We Care - Earth Care!
Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church
October 2020
The Election Issue
Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead
others to join you.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Stewardship of creation requires not only action but collaboration. As individuals we may attend to our own patterns of consumption and waste. But we also expect others to share the responsibilities of stewardship, particularly our neighbors and our elected officials. As we approach the US General election on November 3, let’s remember that governments make decisions that will impact the earth and its inhabitants for years. Some of us have worked in the political arena for environmental and social justice, but we also know that some have a different perspective on environmental concerns. How do we talk to each other during this highly polarized time so that we can work collectively to preserve and nourish the planet and its people? This month we present voices of activism from within and from outside our community.

In this issue

Speaking of Faith: Pat Timm on social action as spiritual practice; Jackie Gruer on a different kind of trinity
Walking the Talk: Bill Muse on the National Issue Forum; Beth Sullebarger on environmental action at the Women’s City Club
Take Action Now: John Tallmadge finds election resources online
Kids Corner: Linda Ford finds patriotic colors in nature
Pocket Pilgrimage: Diane Smith meets Charley Harper at the Museum Center; Kathy Downey carves pumpkins
Speaking of Faith
Social Action as a Spiritual Practice
Elder Pat Timm writes:

What is it that pulls me toward civic action? What is the source of the impulse to engage in transformative conversations about public policy and to advocate for social justice? I believe that civic action can become a spiritual practice when we feel called to work toward just, kind, and equitable laws and institutions. There are so many opportunities in local, state and federal government to work with others to right the wrongs, to hold a kinder vision, and to care for creation. Here are just a few:

The Green Cincinnati Plan. adopted by City Council in 2018, includes 80 strategies to reduce our carbon emissions 80% by 2050. It will help map Cincinnati’s path to 100% renewable energy, starting with a proposal to build the largest city-owned solar array in the country. Another strategy is WARMUP CINCY, designed to help low-income customers in multi-family buildings reduce their costs and improve their energy efficiency. Managed by the Community Action Agency, this program needs to reach more eligible customers. Do you work for or volunteer in any agencies or organizations that could help promote the program? For more information, call Oliver Kroner in the Office of Environment and Sustainability at (513) 352-5340, or sign up for the department newsletter.
The Federal Government. The Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) exists to create the political will for fair, non-partisan, effective climate solutions. As Doug Bell, chair of the Cincinnati Chapter explains, “Individuals can have an impact at the federal level. First off, your vote really does count! 73% of Americans believe human activity is changing our climate, and yet our Federal government has not passed significant climate legislation. That’s because those who oppose climate legislation are more likely to vote than those who support it. Secondly, even in these days of super-PACs, politicians still do respond to the will of the people. You can change that will by writing a Letter to the Editor. Also, send your Members of Congress an email or phone call with your views. They count how many they receive with a certain viewpoint. Yours really will matter.”


CCL has found that public officials are surprisingly open to climate action. By focusing on shared values rather than partisan divides, advocates can build relationships with community leaders and congressional representatives. You can join the Climate Lobby at the local, state, or national level. Go to their website for guidance on how to become a more effective Earth Care lobbyist. Their bi-partisan climate solution—House Bill 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act—will drive down our carbon pollution. You can join Democrats and Republicans to work for its passage.

Green Umbrella, Greater Cincinnati’s Regional Sustainability Alliance. At Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church The Earth Care Team has many of the same goals as Green Umbrella, including getting outdoors, carbon neutrality, climate planning and sustainability. The alliance of over 200 organizations and 200 individual members works in Impact Teams:
               
1.    CPS Outside
2.    Farm to School
3.    Healthy Eating and Health Care
4.    Outdoors Rx
5.    Zero Food to Landfill
6.    Environmental Health and Housing
7.    Energy Transportation
8.    Land Use and Ecosystem Services
9.    Commercial Waste Reduction
10.  Faith Communities Go Green
11.  Landscape Conservation

If you are not already a member of Green Umbrella, JOIN TODAY. You are already benefiting from their work. They have helped lead Cincinnati to top the list of the nation’s most sustainable metro areas. 
A Different Kind of Trinity?

Jackie Gruer writes:

How can this be? We live in a modern day United States but raw sewage runs through our back yard during big rain events. Soon after this revelation Gail and I discussed our predicament over dinner at Ruth's. Our server told us about a public meeting with the Metropolitan Sewer District to be held in Northside.

