Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Bikeway Concept - An Open Proposal To American Metropolises...

The dual battles of energy consumption and physical fitness in the face of today's extreme travel times and computerized office work are both extremely difficult to tackle. This was not lost on me as I was riding home on a train delayed by hours because of a hazardous materials spill on the tracks between my fellow passengers and I and home.

Most days on the train, everyone rides all stern-faced and silent, absorbed in their computer screens, Ipods, Walkman, magazines, books, and newspapers. It is a shock to most people on the train if anyone actually tries to engage them in conversation. Clearly, they are not riding the train for company, nor do they care to develop the sort of temporary connections that such conversations bring. They are on the train because it simply costs too much to drive.

So, here they sit, waiting to go into offices they will sit in, just as their counterparts on the congested, slow, and hazardous highways and side streets do. They spend hours helping to burn fuel and increase global warming, but "have no time" left after all the commuting to burn any fat through healthy exercise.

The other passengers and I, on our long, slow, agonizingly late train ride home that evening, finally got bored enough and had enough of an unusual circumstance to break the taboo. We actually started speaking to each other! We talked about the mess with the train, who had heard what, life, jokes, relationships. We laughed and we made lemonade out of the sour deal of our lost time. One of the discussions turned to wishing their was a better way to make use of the ride to and from work - how could we make it fun or useful?

Riding the train is a lumpy, bumpy, swinging, swaying proposition. The tracks throw the cars from side to side wherever the rails swerve in the least. One bit of curve to an otherwise straight track, and whoa! Good-bye, a half hour of typing. Trying to read is constant eye strain as the page moves all over the place and your eyes race to follow. Don't think writing in longhand is going to be very readable, either.

Meanwhile, that breakfast you didn't have time for isn't kicking up your metabolism, and the heavy, late dinner you had when you finally got home the night before just added to your body fat stores as you slept on a full stomach. It's like the whole commute game is stacked against you! So just what is a hard-driving-to-work American Commuter to do? Another weight episode on Oprah while sitting on the couch? I think there's a better idea.

How about a covered bicycle path that is downhill all the way to your destination? Think about that.

Exercise: These days, you can buy a gasoline motor for a bicycle that replaces the front wheel - the entire drive train is contained in the front wheel. The gas bottle goes in the bike's water bottle holder on the lower bar. So, here you are, you have a down hill run all the way from the suburbs to the heart of the city. You have elevators out in the burbs that lift you up onto the bikeway. You have exit ramps at each street just past the train stops. (The bikeway would be built over the existing railroads.) You pedal until you're tired, then kick in the gas motor and ride the rest of the way getting 80-100 miles per gallon. There you go, America - burning hundreds of calories on the way to work every day just by choosing to burn less gas.

The bikeway would be covered by an inexpensive roof made from recycled plastics now going into landfills. It would be fairly well vented on the sides, and the roofing could be covered with solar power cells to operate lights, side vents, or heaters, or the elevator systems.

People could always opt to ride the train or drive depending on their physical abilities, cartage needs, and personal preference. Still, the bikeway system would relieve traffic congestion, create jobs, reduce transportation fuel consumption, and improve Americans' physical health and longevity - thereby reducing health care costs in the USA. You can also bet that the first city to install such a system would benefit from a lot of extra tourism from people wanting to see or ride the bikeways. It's also likely to draw bicycling conventions and events.

As for creating jobs, the bikeway system would need maintenance workers, cleanup crews, and construction technicians. Additionally, it would encourage people to ride bicycles a great deal more, which would mean increased demand for bicycle production, replacement parts, inner tubes, and tires. High tech add-ons and mobile computing devices that made use of voice technologies and head up display style eyeglasses might be developed for the "connected bikeway rider." Could you imagine voice-writing a book while you bicycle into the city to work at the office or visit your publishing agent?

The whole concept appeals to a self-avowed Earth Steward, and to the child in us as well. I had great fun riding my bicycle when I was a child, and still do when I can find the time and a safe place to ride. Here's a way we can all have better lives while getting that fun back.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bringing Life To The City - Urban Gardening...

There's a lot to be said in favor of urban gardening.

It brings people a greater sense of connection to nature in an ordinarily very sterile environment. It's truly amazing how much garnishing an inner-city apartment complex or office building with some greenery can help give people a sense of serenity and reconnection to nature. Many people have the inner urge to tenderly care for such plants as if they were a priceless oasis of life in a cold hard place. God knew what he was doing when He assigned us this duty to steward the Earth, we were literally born for it. It's simply up to we unruly children to recognize what He already understands - we need life, and life needs us. If you live in the city, plant flower boxes, container garden vegetables and trees on rooftops and balconies, in windowsills.

Converting rooftops into gardens can even seriously reduce cooling needs in your building and the "heat island" effect of the city - which also helps reduce global warming. It's always lots of little efforts that create a large effect, rather than any one big project. Urban gardening can help urban air quality if practiced on a fairly large scale. Growing plants will absorb CO2 and release oxygen, and enough of them growing all around the city can have a pretty large effect - on environmental quality and overall quality of life in the city.

Places with large amounts of greenery in the city quite simply feel healthier and more peaceful. People that feel healthy and peaceful, and feel that they reside in a healthy and peaceful environment are more likely to lead healthy, peaceful lives. Additionally, container gardening vegetables in the city can add fresh food to your refrigerator and reduce your need to go to the store and buy foods that were shipped long distances, while saving you money. You can save on energy expenditures for produce shipment and have a healthier, fresher diet all at the same time.

Even better would be projects that add greenery through cooperative community effort. Community and connectedness can be difficult to find in the harsh and often impersonal confines of the city. Helping to care for the city together and bring greenlife to it can build connections with neighbors that might otherwise never exist. Even if you don't have that "green thumb," find a neighbor who does and can show you how to develop one. Everyone will be better for it.

