March 2020
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. ... But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:4-5, 7, NRSV)
As I write this newsletter, the world is dealing with the global pandemic of COVID-19. In a matter of days, we have seen our culture change and adapt, and the distancing measures may feel like the exile Jeremiah is talking about in the above scripture reference. The gaps in our nation’s emergency preparedness have shone through, in areas such as healthcare, inequity of food access, and massive unemployment. There is chaos and uncertainty and fear, but we can also see one another desiring to care for one another.

While this emergency is incredibly sobering, I have also felt at least slightly encouraged. We can react as a nation and world to shift our normal routines to deal with an emergency. I am hopeful that we can apply our learning to the climate emergency, and become better prepared to shift into a new way of relating to one another and the planet.

What to do?
It can be difficult to know what to do, since we need to stay physically distant from others. I suggest doing what Jeremiah suggested: plant gardens and eat what they produce, seek the welfare of the cities we inhabit, and pray.

While we live in this coronavirus-induced exile, those of us with a little land or outdoor space at home or at church can grow food. EMO is encouraging everyone to grow " Victory Gardens " to sustain yourselves and our community through this difficult time. During World War II, people grew food as a patriotic duty to help ease shortages in the food system. We can also see this as an opportunity to care for creation by developing a more local food system, which reduces the need for fossil fuels used in industrial agriculture and transport.

While we are self-isolating, can we plant a little extra food this year and donate it to our neighbors who have lost employment and are struggling to find food? You can donate produce to your local Food Bank.

How to begin?
If you have a yard, an outdoor space where you can plant in containers, or space on your faith community's grounds, you can plant a Victory Garden.

  • Seeds: our partners at Eloheh, Randy and Edith Woodley, offer a variety of heritage seeds you can order online and receive by mail.
  • Gardening tips: the OSU Extension Service is offering a free Vegetable Gardening Course during the coronavirus outbreak. They also have an excellent PDF called Growing Your Own with instructions about building garden beds, container gardening, soil, compost, and everything else you will need to know.
  • Church community garden: the wonderful folks at A Rocha created a guide to starting a church community garden. If you've never done this before, start small! Gather a group (virtually, of course) and start dreaming and planning. Plant a few things and see how it goes!
  • Planting dates: check out calendars for the Willamette Valley, and various zones around Oregon.
  • Contact me: I would love to talk with you about setting up your Victory Garden! (Or anything else creation justice oriented.) Email me and we can set up a time to talk on the phone or Zoom video-chat.
Cherice Bock
Creation Justice Advocate
(503) 221-1054, ext. 228
50th Earth Day
It's the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this April 22! Although many of us may have been planning events, now we are likely to still be practicing "social distancing" to slow the spread of the coronavirus. You can still take action, however! Here are a few ideas:

  • Faith Action Climate Week: Interfaith Power & Light's packet of resources could be reconfigured for virtual events.
  • Climate Strike Online: Fridays for Future (organized by Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists) is inviting people to post photos, if possible with a sign, and tag #ClimateStrikeOnline. You can also add the hashtag #Christians4Climate to show people of faith care about this topic!
  • Virtual Earth Day Sunday: our partners at Creation Justice Ministries offer a number of resources that could be adapted to online events with your faith community on the Sundays surrounding Earth Day.
  • Laudato Si' Week: Catholic Climate Covenant created resources for Earth Day and Laudato Si' Week (May 16-24), useful for Catholics and others interested in studying the Pope's excellent 2015 encyclical.
Oregon Governor Brown Signs Climate Executive Order
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon worked hard during the 2020 Legislative Session, in collaboration with the Renew Oregon Coalition, to support strong policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop clean energy solutions. As you no doubt heard, the session ended with a walkout by Republican lawmakers, largely over Senate Bill 1530, the cap-and-invest bill, capping the amount of greenhouse gases that could be emitted, and utilizing funds received from polluters to invest in communities impacted by pollution, to implement alternative energy solutions, and to create green jobs. This bill—and most of the others proposed in this legislative session—did not have a chance to be approved.

Therefore, Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order on climate change on March 10, 2020. This executive order seeks to implement some of the same goals as SB 1530, including reducing Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent below 1990 emissions by 2035, and 80 percent by 2050. She does not have the power to order a cap-and-trade strategy for the whole economy, but this order mandates that state agencies seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the sectors they oversee, creating and implementing policies within their agency’s purview.

Britt Conroy represented EMO at the signing of the executive order.

While this executive order is not enough to address the overarching problems of climate change, pollution and overuse of natural resources in our region, it is a step in the right direction. Read the executive order.

We encourage you to send letters of thanks to Governor Brown for taking this important step. You can email her using the button below, or write to her on Twitter @OregonGovBrown.
EMO Writes in Support of HB 4067
In line with environmental justice organizations in the state, EMO wrote to support House Bill 4067A, which worked toward equitable rates for low-income and other under-served customers of Oregon’s Public Utility Commission. This bill emphasized environmental justice so that energy costs remain affordable, particularly in communities of color and other communities on the front line of climate change and pollution, even as new forms of energy are pursued and implemented, ensuring it is the polluter who pays rather than those who can least afford it.

View EMO's letter to Senator Dembrow . We will continue to work to enact this important legislation in the future.
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, all events are cancelled due to the coronavirus. Digital events can be shared , too, so if you make plans for Earth Day and 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 | |