I learned later that our server, Alison, was a staff member of Communities United for Action (CUFA), the organization that sponsored this meeting. Seems to me that our encounter was Divine Intervention at work! That Northside meeting (at the Presbyterian church) started my involvement with CUFA, and before long I was learning all about Combined Sewer Overflows, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, our watershed management, the Consent Decree issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, advocacy of the Sierra Club, the governing dysfunction of our city and county, sewer back ups in homes of so many Hamilton County residents, and the widespread inequities of environmental justice for vulnerable populations.

CUFA organizes low-income residents and people of color to address the racism and classism that have led to environmental health problems. They argue that access to water, affordable utilities and fair housing are human rights, and they empower residents to speak for themselves, to lead meetings, interact with politicians and bureaucrats, and create positive actions. Residents are always the speakers; the organizers merely facilitate and encourage. Efforts that are good for the earth, reduce bills, and create sustainable jobs are inherent in CUFA’s goals.

I love this kind of action! CUFA has organized us to speak up, to carpool to City Council and Commissioner Meetings, to demonstrate outside the Mayor's State of the City address, to sing sewer overflow Christmas Carols at a Commissioner's meeting, and to participate in caravan demonstrations. And that’s just on the local level! CUFA has also helped Cincinnati residents participate in a national demonstration at the EPA, empowering their voices to be heard outside of Hamilton County.

A dear friend is an environmental lawyer and founder of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust. We became environmental activists when we were in college and now he is a blowout conservationist! KNLT is into acquiring land, saving animal and plant species, and saving old growth trees. What I have come to understand is that Conservation is one piece of Earth Care, but that another important piece is Social Justice.

Many of us remember the Love Canal and other instances of communities developing health problems because of toxic waste. Now the term Sacrifice Zone applies to an area contaminated by industrial waste inhabited by people who cannot afford to live anywhere else. I am a person of racial and economic privilege. Environmental protection through legislation, activism and personal life choices have seemed obvious paths and Climate Change a clear and present danger. Involvement with CUFA has taught me that it is hard to care about salamanders, bats, and your carbon footprint when you have health problems resulting from sewage overflows or toxic waste and you are struggling to pay utility bills.

Earth Care is the overarching cause. Could it be that unity between Conservation, Environmental Activism, and Social Justice will save our Earth? A different kind of Trinity.
Walking The Talk
The National Issues Forum

Bill Muse writes:
In my 80+ years on this earth, I have never experienced a more pressing time for us to listen to one another and talk constructively about the major problems we face. We are divided in so many ways, by age, gender, race, religion, economic condition, and geographical location among others, and these differences are often exacerbated by social media. We need to find common ground and learn how to work together as a family, as a community, and as a nation. My dad was a minister and I was able to see how he helped develop a sense of community. He wanted me to become a preacher, and even though I became a teacher instead, I retained a lifetime commitment to the values he taught me.
 
Marlene and I moved to Cincinnati when I retired after 40-years in higher education. My retirement” did not last long, as I was recruited to join the Board of the National Issues Forums Institute and wound up serving for eight years as President. Located in Dayton, NIFI partners with the Kettering Foundation to do research on major issues; they publish guides that describe problems and possible solutions, and they convene in-person or online forums where people can share their views.  Each forum is led by an impartial moderator who invites participants to introduce themselves and share their personal experiences with the issue at hand. The moderator then leads the group thru an examination and discussion of the problem leading up to a consideration of the three options described in the issue guide. Moderators make sure that every participant has a voice and, as a final step, completes a questionnaire to capture their input.NIFI convenes forums across the nation and Kettering uses the results to prepare research report.
Educators at both the K-12 and higher education levels have use forums in the classroom because the process helps students develop skills in critical thinking, communications, and collaboration. A major research project at Wake Forest University found that students who engaged in this process were much more involved in their communities ten years later compared with those who did not.
Through the Adult Encounters program, MAPC members have had the opportunity to experience this process on many occasions. Some of the NIFI issue guides have dealt with Earth Care issues. For example, “Climate Choices: How Should We Meet Challenges of a Warming Planet?” examined three options—(a) Sharply reduce carbon emissions, (b) Prepare and protect our communities, (c) Accelerate innovation. Another guide, “Sustaining Ourselves: How Can We Best Meet the Needs of Today and Tomorrow?”, focused on the options of (a) Repair and protect crucial resources, (b) Focus on Technological innovation, and (c) Transform our culture. A complete listing and description of all NIFI guides can be found at www.nifi.org.