This message is heard in peace and harmony, under grace, in perfect ways and in perfect time.

Composting For Life...

One of the things we can all do to help the Earth is learn to compost all possible vegetable matter. Composting returns vital nutrients to the soil and keeps down the need for chemical fertilizers made from petroleum products, and at the same time, composting can reduce the material going into landfills by up to 30%.

In a composter or compost pile, a potato peel, for instance, will break down and yield back to the Earth vital carbon, minerals, and nitrogen that were consumed as the potato grew. In a landfill, tightly sealed from air, water, and light, that same potato peel could take a century or more to break down, and then it will still be sealed away from the surrounding soils. This is because the landfill must be sealed off to prevent the other things in it that are toxic from reaching ground water. Add up millions of potato peels thrown away over a year, and you have a lot of wasted landfill space and vital soil nutrients.

Considering the strained capacity of existing landfills, reducing matter input to them by 30% would help them last that much longer. At the same time, our soils gain all those nutrients, and are more able to sustain plant growth and the natural cycle of life, including food production, forests, and other beneficial plants.

At this point, many of you are probably thinking, "Potato peels? They can't really amount to that much!" Of course not. They're a small part of the bigger picture. But when you start looking at all the vegetable matter that goes into landfills, like yard waste, paper grocery bags, newspaper, magazines, all household vegetable scraps, etc., suddenly the volume and scope look a lot larger. Now add in waste sawdust from lumber mills, wood scraps from construction sites, paper food wrappers, and cardboard boxes. Suddenly the picture looms much larger, doesn't it?

Even if you don't garden, compost can be donated to local farms or community garden plots - enriching local food production. Now, add in the factor of reduced need for shipping foods great distances as more food is able to be produced locally.

The effect of any individual composter is small, but when you add them up to the potential in the "waste" of millions of families and businesses world-wide, it creates a huge cumulative effect. Even food spoilage of produce not able to be eaten in time feels a bit less "wasteful" when you realize that those spoiled vegetables, stale bread and doughnuts, etc. are going to enrich the soil in your garden or the local far for next years' crop.

Composting is an essential tool and skill for the conscientious Earth Steward.

In peace and harmony, under grace, in perfect ways and in perfect time, let this message be heard.

Monday, June 19, 2006

War Is An Affront To God And Earth...

War brings many perils to the ability of the Earth to support life.

First is the immediate destruction caused by war to natural habitats. Much wildlife is inadvertently killed, or intentionally killed to deny "the enemy" access to food and water in the hopes of removing his ability to resist. Waterways have been poisoned, as have wells. This leads to groundwater contamination and further destruction of habitat for creatures living in the war zone.

Once the army that destroys wild habitat and water sources has passed, the surviving local population will have no choice but to stress the remaining local populations of flora and fauna in a desperate attempt to survive. What rampant destruction doesn't get to, starving people will. This can even lead to the extinction of species in some cases, and reduced genetic diversity in species that do survive.

Additionally, war causes a human condition of anger, despair, despondency, hatred, and desires for revenge. How can the elevation of such dark states of the heart lead a person to be encouraged to perform the duties of Earth stewardship in the face of terrible losses, disfigurements, and grief? Only a few very exceptional individuals will rise through this terrible state to find ways to heal what is around them.

Another consequence of the human losses incurred in war is the loss of knowledge of the local ecology. Individuals with valuable skills and memory of the local environment often die without being able to pass such knowledge on.

War is a waste, of human life, of wildlife, of opportunities for growth and betterment, of the benefits that two cultures could bring to each other should they choose to see the best traits of the other culture involved in such conflicts rather than the worst.

Lastly, but far from least, killing life that God gave is not meant for the hands of men. It is forbidden in the ten commandments and has no place in the life of the true person of faith in Christ.

Acts of evil either initiated in jealousy or in response to other acts of evil only amplify evil in the world; there is no way to "remove evil from the world through combating it." Such tactics never work, they simply breed further violence and destruction. Those who embrace the tactics of death and worse, profit from death, are violating the will and spirit of God, regardless of the name they speak to in prayer.

Only acts of love raise the spirit and possibility of a better world.

We all have a choice each day to which side of this question we will add, love and life or fear and death. Do not be surprised if the things you choose to multiply in your actions multiply in your life as well. All action brings reaction, and that is one of God's laws that there is no opportunity to violate.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Reflection On The End Of The Spear...

A Reflection On The End Of The Spear...

The End Of The Spear is a film about life in the Amazon rain forest. It is also a film about life nearly coming to an end for an entire race because of a cycle of fear and violence. It is also a true story about how that cycle was ended, and that race began the road to recovery, and perhaps even prosperity. It is also a movie about how the principles that Jesus Christ taiught us, his brothers and sisters, in large part allowed that to happen.

There is no room in a healed Earth for cycles of violence fed by fear. To quote a great teacher, fear is the opposite of faith - it is faith that evil things will happen.

There is much more to be said on this, and I will add to this post later, but true peace among us all is essential to healing this Earth through healing the hearts that must care for it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Little Problem With

...has forced me to move hosting to - their settings for ftp publication to my own domain stopped working, so I moved in order to continue this ministry. Thankfully this is working, and that fact allows me to continue working to spread this message to all of good faith.

In peace and harmony, under grace in perfect ways and in perfect time, this message is heard by those whom the Divine Plan calls for it to be heard by.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

People Are Catching On...

Things are getting interesting out there. The Al Gore documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth" is playing to ever more audiences and selling out theaters nation-wide in the USA. The film is a powerfully impacting visual presentation of irrefutable evidence of global warming. No one who sees it can deny the evidence it presents - it hits you square in the gut even if you are making a fortune in ways that escalate the problem.

