Volume 2, Issue 4
August 2021
This Issue in Kairos Call to Action:
  • Braiding Sweetgrass - Join the conversation with a Big Read
  • Creation care planting project helps neighbors connect
  • Movie recommendation: 2040
  • Grant opportunities for creation care initiatives
  • Moment of awe
  • Sustainability tip
  • Recommended resources
Braiding Sweetgrass - Join the Conversation!
We’re raising our visibility--and yours--using Facebook. Each week on Tuesday, we’ll be adding a post to help build the excitement over this Wisconsin-wide activity. Please help us invite more and more people into this conversation by sharing our Wisconsin Conference Facebook posts And, please tag us in your posts of news, photos, favorite excerpts about Braiding Sweetgrass and your congregation’s activities, and we’ll share those, too!

Braiding Sweetgrass is a resource that helps our congregations widen the conversation! Joe Scarry told about some of the reactions in the Madeline Island community. “One person in the community told me she really liked the quote in the Wisconsin Life email I shared with her:

“I wonder how Christian life would have to change if we believed God to be present to every creature as the divine power and love animating them from within,” said Duke University theologian Norman Wirzba, writing about the book in The Christian Century. “I wonder how the body of Christ would need to change if we believed the community of life to extend beyond people to include all the life that God loves.”

She told me she was raised as a Quaker, and that Quakers believe that every human being contains something of God. “It seems right that we extend that belief to every living creature,” she said.

Click here for more about the Big Read, including information on webinars to enhance your experience, a chance to hear Kimmerer speak, and more.
Creation Care Planting Project Helps Us Meet Our Neighbors

By Cindy Halfen, Plymouth UCC-Eau Claire
Plymouth UCC is located on 10 acres on the northwest side of Eau Claire. We are blessed with large white pine, oaks, maples and other native trees along the edges of the property. Last year we were planning a pollinator garden but realized the area was full of invasive plants, especially buckthorn, honeysuckle and garlic mustard. We had to remove the invasive plants or our efforts would be futile. This spring we received a $1000 Creation Care Grant from The Northwest Association of the Wisconsin Conference, UCC and we’re making great progress on our goals.

We contacted the Lower Chippewa Invasives Partnership (LCIP) to help us develop a plan that includes our neighbors, since invasive plants do not respect property lines. LCIP is a Wisconsin Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA); an organization that brings landowners and land managers together to coordinate action and share expertise and resources to manage invasive species. Wisconsin DNR has programs that can help if your county does not have a CISMA; information is available here.

Plymouth members Cindy, Keith, Deb and Lily, along with Kenny and Duane, friends of the church, make up our project “team.” Keith cut buckthorn and all sorts of brush with the help of Kenny (who has a chainsaw and a truck). With a borrowed trailer, they hauled an incredible amount of branches to the community brush site. We contacted a tree service to cut trees we couldn’t handle ourselves and then removed the branches and wood from our campus. We will need the tree service again; this is the most expensive part of the project.
Cindy coordinates prairie restoration in her neighborhood commons and grows native plants and grasses from seed. This saves hundreds of dollars compared to buying plants from a nursery. The area around Plymouth has the same sandy, low fertility soil as Cindy’s neighborhood prairie so half of the plants grown this year are being donated to Plymouth. Early this summer, Deb, Lilly and Cindy planted the first part of our pollinator garden. We bought cedar mulch with grant money, to keep the weeds down in the new garden. This month we used grant money to buy prairie dropseed plants since they are hard to start from seed. Three other grasses that were started from seed in pots will be planted along with the prairie dropseed and should cover a large portion of the hillside where the pollinator garden is located. Next spring we’ll add taller flowers to the grassy areas.

We anticipated our neighbors would wonder what we were doing as their “privacy screen” of buckthorn and honeysuckle disappeared. A letter explaining our project was sent to the eight households who have property adjoining our campus. The project includes planting native shrubs to grow a privacy screen again. After receiving the letter, a neighbor came to the church office to thank Plymouth for our project. He’s been removing buckthorn from his property and realizes the importance of getting neighbors to join the effort.

We’re having an outdoor gathering on August 31 to share what we’ve done and provide further information on our plans. Christopher Gaetzke, executive director of LCIP, will give a presentation about invasive species, and the importance of planting native species.
Movie Recommendation: 2040

What if you could make a movie or write a book explaining your vision for what the world could be like 20 years from now? That’s what Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau did in creating the movie 2040. His inspiration was the birth of his daughter, which made him start thinking very hard about what Earth will be like when she is 21 years old.