Leading up to the November 2020 election, NIFI has developed three new issue guides that describe problems that currently confront us—(1) “Voting: How Should We Safeguard and Improve our Elections?”. (2) “Back to Work: How Should We Rebuild Our Economy?”, and (3) Policing: What Should We Do to Ensure Justice and Fair Treatment in our Communities?” Perhaps MAPC members would like to deliberate with others about one or more of these issues. If so, they should contact Bill at bmuse@nifi.org.
The Woman’s City Club Takes Environmental Action
President Beth Sullebarger writes:

Housed in the office wing of MAPC, Woman’s City Club cherishes its mission to educate, engage and empower people to work for the good of our community. Through its committees and action groups, WCC pursues issues related to Social Justice, Education, the Status of Women and the Environment.

The club’s Environmental Action Group (EAG), headed by WCC past president Jeanne Nightingale, was formed to protect and enhance the quality of life in our metropolitan area. The group works on projects that promote sustainable practices, green the urban environment, and elevate eco-awareness. The EAG, which collaborates on occasion with MAPC’s Earth Care, shares all local green news in the Woman’s City Club (WCC) Bulletin, including actions people can take.
 
The EAG’s lead project during the past year has been working with a task force known as Past Plastic Cincinnati to reduce the use of plastic bags in collaboration with the Sierra Club and other groups. Last week, Past Plastic scored a major victory when Cincinnati City Council passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags. WCC’s EAG is also working on repealing Ohio HB 6, a disastrous bill that subsidized nuclear energy at the expense of alternative energy, and on fighting for clean water and clean air.
The club’s Environmental Action Group (EAG), headed by WCC past president Jeanne Nightingale, was formed to protect and enhance the quality of life in our metropolitan area. The group works on projects that promote sustainable practices, green the urban environment, and elevate eco-awareness. The EAG, which collaborates on occasion with MAPC’s Earth Care, shares all local green news in the Woman’s City Club (WCC) Bulletin, including actions people can take.
 
The EAG’s lead project during the past year has been working with a task force known as Past Plastic Cincinnati to reduce the use of plastic bags in collaboration with the Sierra Club and other groups. Last week, Past Plastic scored a major victory when Cincinnati City Council passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags. WCC’s EAG is also working on repealing Ohio HB 6, a disastrous bill that subsidized nuclear energy at the expense of alternative energy, and on fighting for clean water and clean air.
A dynamic and dedicated environmental leader, Jeanne connects WCC with numerous offices and organizations working on Air & Water Quality. She sits on the Environmental Advisory Council with Cincinnati’s Department of Environment & Sustainability. She’s a member of the League of Women Voters Natural Resource Committee and coordinates efforts of the League and WCC on local and state legislation. She sits on the Impervious Surface Fee Stakeholders Working Group fighting for equitable sewer rates with Communities United for Action (CUFA), the League, and the Sierra Club.

On the issue of water quality, Jeanne also works with the Ohio River Guardians, who have just petitioned the Cincinnati City Council to ban permits for barges shipping toxic fracking chemicals downstream. A related effort by the Community Environmental Legal Defence Fund (CELDF) calls for an amendment to the city charter to protect the Ohio River Watershed.
  
Last but not least, Jeanne is leading a group just formed under the Green Umbrella to organize faith-based groups to go green. If you would like to become involved, you can check out WCC’s website, www.womanscityclub.org and contact Jeanne Nightingale directly at jnightingale@fuse.net
Take Action Now
Election Resources on the Web

John Tallmadge writes:
The upcoming election promises to be the most consequential of our lifetimes. Environmental issues loom large in both national and local races. Be sure to inform yourself before you vote, so that you can help further our Christian mission of social responsibility and Earth Care. The following organizations can help you understand the issues and make your vote count.
One of our space sharers, the League provides information on local, state, and national government as well as issue studies and voter information. Find candidate and issue information for your zip code here.
Also one of our space sharers, the Club’s Miami Group provides information and activism opportunities on local, regional, and national environmental issues.
This Council provides resources, information, and advocacy on a wide range of Ohio issues including land use and conservation, clean water and energy, transportation, health, and recreation. 
This international NGO is building a global grassroots movement to end fossil fuels and promote green energy in order to achieve an atmospheric carbon level of 350 parts per million, the safe upper limit.
Kids Corner
Searching for the RED, WHITE, and BLUE in Nature
Linda Ford writes:

