New Creation News

PART III – New Creation: It’s happening everywhere, and we want to tell that story

Posted October 2nd, 2014 in Blog, Featured, New Creation News Comments Off on PART III – New Creation: It’s happening everywhere, and we want to tell that story

Some weeks we find news that adds urgency to the work we do. Some weeks are harder than others in that regard. When that happens, we try to keep things in balance; we go out and look for more stories of New Creation.

Because increasingly we feel the tension of these two opposing directions barreling into the future – the one that is deconstructing Nature and the Web of Life, and the other that is trying so hard to keep it knit, and to re-knit what is already so terribly broken.FAMILY

This project exists right smack in the middle of that tension. Let me offer a few examples of what I mean…

On a variety of fronts, it seems things could hardly  be more dire. Here is the short list of some of the worst indicators about our near-future, one that is coming faster than even many researchers ever predicted.

World wildlife populations halved in [A MERE] 40 years

The report says populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by an average of 52%.
Populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse fall of 76%.

Reports on what’s happening to Nature because of humans cannot get much more dire than this. We are shredding the Web that holds us. We are shredding the complex biodiversity that gives evolution its vibrancy and creativity, that keeps Nature healthy and alive. At this rate – my goodness, what happens in the next 40 years if we continue on like this?!

The full WWF report is available as a PDF for reading or download at this link. I recommend downloading it and using it for study, group discussion, consciousness-raising wherever you are. The key here is this:

The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by what WWF calls unsustainable human consumption.

We cannot get around this. It is what it is. It is Nature, it is reality, it is inescapable. Unless we address the core foundation of the crisis we’re in – HUMAN CONSUMPTION – we are doomed, and doomed by our own behavior.

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Tough stuff, right? Can get you down when you see the predictions for the steep RISE in human consumption over the next few decades.

Then this one came along ’bout the same time. It’s updated from an earlier release in May and came into my email queue on Wednesday:

NASA-UCI Study Indicates Loss of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Unstoppable

This is a critical tipping point thought to be decades away, and therefore one we could still prevent by reversing greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade or two. Now we are clearly committed to a vast rise in sea levels that will make the map of the world look very different within a mere century or two.

These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.

You see what I mean about an elevated sense of urgency.

This one came a few weeks ago, though I didn’t have the courage to open it until a couple of weeks later:

U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks – from Justin Gillis at the NY Times

Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.

The U.N. report will be out next year and is likely to cause quite a stir. These releases of drafts tell you that the urgency we feel is also felt at the U.N. and among the hundreds of scientists involved in putting it together.

Fracking well under construction in Western PA

Fracking well under construction in Western PA

Add this, about the booming frac sand mining industry, already destroying thousands upon thousands of acres of land and water in the Upper Midwest. Or this, about the looming water crisis out west. Or this, about how the use of insecticides is now so pervasive that they have contaminated the planet everywhere threatening future food supplies.

“Stop! Stop! We can’t stand if anymore!” You feel like that, right? It’s one of the psychological conditions of our times – the desperate need to avoid the full implications of this news and what it means for us. It’s our latest form of a burgeoning PTSD. But don’t drug it. Don’t calm it down. USE it! Make it into a force or a commitment, one that clears the mind and heart and helps us to see how easy it is to make the right decisions now when we put our lives and our consumer lifestyles into perspective. Suddenly all that stuff and privilege we’re hoarding doesn’t seem so important.

Many of us have been very good at telling this bleak side of our crisis. We can even forget sometimes that we came into this work with an awareness rooted in the prophetic work of scientists and advocates going all the back to the 60s – those who predicted all this. The culture did not embrace their message fully then – including many environmental advocates now who continue to live wildly out of proportion with the planet’s limits, still reluctant to absorb the full gravity of our predicament – but we have their research and their wisdom to give profound credibility to the multiple crises and collapses we face now. Many didn’t listen back then; we all must now.

Fracking wells in Colorado - Source: Ecoflight & Greenpeace USA

Fracking wells in Colorado – Source: Ecoflight & Greenpeace USA

The world we live in right now is wildly different than the one of a decade ago – think Hurricane Sandy and the mega-drought out west and the superfires rampaging through the forests and the polar vortex of last winter and the ebola outbreak and how Miami floods at every high tide now and how the Louisiana coast is melting away into the Gulf, to appreciate just how different it is.

