from Prayer Without Borders, Celebrating Global Wisdom

To Have Hope is To Live

To have hope is to believe that history continues open to the dream of God and to human creativity

To have hope is to continue affirming that it is possible to dream a different world, without hunger, without injustice, without discrimination.

To have hope is to be a courier of God and courier of men and women of good will, tearing down walls, destroying borders, building bridges. 


To have hope is to believe in the revolutionary potential of faith, is to leave the door open so that the Spirit can enter and make all things anew.

To have hope is to believe that life wins over death. 

To have hope is begin again as many times as necessary. 

To have hope is to believe that hope is not the last thing that dies.

To have hope is to believe that hope cannot die,that hope no longer dies.

To have hope is to live.

-Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo -Scalabrinians Honduras

Friday, September 12, 2014

Family Promise Invites You to Sweet Reprise Benefit Concert this Sunday

Family Promise of Albuquerque invites you to its fourth annual Sweet Reprise Benefit Concert on Sunday evening, September 14, 7:00 to 9:00 pm,  at the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, 2801 Louisiana NE (map). The concert will feature local jazz group Sid Findley and Friends. Tickets cost $20 and are available at the door only. (See flier below for more details).

Click on Image to enlarge
Family Promise partners with 19 congregations (see map on left) in the Albuquerque area to provide shelter and two meals/day for up to four families at a time, and each weekday morning offers support services including tutoring, skill-building classes, and job placement assistance. 

The Importance of Clean Water for Sustainability

This video from Church World Service offers the simple message that access to clean water is a key factor in promoting sustainability in many poor countries around the world.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Steve Garnaas-Holmes: Forgiving

Forgiving is not forgetting bad behavior,
not condoning or excusing or minimizing it,
not pretending that it didn’t hurt, that “it was nothing.”

Forgiving is not about the behavior.
It’s loving the person,
and letting nothing, even their hurtful actions,
diminish or deter your love.

Forgiving is accepting what is—
that they have wronged you—
without desire to amend that,
to get even, exact payment
or get them to see your hurt.
It is accepting that the hurt is real,
and yet your love for them, and yourself, remains.

Forgiving is accepting the person,
even with their hurtfulness,
without needing to change that.
Forgiving is accepting yourself:
allowing yourself to be hurt or wronged
without the need to correct that
to know your belovedness, dignity and worth.

Forgiving is owing nothing, being owed nothing.
Forgiving is letting go of the past,
letting the hurt be in the past instead of the present,
choosing to stop hanging on to it, stop being chained up in it.
Forgiving is getting free.

Our forgiving blossoms from our being entirely forgiven.
We have been forgiven for deeper hurts than we ourselves forgive.
We choose to be in the heaven of infinite forgiving
rather than the hell of unfinished and never-ending resentment.
Forgiving is coming alive,
and entering into eternal life.

Forgiving is not a chore or obligation.
Forgiving is joy, freedom, compassion, and peace.
Seven times seventy times.

-Steve Garnaas Holmes
from Unfolding Light Blog

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Presbyterian Hunger Program Invites You to Partiicipate in Food Week of Action, Oct. 12-19

The Presbyterian Hunger Program invites you to participate in The Food Week of Action – Sunday Oct. 12 through Sunday Oct. 19. The list of activities includes World Food Day (October 16), the International Day for Rural Women (October 15), and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17). To assist participants, organizers provide you with resources for priority action, worship and more.

Here is how the week unfolds:

Sunday, October 12
World Communion Sunday ~ Register for the Monday, Oct. 13 webinar on the Future of Food:

Monday, October 13 
Support Fair Trade and defeat the undemocratic Fast Track

Tuesday, October 14
CIW Action Day Encourage the fast-food holdout to do the right think!

Wednesday, October 15
International Day for Rural Women ~ Learn how the United Nations is supporting economic empowerment of rural women

Thursday, October 16
World Food Day ~ Push for strong EPA Farmworker Protection Standards

Friday, October 17
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty ~ Help end land grabs

Saturday,October 18
Minimum Wage Act ~ Livable wages for restaurant and fast food workers

Sunday, October 19
Climate Justice - Educate yourself and others  and join the Climate Justice movement 

Join the Event on Facebook

Monday, September 08, 2014

Roadrunner Food Bank Urges You to Turn Orange During September

"Carrots, oranges, cantaloupe and habanero peppers– while there aren’t a lot of orange foods, the color orange can help us ensure that hungry people in New Mexico have enough to eat this September.  That’s because September is Hunger Action Month, and the color orange raises awareness about hunger."  from the Roadrunner Food Bank blog

Photo from Roadrunner Facebook Page
As we start the second week of September, I'm about a week late in my appeal to participate in Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign organized by Feeding America and affiliates like Roadrunner Food Bank to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger.