The funny thing is, those same people profiting off polluting processes stand to reap greater and more enduring fortune if they embrace the cure for the problem. They would better serve themselves, God, and all the world if they would make their duty central to their actions.

Additionally, Popular Science just published a major article on the technologies needed for the USA to move to renewable energy independence and not only stop increasing its output of warming gases, but even greatly reduce them - all while strengthening its domestic economy and creating millions of well-paying jobs that are impossible to export.

Meanwhile, Popular Mechanics is running an article on four cars that get gas mileage in the mid thirties, when averaged between city and highway as observed by Popular Mechanics' own test driving, rather than EPA estimates no one believes. This comes from a magazine that generally promotes all kinds of gas-guzzling toys.

Of course, the best advertisement for cleaner and more efficient energy technologies hangs in front of every gas station in America; the signs proclaiming to all the world the rising cost of gasoline. In the news if one looks a little, are the massive oil company profits that go with these high prices, outlining the need to change the very structures of economics and policy that currently fuel transportation and energy supply of every kind in the USA.

Should America finally wake up and aggressively pursue better energy technologies, the results for all the world would be tremendous, spurring incredible economic growth. This is primarily true domestically within the USA in the short term, however such a development would eventually spread to the rest of the world as renewable energy technology improvements were gradually spread to work in hand with current domestic and foreign technologies.

The greatest factor inhibiting the USA from jumping into this market with a vengeance is fear - the fear that these technologies will require personal sacrifice, economic upheaval, and the fear of business and political leaders that they will lose funding or sales to these technologies. The sad part is that these fears will much more likely be realized if clean energy is not pursued. The things we fear from clean energy look like cotton candy compared to what will happen if it is not pursued.

You know that the Bible talks about the world being consumed by fire at the end - but does it really say that God will light those fires by His own hand? Or will he simply stand idly by and watch us exercise our free will to light those fires ourselves? We are warned of the consequences of failing in our duty to care for the Earth God gave us. Like sheepish children, will we appear before him on judgement day saying "I don't know why I didn't do what you asked us to, God." Somehow I doubt that is a position any of us would wish to find ourselves in.

Thankfully God is allowing us the opportuniity to learn and understand our duties and the problems ignoring them causes. More people are learning what they need to every day. Perhaps there is still hope.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hurricane Relief - Rebuilding For Sustainability

Hurricane Relief - Rebuilding For Sustainability

This is a subject of great importance to everyone living in nations subject to hurricane damage; a group that has been increasing as global sea water and atmospheric temperatures rise. In 2005 a hurricane
arose in areas where scientists had believed they never formed.

After two centuries in the Americas and Caribbean nations and more, one would think we'd have learned valuable lessons about building in places that hurricanes can reach. To look at the types of structures
being built in the Gulf Coast region of the United States, I'd have to surmise that this is not the case. The same old stick and drywall structures are being put up as far as I can tell. This point is even being
missed by charitable organizations such as Habitat For Humanity, despite the existence of lower cost and more suitable construction methods for the local environment.

I want to say here that I do not doubt the noble and decent intention of Habitat For Humanity and other charitable organizations helping rebuild in the Gulf Coast region. Far from it, they are providing very
necessary relief that is greatly needed. The issue is simply that they could be fulfilling this mission in ways that would better serve those they help in the long term. They are building the way they build now
because that is what they know.

This leads to the need for a new project, one of connection rather than direct action. What needs to happen now is the introduction of designers and architects that understand sustainable housing and these
very charitable organizations that are currently rebuilding the gulf coast. The sooner this happens, the better. I will research the sources of these types of knowledge and bring a listing of them to this weblog as
my next project.

The vast opportunity for improving the durability of hurricane-region housing is the immediate benefit of a confluence of charitable rebuilding efforts and more sustainable building technology. This is the
obvious benefit. Another benefit is that such projects would greatly reduce the energy demands of returning residents to the Gulf Coast area. This would help achieve a solution to the problem now facing all of
us, rising global temperatures that are causing wilder weather.

What we could do with the horrendous tragedy rendered by hurricane Katrina is what has often the best thing people have done in the face of nightmare; turn it into opportunity to makes things better than
they ever were. We should keep the best of what the region was alive and make it better able to thrive.The region was and is a jewel in the cultural heritage of the United States, a miracle of song, cuisine, folk
wisdom, art, history, and natural beauty. To let it change over into some homogenized replica of Everytown, USA would be purely a sin.

On that note, I include below an open letter I wrote the Mayor of New Orleans recently, as it explains further much of the ramifications of acting on this insight.


Dear Mayor Nagin,

Congratulations on your re-election. I would like to suggest to you a form of housing that is low cost, yet extremely durable and energy efficient.

I first heard of it in Mother Earth News magazine - - which has been publishing since the 60's. The article can be found in the October/November 2005 issue. (They are a bi-monthly publication.)

It is called Earth Bag construction. This could really be a good alternative around the entire Gulf Coast region. It costs a fraction of what conventional housing does according to what the article states, and is very labor-intensive. Giving all those folk who are displaced a chance to help each other build better and more survivable housing could sure lift their spirits and give them a lot of hope. It would give them all something worthwhile and healing to do, helping themselves and each other, and give them a good reason to come home. Admittedly, they would have to leave if there were flooding again, but the housing they built using this method would likely survive to be cleaned up instead of having to be torn down and re-built from scratch.

I would bet that Mother Earth News would welcome the chance to help you get a program to develop a version of this type of housing specifically suitable to New Orleans's and the Gulf Coast region's needs designed in return for being credited for supporting such an initiative. Obviously I couldn't guarantee that, as I don't work for them. Still, it would make sense for them under the right circumstances.