And a decade from now?

Telling those stories of these vast changes brought about by humans, and telling them from the vantage point of the most local communities where the impacts are playing out, what it means to people and other sentient beings – those stories remain crucial for the work we do – because we need to SEE this, to KNOW this, to understand that this is not something that will just go away one day. The ecological crises of our times will be our context for the next centuries, the reality that will define who we are now as a human species. Nothing we do or decide will take place outside that context and everything we do or decide will have an impact on how it unfolds.

Feels kinda momentous, no?

But think about what I just wrote – everything we do or decide will have an impact on how it unfolds!

That certainly doesn’t make our lives unimportant or lacking meaning – in fact, it fills our lives with meaning, significance, consequence.

But we have to get our own lives in perspective. As individuals, each of us seemingly has little impact on the big picture, for good or ill. As a species, the impacts are enormous. But sitting here in this room today, I cannot stop the world from warming or the ice sheets from melting. I cannot grab hold of the crisis at that scale. But what I CAN do is add my contribution to how this is going to unfold. I can choose to go to the shopping mall or go online and buy the thing I don’t absolutely need, or I can decide right now today to get out of the consumer market as much as possible. Right now I can refuse to participate in what is destroying the Web of Life and contribute my part in strengthening it, especially its resilience to withstand the crises that are currently shredding it.

Alice's Garden, in the heart of urban Milwaukee

Alice’s Garden, in the heart of urban Milwaukee, a place where hope is a verb

Then I can look around me at the ecological community of which I am a part, see where the stresses are, the advocacy possibilities, the threats from industries, and start working where I am to create new ecological communities, to be part of the resistance to the destruction, to be part of the witness to radically new ways of life that can move us through and beyond the crisis to the potential for Nature’s healing and regeneration.

This, too, does not mean reinventing the wheel. This, too, has been going on for a long time from Rachel Carson to now. What is happening at the grassroots is inspiring, a human awakening to the “places” where we are and what corporate rule is doing to them, a human awakening to who we are as beings on a planet with lots of other beings all interconnected, making our lives possible.peoples climate march

Here’s the thing, though: you see how easy it is to find egregious examples of the crisis – big headlines, big stories, international attention, global alarm!!! But what is harder to see is the incipient, burgeoning awakening happening in local communities around the world, including in this most consumer-saturated culture of ours. And you know what? They are everywhere. I get to be in contact with some of them because of the work I do – the writing and speaking, the workshops and PP presentations. And because of that, and having a little non-profit from which to work, and a book on the whole mess (see sidebar), I have had reason and opportunity to get out and find these “places,” these “spaces,” where pipelines and frac sand mines and tar sands mines and pollution and loss of habitat are threatening the places people love and hold sacred. The resistance to the destruction is growing, and it is often very personal, which adds an element of passion and fierce love.

I’m not talking here about the big climate march, either. There are plenty of groups telling that story. I’m talking about Trempealeau County WI and my state’s Central Sands region and East Chicago and along the Kalamazoo River and the Penokee Hills and eastern Minnesota and the Alabama tar sands region and the UT tar sands region and Villa Maria in Western PA and the Loretto Community in KY and the mountain communities of Appalachia

If you start putting all those stories together, lifting them out of the fog of the culture into the light of day, it begins to look like something really important is going on. And THAT is what we want to start doing here as we dissolve this project into a revitalized, re-missioned, Center for New Creation.

To brighten your day, let me just list a few of these “places.”

enbridge action july 22 2013Heartland Prairies Tar Sands ResistanceFrackfree America National Coalition based in Youngstown OH, Great Plains Tar Sands ResistancePenokee Hills Education Project, Crawford Stewardship ProjectSave Our Shoals working to stop Alabama tar sand mining, Save Marktown, a community under threat from the BP refinery in Indiana…

I could spend the rest of this day listing hundreds of groups like these – and so could many of you.

