Committing to climate justice has never been about sacrifice in my life.
In 2009, my friend Roseann and I created InterGenerate, a small, food-justice organization in the exurbs of NYC. InterGenerate starts community gardens for people across a variety of diversities to grow our own food. We have three gardens and a chicken co-op.
We hoped InterGenerate would create environmentally and socially sustainable communities. We didn’t know it would become a catalyst for transformation.
Children lie in the grass with the chickens, gardeners delicately nurse milkweed to secure food for butterflies, young women kneel for hours thinning beets, someone gleefully posts a picture of her first strawberry. And they aren’t alone. A young couple report finally feeling at home in their town and a teen has taken his own plot so he can learn how to live gently and a widower tells us the garden saved his life. And as a result, I know the way we live, the way we connect with Earth and each other, is changing.
Committing to climate justice isn’t about sacrifice. It’s about being alive and connected to Earth and a multi-species community.
For me, the decision to grow the food my family eats and to source most of what we don’t grow from local farms wasn’t as huge as it seems. I started small. I started in our garden and at farmer’s markets, shifting our shopping habits slowly. I joined a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm share. I learned the art of canning and preserving. Slowly. With friends. And that circle grew and still grows as others want to live profoundly connected to Earth and each other.
Committing to climate justice has never been about sacrifice in my life. It is now, and has always been, about joy.
Rev. Peggy Clarke is the Minister at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester in Hastings, NY. She is also the Racial and Social Justice Consultant for the Metro NY District, on the Steering Committees for Green Sanctuary, UU EJ Collaboratory and Commit2Respond as well as the chair of the Food Justice Ministry. She is also a Senior GreenFaith Fellow.
Today’s practice is to prepare the ground for yourself or a group you are a part of to make a new commitment to action that will GROW the climate justice movement. If you haven’t already, start a process of discernment about where your growing edge is and what your next step is to deepen your existing commitment. One suggested step of preparation is to learn more and educate others about the goals and framework of climate justice, as well as the intersections and shared ground between different struggles for justice.
Today’s resource for deepening this message is the Green Sanctuary program. The Green Sanctuary program is a Unitarian Universalist certification program for congregations that strive to align their entire congregational culture with environmental sustainability and justice. The newest edition of the program emphasizes the role of social justice, and congregations that have gone through the program in the past are invited to re-engage and become re-accredited as part of Commit2Respond. Learn more about aligning Green Sanctuary work with Commit2Respond.
Commit2Respond's Climate Justice Month intends to take you through a transformative spiritual process leading to long-term commitments to climate justice. At the end of the month you will be asked to SHIFT to a low carbon future, ADVANCE human rights, and GROW the movement. Learn more and start thinking about how you will #commit2respond to climate change.