About the Center for New Creation
In 2006, under the name, Spirituality & Ecological Hope (SEH), we began a project focused on the exploration of the spiritual meaning of the ecological crisis now facing our precious Earth. We came to this work from the vantage point of a consumer-oriented post-industrial society where the changes required to save humanity from disaster are particularly profound.
After seven years of workshops and presentations, personal witness of the devastation of the industrial era, a multitude of meetings and conferences, retreat-leading, and more, we have decided to dissolve the project into the non-profit that has sponsored us all these years – the Center for New Creation (CNC).
The CNC has a rich history. Founded in 1979-80 as a peace and justice group in Northern Virginia, it quickly became a mid-Atlantic regional leader with an approach to its work that was unique, had depth not only in what it did, but how it did it, the profound social analysis and faith reflection model that shaped its work and its community. That work included engaging the Central America solidarity movement of the 1980s and 90s, anti-war and anti-nuclear work, a “herstory” program that challenged the male-dominated version of history, delegations to other countries and into the impoverished communities of Northern Virginia, open sessions of dialogue and faith reflection using the Circle of Praxis model (“See, Judge, Act” – one example of this), and so much more.
The CNC gained national attention when it became the DC area organizer for “The Ribbon: A Celebration of Life.” The project, inspired by Justine Merritt, consisted of calling people around the country to come together to create cloth panels with messages of peace that would be bound together and brought to the Pentagon for the 40th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 4, 1985. This amazing effort culminated in so many thousands of ribbon panels and so many tens of thousands of participants that we were able to tie them all together and completely surround the Pentagon that day (see, The Ribbon at this link).
The CNC closed its physical doors a long time ago now, but has continued as a sponsor for this and a couple of other projects that still fulfill its mission and are consistent with this legacy.
The original 1979 mission statement:
To educate and foster dialogue about critical social justice issues, encouraging careful social analysis to identify root causes of injustice and violence, and strategic, community-based actions in response. The CNC supports creative and just alternatives to the status quo and emphasizes the importance of solidarity and common effort across national and economic boundaries in the work for a better world.
Still works, doesn’t it?
When we started our SEH project, we began with this mission statement:
Humanity faces perhaps its greatest challenge in history. A confluence of trends is about to reshape our world, challenging a way of life that is no longer sustainable. What are these trends?
- global warming and climate change
- consuming beyond the capacity of the earth to renew the resources we need for life
- the looming energy crunch as we approach peak oil
- war and terror that have opened painful breaches among the human community
Through workshops, presentations, retreats, and our website, we will inform the faith community about the crisis, foster community action, and encourage articulation of a vibrant, lived spirituality of ecological hope.
And that still works, too, though we have ended up doing far more than this, as you can see from looking through the blog archives. We have become a significant source of input not only into the crisis, but also into the urgent need to begin articulating and bringing into being the new ways of life that can and must emerge out of the crisis itself.
And so we have arrived at the decision to take that project mission and make it the defining program of the CNC – with just one addition to that original statement: that we will educate and foster awareness about both social and ecological justice and the vital, integral, inescapable links between the two.
More and more of us are becoming deeply aware of the stakes involved in our efforts. As this century unfolds, we will have to decide how we are going to pass through a difficult era of severe ecological diminishment and the tumult that will come with the inevitable collapse of the industrial era. We will be facing questions about how we will survive and what kind of world we will be leaving to our children, and to their children’s children.
In the societies of the post-industrial West, we face a special moral and spiritual challenge. In the US alone, with just 4% of the global population, we consume more than 30% of global resources, emit 24% of the greenhouse gases caused by fossil fuel burning, emit 45% of total carbon from auto emissions, and share great responsibility, along with other industrial and post-industrial nations, for a global economic model that has ravaged the Earth and left many societies already vulnerable to collapse. At the same time, the growing inequality within our own country has become a moral outrage. We will not be able to move forward in the multiple acts of new creation needed now in a society that exhibits such deep social and economic injustice.
What values will shape the human journey now? What kind of human beings will we be as we face this crisis?
We have entered a time in which “New Creation” has become more than a nice idea, but an urgent necessity. We look forward to exploring with others what these new ways of life might look like and how we can begin to create them right where we live.
At this website/blog, you will find information and resources about the crisis, interspersed with reflections on how we shape a new ‘spirituality,’ in other words, a new framework of meaning, new ways of life, that reflect our role within a biosphere that sustains us, holds us, from which we emerged, and for which we humans are right now the greatest danger. The new paths that we must begin to carve out of the unknown in front of us will be shaped by the values and meaning frameworks we bring to them. Our voices are needed so that those values and frameworks come out of what is best within the human spirit. We all have gifts to bring to this act of new creation. We are all needed.
We welcome you to this conversation.
~ Margaret Swedish
The Center for New Creation does not have a physical site at the moment. That dream depends entirely on finding the funds to create one or the institution that might donate an office space. A project like this is not easily funded within old fundraising paradigms of goals and objectives, annual reports, and quantifiable results. For this reason, your tax-deductible donations are extremely important to us and deeply appreciated!
Center for New Creation Board of Directors*
Marie Dennis, Co-president, Pax Christi International, CNC co-founder
Sr. Ginny Reichard, SSND, School Sisters of Notre Dame WI
Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM, Assisi Community, Washington DC
Rodney Sanchez, Tender Shoot of Joy, Meditation Milwaukee
Debra Schneider, Catholics for Peace & Justice, Waukesha County Green Team
Margaret Swedish, Center for New Creation