We want to tell these stories. We want to get out and do what we did last year in Alberta – sit with those who are involved with these groups, with those who have begun in earnest to push back on this frenzied assault on our communities from fossil fuel, mining, chemical, developer, agro-industrial, and other bad corporate actors who are bringing us to the brink of catastrophe. In these incipient movements there is space opening for a real learning process about how we live, why it is no longer working, and what it means to learn once again how to live appropriately, respectfully, even lovingly within Gaia.

There is opportunity to begin to work as Nature does, through the smallest most local roots, from even the smallest seeds, and then weaving the interconnections together of soil and water and air and the intertwining of roots and plants and animals, the multiple and diverse life forms that together, rather than torn apart, become resilient, appropriate, sustainable, life-supporting – and beautiful.

Telling these stories means bringing our cameras and voice recorders and notebooks, bearing witness to what they are seeing and experiencing, and then sharing those stories in one internet Hub of New Creation – a website dedicated to that purpose, i.e., to promote the work of these many groups and to open a space to share insights, wisdom, experiences, strategies, successes and failures – and what a rewoven Web of Life might look like.

logo tiny without wordsThis will take time and resources. In this 3-part series, we wanted to share out into the world where we see this project going because we will need your support. This is a small non-profit with almost no overhead. What we have are a lot of connections and some great resources. We have a niche now in how we talk about this watershed moment in our evolutionary history and in what we think most significant about where real change will be emerging, where it is really coming from – from the roots, from ordinary real people working to defend their places, people who already show us a way of being in relationship with the planet that is now urgently needed.

And we need their inspiration. This is where hope can find us again. We keep chasing it in these grim times, but maybe hope-as-verb rather than noun, maybe hope-as-action, as what we do and who we do it with and with what motivation and with what intention – maybe it can catch up with us and reorient everything we do around what really matters.

So, here again is the link to this project’s donation page, which is therefore the link to funding this work we want so much to do. Remember that contributions are tax-deductible. And then we hope we can get out to some of your communities and have you share your stories with us. And if we can find the right genius website artist we have in mind, a few months from now we will have the new “space” where the stories can be shared.

Thanks for your interest, your work for New Creation, your love for this generous planet and all of your beautiful places.

Margaret Swedish

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May 2014: Living in a time of despair, hope, grief, joy, challenge, exhilaration, discovery, unraveling, intensity, creativity, stress, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, dread, fear, courage, transition, transformation – did I miss anything?

Posted April 30th, 2014 in Blog, Featured, New Creation News Comments Off on May 2014: Living in a time of despair, hope, grief, joy, challenge, exhilaration, discovery, unraveling, intensity, creativity, stress, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, dread, fear, courage, transition, transformation – did I miss anything?

Fostering Ecological Hope
Reflections on Culture and Meaning

by Margaret Swedish

I’m sure you could add to the list. Is it any wonder we sometimes feel dizzy and overwhelmed? What a time to be alive!

I want to meld together a new monthly update on our work with a blog essay about what it means to live in such a time as this, when nothing that we thought was certain is certain any longer. What can you count on that a few decades ago you thought you could count on all your life? Financial security? Careers? Traditional marriage and family? Religious orthodoxy? Institutions? The weather? The woods where you played as a kid? The political system? A stable society? A future?

Maybe a majority white race population?

Maybe confidence that the people walking down your block or cutting you off on the freeway are not armed?

AP Photo - militia 'protecting' Cliven Bundy

AP Photo – militia ‘protecting’ Cliven Bundy

There are a lot of ways that human beings are responding to the huge changes underway in our world. Some of them are Cliven Bundy and the armed militias defending the white race, some are thugs in Ukraine itching for war, some are dealing with depression and/or anxiety that is at times debilitating, some are turning to fundamentalisms and orthodoxies to avoid the dread-filled questions, some are in denial. Others are really engaging. But what we all know is that change, profound change, inescapable change, is unfolding no matter what we do to try to escape its consequences.

Yesterday, Pensacola, Florida, had nearly two feet of rain in 24 hours. The whole area was inundated with rushing water. Before yesterday, the tornado count from the slow-moving line of severe weather across the South and Midwest had reached 128, a few of them reported to be more than a half-mile wide.

How quickly everything you thought was stable in your life can be gone, ripped apart, blown away, rubble, heaps of broken everything. From wildfires to floods to the aridification of much of the West, a lot of people in this country are experiencing exactly what it means to live in a world of impermanence – despite our best efforts to surround our lives with permanence and certainty.

