Archive for the ‘What you can do!’ Category

Chicken stock for the soul

December 8, 2009

Ok, never mind chicken SOUP, even metaphorical soup. I’m talking stock, that liquid essence now reduced to something from a can or a bouillon cube, but which is the stuff of cooks’ dreams. Here’s what the Rombauers say about stock in The Joy of Cooking (my second favorite food book, after Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen):

Antique dealers may respond hopefully to dusty bits in attics, but true cooks palpitate over even more curious oddments: mushroom and tomato skins, fowl carcasses, tender celery leaves, fish heads, knucklebones, and chicken feet. These are just a few of the treasures for the stockpot–that magic source from which comes the telling character of the cuisine. (more…)

Woe to the Label Makers

December 8, 2009

Guest post by Thomas D. Rowley of A Rocha USA. [Tom is a friend and colleague, and if you don’t knwo about the work of A Rocha, you should.–RP]

When I was a kid, my mother—queen of catalog shopping—bought a hand-held, squeeze-trigger device with a dial on top. It being the early seventies and I being a TV-addicted adolescent boy, my recognition of the contraption was instant: Star Trek Phaser!

Instant, but wrong.

It was, alas, a label maker—one of those things with which you squeezed out letter by raised letter on thin plastic tape such useful identifiers as “wedding photos,” “washers,” and “underwear.” And though useless against such menaces as the dreaded Salt Vampire of planet M-113, it was for a while fun. Soon every box, drawer and cabinet in our house had a label stuck on it. Now, the theory went, everything had a place. Everything could be stowed properly, found easily and used efficiently. Life under control.

Or not.

It turned out that wedding photos also contained grandparents, aunts and uncles. Should they be filed under “relatives” instead? Washers come in several kinds: flat, lock, and rubber to name a few. Could one box hold them all? (At least we got the underwear right.) Labels, it turns out, are tricky business.

Especially when slapped on people. Take me, for example. (more…)

No Waste November by Michael Abbaté

November 2, 2009

Author of Gardening Eden and Flourish conference speaker Michael Abbaté is trying to spend November generating zero solid garbage. Anyone want to join him? Here’s what Michael writes on his blog announcement about No Waste November:

“You and I are trash machines.  We each generate nearly one ton of garbage each year.  (more…)

Kids, knives, and creation care

October 7, 2009

By Rusty Pritchard

Kids need knives.
I still get a laugh when my family goes to a sit-down restaurant, to see servers putting out silverware and carefully making sure that the table knives don’t go anywhere near my kids. This at ages up to nine…!

Those servers would have been shocked to see my six and nine year-old boys at home, sitting on the back deck, whittling away for hours, making their own bows, arrows, and spears, and eventually making even elaborate little boats and toys.

I’ve been on camping trips with other families whose own kids were kept far from knives. Their children were warned not to interact with nature.

“Don’t go off the path.”
“Don’t play with the fire.”
“Don’t pick up insects.”
“Stay away from snakes.”
“Watch out for poison ivy.”
“Don’t play with knives.”

My own kids were of course the ones catching snakes, licking slugs, picking up bugs, climbing trees, leaving the path, carving things, and getting the other kids into trouble. (more…)

Green My Hood

March 5, 2009

Does caring for the environment
always come at the expense of jobs? Is creation care something that
must be traded off against people care? I'm reading a great book right
now that addresses just that issue. I'm reading it with my pastor,
Leroy Barber, because we care about the beautiful but broken South
Atlanta neighborhood our church calls home. Leroy is president of Mission Year and is a speaker at this year's Flourish Conference for church leaders on creation care.

The book is Van Jones' The Green Collar Economy. Van Jones is the founder and president of Green For All,
and his work is significant for Christians who want to do community
development in environmentally-friendly ways and for those who want to
find ways out of the "environment vs. jobs" debate. Jones points out
the many ways in which solving environmental problems can be done with
justice. His position is that as long as we're going to all the trouble
to create a clean energy economy, we might as well make a renewed
effort to tackle discrimination and inequality, too.