I would also bet that local insurance agents, if they were educated as to the qualities of this type of construction, would be much more willing to support insuring this type of home than conventionally constructed homes.

These homes are also highly energy-efficient, which would make them much more affordable foe your residents and reduce strain on the local electrical grid and gas supplies.

They take advantage of their high-mass to create what is called a "thermal flywheel"effect - absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night, much as adobe or rammed-earth construction does.

It is estimated in the article that this type of home can withstand fires and magnitude 6.5 earthquakes in addition to hurricane force winds.

If local construction companies and people became highly proficient in building such homes, they could lead the nation in an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly housing renaissance. Given proper vision and leadership that you could initially provide, New Orleans could become a national leader in modern housing and a shining example of making a disaster of un-precedented magnitude into an opportunity of monolithic proportions.

Of course, you could choose to ignore this letter, seeing only another "environmentalist" trying to change "the way things are done." I have nothing to gain out of this. I don't own a construction company, and I live way up near Chicago. The only thing I would get out of this, if it were to happen, would be the satisfaction of my fellow countrymen lifting themselves out of the rut of destruction and reconstruction and into a position of national and even international leadership.

No one is more perfectly placed to initiate such a change than you are, Sir. You have you electorate and your people's need squarely at your back at this point in time. You have a freshly leveled city to rebuild. You stand at a unique point in the history of your city, region, and nation with many possible paths before you. A crossroad, if you will. It will be interesting to see what road you chose to follow.

I wish you and our fellow citizens the best in any regard.


Daniel A. Stafford

Friday, June 09, 2006

I Just Saw "An Inconvenient Truth"

I Just Saw "An Inconvenient Truth"

Al Gore is certainly a very different person than I saw in the 200 campaign in this movie. If he had been his true self during his campaign, I think he would be busy doing something else today.

My wife and I both found this film compelling and well worth watching. The way global warming is explained in this work, and the photography and explanations used to drive home these points in ways everyone can understand are excellent. Plainly put, the evidence is irrefutable and Al will tell you exactly why.

I strongly recommend that everyone who can get their backside out to AMC Cantera 30 in Naperville to see this film. It's message is important and the message that people are listening is important for the theatre to get. I saw maybe 30 people in a theatre that could easily seat 200. We need to be out there ASAP if we haven't already.

Cantera 30 is easy to find. Take I-88 to Winfield Road and exit South on Winfield. Cantera 30 will be on your right as soon as you get South of the expressway. If we want to continue seeing Progressive films there, I'd suggest we support it.

I can't stress this enough - this is THE movie to see right now. Four stars from Roger Ebert. Multiple festival awards. The top film of the week grossed $39 million in 3000+ theaters. This film grossed $1.3 million in 77 theaters.

Please get out the audience to help save our planet.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Building For Durability In Multiple Life Dimensions

There are many forms of building; structures of Earth, stone, steel, glass, brick, wood and other physical materials which come easiest to mind. These forms of building are important for the reason that they
provide the tone of our security and shelter, and lend a sense of community identity to the places on Earth that we call home. Physical structures also lend a sense of continuity and legacy from one generation
to the next. One could think of physical buildings as part, though only part, of the frame of the picture of our lives.

Another form of building is creating lasting relationships and contiguous guidance for how one may live a successful and fulfilling life. These types of structures throughout history have often been embedded in
the structure of our religious doctrines, and in family customs passed from one generation to the next. In times before modern means of traveling great distances at speed, there also was a family clan structure
present in most cultures that helped reinforce these belief systems and customs. Not only did they provide this function, but clan systems also provided and extended support network for those able and willing
to fit into their accepted position within the clan.

Sadly, in the modern world, such social structures are often broken down by the need to move far from family and place of origin in order to find gainful employment. This often thrusts young families into short
term isolation from social bonds, and can happen several times in the course of living a modern life. To some extent, churches and co-workers can help with this, yet I have a hard time believing that this is a
truly effective replacement for being in proximity to numerous blood relatives. There is an added impetus to support those around you if they are family; helping your gene pool survive in a world that often can
challenge that need. Admittedly, having family members dispersed to some extent around the globe also serves this purpose, in the sense that large scale catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and other
natural disasters can not wipe out every relative one has.

How best to find a balance between these two needs? Perhaps dispersed clusters of family units might be more appropriate than the utter dispersion of the family clans we currently live with. How to
accomplish this in the face of modern globalization of employment is a unique challenge, but one worth studying and addressing. One can point to the severe shortage of inexpensive but safe day care for
children in the face of both parents needing to work as an example of an issue that could be moderated by a good solution to this problem. Certainly social structures need to be better adapted than they
currently seem to be in the modern world. Consider such structures the canvass upon which we paint the brush strokes of fully realized lives.

Another form of building is building a sustainable physical environment that supports the art of life. Without such knowledge and structures being built, human life will eventually fade away from the Earth. With
this point clearly understood, it makes perfect sense why God would task mankind with caring for the Earth before any other duty or directive is given. Quite simply, it is up to us all to keep his creation in a
state capable of supporting the gift of life that was given to all creatures, to the very best of our ability.

The part that is best, however, is that we have also been given full responsibility and creative control of the methods we choose to fulfill that imperative. If we can make the things and technological advances
we achieve work in harmony with nature rather than trying to override nature, we stand to gain greatly in efficiency and workability. It actually is less work to make our lives and technologies operate in
concert with natural systems than to try to better or replace them. Working with an eye to enhancing natural systems should be a goal Earth Stewards strive for and a critical understanding Earth Stewards
should try to share and disseminate to as great an extent as possible.