Photo: Charles Loring, Twitter, retweeted by WMC action news 5

Photo: Charles Loring, Twitter, retweeted by WMC action news 5

If we need certainty to remain calm, to feel okay about ourselves, to not freak out, we will not do well in coming days.

It is always so moving to witness the aftermath of these upheavals. The first response is so honest, so full of grief and compassion, you wonder why we can’t make a culture out of those responses, let go the things that divide us. The only certainty we can count on will come from how we are with one another, and we ought to be about shaping that certainty around values of love and compassion, justice and deep respect, pulling together to get through hard times. Humans have done that before. We do know how to do that.

We also know this – the stronger the community, the better it does post-disaster.

So, with that introduction, what have we been up to?

You know, when I committed to the Athabasca River Pilgrimage last fall, I had no idea I would still be responding to invitations to speak about the tar sands all the way into this spring. As I have continued my quick learning curve on the oil and gas industry, that trip to the mountains, the forest, and the tar sands industrial region just keeps pulling me into what sometimes feels like an endless path of discovery, dark and terrifying, about what that industry really is and the threat it poses for all of us. By way of the transport network of pipelines and trains, refineries and ports, fracking wells and methane, CO2 emissions and environmental destruction, it seems none of us live anymore outside these toxic tentacles that stretch all across North America.

Alberta tar sands

Alberta tar sands

But besides presenting on this “key-to-everything-else-wrong-with-our-industrial/consumer economy,” I have also had and will have more opportunities this year to probe more deeply into the spirituality part of this work, sometimes presenting, sometimes working alongside communities asking these same questions, feeling these same upheavals.

What we also need, besides sharing the questions, is to articulate together the need for radically new ways of living in this deteriorating world, ways that offer hope that, no matter what happens and how difficult things get, we can live through them with equanimity, solidarity, a sense of adventure and exhilaration at the challenge, and real joy in the effort.

We need to find ways that are as diverse as Nature, fiercely local, where community is more-than-human, embracing the deep relationships with the sentient and non-sentient beings that are part of our watersheds and bioregions. We need to create lifestyles, ways of life, that reflect our values as well as our hopes for the future, including profound respect and deep reverence for all these interlocking relationships that keep Nature alive and vibrant while it goes through what is bound to be a tumultuous transition from an old dying era to something new – something we cannot yet see.

This past weekend, I led a program for The Well Spirituality Center, a project of the Congregation of St. Joseph in La Grange Park IL. I called it, Getting Down to Earth, a program/process that invites us to enter once again into the experience of these relationships from which the culture has caused us all to become alienated to the point where many don’t feel them at all anymore. It always feels like privilege to be part of these programs. People come with such heart, with desire to engage, to be challenged, to be opened. We do it together, each gathering unique in character and resonance with the uniqueness of the participants.

It’s a lot like the way Nature works. And just like Nature in all that ferment and diversity, new life emerges; or, in those spaces (our hearts and spirits), we rediscover it.

Connected to everything

Connected to everything

The alienation from our experience of these relationships, the places or points of connection between our bodies and spirits and the living community all around us, is one of the sad products or our consumer/technological overly busy/frenetic culture. Who has time to stop at a park each day to listen to the bird song, watch the chicks being fed in their nests, seeing what little critters are scampering about, what flowers and other plants grow wild and native, the variety of trees – and the quality of life in these places? If you never see your loved ones, if you never spend time with friends and family, how can you know them or what they need or what you have to offer each other for richer life? And yet we are completely dependent for our own lives on these very life forms and the ways they interact with one another to create a bio-community within which we live. That’s what “ecology” means.

So we did some of that work on Saturday with readings and videos and lots of conversation and some meditation woven in. As usual, I left with as much received as given. I always learn from the community. I always walk away with more to ponder, new ways to see things.