While the campaign recommends activities for the month of September, we are encouraged to take actions to address hunger every day of the year.  Specifically, the campaign brings greater attention to the issue of hunger in America and promotes ways for individuals everywhere to get involved with the movement to solve it.
 
There are many ways to participate in the campaign, starting with creating awareness.
  • Some might start by using Feeding America's Social Media App turning their Facebook and/orTwitter profile orange and donate a tweet or status to hunger relief.
  • Along those lines, Text RRFB to 20222 to make a one-time $10 donation. 
  • Stop by Roadrunner Food Bank, 5840 Office Blvd. NE (map), and bring a non-perishable or fresh food donation to the food bank's warehouse and pose for a photo on our ORANGE CARPET – you can even get dolled up with our orange accessories! 
  • You can also download the 30 Ways in 30 Days Calendar and post it up at your office, home and favorite coffee shop. There are still 23 days to participate, including today 
  • Meet Hungry Kate and share her two-minute video.  
  • Volunteer!  Roadrunner Food Bank has volunteer shifts available Monday through Saturday and welcome children as young as six to participate with supervision. Staffcan also accommodate groups of up to 100 people, perfect for company team-builder days or scouting activities!  
  • Give! Become a donor and provide food to hungry people throughout the state.  For every $1 you give, we can distribute FIVE wholesome meals!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Project Share to Celebrate 30th Anniversary

Our 127-230 guests include children, families, women and men who share our dinner table and receive hot nutritious meals. Each person receives a hearty welcome at the door and a full meal served buffet style. They often visit with family members and friends while eating. There are always clean restrooms and personal hygiene items if needed.  These hungry people receive the best home cooking in town in a safe & family friendly environment.   -Project Share
Celebrate Community, Art and Collaboration at the 2014 Full Hearts Filling Empty Bowls fundraiser

Project Share has been  a reliable place for low-income  families and individuals (many of whom are homeless) to find an evening meal six nights of the week. With the help of volunteers from businesses, faith communities and local organizations, dinner has been served at the site since 1984.

To celebrate 30 years of providing this service to the community, Project Share has planned a 30th anniversary celebration and fundraiser.

Saturday, October 18
11:00-3:00 p.m.
St. John's United Methodist Church
2626 Arizona (near Menaul and San Pedro)  
$25 Admission for guests over 10 years. Attendees choose from hundreds of handcrafted bowls by New Mexico ceramic artists and enjoy a meal of soup, bread and dessert while listening to live music performances. The souvenir bowl they take home is to remind them of all the empty bowls in the world. All proceeds benefit Project Share .

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets online
For more infomation contact Project Share, (505) 242-5677 or share@psabq.org

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Joy Dinaro: A Successful First Visit to a Congressional Office

Jasmine McBeath, Joy Dinaro, Ane Romero (back row), Kathy Chavez,(front)
By Joy Dinaro
(The author,  a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Albuquerque, represented Bread for the World at a meeting arranged by New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps with the Albuquerque staff of Sen. Martin Heinrich on Aug. 28, 2014, Local Bread member Ellen Buelow joined in an earlier visit organized by New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps with Sen. Tom Udall)

Even though I was a volunteer tour guide in the Massachusetts State House during high school, and I visited the Roundhouse in Santa Fe with two different advocacy groups during this last legislative session, I had never been part of a "formal" visit to a U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative's office before. I was a bit nervous beforehand, but it ended up being quite low-key and actually a lot of fun!

I was in great company with Jasmine McBeath and Kathy Chavez of New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps, and I felt honored to represent Bread for the World, as I believe strongly in the issues that our organization supports  internationally and in the U.S.

Asking Sen. Heinrich to Cosponsor Food for Peace Reform Act
Photo: USAID (click to enlarge)
We met with  Ane Romero, a local staff representative for Sen. Heinrich. Jasmine briefly introduced us and what organizations we are representing, I then spoke about the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014 (S. 2421), a bipartisan initiative related to Bread for the World's 2014 Offering of Letters.