Let us become once again symbiotic with the Earth rather than a parasite upon her beautiful blue sphere, in peace and harmony and in perfect ways and perfect time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mass Transit And Local Employment

Mass transit is a necessary service for those persons not able to work near to home. Its design and scheduling is a crucial function of its utility; failure to run sufficient direct rail lines into downtown urban
centers in most large cities renders very long commute times and often necessitates individual vehicle use to reach the train station, for example.

Mass transit is less wasteful of fuel and energy than personal vehicles in most cases, and for that reason it is a benefit to the environment by way of reducing emissions. As an example, trains will run whether
you are driving into the city or not. Therefore, your choice to drive in uses fuel that would not have been spent had you taken the train that will still go into the city despite your choice to drive. This created
additional heat output and emissions of polluting gasses that is unnecessary and wasteful.

In addition, trains are almost exclusively diesel-powered and so are most buses. This allows these vehicles the option of fueling with biodiesel, a product of waste vegetable oils and used fryer oils that are
stripped of glycerides to render them nearly identical to petroleum diesel fuel in burning quality and energy content with greatly reduced emissions of most pollutants vs. petroleum diesel. This is largely because
biodiesel has not sat for millions of years buried under the Earth dissolving sediment contaminants, ash, and other materials that cause harmful emissions from petroleum diesel use. This includes the near

Additionally, two thirds of the energy released in burning biodiesel is a result of solar energy captured by plants in their production of natural vegetable oils during growth while about one third is from the
production process. This means that biodiesel has a net positive energy input to the economy, whereas other fuels, such as ethanol and methanol consume more energy in production than is released when they
are burned, resulting in a net energy loss when using these fuels.

Another benefit of biodiesel use is that it retains money spent on fuel in the domestic economy, gives farmers the opportunity to sell more of the plants they grow instead of wasting large portions of crop
plants, and creates domestic jobs at production facilities, distribution companies, and storage facilities. This means increased economic growth domestically and less insecurity over energy resources when
compared to petroleum fuels. You will not likely see a war fought nor a deficit increased to secure biodiesel access. These fuels are produced through our own agricultural economy, which certainly can use
the boost fuel crops can provide.

For all its benefits, mass transit is inferior to local employment when it comes to allowing employees more time at home or with family and in pursuit of leisure activities, hobbies, or community service activities.
Local employment often allows employees the option of walking or biking to work within minutes - allowing for greater physical fitness and better health. This aspect of local employment also reduces
transportation demands for fuel and traffic stress on highway systems.

For these reasons, employers are better served by locating near reasonably priced suburbs where their employees can afford to live near work. This will result in employees having more free time, not needing
extremely high wages to afford the commute into the city, having reduced overall health care costs for employees who are able to walk to work or ride bicycles, and have lower stress levels. This will often
reduce employers own costs for real estate as well. Suburban political leaders are better able to serve their constituencies if they can provide local jobs. For many reasons, locating a business in the suburbs
makes a lot of sense, is a more ethical choice than urban locations in the current market, and makes good business sense. Until the distribution of employment between urban and suburban or rural locations is
much better balanced out, at least.

It is therefore incumbent upon both employers and employees to do their utmost to locate reasonably close to the place where they meet and become a team if they are to succeed in their highest duty of Earth
Stewardship. The best part is, adhering to these principles amount to greater chances of success for employers, AND employees and their families. Doing your moral duty in this case is better for everyone.

Unfortunately, in modern times these principles appear to have been largely ignored, perhaps because of fears by the wealthy of allowing the "middle class" to gain too much wealth and autonomy. This is a
shame, because a strong and successful middle class ensures a confident and sustainable market for business' products and services. It is up to Earth Stewards to bring the forefront of modern business ethics
and general employment market understanding.

This need also leaves the door wide open to successes for job placement services that keep these principles in central focus in their standards of practice.

I am absolutely convinced that were a modern day renaissance to take place in the U.S. employment culture, energy economy, and domestic manufaturing economy, these principles will be absolutely

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Neighborhood Gardening To Help The Environment

An often overlooked tool to help heal the environment is your very own spice and vegetable garden.

Gardens offer several opportunities to help the local and global environment:

1. Gardens reduce the need to transport food over great distances. Shipping is a major producer of polluting emissions due to the extensive use of fossil fuels in ships, rail lines, and semi trucks. In addition to the fossil fuel use, there is the energy used to refrigerate foods in shipping, to maintain the vehicles that do the shipping, and to operate the computer systems that manage distribution of foods to grocery stores all over the country.

2. Gardens reduce the need for energy production for storage and operations at grocery stores.

3. Gardeners have the opportunity to grow many non-commercial "heritage" varieties of fruits, spices, and vegetables, preserving biodiversity and preventing the extinction of now rare plant stocks that are often better adapted to local climates. Many of these stocks are both more flavorful and nutricious than commercial stock produced by agribusiness because their varieties stand shipping better and look better in the local grocery store produce racks. Looks asnd flavor are NOT the same thing! See for more details.

4. Gardeners often practise the art of composting and other organic techniques once they become more learned in the art of gardening. This maintains healthier soils and can reduce the amount of household waste going into land fills by up to 30%.

5. Neighbors gardening together often have more of a sense of community than those who do not have such joint activities.

6. Home-canned foodstocks can increase disaster preparedness, and retain money in the household budget, which could be put towards socially responsible investing or renewable energy systems for the home.

7. Home gardens can also help reduce the US trade deficit by reducing food imports.

8. Home gardens can promote a more peaceful and serene disposition in the gardener's life and provide better nutrition for families, both of which can help reduce illness and demands on the national health care system.

9. Urban container gardens can help "green up" harsh urban environments, improving air quality and the outlook of urban dwellers.

10. Home gardens can give people experience in caring for and being responsible for living organisms that are totally dependent on them for life and reproduction. This is small-scale practice at Stewardship, yet it goes beyond the obvious in benefits.

