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2009-2010 Focus Area: Practical Eco-Stewardship

Project Summary

Eco-Stewardship is for Parishes

Using the approach of 'strength in numbers', the parishes of the Cape & Islands Deanery are currently investigating how to set up bulk-buying of environmentally-sensitive products used in our parishes. Grace Church (Vineyard Haven) has done a lot of research on this and has already begun purchasing and using 'green' products in the parish. The Deanery meeting in May 2009 was held at Grace Church, and delegates and clergy from around the Deanery were introduced to the programs in place at Grace Church. On the ferry ride back to the mainland, the Assembly continued to discuss how we all would like to be able to purchase environmentally sensitive items for our parishes. As one Rector pointed out, ‘It is hard to look your Treasurer in the eye and say you want to buy green products that cost so much more than the standard items we currently purchase.' There was a sense of energy and excitement about going in on purchasing together to see if we could make environmentally responsible purchasing affordable for our parishes.

We see this program as an opportunity to help each other 'do the right thing' when purchasing supplies for our parishes. An important step is informing ourselves about how to evaluate what that 'right thing' is. To that end and to be effective in the long-term, we see the need for educational opportunities for the Deanery.

Eco-Stewardship is for Individuals

Book Cover Environmental stewardship can seem daunting to individuals. By providing learning opportunities for parishioners as they walk this road, we can better support each other as we make stewardship choices in our parishes and in our own lives. On August 27, we hosted a talk by Daniel Goleman, the author of Ecological Intelligence. We are encouraging a Deanery-wide book-read of this book; some groups used Dr. Goleman's talk as a culmination of a summer book-read while others are planned to use the talk as a 'kick-off' to a September book-read.

In our discussions, we keep coming back to the point that being told a product is 'green' is not enough. We are drawn to the more thoughtful approach outlined in Ecological Intelligence. The philosophy of the Episcopal Church is one of holding a long-term view of a larger picture while seeking and implementing a series of steps that move us toward the long-term goal. Providing practical tools and knowledge to individuals about Life Cycle Assessment and the many facets of our choices helps each one of us see how our small efforts can help the larger world. One of our priests talks about how our lifestyles are making a shift from being centered on convenience to being rooted in community. In the process, we are redefining community – thinking about who and what is our neighbor: human and non-human, living and non-living alike.

(Read the press release from the Goleman event in August 2009)

NASA Apollo 8 image: Earthrise

One of our Eucharistic prayers reads:

At your command all things came to be:
the vast expanse of interstellar space,
galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being. (BCP p. 370)
We seek to understand the fragility and be better stewards through advocacy and action for this planet, our island home.

Our aim is to serve as a pilot program and to be able to share what we learn and the systems we use with other groups and deaneries: a form of Eco-Evangelism of Practical Eco-Stewardship.

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Resource Links

We will add resources as we come across them.

Daniel Goleman's Blog
Learn and read about Daniel Goleman, author of Ecological Intelligence.
Daniel Goleman on Bill Moyers Journal
A May 2009 interview by Bill Moyers with Dr. Goleman is available to watch or to read the transcript.
The Story of Stuff
This website offers a short video and many teaching and learning resources.
An online ranking service that rates products by environmental, health and social impacts.
Skin Deep
Run by the Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep tracks harmful chemicals in cosmetics.

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