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Ground for Hope - Wisconsin Workshop & Tour Descriptions

Ground for Hope-Wisconsin will offer dynamic presentations by regional and national leaders.  And, our Eco-Spirit Bus Tours offer the opportunity to witness, firsthand, the effects of pollution and inspiring responses.
Workshop descriptions are below, and the Tour descriptions follow afterwards.

Workshop Descriptions

Jewish Teachings on the Environment
Presenter:  Rabbi Shlomo Levin

As more synagogues begin to address environmental concerns, their leaders and members need to learn what Judaism teaches about this vital subject.  Participants will learn about a range of Jewish texts and teachings that support an ethic of environmental protection and care, including texts from the Bible, Rabbinic literature, and the halakah.

A Whirlwind Tour through the Bible and the Environment
Presenter:  Rev. Fletcher Harper

Most people have never experienced the Bible from an ecological perspective – and do not realize the wealth of Biblical material that speaks passionately about the earth.  Participants in this workshop will review numerous passages from both Hebrew and Christian Biblical texts, exploring the Bible’s rich witness on Creation while gaining resources to enrich preaching and religious education.

Islamic Teachings on the Environment
Presenter:  Huda Alkaff

Masjids and Islamic schools are engaging environmental concerns with increasing frequency, and are learning about teachings from the Quran and Hadith, and from Muslim leaders, about the environment.  Iftar attendees will learn about the most important Muslim teachings on the Earth.

Dharmic Teachings on the Environment
Presenters: Dr. Lakshmi K. Bharadwaj, Rodney Sanchez, and Dr. Hardeep Ahuja

Hindu and Sikh Temples, and Buddhist Sanghas, are recognizing the profound and vital resources their traditions offer in relation to the environment.  Workshop participants will learn about key teachings on the environment from each of these traditions.

Launching a Garden at Faith-Based Sites
Presenter: Gretchen Mead

Faith-based groups are creating gardens in record numbers at congregations and schools - and many other faith-based sites are interested in starting gardens of their own.  Workshop participants will learn the basic steps to starting a garden at their own faith community and will receive take-home links and resources to help them with these projects.

Native American Spirituality and the Environment
Presenter: John H. Teller, Sr.

In this workshop an oral presentation will address the relationship of Native American spirituality to the environment. The focus of the presentation will emphasize a Menominee Indian perspective highlighting the inseparable connection between spirituality and the environment.

Putting Values into Action - Environmental Success Stories from Faith Communities

Presenters: Sunday - Dennis Briley (Unitarian Universalist Congregation West), Pam Frydman-Roza (Tikkun Ha-Ir of Milwaukee); Monday - Huda Alkaff (Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin), Pam Frydman-Roza, Jeanne Collins (St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church)

Religious communities are undertaking an increasingly wide range of environmental efforts, and their examples serve as an inspiration and model for us all.  In these workshops, participants will learn from leaders of these efforts in a range of faith-based institutions, and will receive resources and information to help them plan or strengthen their own efforts.

Aligning Our Economic Practices with Our Beliefs and Values
Presenter:  George Owen

Most of the world’s spiritual traditions have admonitions about both our use of money and our care for the Earth.  But - striving for wealth in the “money economy” has distracted our attention away from the “wellbeing economy”. Participants will discuss how to bring their use of money back into balance with the physical wellbeing of the Earth and with their own spiritual wellbeing.

Seminarians, Seminaries & the Environment
Presenters:  Dr. Steven Shippee, Dr. David Rhoads

More and more seminarians care deeply about the environment, and are eager for their seminaries to engage these issues.  Seminary faculty and administrators increasingly view the environment as a theological, financial and public relations priority.  In this workshop, participants will learn about trends in seminary greening nationwide, and share their perspectives on priorities for seminaries and seminarians.

Cool Congregations – A Resource from Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light
Presenter:  Dr. Peter Bakken

Participants will learn about Wisconsin Interfaith Power and Light’s new Cool Congregations program, a user-friendly process and tool for households to measure and reduce their carbon emissions in a supportive, fun, and faith-based context.

Calculating and Reducing your Environmental Footprint

Presenter: Stacey Kennealy

Enabling people to calculate their own environmental footprint is a great way to faith communities engaged with environmental efforts.  Participants in this workshop will learn about fun, enlightening ways to make these calculations – and how to take action to reduce their own impact on the environment.  These tools are perfect for use in small groups and clasess.

Water, Waste and Toxics – Greening your Congregation, Greening your Home

Presenter: Stacey Kennealy

The things we consume in our congregations and in our homes make a significant impact on the environment and on our health. Come learn about 3 of the biggest areas of concern, and of opportunity—water, waste and toxics.  GreenFaith will show a short video of a congregation in action, will outline best practices in each area, and will provide tools to help you make changes, including “audits” and the upcoming GreenFaith Shield for Water Conservation.

