August 2020
Season of Creation
Greetings,

Did you know that September 1-October 4 is designated the Season of Creation by the World Council of Churches? Also, the Jewish High Holy Days happen in September, including the celebration of the new year on Rosh Hoshanah. One aspect of Rosh Hoshanah is the new cycle of reading the Torah (Pentateuch: Genesis through Deuteronomy), which begins with creation. Planting a tree to mark the new year is a common practice. Additionally, the week of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, occurs this year from October 2-9, and this is time for remembering the wilderness wandering by living outside in temporary shelters.
Celebrate the Season of Creation with us on October 4 (a virtual event via Zoom). Through EMO's Oregon Interfaith Power & Light (OIPL), we will be hosting an interfaith time of worship and community building. October 4 is St. Francis of Assisi's feast day, so we will learn about his concern for creation, as well as hearing about the creation oriented practices in this part of the Jewish calendar. We will also spend time getting to know others around Oregon who are interested in creation justice. You will learn about EMO / OIPL's upcoming launch of regional Circles. Register now.

You are encouraged to also host Season of Creation events with your congregation or green team. These could be virtual events where you learn or organize around creation justice policies, or socially distanced outdoor events where you spend time outside. Perhaps you could weed and care for your faith community's land, or go for a hike together (with masks). You could read and reflect on passages of scripture that relate to creation. The World Council of Churches offers a Jubilee for the Earth 2020 celebration guide with ideas and resources.
Cherice Bock
Creation Justice Advocate
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
Oregon Interfaith Power & Light
Creation Justice Webinars
Our fourth creation justice webinar on September 2 at 7 p.m. will feature Randy Woodley, PhD, of Eloheh Center for Earth Justice. He is also a faculty member and director of intercultural and Indigenous studies at Portland Seminary.

Randy and Edith Woodley run Eloheh Center for Earth Justice, where they teach Native and non-Native peoples to deepen their commitment to preserving humanity’s role as good earth-keepers by understanding Creator’s invitation to harmony and shalom. Through summits, camps, ceremony, conferences and teachings, the Woodleys offer an opportunity for all to learn a new way to live on the land and respond to the climate crisis. They also have a farm and a seed business, serving as an incubator for Indigenous entrepreneurship and innovation and a model for cooperative and sustainable living. 

Through our webinar series this summer, we are learning about some of Oregon's environmental justice concerns and the organizations working on them. Mark your calendars for the next three events:


Three webinars have already happened, and you can watch the recordings, or learn more about the organizations by following the links. Visit our website to see all the registration and recording links.

Just Vote: EMO's Oregon Interfaith Power & Light and EcoFaith Recovery
EcoFaith Recovery and EMO's Oregon Interfaith Power & Light (OIPL) are teaming up to offer training and support for faith climate justice voters. Between now and November, join with IPL chapters all over the country to help register people to vote, encourage everyone to vote for climate justice, and educate ourselves and one another about climate and environment-related policies.

Check out the resources available at the Just Vote website, and sign up to participate in gatherings on the first, third and fifth Thursday mornings from August to November.
August action:

  1. Check your voter registration.
  2. Register or update your registration, if needed. (Deadline for voter registration is October 13.)
  3. Ask three friends: make sure voting-age members of your household and friends who care about creation are registered to vote, and share the above links with them.
  4. See the Just Vote website for more action ideas.
Welcome Aaron Salzman, Climate Advocacy Associate
Aaron Salzman joins us for 2020-2021 through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps
Hello! My name is Aaron Salzman, and I just started at EMO as the Climate Advocacy Associate. I’ll be promoting climate-related legislation at the state level. I am joining EMO through Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, a Catholic volunteer program dedicated to spirituality, simple living, community, and social and ecological justice.

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, I graduated this past May from Boston College with a BA in philosophy and minors in theology and Hispanic studies. I was very involved with Climate Justice at Boston College, which organizes for fossil fuel divestment. CJBC’s mission is part of a global movement working to persuade universities and other institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel stocks. I was also the head organizer of the Catholic Divestment Network (CDN), which brought together campaigns at many Catholic colleges and universities to discuss strategy, particularly as informed by Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’. During my time with the CDN, campaigns at Seattle University and Georgetown University won major victories, and students started campaigns at Marquette University and Creighton University.

Academically, my philosophy major and theology minor gave me a rich look at environmental thought, and I ended up writing my senior thesis on the parallels between Pope Francis’s environmental theology and various environmental philosophies and theologies. I hope to bring my expertise on these theories of creation care into my work on climate legislation.

Since this is my first time in Portland, I’m excited to explore the city and surrounding area this year, especially the Mt. Tabor area, where I’m currently living. So far, I’ve loved biking around the city and browsing the Little Free Libraries scattered throughout my neighborhood. In my position at EMO, I’m looking forward to collaborating with partner organizations to center environmental justice in EMO’s advocacy, and by the end of the year I hope to have contributed positively to EMO’s advocacy work and Oregon’s environments, both human and non-human.
Tear Gas:
Police Tactics Harm Environmental and Human Health
by Aaron Salzman
Portlanders being tear gassed
Image credit: CNN

For months, news outlets across the country have intensely followed Portland’s protests for racial justice, and widely-circulated images of the city doused in tear gas have disturbed both civilians and government personnel. George Floyd’s cry, “I can’t breathe,” in relation to police brutality has taken on new dimensions as these nightly standoffs for racial justice have often resulted in unprecedented use of tear gas and other potent Riot Control Agents (RCAs) as methods of crowd control.

On August 5, in compliance with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s request for data on the presence of tear gas-related pollutants in the Willamette river, the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) announced plans to clean storm drains leading to the river, test samples from storm drains for toxic pollutants, and prevent additional chemical pollution. Some Portland residents have noticed the ongoing presence of tear gas-related pollutants in the city, claiming to have experienced the effects of tear gas even a day after it was deployed.

The lack of information about how long tear gas-related pollutants will linger in Portland, how far they have spread, and their effects on human and environmental health—particularly relating to the health of the Willamette River—raises major concerns. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) continues to use the substance after the withdrawal of federal officers, despite the fact that tear gas has been banned for use in warfare.
In addition to questions about the spread of tear gas-related chemicals in Portland, BES spokesperson Diane Dulken has acknowledged that the long-term effects of tear gas on the human body and the environment are largely unknown, though researchers have raised concerns that the effects of exposure to tear gas, which include difficulty breathing, coughing, and vomiting, can increase protesters’ and officers’ risk of exposure to COVID-19. Protesters exposed to the gas have also reported irregularities in their menstrual cycles. Finally, Don’t Shoot Portland recently published a survey of the research on the many effects of tear gas, which range from increased risk of cancer and brain damage to irreparable harm to aquatic environments. EMO supports BES’s work to monitor and evaluate the impact of tear gas-related chemicals on human and environmental health.

This summer’s special legislative sessions created legislation limiting the use of tear gas and other “less lethal” crowd control measures, but with little effect (HB 4208, HB 4301). EMO is working with our partners on truly effective approaches to defend constitutional rights, prevent violent confrontations, de-escalate protester-police face-offs, ensure the safety of all, hold police and our elected officials accountable, and protect human and environmental health. The PPB, other law enforcement agencies, and political leaders have a moral obligation to meet this challenge, and we will continue to draw from our deep, justice-centered faith traditions to ensure they do so.
Have an event to share?
If you're hosting an event related to creation justice, let us know and we will help you publicize it! Right now, most events are virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital events can be shared, too, so if you want others to join your digital events, please let us know! Email Cherice Bock to share it with our networks.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
503-221-1054 | emo@emoregon.org | emoregon.org