When you are feeling political overload, head outdoors to search for the patriotic colors of nature. Since we have red and blue states, two major political parties, and a bicameral legislative system, I am giving two natural examples of each of our flag’s colors - all found in my backyard garden. Enjoy your own autumn walkabout in search of peace, positive energy and mental restoration.    
RED:
Red berry clusters of the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum. Each berry contains several seeds which are spread by birds and small rodents after ingestion. The first Ohio pioneers called it Indian turnip because the local tribes dug the root (corm), boiled it, and ate it like a vegetable.
Spicebush berries (Lindera benzoin). Native Americans taught the settlers how to use all parts of the spicebush as a medicine - the leaves, bark, berries, and sap. Internally, they prized the plant for its diaphoretic properties - its ability to induce sweating. They also used spicebush to ease colds, cough, fever, and measles. Externally, they used oil from the pressed berries to ease the pain of arthritis. They used all parts of the plant as compresses for rashes, itching, or bruises, and also to remove internal parasites. The entire shrub is high in volatile oils effective at settling the stomach when made into a tea. The leaves are especially good and should be picked while glossy and green. The pretty red fruit can spice up both sweet and savory dishes. It is the most common host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus Linnaeus), one of our most beautiful native swallowtails.
WHITE:
White flower clusters of Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) were historically used for tea. Poultices made from the roots were also believed to cure snakebites, and smoke from burning the fresh leaves was used to revive the unconscious. The leaves and stems contain tremetol, a fat-soluble toxin that not only poisons grazing livestock but also passes into their milk and can affect their young as well as any humans who drink it. (I suggest that you do not speak of Snakeroot in the presence of Vladimir Putin on your next visit to the Kremlin!) I use the flower in my late summer and autumn bouquets.
SnowBerry clusters (Symphoricarpos).This shrub is useful to pollinators as a host and food plant. The flowers attract Anna's and Rufous hummingbirds, as well as a wide selection of pollinators. Several birds such as towhees, thrushes, robins, grosbeaks, and waxwings have been observed eating the berries. Birds also use snowberry thickets for cover. The Vashti sphinx moth (Sphinx vashti) relies on it for food in its larval stage.
BLUE:
Mist Flowers (Conoclinium coelestinum). The nectar-rich flowers that bloom in mid- to late September are a magnet for late-season butterflies and other pollinators. Birds enjoy the seeds. For the gardener, the long stems and pretty blue flower clusters are great for bouquets.
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is one of the latest blooming wildflowers in my yard. Okay - the flowers may be more purple than blue, but they persist well into October. It is a good nectar source for Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and is the larval host for the petite orange Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) and Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis). I use it in my last-of-the-season cut flower bouquets. 
Pocket Pilgrimage
Inspired By Nature: The Art and Activism of Charley Harper
Cincinnati Museum Center
Thru Nov. 8, 2020
   “Scary Scenario” (detail)
Diane Smith writes:

The Cincinnati Museum Center is honoring local artist and activist Charley Harper with the John Ruthven Medal of Distinction. Check out their new exhibition of 30 of his works drawn from the museum’s own collection as well as the Charley Harper Art Studio and private donors.

Harper’s art in the last few years has been popularized through merchandising such as notecards, posters, playing cards, fabrics and tea towels. Charley and his wife, Edie attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati in the mid-fifties and lived in Finneytown. He passed away in 2007.

He referred to his very recognizable style as “minimal realism “. He would study and research animals and plants and their habitat to arrive at their essence. Most of his images were created using a silk-screen printing process that to attain the bold colors, distinct shapes and lines that for which he is known.

When asked to describe his unique visual style, he responded: “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, and textures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming … and herein lies the lure of painting: in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe.”

However, it was his posters that introduced his art to the scientific community. Because of the numbers printed, his art reached more eyes and minds with his critical environmental messages. He illustrated more than 50 posters in partnership with organizations all over the world to bring awareness to environmental concerns and conservation initiatives such as the Arc of Appalachia and the Cincinnati Nature Center. 

The poster “Scary Scenario” was issued in 2008. Global warming promises to compress ecozones and pair unlikely partners. These two animals, the polar bear and the northern cardinal are unlikely partners, and it indeed is a scary scenario.
Pumpkin Carving With Earth Care

Kathy Downey writes:
Your Earth Care Team will bring us together for a fun, outdoor, multigenerational activity. We provide the pumpkins, you bring carving utensils, bags to gather waste, and a box lunch. We will gather at one of the Hamilton County Park shelters (exact location TBD) at 10:30 am on October 24, rain or shine. We all want to see each other, so please join us! Let me know by October 21 that you will be coming and how many pumpkins your family will need. Just call 513-846-4024 - we will have the pumpkins and location for you.
What's Ahead
November: Food
December: Energy
Please send contributions, ideas, and creations to your faithful editors Julie Malkin mlkjulia458@gmail.com and John Tallmadge. jatallmadge@gmail.com