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Seeing The Forest With Climate Change Eyes

Another World Is Possible: Peaceful, Equitable & Sustainable!

Rights for Mother Earth?

A Re-write of the US Constitution Championing Sustainability

Raising Voices Against the Tar Sands Pipeline


Seeing The Forest With Climate Change Eyes
by Mary Kay Flanigan, OSF

This summer we were once again able to spend a week at a favorite remote (meaning walk in) campsite in Nicolet Federal Forest in Northern Wisconsin.. I believe my experience there this year was different as I had been part of a symposium called
Awaken the Dreamer, done by the Pachamama Alliance, and had done more climate change actions.  The presentation brought a deeper appreciation of nature, the seriousness of climate change, and a different way of observation while living in the forest.
Pachamama Alliance resulted from a trip to Ecuador by Bill and Lynne Twist in 1995 to be with the Achuar indigenous people there.  The Achuar realized their way of life was threatened by corporations invading their territory and polluting the land and atmosphere.  The Twists returned to the United States committed to connecting indigenous wisdom and modern knowledge for a just, sustainable and thriving world.  Since then, many people have been trained as facilitators, there have been symposiums in over 60 countries and materials are in 13 languages. The intention is that people wake up to both what is at stake, what is possible at this moment in history, and to discover ones unique role in creating a new future. Check out the web site to see the long effort and positive results in recognizing indigenous peoples land rights and when and where symposiums are available.
We were at a place named Fanny Lake, which has only 5 campsites. The forest of green pine trees and shrubs, the brown earth the blue sky and water combine into a sight of  great beauty. The sacredness of all of nature was more available to us even as we noticed changes.  Not as many birds awakened us in the morning, and the usual chipmunks were not visitors in the afternoon.  The algae, which we had not seen until last year, were already forming at the waters edge. We had an over abundance of rain yet knew near by states were in drought and crops lost or decreased. The loon family was present on the lake; mother, father and baby.  The ranger advises that usually there are two babies, but one is lost to an Eagle or in some other way. We heard the song of the loons throughout the day and night when one was coming or leaving and when they perceived danger.  This extensive property consists of the lake area, a very large hiking area with different trails, and a long climb up to an area called Jones Springs, whose springs feed Fanny Lake.  This large area was owned by a family, and it was given to the Federal Forest system to be enjoyed by many people instead of being sold for private homes.  The wife’s name was Fanny. 

350.org   Information- about climate change



“Another World Is Possible: Peaceful, Equitable & Sustainable!”

We want to share with you about environmental justice activities in Chicago during May 13 to May 22, 2012. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance, will be holding meetings here on May 19th and 20th.  G8, with an economic focus, has had their meetings moved to Camp David.  Cang8, the coalition against NATO and G8 has formed in opposition to the war and poverty agendas.

The Alliance for Global Justice and coalitions in Chicago, and from around the country are joining together around justice issues and common concerns.  “We stand in solidarity with rural and urban communities of the global North and South who are exposed to the hazards of climate change, ecological degradation and contamination and land and resource grabs. We believe in food, resource and climate justice rooted in sustainability and democracy.” 

Locally, nationally and globally communities and social movements are fighting to protect their lands, natural resources and biodiversity from destructive and exploitative development policies. Without a radical change in our global energy use and economic system “climate chaos” is expected to worsen, with devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable people. 

Cang8 Denounces: Resource wars, Some free trade agreements, and False solutions to climate change.

Cang8 Supports: Community- oriented sustainable development, a Binding climate agreement, Peoples’ right to food sovereignty.

A Call to Action: We believe the current environmental crisis requires a broad convergence of social movements to demand environmental regulations and meaningful climate commitment especially from the world’s most powerful countries.

Join us with the following actions:

May 17th 

Occupy Chicago's Day of Environmental action!

•    2pm BRING BIKE: Mass for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation:
    Jackson and LaSalle
•    3pm Rally outside of the Canadian Consulate: 180 N. Stetson Ave
•    3:30pm GET DIRTY with Occupy Chicago against the Alberta Tar Sands and
    the environmentally destructive agendas of NATO and G8.
•    4pm Press Conference

May 18th 

Crime Busting March Against Chicago’s Climate Crooks

•    Daley Plaza (Clark and Washington) at 1:30pm
Environmental Justice Gathering- food, networking and conversation.
•    6:30pm-9pm, 734 N. Armour St. (near Chicago and Ashland)

May 19th

Film viewing and Food

•    Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands, Documentary and Climate Justice Discussion.

•    6:30pm-9pm, 734 N. Armour St. (near Chicago and Ashland)

May 20th

Environmental Contingent in CAN/G8 March and Rally

•    March with Environmental Justice folks against profits over people and the planet. We will meet at noon, Petrillo bandshell in Grant Park (Columbus and Jackson.

For more information see



by: Mary Kay Flanigan, OSF

If you agree, or even if you are unsure, please read on. You could  take an action, and see how, by long distance, you can be a part of the Earth Summitt 2012 + 20 Assembly in RioDeJaneiro, Brazil – June 4-6 2012.  The +20 refers to the 20 years after the U.N.Conference on Evnironment and Development in 1992.

What about Rights for Mother Earth?  I first heard about it in a statement done by a US group 5 years ago. In 2008 Ecuador became the first country to officially recommend Rights of Nature in its Constitution.  In April 2010, a diverse group of 35,00 people from 140 nations gathered in Cochabamba Bolivia for a World People Conference on Climate Change.  They officially proclaimed a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.  In the U.S. over 24 towns and cities have implemented the Rights of Nature Ordinances.