11. Home gardens can help provide habitat and sustenance for pollinating insects such as bees, without which most life on Earth would perish.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Community And Compassion Combined With Sustainability

For far too long now, Western culture has been obsessed with valuing persons by the jobs they hold and the so-called "wealth" they create. This form of "wealth" is nothing of the sort if it uses a finite supply of materials that are never replenished to the point where it will become unsustainable in some future time.

If one hundred years from now our civilization falls and people are dying off like all the creatures we have killed and driven to extinction, and all the plant life we have utterly destroyed, what "wealth" is there left for our descendants? For that matter, will we even have descendants if we continue on our present course, or will we have "consumed" our way into extinction or close to it?

One can argue that rapture is imminent, that the return of Christ will happen any day now, so that none of our actions matter. Still, who does the proponent of such a position think that they are, to know the mind and timing of God so closely that they are willing to destroy all that He created and charged us with caring for without any concern at all? Worse yet the utter arrogance of trying to hasten the hand of God through attempting to create what one believes the signs of Revelations to be.

God will walk this Earth in judgement in His own time, and not a single human being living on it shall he consult.

It is our responsibility to "keep the house clean" in anticipation of his arrival, not to act like terrible teenagers having a party while the parents are away!

It is necessary, correct, and utterly appropriate that people of all faiths rebuild community. It is beyond overdue that we re-examine the beliefs of our "tribe" and find ways to make our local communities as sustainable as possible.

Mankind has built upon traditional methods, improving upon them for millennia. It is time we recognized the need for a new paradigm in how our communities are structured.

Part of the Christian faith is the call to charity and kindness to others. Part of sustainable community is reaching out to all in the community to bring them to a position of self-sufficiency. It is time to re-define charity, from a simple act of giving just enough to those in need to the true charity of raising them up through education and mentorship to the point where they can not only sustain themselves, but to where they can assist in sustaining and improving the communities they live in.

Critical to such an accomplishment is understanding that we must value everyone as a human being before we value their skills of production. This can not be stressed enough. No one can easily succeed in an environment where they are looked down upon and despised like so much garbage in the street.

Even those who have committed grievous misdeeds and can find no self-worth in their history need to be encouraged to look forward, to see that there is an open path to contribution to society and community that can make their future more valuable than their past. One can be changed and the other can not. Rather than being a burden on society, they should always be faced with a path to redemption of their future through education, skill, and effort, even f they must be confined for lack of ability to control mis-behavior.

Additionally, the good works they do manage to accomplish should be recognized and they should be taught that they can contribute things of worth even if their failings must be prevented.

There are all levels and kinds of people, all are capable of bringing something to the table in some way, even if they are not necessarily the ones to find that path. It is up to us to show true charity, and seek to enable the finding of their path to community contribution and worth as an individual through latent innate talents they may not know they possess.

Perhaps, if we value everyone as a person before we value their skills, eschew looking down our noses at them and help lift them up while providing them with the most basic needs of survival, we can prevent many of the mis-deeds that arise from a belief of negative self-worth even if we can't prevent those that arise from a true sickness of the mind.

To me, modern society has forgotten to much too great an extent the knowledge that healing a wounded heart is as important as healing an injured body, and utterly disregarded that wounds of the heart should be prevented by a societal norm of kindness and respect rather than the all-too-typical smart-aleck "I got a cut-down in on you and that makes me better than you" attitude.

Community is NOT a collection of buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, and parks. It is a collection of souls acting in the mutual interest of all while respecting the needs both body and heart of each member.

The society that does not retain this critical part of its collective soul is un-sustainable before its material actions are even considered.

The society that is based on love and respect for both its members AND its environment is the society that will last the longest, perhaps even until God decides it is time to visit us in person.

Entire civilizations have fallen through simply forgetting this critical piece of understanding, and our own is teetering on the verge. Which course shall we choose?

War Harms The Earth

War - the entire concept seems to go against the teachings of Christ. I must confess that I do not understand how "Christians" can support such a thing not forced upon them.

Not only the human mayhem, but the environmental damage is a sin against the Earth God gave us.

Damage is done to sanitary and waste disposal systems, medical facilities, oil fields, factories, and homes. The environmental damage is often acute and large-scale in military conflicts.

Aside from the immediate damage done, the citizen's ability to collect and dispose of waste is disrupted. So is their ability to grow crops.

Additionally, wildlife often gets in the way of such conflicts, or armies "living off the land" kill large numbers of indigenous creatures and destroy crops, ruining bio-diversity and habitat.

No small wonder God flooded the Earth to quell violence in Noah's time.

War has no place in an Earth Steward's life. Best to neither provoke it nor wage it unless no other choice exists for survival.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

God’s Earth is Sacred:

God’s Earth is Sacred:
An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States

God’s creation delivers unsettling news. Earth’s climate is warming to dangerous levels; 90 percent of the world’s fisheries have been depleted; coastal development and pollution are causing a sharp decline in ocean health; shrinking habitat threatens to extinguish thousands of species; over 95 percent of the contiguous United States forests have been lost; and almost half of the population in the United States lives in areas that do not meet national air quality standards. In recent years, the profound danger has grown, requiring us as theologians, pastors, and religious leaders to speak out and act with new urgency.

We are obliged to relate to Earth as God’s creation “in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the [basic] needs of all humankind, and increase justice.”[1] Over the past several decades, slowly but faithfully, the religious community in the United States has attempted to address issues of ecology and justice. Our faith groups have offered rich theological perspectives, considered moral issues through the lens of long-standing social teaching, and passed numerous policies within our own church bodies. While we honor the efforts in our churches, we have clearly failed to communicate the full measure and magnitude of Earth’s environmental crisis-religiously, morally, or politically. It is painfully clear from the verifiable testimony of the world’s scientists that our response has been inadequate to the scale and pace of Earth’s degradation.