Gameau interviews experts around the world in fields ranging from agriculture to business models to renewable energy options to share the best solutions and provide a message of hope and innovation. He also interviews young children, sharing their wishes for a brighter future. With a humorous, quirky, and sometimes irreverent approach, the message, photography, visual effects and energy running through the film are inspiring. Gameau shares ways we can build a sustainable future using the best tools and technology we have today, rather than hoping some new technology will come along to save us.

Actually getting to see the film may be a project. The movie can be rented on various streaming channels; check this link for options. Searching the web also provides links to some popular platforms. The DVD can be purchased online, but be sure the regional format is one that can be played on equipment common in the US. There are options for arranging community showings as well.

As the film asks: “What’s your 2040?”
Grant Opportunities for Creation Care Initiatives
In response to the Kairos Call to Action, the Conference Creation Care Team is once again hoping to offer grants of up to $1000, available to Wisconsin Conference UCC Congregations that are planning initiatives to deepen their love of creation and positively change their relationship with the environment.  

These initiatives could address new models for community-based cooperation and ministry, environmental and economic justice work, theological grounding for your congregation's response to the climate crisis, and/or potential leadership identification and development for guiding the congregation's response. Additionally, because the Creation Care Team has connected with the Native American communities of Wisconsin, consideration will be given to congregations who use this as an opportunity for multi-cultural literacy and cooperation.  
These initiatives can be small or large, focused on enhanced efficiencies, consciousness-raising and education, or organizing and advocacy. Because of the far-reaching dimensions of the climate and ensuing economic crisis, priority consideration will be given to initiatives that somehow connect with multiple partners within or beyond communities the congregation serves.  
More information and grant applications will be available in September, with an October 31 deadline. For a list of 2020 grant recipients and more information go to this link. Contact Lisa Hart with questions.  
2020 grants were funded by a Catalyst Grant from the Wisconsin Conference UCC. Catalyst Grants are enthusiastically and generously supported by the people of the Wisconsin Conference, UCC through our giving to Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM). See more information here.
Moment of Awe
John Helt provides this commentary about Jim Antal's words from Cameron Trimble's blog post, "Hope is the most important contribution people of faith can and must make as humanity confronts the climate crisis. To become people of hope we must be willing to stare reality in the face." These words were written long before the most recent "Code Red for Humanity" report from the UN climate panel.
Hope is not the same thing as optimism. Hope is capable of staring at the reality of death in an empty tomb, and coming out with resurrection on our lips. (Optimism alone does not do well in cemeteries.) Hope is capable of staring at the frightening facts of climate disaster and coming out with a Kairos Call to Action on our lips.
Sustainability Tip
From Wisconsin Conference staff member Nola Risse-Connolly, who is training to become a "Master Recycler" though Sustain Dane in Madison.
Reduce - Reuse - Recycle has long been the mantra of recycling advocates. But what if I told you there's actually seven important "R's" instead of three? Rethink - Refuse - Reduce - Reuse - Repair - Rot - Recycle is a more complete list of these important "R" words that can help us make decisions about how we use resources.

Here is an example of RETHINK that could make a big impact in our churches. Having an event and providing self-serve drinks? Rethink the 2-liter bottle or plastic soda bottles and serve drinks in aluminum cans instead. Why? Aluminum is infinitely recyclable, but plastic is not, and the market for recycled plastics varies widely. How else could we rethink this issue to have a lower environmental impact? (Remember: disposable plastic drinking cups are usually NOT recyclable!)

Send your sustainability tips to resourcecenter@wcucc.org
Recommended Resources
Resources for You - The Creation Care Team works to provide congregations and leaders with resources that will assist you in engaging in the Kairos Call to Action and mobilizing for climate justice. Many resources are available through the Conference Kairos Call to Action website, including this resource page.
If you would like to share resources with the team, or tell us about a need you have, please email Rev. Dr. Timothy R. Perkins.
Do you have a film or book that you would like to recommend to other members of our Kairos community? Please contact Rev. David Huber on our Resources team.

View Franz Rigert's video Announcing the Wisconsin Conference UCC Kairos Call To Action and share with your congregation!

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