12 Priority Steps for Energy Conservation and the GreenFaith Energy Shield

Presenter Stacey Kennealy

If every congregation took 12 simple steps towards energy conservation, they could save thousands of dollars and cut their energy usage dramatically.  Workshop participants will learn about these 12 key steps, which are based on energy audit results and have no or very low costs.  The GreenFaith Shield for Energy will also be highlighted—a toolkit to help congregations take these 12 steps very easily and effectively.

Effective Green Teams for Faith-based Groups

Presenter Stacey Kennealy

A green team is the very first and most important step a congregation should take to launch its environmental stewardship efforts. This workshop will provide tips on green team formation, and will outline some of the best actions the team can take to build momentum and excitement. Participants will also share stories and best practices amongst each other.

Religious-Environmental Education for Children and Teens
Presenters:  Huda Alkaff, Rev. Fletcher Harper, Katie Heinen

Religious-environmental education provides a great opportunity to instill love for the natural world in children at an early age, and to teach older children about their responsibility to be good stewards. This workshop will highlight best practices for educating children and teenagers on the environment, and discuss differentiation of activities based on age group.  Participants will share their own best practices and will receive access to free curricula and related resources.
Environmental Advocacy and Justice for Congregations
Presenter: Rev. Willie Briscoe, Rev. Steve Jerbi


For most faith-based groups, advocacy on the environment represents a new frontier – as does the topic of environmental racism and injustice – the disproportionate impact of pollution on vulnerable communities.  Participants will learn about methods for engaging congregations around environmental justice issues, strategies for launching environmental advocacy efforts, and how members of houses of worship can make their voices heard with elected officials.

Finding your Eco-Voice – Preaching, Writing and Speaking on the Environment
Presenters:  Rev. Fletcher Harper,Eric Hansen; Rev. Neddy Astudillo

Growing numbers of clergy, religious educators, and faith-based advocates are speaking and writing from a moral, spiritual perspective on environmental issues.  Participants in this workshop will hear from three experienced eco-preachers and writers about crafting compelling narratives and messages in this area, and will share their own successes and struggles.  Topics covered will include dealing with resistance, skepticism or opposition to environmental concerns, responding to despair about the scope of environmental problems, and motivating congregations for action.

Eco-Psychology and Outdoor Spiritual Practice
Presenters:  Dr. Dale Olen; Don Quintenz

The relationship between the natural world and the human soul or psyche is deep and powerful – yet often overlooked.  Religious communities need to understand this relationship in order to support its healthy growth and development – for the benefit of people and the Earth.  Participants in this workshop will receive an introduction to eco-psychology – the study of the relationship between psyche and the natural world – and will learn about outdoor spiritual practices in the natural world.

Food and Faith – Healthy, Sustainable Food and Faith Communities
Presenters:  Bruce Wiggins, Rev. Karen Hagen, Young Kim

In recent years, community groups – including faith communities – have launched a growing number of initiatives designed to promote healthy, local and sustainable food systems, and faith-based groups have embraced gardening and other sustainable food activities with increasing regularity.  Participants in this workshop will learn from experienced “foodies” about the issues and opportunities facing faith groups conducting work on sustainable food, and will receive tips and resources to help them launch food work in their own settings.

Wisconsin People Standing Together for Water

Presenter: Kimberly Wright, J.D.

The people of Wisconsin have a long history of working together to protect water resources - but a 1995 decision limited people's rights and ability to continue to steward these vital resources.  In this workshop, participants will learn about the key water issues facing Wisconsin and about how their faith community can become involved in efforts to protect the state's rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water.

Tour Descriptions

The Urban Environment – Signs of Hope, Signs of Life: A visit to what once was the industrial heart of Milwaukee, where the legacy of factory closings, contaminated sites and health threats is being transformed by innovative visions of hope.  You will see the struggling 30th Street Industrial Corridor and the dynamically successful “green” redevelopment of the Menomonee River valley. The drive-through also will include Alice’s Garden (a large community garden with Lutheran roots), the Fondy Market and the ecologically-inspired Layton Boulevard West Neighborhood. It will include a walking tour in the valley of the newly opened Urban Ecology Center, crossing a river footbridge past colorful, inspirational murals.

Centers of Sustainability and Spirituality – A drive-by and walking tour of community and faith-based sites where new ideas are being explored and transformation is taking place.  Tour Sweet Water Organics, where fish and vegetables are being raised in a former factory building alongside local artists’ work and community education efforts. Visit Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church, where community gardens and service to the poor have a strong environmental/sustainability foundation.  Drive past other community gardens and visit the extensive property of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Earth Echoes project is restoring and reusing the land in creative ways while engaging suburban residents.

A Faith-based Eco-Justice Center that does it All: Rooted in hope and based on faith, the Eco-Justice Center in Racine was founded eight years ago by the Racine Dominican Sisters as a center for environmental education and care of the Earth.  It features a honey house, hermitage, green renovation/preservation and expansion of historic farm buildings, hands-on learning and a model of sustainable and simple living through organic gardening, care of animals, bee keeping and use of renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal and passive solar).

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