The other part of this work of recent weeks involves network-building. These programs, for one thing, always mean making more connections, expanding our links and contacts. The Alberta trip has involved finding many other groups doing amazing work against all odds and with few resources. We’ve made connections via Facebook and other social media, by connecting in various ways over the internet (just yesterday, for example, by way of the seminar broadcast on the internet around the release of Worldwatch Institute’s new State of the World 2014 report, Governing for Sustainability, we made new connections). I am intrigued by the organic nature of these expanding networks, how they come about, and how they, too, often reflect the way Nature works. One of the reasons I don’t give up hope is because of these growing connections among the heartfelt, the committed, those engaged in what Joanna Macy calls, The Great Turning. We keep finding more and more of us “out there.”

What this project seeks to do is find a “space” in which many different expressions of the work of “new creation” can be seen in the way we see Nature – interlocking manifestations of the deeply human response to the ecological crisis created by the industrial way of life that is consuming the planet. We seek to put these expressions into their beautiful context within the whole of a biological process within Nature itself as it responds to that crisis. Nature is full of energy in every part of its existence. It is in every aspect and diverse ways “aware” of the impacts and shows that to us in the melting glaciers, wrecked watersheds, polluted air and water, volatile weather systems, the heating atmosphere, the great extinction event already underway – and in its search through these many upheavals for a new equilibrium.

Video: Tribute to HOME (Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard – Injection)

Whether or not we become part of the new equilibrium is the decision we still need to make as a species. So in ways as concrete as the Alberta tar sands and Bakken oil field, and as deeply intuitive and subjective as the spiritual search for meaning, what we hope to do more of out of this project is to bring those two aspects together – to address:  1) the concrete ways we are living and what is involved in dismantling those destructive industrial systems so that we can keep on living at all; and, 2) the spiritual search for meaning and purpose that can carry us out of that old and destructive paradigm to a new one that is resonant with the planet itself, with Gaia, the one Mother Organism of which we are a part.

These are two aspects of the one path to which we are urgently called now. The industrial/consumer culture has tried to keep us addicted to it by replacing meaning with its content of consumption of goods for our comfort and pleasure, or as status symbols, or by making us believe that our security lies there and anything else is really scary. And that’s why relinquishing this way of life, which can feel terrifying for many people, requires that strong core of spirit and community, that deeper sense of purpose and meaning as we come to realize that the most terrifying thing is to believe that this consumer world of ours is all there is to the meaning of life.

So we will be doing some more exploring in these weeks of May. I hope to get out to the frac sand mining communities in western Wisconsin with my voice recorder and camcorder to bear witness to what is happening there and share the stories of those affected and those who are working against great odds to protect their communities from this new invasive industry. I also hope to get down to the East Chicago area where BP is expanding its refinery and becoming a major eco-threat to Lake Michigan and to neighborhoods nearby as it expands production to include processing of Alberta tar sands oil. We intend to do more to shed light on the whole picture of the oil and gas industry here in this country so that more and more communities become aware and active in the work to bring an end to our fossil fueled economy.

And we will continue the workshops, retreats, group facilitation, and collaboration in the exploration of the spiritual meaning of the crisis, because it is there that we really discover the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of this industrial/techno/consumer world and the restlessness and deep disquiet within ourselves that longs for something “more.”

In this work of ecological healing, of letting go, of facing the challenge, we will begin to really find that “more,” that greater purpose for our lives that is the longing of the human heart.

Video – We Are All One

 

Please support this project with a donation. And thank you.

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April 2014 – what we’ve been doing, what we’re doing, Earth Day, and more

Posted March 31st, 2014 in Blog, Featured, New Creation News Comments Off on April 2014 – what we’ve been doing, what we’re doing, Earth Day, and more

[Still trying to find a way to make a living doing this work full time. Feels more urgent than ever. So please read on to see what’s on our agenda.]

by Margaret Swedish

March was crazy busy, all in a good way. I was part of the Peace & International Issues Committee of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee that plans the Tuesdays in March lecture series each year. That would make four lectures (sometimes five) focused on a theme we develop each fall. Facing a political year, we chose to look at four crucial issues facing the State of Wisconsin: the influence of corporate political money in our state government; the use of Wisconsin, via pipelines and oil tanker trains, as a cog in the transport network for crude oil (I offered that presentation); the proposed iron ore mine in Northern Wisconsin and the treaty rights of the Ojibwe tribes; and then the passage of some of the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the nation.