To continue to walk the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly; it is sin. As voiced by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has taken the lead among senior religious leaders in his concern for creation: “To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation . . . for humans to degrade the integrity of Earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the Earth of its natural forests, or destroying its wetlands . . . for humans to injure other humans with disease . . . for humans to contaminate the Earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life, with poisonous substances . . . these are sins.”[2] We have become un-Creators. Earth is in jeopardy at our hands.

This means that ours is a theological crisis as well. We have listened to a false gospel that we continue to live out in our daily habits-a gospel that proclaims that God cares for the salvation of humans only and that our human calling is to exploit Earth for our own ends alone. This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policy makers.

The secular counterpart of this gospel rests in the conviction that humans can master the Earth. Our modern way of life assumes this mastery. However, the sobering truth is that we hardly have knowledge of, much less control over, the deep and long-term consequences of our human impacts upon the Earth. We have already sown the seeds for many of those consequences. The fruit of those seeds will be reaped by future generations of human beings, together with others in the community of life.

The imperative first step is to repent of our sins, in the presence of God and one another. This repentance of our social and ecological sins will acknowledge the special responsibility that falls to those of us who are citizens of the United States. Though only five percent of the planet’s human population, we produce one-quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, consume a quarter of its natural riches, and perpetuate scandalous inequities at home and abroad. We are a precious part of Earth’s web of life, but we do not own the planet and we cannot transcend its requirements for regeneration on its own terms. We have not listened well to the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The second step is to pursue a new journey together, with courage and joy. By God’s grace, all things are made new. We can share in that renewal by clinging to God’s trustworthy promise to restore and fulfill all that God creates and by walking, with God’s help, a path different from our present course. To that end, we affirm our faith, propose a set of guiding norms, and call on our churches to rededicate themselves to this mission. We firmly believe that addressing the degradation of God’s sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world.

Ecological Affirmations of Faith

We stand with awe and gratitude as members of God’s bountiful and good creation. We rejoice in the splendor and mystery of countless species, our common creaturehood, and the interdependence of all that God makes. We believe that the Earth is home for all and that it has been created intrinsically good (Genesis 1).

We lament that the human species is shattering the splendid gifts of this web of life, ignoring our responsibility for the well being of all life, while destroying species and their habitats at a rate never before known in human history.

We believe that the Holy Spirit, who animates all of creation, breathes in us and can empower us to participate in working toward the flourishing of Earth’s community of life. We believe that the people of God are called to forge ways of being human that enable socially just and ecologically sustainable communities to flourish for generations to come. And we believe in God’s promise to fulfill all of creation, anticipating the reconciliation of all (Colossians 1:15), in accordance with God’s promise (II Peter 3:13).

We lament that we have rejected this vocation, and have distorted our God-given abilities and knowledge in order to ransack and often destroy ecosystems and human communities rather than to protect, strengthen, and nourish them.

We believe that, in boundless love that hungers for justice, God in Jesus Christ acts to restore and redeem all creation (including human beings). God incarnate affirms all creation (John 1:14), which becomes a sacred window to eternity. In the cross and resurrection we know that God is drawn into life’s most brutal and broken places and there brings forth healing and liberating power. That saving action restores right relationships among all members of “the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

We confess that instead of living and proclaiming this salvation through our very lives and worship, we have abused and exploited the Earth and people on the margins of power and privilege, altering climates, extinguishing species, and jeopardizing Earth’s capacity to sustain life as we know and love it.

We believe that the created world is sacred-a revelation of God’s power and gracious presence filling all things. This sacred quality of creation demands moderation and sharing, urgent antidotes for our excess in consumption and waste, reminding us that economic justice is an essential condition of ecological integrity. We cling to God’s trustworthy promise to restore, renew, and fulfill all that God creates. We long for and work toward the day when churches, as embodiments of Christ on Earth, will respond to the "groaning of creation" (Romans 8:22) and to God’s passionate desire to “renew the face of the Earth" (Psalm 104:30). We look forward to the day when the lamentations and groans of creation will be over, justice with peace will reign, humankind will nurture not betray the Earth, and all of creation will sing for joy.

Guiding Norms for Church and Society

These affirmations imply a challenge that is also a calling: to fulfill our vocation as moral images of God, reflections of divine love and justice charged to “serve and preserve” the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Given this charge and the urgent problems of our age-from species extinctions and mass poverty to climate change and health-crippling pollution-how shall we respond? What shall we be and do? What are the standards and practices of moral excellence that we ought to cultivate in our personal lives, our communities of faith, our social organizations, our businesses, and our political institutions? We affirm the following norms of social and environmental responsibility:

Justice-creating right relationships, both social and ecological, to ensure for all members of the Earth community the conditions required for their flourishing. Among human members, justice demands meeting the essential material needs and conditions for human dignity and social participation. In our global context, economic deprivation and ecological degradation are linked in a vicious cycle. We are compelled, therefore, to seek eco-justice, the integration of social justice and ecological integrity. The quest for eco-justice also implies the development of a set of human environmental rights, since one of the essential conditions of human well being is ecological integrity. These moral entitlements include protection of soils, air, and water from diverse pollutants; the preservation of biodiversity; and governmental actions ensuring the fair and frugal use of creation’s riches.

Sustainability-living within the bounds of planetary capacities indefinitely, in fairness to both present and future generations of life. God’s covenant is with humanity and all other living creatures “for all future generations” (Genesis 9:8-17). The concern for sustainability forces us to be responsible for the truly long-term impacts of our lifestyles and policies.