He addresses
the involvement of faith communities directly and challenges the
"so-called progressives [who] snarl the word 'Christian' as if it were
an insult or the name of a disease." He presses activists to become
problem-solvers, to become more about "proposition" than "opposition."
In a short list of principles for a new movement, Jones advocates fewer
"issues," more solutions; fewer "demands," more goals; fewer "targets,"
more partners; and less "accusation," more confession.

Leroy's recent post on Sojourners blog captures how he thinks about environmental issues:

it possible to create a new economy in the hood that would create jobs,
lower energy costs, reduce the carbon footprint of an urban
neighborhood, and allow neighbors to get to know one another at the
same time? I think there just might be a way to make this a reality. I
would like to green my hood.

The problem in
urban neighborhoods is that they are some of the most dangerous places,
environmentally speaking. Trash dumps, tow lots, expressways, and
chemical plants create places that are quite unsafe. Our neighborhoods
can begin to help themselves and lower some of the risk by starting their own green projects.
We could hire and train people to do home audits for seniors and
families in homes that are full of lead paint, leaky windows, clogged
gutters, and uninsulated water heaters. This training would give jobs
to people and lower energy bills for residents, as well as reduce the
carbon footprint of the neighborhood.

We can grow neighborhood gardens and farmers’ markets, which would offer places for neighbors to have better access to nutritious food
and vegetables that are otherwise very costly. When we make
neighborhoods walkable and livable, neighbors can get around without
driving, and that means less asthma-causing air pollution, fewer
emergency room visits, and fewer sleepless nights for worried parents. Caring for the environment has hit the hood and is now a major urban issue,
and people of faith have opportunity to offer good news in a new way.
This is no longer just an issue of global warming and saving rain
forests — it is about protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens.

the naked, visiting the prisoner, and feeding the hungry now needs to
include providing clean air, safe streets, and healthy neighborhoods
for our poor urban neighbors. I am committed to greening my hood for a
number of reasons. If you want to learn more about it, you should check
out The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones. This is his idea, and I have become a fan.

Leroy and I are searching for other Christians who have read The Green Collar Economy—or the related work by Thomas Friedman, called Hot, Flat and Crowded
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)—and who have ideas and stories to
tell about environmental actions that create rather than threaten jobs,
especially in this economy. Please write me if we can feature your work or the work of others you know.

To meet Leroy Barber and other Christian leaders who are looking at environmental issues in a new way, check out the Flourish Conference, May 13-15, 2009 in Atlanta.

Let’s Tend the Garden, 2007, Boise, Idaho

August 27, 2007

If you’re a pastor, Christian leader, or layperson who wants to learn more about environmental stewardship, and if you aren’t sure where to turn for trustworthy information, this is the conference for you! If you’re already convinced that God wants the church to be the model for care of Creation, and you want practical information about how to incorporate Creation care into your ministry, this is also the conference for you!


Greening Christian camps

July 30, 2007

Christian camps are green almost by definition–but they struggle with being good stewards of their facilities just like churches and business do. Here are some resources that might help out.


Faith and the Federal Farm Bill

July 23, 2007

There may not  be any other piece of federal legislation which touches so many lives and so much land as does the federal Farm Bill. Up for renewal and revision about every six years, this omnibus bill affects crop subsidies, food and nutrition for the poor, food and nutrition for everyone else, energy, conservation, and the ability of farmers in the developing world to make a living.

Much of America’s poor diet, poor land use, water pollution, industrialization and concentration of agriculture in the hands of fewer and fewer "agribusinesses" is a result of the distortions and wealth transfers effected by the Farm Bill. The damage is not limited to the U.S.–farmers around the world whose hopes for the future are pinned to producing crops for export are hurt when American agricultural goods are priced lower than their cost of production. Food aid to the developing world is partly first-world generosity and partly an elaborate dumping scheme to rid the global North of agricultural overproduction induced by market-distorting subsidies.


Gardening with American Beauties

July 16, 2007

Gardening is about trial and error. For many years most of my trials ended in errors. I planted good plants in bad places, or bad plants in good places, or did everything wrong at once. Lately, we’ve had much more success, and we’ve been using fewer chemicals, fertilizers, and much, much less water, by using native plants. And we’ve found some great resources for getting the right plants in the right place…