These sessions are always packed and result in significant conversation and dialogue. My talk on the dangers of crude oil transhipment and the scale of the plans for our state had people gasping. Alarm was certainly helped along by BP’s recent spill of more than 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan from their giant refinery in Whiting IN.

The Peace Poets and yours truly

The Peace Poets and yours truly. Photo: Beth Fiteni

The other real highlight of the month was traveling to Amityville on Long Island to help lead a day-long program entitled, “Petroleum, Poetry, and Peace.” I wondered at times what bonded those three “P”s but figured it out by the end of the day. Petroleum is now one of the biggest threats to peace globally, and poetry will be essential to the getting through the hard times awaiting us as we endure severe climate change impacts and the collapse of the global economy as we run headlong into the Earth’s limits.

Anyway, it was a rich and wonderful day at the Dominican Village, sponsored by Homecoming Farm, a project of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville. I was especially pleased to share the program with The Peace Poets, three of whom came up from the Bronx to perform (or “spit”) their poetry with us. These are the kinds of connections that are essential if we are really going to do this “Great Turning” so many talk about these days.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omPW8NpSI3o]

I returned from NY and plunged right into Milwaukee’s annual Sustainability Summit. I offered a breakout session on the Alberta experience, the Athabasca River watershed, the tar sands industrial site, the impacts on Cree communities downriver, and on the pipelines and train transport of crude through the Upper Midwest. Don Ferber of the Sierra Club offered more info on Enbridge pipelines and ways we can take action to fight plans for a vast expansion of that network.

Those are just some of the highlights. Coming up in April is a day-long program at my local sangha on Deep Ecology and Mindfulness (April 5), followed on April 10 by a presentation on tar sands and crude oil transport at the Siena Center in Racine (“Alberta Tar Sands: A Visit to the Heart of the Industry”), followed on April 13 by a program on the ecological impacts of fossil fuel industries at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and a day-long program at The Well Spirituality Center in La Grange IL on April 26. That program is entitled, “Getting Down to Earth.”

In between all that are important meetings, ongoing research, writing for this blog and other essays, a book I’ve begun out of my Athabasca River Pilgrimage journal, and more.

And that’s just April!

It’s been a very full time – even though the bank account is rather bare. We need funds right now not only to continue doing what we’re doing, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that much more could be done with more resources. So please help if you can.

[TO DONATE]

If you’re around the area, please also sign up for any or all of these coming events. They are each unique in their focus which gives us an opportunity to explore more widely the crises we are facing (ecological, social, spiritual, psychological) and how we begin to create the necessary new ways of life that can lead us down the path of healing and a new relationship with the rest of the planet of which we are only one, humble, integral part.

I hope to get down to Chicago in April for a meeting of groups who care about the dangers of crude oil to Lake Michigan. It’s being convened by Tar Sands Free Midwest (you can find them on Facebook). With so many groups emerging in the past couple of years around these threats, this is a process full of potential. What it needs is more resources directed towards it. Most of us throw hours of volunteer time into this work, which is full of heart but which also limits what we can do.

This project, indeed the Center for New Creation, our fiscal sponsor, which has a great name and mission for this work, is positioned to play a much greater role in Upper Midwest collaboration. But we really need help from donors and funders to make that happen.

So if you are able to help with a donation right now, there could not be a better time!

April. Spring. Renewal of life. Now we are in need of a far more profound RENEWAL. Like those spring bulbs or the sap in the trees, the work to partner with the Earth in renewing and regenerating life is burgeoning up from below. People ask me what hope is. Well, there you have it.

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March 2014: So, what’s up?

Posted February 24th, 2014 in Blog, Featured, New Creation News Comments Off on March 2014: So, what’s up?

Well, the sky is up, sort of. From another vantage point, of course, it’s also down. More accurately, it’s all around.

What else is up? The global temperature, the number of extreme weather events, political violence, oil and gas extraction and burning. Oh, and also the number of consecutive days that we have been snow-covered here in Milwaukee – 67 now with many more to come, given the forecast.

Also, grassroots movements in defense of the planet and its many gifts and wonders. Also organic farmers and backyard gardeners.