Why do we need this?  There is a strong sense that countries setting standards to lower pollution in the atmosphere are not kept, that capping and trading emissions are not resulting in decreased carbon dioxide levels either. We really are not the last generation on earth, the younger generations have to be able to live and meet their needs.  Thus, a change of focus to Rights for Mother Earth is needed.

What is it, exactly?  Here are some excerpts from the Declaration:

Mother Earth has the following inherent rights:
…the right to life, to exist and be respected;
…the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles free from human disruptions;
…the right to water as a source of life, clean air and integral health;
…the right to be free from contamination and pollution;
…the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted.

Also included are obligations of human beings to Mother Earth:
…Every human being is responsible for respecting, protecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth;
…where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles and balances of Mother Earth;
…promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.


*On the website www.RightsOfMotherEarth.com you will find the complete Declaration of Rights, that can be signed there, or use paper copies.
 *Send the site to friends, groups, Churches, encouraging them to learn about the Declaration, sign, and send it on. The goal is for 1,000,000 signatures by June 3rd.
* Check out and get involved www.350.org, a group dedicated to lowering carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

 A Re-write of the US Constitution Championing Sustainability
Kathleen Desautels, SP, Staff for Sisters of Providence of St.-Mary-of-the-Woods

Where there’s a will there’s a way as the saying goes.  If only there were more of a will among lawmakers to enforce laws to ensure a more environmentally sustainable worldview. What is needed, say some, is creative re-imagining -  perhaps a re-write of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights that highlights Earth needs, as well as human needs.

Thanks to graduate student, Meg Gemar, a Dubuque Franciscan and a student in the Masters in Earth Literacy course at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, IN, such a revision exists. As part of an assignment toward her Master’s degree Meg did just that - re-wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to promote sustainability for all of creation.

Here’s a taste of Meg’s re-write of the Bill of Rights… 1. “The Lands of the United States are composed of many ecosystems; mountains, forests, prairies, deserts, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries…Everything in each of these systems has rights. It is the duty of the citizens of these United States to protect those rights, and take from an ecosystem only what is needed to survive.”

Or Bill of Rights #8 read -   “Every Person has a need for food, shelter, clothing; a need for some kind of labor; a need for beauty, a need to feel a part of a community. No Law shall be enacted that supersedes these needs.”  

As people of faith Meg’s exercise reminds us that what is needed is have in our bones the attitude, the passion, the political that all things are possible…even an environmentally sustainable worldview.  For your inspiration read more of Meg’s revised Bill of Rights. Thanks Meg for your creative imagining and for encouraging us to do the same.

For a full reading of this creative piece click here.

Raising Voices Against the Tar Sands Pipeline

Mary Ellen Madden, BVM Staff Member

This August and September, thousands participated in a two-week sit-in at the White House to pressure President Obama to not sign over approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport crude oil from the tar sands petroleum deposit in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast.  According to Tar Sands Action, 1,252 people were arrested for civil disobedience during those two weeks, including several Catholic activists. To find out more about the sit-in and arrests, click here.

Proponents of the pipeline argue that the project will create jobs and decrease the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. Widely-aired television and internet commercials aim to convince the public that using the oil from the deposit is a responsible use of the earth’s resources, and that the ‘benefits’ of the pipeline will far outweigh the harm to creation. However, 350.org and Tar Sands Action, as well as several independent media sources like Democracy Now! and Common Dreams, have committed to countering these myths by portraying the devastating effects that Keystone XL would have on the environment and highlighting the risks posed to our national and international communities.  From Tar Sands Action, we learn that the projections for job creation have been significantly inflated. And, once refined, the majority of the oil will be used for products that will be exported to Europe and Latin America; our dependence on foreign oil will not be lessened by this pipeline. Learn more about the key factors at play with this helpful guide compiled by Tar Sands Action to endow us with well-educated voices to spread the word.

While Canadian opposition to Keystone XL has not been significantly covered in the U.S. media (if at all), an action in Ottawa where 117 were arrested draws attention to the perspective of some Canadian activists. Fred Wilson, a life-long activist reflects on why the tar sands brought him to his first act of civil disobedience here.

In early October, the State Department held public hearings in each of the states through which the pipeline would run. With the hope that this was finally the chance for Americans to join their voices in concern about the disastrous effects the pipeline could have, the movement began to regain momentum. However, according to Credo Action , each of the eight State Department hearings were facilitated by Cardno ENTRIX, a company that has been contracted to work for TransCanada, the Keystone XL pipeline developer. The conflict of interest in this blatant disregard for fair and balanced hearings severely discounts the intelligence and severely impacts our ability to speak truth to power. But, we cannot be silenced.

As citizens of the world community, we are called to be in mutual relationship and communion with not only each other, but with the creation that sustains us. We must live into our seamless union with the earth by raising our voices against its ruin. The damage we have already imposed on our environment is irreversible, but we cannot allow this reality to paralyze us in the face of further potential devastation. Rather, we must acknowledge the roles we play in both destroying and preserving the earth. Equipped with these truths, may we raise our concern, our voices, our bodies, to help lift our world out of the cycle of frivolous consumption and greed that disregards creation and leads to its destruction.

Inspired by the Occupy movements sweeping the international community, "Occupy the State Department" took place during the final State Department hearing on October 7. A decision has still not been made by President Obama, so on November 6, another action will take place wherein protestors intend to encircle the White House.

Take Action:
Ask the President Obama to reject the pipeline!