Saturday, June 23, 2007

Seeds of Hope, Seeds of Change (and environmental stewardship)

In 1998, our Bread for the World offering of letters had the word "seeds" as part of the name of the campaign. In that case it was "Seeds of Hope," an effort to redirect U.S. development assistance for sub-Saharan Africa toward small-scale farmers and struggling U.S. rural communities.

Does that theme sound familiar? Our offering of letters this year, "Seeds of Change. Help Farmers. End Hunger," also advocates for small farmers, both in our country and in poor countries. Our efforts this year seek to cap subsidies on major commodities (which in the end could help farm economies in poor countries) and directs funds for rural development, conservation and so-called specialty crops (fruits, nuts, lettuce, and all the nutritious stuff).

So what was the result of "Seeds of Hope" in 1998? The initiative was approved in both houses of Congress and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

In Albuquerque, we try and commemorate the offering of letters in other ways. Often our celebration has taken the form of an ecumenical worship service.

Our service in 1998, which we named "Seeds of Hope" after the offering of letters, was very memorable. We partnered with Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Iglesia Congregacional Unida and the Sisters of Charity to put together a fabulous multicultural worship and celebration.

In addition to celebrating our commitment to small-scale farmers in Africa, the theme of the service was environmental stewardship and simplicity. Our guest speaker was Paula Gonzalez, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. Paula spoke about many of her projects involving energy conservation, ecospirituality and healing the Earth. At that time, we did not know that we had the future recipient of the
Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the environmental organization Green Energy Ohio in 2005.

Paula is very deserving of all recognition and accolades. Among the projects she developed is La Casa del Sol, a 1,500 foot super-insulated passive solar house with recycled materials and volunteer help. (The cost was $10 per square feet)!

Another major project was EarthConnection, a center for learning and reflection about "living lightly" on Earth. The center features a solar-heated model of energy efficiency.

Paula Gonzalez, SC, to speak at Environmental and Simplicity Conference
Even though she lives in Cincinnati, we are proud to claim Paula as a native New Mexican. And we are very fortunate to have her in our midst again this summer. She will be one of two guest speakers at the Center for Action and Contemplation's summer conference, The Great Chain of Being. Click here for information about the conference)

The title of the conference is connected to ecospirituality.
Ecology is a modern word for what medieval Franciscan scholars called “The Great Chain of Being,” describing the interconnectedness of all: God, angels, humans, animals, plants, water, and the Earth itself. They predicted that if we stopped seeing God in any one link of the chain, the whole chain would fall apart. This conference will offer spiritual, global, and practical direction to help each of us discern our place, and how we can work together to re-link the chain.

Appropriately, Bread for the World and The ONE Campaign will have a small role (through displays) in promoting not only the "Seeds of Change. Help Farmers. End Hunger" campaign, but also the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, an effort to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. The Seventh Millennium Development Goal suggests that all efforts against global poverty should include environmental sustainability, and that this should be achieved in partnership between developing and developed countries.

We urge you to consider attending the conference, which will also feature host Father Richard Rohr, OFM, and Tiki Küstenmacher, German author of the best-selling book "How To Simplify Your Life."

Click here for registration information.

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