The work we do from this project – that is also up, though not our bank account. That is down and in need of some serious replenishment.logo tiny without words

Yes, this is a fundraising appeal because we sure can use the support right now. I’m sure you all know the difficulty funding work like this, but we want to be available beyond spare hours here and there. We want to be able to follow through on the many things being asked of us in times of tight budgets and real needs around the issues we care about so much.

So, what’s also up are expectations and hopes about the contributions we can make towards supporting movements that are our most vital expression of a new human community emerging from the ecological crises of our times.

Expectations and hopes for what? What’s on our agenda as we move through these late winter weeks, knowing that spring will come? Because it never fails, even when it seems it will take its good-natured time getting here.

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Photo: Margaret Swedish

As I have mentioned here before, the Alberta trip last year changed everything. While I had hoped that it would create opportunities for presentations and workshops, well, yes, it did – and still is. Just a few examples: in March, I will present a lecture entitled “Crude Comes to Wisconsin,” a presentation on our pipeline and rail links to Alberta’s tar sands industry and the oil play around Bakken, ND. This lecture is part of a series organized every March by the Peace & International Issues Committee of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. Check out this year’s schedule of lectures – vital stuff in yet another political year in Wisconsin. I am part of this planning group and very excited about this year’s program

Later in the month, I travel to Long Island for a day-long program that will focus on the tar sands, our relationship with energy, and what it would really mean for us to move to a post-carbon world. What would that look like and how can we begin creating that world now? The program is being offered by Homecoming Farm and will be held at the Dominican Village in Amityville.

When I return, I will quickly immerse myself in Milwaukee’s annual Sustainability Summit where I will offer a workshop on the tar sands industry and have a booth to continue the dialogue. That’s on the 26th-27th. Click here for more info.

Then, April. On the 5th, I will join with the Tender Shoot of Joy sangha to co-lead a day of mindfulness and deep ecology. Very excited about this for the depth it allows us to plummet in deep investigation of the reality of our ecological crisis. On the 10th I will be doing an evening program in Racine, and on the 13th a presentation at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for their environmental education program. Then on the 26th, I will do a day program at The Well Spirituality Center in La Grange Park IL entitled, “Getting Down to Earth.” Click on all these links for more info.

Frac sand mine:  m.kenosion Howard EOG mine 2012-06-15

Frac sand mine: m.kenosion Howard EOG mine 2012-06-15

In between these events, I will continue feeding this blog, going to meetings, making more connections with the dozens of groups surfacing around our part of the world. One of my intentions as this winter finally relents is to get to our western counties to visit the communities impacted by frac sand mining, to share more of their stories and see what we can contribute to making more connections between that reality and that of the pipelines, oil trains, and more that are all part of the larger picture of the super-exploitation of oil and gas reserves. We need urgently to be moving in the opposite direction. One of the ways we do that is by sharing our visions of how we move away from a fossil-fueled economy to a sustainable, earth-cherishing one.

So, you know, this requires a funding base. Over the past several years, we have been supported mostly by donors and small grants from various faith-based groups. We are now at a crossroads where we could begin to really dig in and make a bigger contribution to this work in the Midwest – if we can find the resources to do it.

Just to push the dreaming a bit further, we have at times pondered the notion of a regional gathering that would bring together some of the best local grassroots groups to share experiences, skills, and strategies, build community, and develop more regional collaboration as we work towards common goals in creating a post-carbon world. That is a dream we have shared with a few colleagues in other places and it always ignites enthusiasm. Can we help make that possible?

Photo: Margaret Swedish

Photo: Margaret Swedish

We are moving into a truly critical moment. Awareness around our planetary challenges are growing with every new weather anomaly, every weird storm, each new story about the western drought (each of them worse than the one before) and its impact on food prices, every story that reveals the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry over the politics of our state and federal governments. From chemical spills in WV to coal ash spills in NC, more and more people are getting a sense of the recklessness of industries that value profit over the well-being of human communities and the planet.

So, yes, this would be a terrific time to consider a tax deductible contribution to the Center for New Creation (CNC), the fiscal sponsor for this project. We want to be able to continue our contribution to this work. But we also believe we can do much more. We are only limited by the limits of our available resources. And those are limits we’d like to overcome – with your help.

From here, you can go to our DONATE page. And thank you.

Margaret Swedish

 

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