I asked that  Sen. Heinrich consider cosponsoring this legislation, introduced by Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, and Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The purpose of the initiative is to free up as much as $440 million  annually through greater efficiencies in delivering aid, allowing the U.S. to reach an estimated 7 million to 9 million more people, in a shorter time period.  Here are some talking points that I made.
  • The current policy requires that 100 percent of  food aid be grown in the United States. The Food for Peace Reform Act eliminates this requirement and allows either U.S. commodities or locally and regionally procured (LRP) commodities,vouchers, and transfers to be used—whichever is the most efficient option.
  • Current law also requires that at least half of food aid be shipped on U.S.-flagged vessels. The reform does not bar the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from shipping on U.S.-flagged vessels, but provides the agency with the flexibility to ship on vessels that are readily available, helping improve response time and potentially saving $50 million a year.
  • The Food for Peace Reform Act would also allow for money to be provided instead of food in cases where it makes the most sense (Whereas, right now, sometimes sending food aid directly causes more problems economically than it helps the country in need). 
Oxfam Requests: Global Poverty-Fighting Aid,  Foreign-Aid Transparency
Both of the asks presented by Jasmine and Kathy are compatible with Bread for the World's food-aid and foreign aid efforts. And of course, Oxfam also strongly supports the Food for Peace Reform Act. Here is some information on Oxfam's requests:

Continued support of poverty-fighting assistance in the federal budget, including $1 billion for the Feed the Future Program (which aims to increase agricultural productivity, and prevent maternal and child malnutrition, and includes $133 million for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program).

 
Support for the  Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (HR2638 and S1271) which requires all government branches involved in food aid to report where their funding goes (some branches are already transparent, but not all are).

Ms. Romero was receptive throughout our meeting, and jotted down all the pertinent details to pass on to Sen. Heinrich's DC staff.  She told us she did not have any questions, as our asks appeared straightforward.

After this more formal part of the meeting was concluded, Ane Romero and Kathy Chavez, both native New Mexicans, discovered during a conversation that they had common acquaintances. The conversation led to Ane's  mother, who is a farmer in the community of Dixon in northern New Mexico and the only woman on local water-rights board. Kathy suggested that perhaps Ane's mother could participate in the World Food Day Community Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 18 , which will focus on women farmers.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Mark Your Calendars: World Food Day Community Dinner, October 18

Hungry for change? To celebrate World Food Day, the New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps is partnering with New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light to host the 3rd annual FREE Community Dinner at First Congregational Church,  2801 Lomas Blvd NE ,(see map) Saturday, October 18, 6:00-8:00 p.m.  Join Event on Facebook
 

The meal will be entirely local, made by a community chef from food purchased or donated at the Downtown Growers Market.  We invite you to gather in solidarity with people who grow the world’s food and add to our discussion about where your food comes from, who cultivates it, and learn how you can take personal actions that will help protect farmers and farmland.

This year, the event will focus on women farmers, considering how important they are, and that women are responsible for the majority of food production in many developing countries. The featured presenter is Evelyn Losack, co-founder of the Corrales Cultural Arts Council, the Corrales Harvest Festival, and the Corrales Growers' Market, who will speak about access to land and growing food in New Mexico. 

Join New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps and Interfaith Power and Light for a night of fun, great food, and excellent discussion on how we can decrease hunger and poverty not only in New Mexico, but all over the world.  Stay tuned for more details.



Thursday, September 04, 2014

Caritas Video: Allegory of the Long Spoons

Last December, Caritas Internationalis (the parent organization of U.S. Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services) launched One Family Food for All. The campaign included the Global Wave of Prayer, led by Pope Francis, to bring communities around the world together (including Albuquerque) to pray and commit to end world hunger. Caritas has continued its outreach and education efforts over the year, releasing this video on Sept. 1.

"Based on an ancient story about hunger and sharing, this animated video is part of Caritas’ “One Human Family, Food for All” campaign. The “allegory of the long spoons” teaches us that when we struggle to feed only ourselves, everyone goes hungry. But when we focus on our neighbor’s hunger, we discover there are ways to feed everyone.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Open Hands to Sow Seeds


"We cannot sow seeds with clenched fists. To sow we must open our hands."
-Adolfo Pérez Esquivel