Stewardship: Care for the Earth

Stewardship: Care for the Earth was held on Saturday, December 3rd, at Dominican University. Dr. Angha welcomed everyone on behalf of The Building Bridges of Understanding Program Committee, the IAS and Dominican, and discussed the critical need to care for our earth and its inhabitants.

The faith perspective’s panel discussion was moderated by Sally Blackburn from the Community Congregational Church of Belvedere and a member of the Program Committee. The speakers discussed the ways in which their faith traditions directly contribute to caring for the earth. Sherna Deamer, Chair of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of San Rafael and a member of the Building Bridges Program Committee, discussed the Baha’i faith and its commitment to the planet. She shared specific ways in which the members of the Baha’i faith from around the world participate in local and international service projects that promote sustainability. David Escobar, currently an Aide to Fourth District Supervisor Steve Kinsey in Marin County, is an indigenous Lenca-Poton and current “green advocate” in the Latino-indigenous communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. He discussed his experiences growing up in a culture where he was able to learn respectful ways to care for the earth from the elders in his community. He was taught the balance of reciprocity, offerings, and the ritual of “asking” mother earth before taking anything from her. These are teachings that he has instilled in his own children and the community wherein he works.

Next, there was an informative panel presentation from four local organizations that work directly to promote sustainability and environmental awareness in Marin County. The panel presentation was moderated by Leili First, from the International Association of Sufism. First and a member of the Building Bridges Program Committee, Betsy Bikle from the Marin Conservation League and a member of the Building Bridges Program Committee, discussed the ways in which the MC League is working to preserve and protect the natural assets of Marin County including, but not limited to water, wetlands, watersheds, parks, and open spaces.

The second guest speaker was MEA McNeil, a journalist and writer for The American Bee Journal. She discussed her experiences as a Master Beekeeper for over 25 years. MEA gave a detailed presentation about the current state of bees and the major role they play in our environment and food chain. MEA ended her informative talk by suggesting practical ways to support healthy environments for bees such as never using chemical sprays on plants and fruit trees and planting ample wild flowers in our gardens.

The third panelist, Stuart Moody, the Board President of Green Sangha, discussed his involvement in local “green” campaigns such as Rethinking Plastics of Green Sangha. He shared the importance of working together in our local communities to promote positive changes and ways to advocate for the environment. Stuart Moody is also the Green Schoolyard Coordinator at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael.

The final panelist, Joanna Lasnier, shared her experience as a volunteer for the Marine Mammal Center located in Sausalito. The MMC rescues injured and distressed mammals then cares for them in their on-site facility. When healed, the survivors are released back into their natural habitat. The Marine Mammal Center has over 1,000 volunteers at the present time.

In the afternoon, we participated in Round Table Discussions, moderated by David Escobar. We created an action plan of “Next Steps” to support the environment locally in Marin County, nationally, and internationally. Action steps include: to use reusable bags, to use reusable products, to compost, to plant wildflowers to support the bee population, to engage in environmental education, to activate beach clean-up, to use carpool transportation, and to host “green” informational meetings in local communities. The Round Table Discussions concluded by making a commitment to share the action plan with family members and friends in our communities.

The day’s program concluded with an offering of sacred chant by David Escobar.

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