Bioresponsibility-extending the covenant of justice to include all other life forms as beloved creatures of God and as expressions of God’s presence, wisdom, power, and glory. We do not determine nor declare creation’s value, and other creatures should not be treated merely as instruments for our needs and wants. Other species have their own integrity. They deserve a “fair share” of Earth’s bounty- a share that allows a biodiversity of life to thrive along with human communities.

Humility-recognizing, as an antidote to arrogance, the limits of human knowledge, technological ingenuity, and moral character. We are not the masters of creation. Knowing human capacities for error and evil, humility keeps our own species in check for the good of the whole of Earth as God’s creation.

Generosity-sharing Earth’s riches to promote and defend the common good in recognition of God’s purposes for the whole creation and Christ’s gift of abundant life. Humans are not collections of isolated individuals, but rather communities of socially and ecologically interdependent beings. A measure of a good society is not whether it privileges those who already have much, but rather whether it privileges the most vulnerable members of creation. Essentially, these tasks require good government at all levels, from local to regional to national to international.

Frugality- restraining economic production and consumption for the sake of eco-justice. Living lives filled with God’s Spirit liberates us from the illusion of finding wholeness in the accumulation of material things and brings us to the reality of God’s just purposes. Frugality connotes moderation, sufficiency, and temperance. Many call it simplicity. It demands the careful conservation of Earth’s riches, comprehensive recycling, minimal harm to other species, material efficiency and the elimination of waste, and product durability. Frugality is the corrective to a cardinal vice of the age: prodigality - excessively taking from and wasting God’s creation. On a finite planet, frugality is an expression of love and an instrument for justice and sustainability: it enables all life to thrive together by sparing and sharing global goods.

Solidarity-acknowledging that we are increasingly bound together as a global community in which we bear responsibility for one another’s well being. The social and environmental problems of the age must be addressed with cooperative action at all levels-local, regional, national and international. Solidarity is a commitment to the global common good through international cooperation.

Compassion-sharing the joys and sufferings of all Earth’s members and making them our own. Members of the body of Christ see the face of Christ in the vulnerable and excluded. From compassion flows inclusive caring and careful service to meet the needs of others.

A Call to Action: Healing the Earth and Providing a Just and Sustainable Society

For too long, we, our Christian brothers and sisters, and many people of good will have relegated care and justice for the Earth to the periphery of our concerns. This is not a competing “program alternative,” one “issue” among many. In this most critical moment in Earth’s history, we are convinced that the central moral imperative of our time is the care for Earth as God’s creation.

Churches, as communities of God’s people in the world, are called to exist as representatives of the loving Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all creation. We are called to worship God with all our being and actions, and to treat creation as sacred. We must engage our political leaders in supporting the very future of this planet. We are called to cling to the true Gospel - for “God so loved the cosmos” (John 3:16) - rejecting the false gospels of our day.

We believe that caring for creation must undergird, and be entwined with, all other dimensions of our churches’ ministries. We are convinced that it is no longer acceptable to claim to be “church” while continuing to perpetuate, or even permit, the abuse of Earth as God’s creation. Nor is it acceptable for our corporate and political leaders to engage in “business as usual” as if the very future of life-support systems were not at stake.

Therefore, we urgently call on our brothers and sisters in Christ, and all people of good will, to join us in:

Understanding our responsibilities as those who live within the United States of America - the part of the human family that represents five percent of the world population and consumes 25 percent of Earth’s riches. We believe that one of the surest ways to gain this understanding is by listening intently to the most vulnerable: those who most immediately suffer the consequences of our overconsumption, toxication, and hubris. The whole Earth is groaning, crying out for healing-let us awaken the “ears of our souls” to hear it, before it’s too late.

Integrating this understanding into our core beliefs and practices surrounding what it means to be “church,” to be “human,” to be “children of God.” Such integration will be readily apparent in: congregational mission statements, lay and ordained ministries, the preaching of the Word, our hymns of praise, the confession of our sins, our financial stewardship and offerings to God, theological education, our evangelism, our daily work, sanctuary use, and compassionate service to all communities of life. With this integrated witness we look forward to a revitalization of our human vocation and our churches’ lives that parallels the revitalization of God’s thriving Earth.

Advocating boldly with all our leaders on behalf of creation’s most vulnerable members (including human members). We must shed our complacency, denial, and fears and speak God’s truth to power, on behalf of all who have been denied dignity and for the sake of all voiceless members of the community of life.

In Christ’s name and for Christ’s glory, we call out with broken yet hopeful hearts: join us in restoring God’s Earth-the greatest healing work and moral assignment of our time.


[1] American Baptist Policy Statement on Ecology, 1989, p. 2.

[2] “Address of His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew at the Environmental Symposium, Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, Santa Barbara, California, 8 November 1997,” John Chryssavgis, Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003, pages 220-221.



Neddy Astudillo, Latina Eco-Theologian, Presbyterian Church USA

Father John Chryssavgis, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Dr. Dieter Hessel, Director of the Ecumenical Program on Ecology, Justice, and Faith

Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr., President, National Council of Churches and Bishop of Louisiana and Mississippi, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. Carol Johnston, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of Lifelong Theological Education at Christian Theological Seminary

Tanya Marcova-Barnett, Earth Ministry, Program Director

Bill McKibben, author and scholar-in-residence, Middlebury College

Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University

Dr. James A. Nash, social and ecological ethicist, retired

Dr. Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, New York City

Rev. Dr. H. Paul Santmire, Author and Teaching Theologian, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Dr. Karen Baker-Fletcher, Associate Professor of Theology, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr., Emeritus Professor, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate School

Dr. Jay McDaniel, Director of the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, Hendrix College

Dr. Sallie McFague, Carpenter Professor of Theology Emerita, Vanderbilt University Divinity School Distinguished Theologian in Residence, Vancouver School of Theology, British Columbia

Dr. Barbara R. Rossing, New Testament Professor, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago