Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the authors' and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.
October 27, County Executive David Crowley signed a resolution and made Milwaukee County the first in Wisconsin to recognize “Rights of Nature,” a movement aimed to recognize legal rights of the natural world and its ecosystems, resources, and species.
The Rights of Nature Movement is a global movement asserting that natural areas, bodies of water and plant and animal wildlife have a right to exist unimpeded and unpolluted by human society. In Wisconsin, it has been pushed forward by indigenous people in the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Guy Reiter, whose Menominee name is Anahkwet, is regarded as a leader of the rights of nature movement in Wisconsin. He likened the moment to the moon landing, according to a report from Lina Tran from WUMN radio, Milwaukee’s NPR.
"It's a love for the earth, and really it's a love for nature and recognizing that right now, there are really no laws designed to defend it," Reiter said. "Hopefully, people can understand that we have to be able to speak up for those that don't have a voice and this is an opportunity to do that."
Associate Shannon Meagher lives in Milwaukee and is a member of CSA’s Laudato Si Action Team. She too was one of the attendees that celebrated the signing of the Rights of Nature resolution last month. She shares her experience…
“On the surface I understood what the “Rights of Nature” meant, but at the signing, a supervisor, Liz Summer, talked about why this resolution is so important. She stated, ‘This resolution recognizes that the natural world has an inherent right to exist and thrive. It should not simply be based on whether humans benefit from the natural world in an economic sense.’
I also learned that it has been Wisconsin Indian Tribes, namely the Menominee Tribe and the Ho-Chunk tribe that have been working on the resolution since at least 2018, and have been the main pushers of getting the resolution passed.
During the signing ceremony, after two of the Indigenous people spoke about how much this means to Native Americans all over Wisconsin, and the same for the County Supervisors who spoke as well as County Exec David Crowly, I started to think about the same. I realized how important this resolution is to the people of Milwaukee County, all over Wisconsin, and really the world. It is what Pope Francis talked about in “Laudato Si,” wanting for every piece of land, every water way, every body of water, every animal and its habitat to be protected and taken care of. It is always encouraging to see the Pope’s vision in caring for the common home affirmed with actions like this. I pray for the day the whole world comes to the same understanding.”
Nuns Against Gun Violence is a coalition of Catholic sisters, justice promoters, and allies that represent over 50 religious congregations, including the Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA). Currently, their web space is being hosted by the Sisters of Mercy.
Nuns Against Gun Violence (NAGV) was founded in April 2023 to bring together congregations of Catholic sisters to speak with a united voice against the crisis of gun violence. On November 8, 2023, NAGV hosted their first webinar which featured Shane Caliborne, co-author of “Beating Guns - Hope for People Who are Weary of Violence.” Inspired by the prophetic image of beating swords into plows, Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin offer a book that hopes to change hearts and heads regarding one of the most significant moral issues of our time. The CSA JPIC Office has a copy of this book, which can be loaned to sisters and associates.
In the webinar, Mr. Claiborne shared some troubling realities, one being that there are more guns in America than people. Additionally, while the United States makes up only 5% of the global population, almost half of the world’s civilian-owned guns are in the U.S. Interestingly, two-thirds of Americans do not have firearms and of the one-third that do, there is a high concentration of gun owners having multiple, even hundreds and thousands of guns. Claiborne further points out that there are 5 times as many gun dealers in America than there are McDonald's restaurants. One gun is made every three seconds in America, 9.5 million each year. Learn more and watch the recording of the webinar, which also features Sister Pat Millen, OSF and Sister Annette McDermott, SSJ, here.
On October 31, 2023 in London, Farringdon, UK’s former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP and Sir Mo Farah drew global attention to the exceptional contribution of Catholic sisters to the anti-trafficking movement, at the inaugural Sisters Anti-Trafficking Awards (SATA). The Arise Foundation, International Union of Superiors General (UISG), and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation co-hosted the event. Learn about the SATA objectives.
What is interesting about Sir Mo Farah is that he is a Muslim, gold medal athlete who was trafficked from Somalia to the UK as a child. He lived as a domestic servant in a family home at a time when human trafficking was not recognized as a crime and people thought slavery had ended. Now we know the reality - there are 50 million people across the world living as slaves, and 12 million of them are children. Sir Mo says, “While many people feel powerless and look away, Catholic sisters are doing the work daily, bravely, humbly, across communities all over the world.” He continues to say, “whatever faith or values we hold, we can look to these women for wisdom and inspiration.”
The 2023 Laureates were: Sister Seli Thomas from India, receiving the Common Good Award; Sister Francoise Jiranonda from Thailand, receiving the Servant Leadership Award; and Sister Patricia Ebegbulem of Nigeria, receiving The Human Dignity Award, for lifetime achievement in addressing exploitation. You can view their remarkable stories or read this article from Global Sisters Report.
"We never learned this in school" is often heard while discussing Howard Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States.
Although we're familiar with stories of successful Americans (many of us have lived through most of the twentieth century), Zinn's book invites us to look at history from the side of women, factory workers, Native Americans, African Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers from Columbus' arrival through President Clinton's first term. Our country's battles for fair wages, eight-hour workdays, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, and racial equality have been fought at a grassroots level against violent resistance.
Reading about rampant racism, robber barons, unionizing workers, attacks on Native Americans and foreigners, inflation, soaring market prices, and the inequality of women elicits a sense of deja vu--there's nothing new under the sun.
Our Declaration of Independence says all of us have an equal right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet our American system of government supports the interests of the wealthy. Racism and other inequalities are still alive and well in the land of the free. Contrary to familiar narratives we grew up with, the United States has not always welcomed the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. Systemic inequality and economic oppression have not resulted in a smooth melting pot of diversity. America is not always the hero on a white horse fighting for the underdog, but rather a shrewd corporate machine that selectively becomes involved in war for economic and political gain. It's easy to hold the belief that our system is broken; what's not easy is examining history in detail and concluding the system is operating exactly as it was designed.
This book invites us to hear the evening news differently. When troops are assembled for war, what must their families and jobs relinquish? When whole neighborhoods are destroyed, how are they made livable again? Who cares for the wounded and buries the dead? Our hope is that A People's History of the United States will broaden our understanding of the social and political pressures of our day. We must look for those who are disenfranchised and abandoned and find ways to support them fully living the values expressed in our country's founding declarations.
(There is a copy of Howard Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States” in the CSA JPIC Resource Library.)
COP28 UAE November 30 through December 12, 2023, in Expo City, Dubai.
COP28 UAE will bring together influential leaders from government, business, finance, and the broader sustainability community to highlight the bold actions needed to make further progress against the goals of the Paris Agreement. (COP28 stands for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)
At the end of November, Interfaith Power & Light will be present as an observer organization at COP28, the UN global climate conference in Dubai, to ensure that world leaders hear the moral voice as they debate strategies and ambitions to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change. Our witness is crucial, and we want to make sure that you’re up-to-date on the issues, understand how you can participate, and have a chance to ask your questions.
There are multiple ways that you can participate with the faith community at COP28 from home:
- A simple, yet powerful way to take action and support the faith climate movement is to add your signature to the IFL letter to President Biden calling on the U.S. government to lead by example by committing to bold and just climate action at COP28.
- If your looking for more information about COP28, want to learn more about the global climate crisis, or need reflection and prayer materials, check out our COP28 Resources page on the IPL website.
- Follow IPL on social media and blog posts. Spread the word by liking and sharing our posts during COP28, from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
Lastly, at COP27 last November, a breakthrough agreement on a new “Loss and Damage Fund" for vulnerable countries was introduced. How is this going? You have an opportunity to learn about it and faith leaders from across the world are being asked to sign a statement calling COP28 to agree to establish a fit for purpose Loss and Damage Fund that truly meets the needs of people at the frontlines of the climate emergency. Learn more.
Together, we have the power to amplify the moral voice at COP28 and safeguard our Sacred Earth for future generations. Thank you for being part of the faith climate movements and standing with us in raising our voices on the global stage!
The theme for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin this year is “Preparing for Elections of 2024.” Read the Issues Briefing.
Three days of programming were recently aired and the recordings are now available.
Watch to learn what voters face in 2024 and beyond. From redistricting, to protecting election workers, to tearing down barriers that prevent access to vote, our democracy has never been more at risk.
Thurs, November 9 - Setting the Stage: Redistricting in Wisconsin
Sat, November 11 - Citizen Action at the State Level: Wisconsin Constitutional Amendments
Tues, November 14 - Overcoming Barriers to Voting & Election Administration Challenges
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women will mark the launch of the UNiTE campaign (Nov 25- Dec 10)—an initiative of 16 days of activism concluding on the day that commemorates International Human Rights Day (December 10).
This 2023 campaign Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls will call on citizens to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls and call on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention. Join the global movement with the #NoExcuse slogan calling for urgent investments to prevent violence against women and girls. Visit the official campaign website.
Ahead of this day, UNANIMA International Executive Director, Sr. Jean Quinn, was the keynote speaker in collaborative film screening and dialogue on the documentary In-Visibles. The 2-hour event was hosted by World Women's Observatory (WWO), Talitha Kum, International Union of Superiors General (UISG), and World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO) on November 14th. The full recording is not yet available, but you can watch the 30-minute documentary, In-Visibles.
I have been impressed by so many articles and activities that I have come across, or that have been shared with me, that I must share with all of you!
First, since May of this year, CSA has been sponsoring a monthly series at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts called, The Art of Storytelling. November is the last month and will feature “storyteller” Jessica Ryan, Vice-Chair of Brothertown Indian Nation. This will happen on Friday, November 17 at 11 AM in the Cafe 1906 room of Thelma - 51 Sheboygan Street, Fond du Lac. In addition to sharing Brothertown’s story and some traditions, community members are invited to weave a red willow dreamcatcher to bring home. This is a free event. All welcome to join and help celebrate National Native American Month with the community’s local tribe.
Second, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered a series of three stories that highlight indigenous knowledge of nature. The first title of the series really says it all - their knowledge is key to navigating climate change, but will enough people listen? I trust you will enjoy these easy, but thought-provoking, reads:
Third, on Monday, November 27 at 6 pm, a local group of women - indigenous and non-indigenous - who have named themselves “Winnebago Water Women,” will be gathering for a Full Moon Ceremony at a local residence in Fond du Lac. If you would like more information about this or any upcoming monthly ceremonies, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly (even though I know there are many, many more), PBS Wisconsin Education offers engaging Wisconsin Biographies about the people who have made history and shaped our state. Their stories are geared toward children, grades 3-6, but I find them very interesting and easy to follow. I wish my teachers had access to these stories and shared them with me 4-5 decades ago!
This month’s spotlighted story features Electa Quinney: Mohican Teacher and Mentor. I hope you will take the time to watch it, share it with others, and be sure to visit the website to continue your learning about other change makers.
The 2023 Climate Change Symposium, sponsored by the Center for Climatic Research (CCR), provided an opportunity for the community to learn about the effects of climate change on our natural resources and ecosystems, as well as economic and public policy implications. This year’s theme — Will Wisconsin become a Climate Haven? — presented a balanced and in-depth discussion about the possibility of climate-induced human migration to Wisconsin. You can view the recording here:
Gov. Tony Evers and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) today announced that the PSC’s Office of Energy Innovation (OEI) will begin accepting applications for historic clean energy programs beginning in November. These programs, including the Wisconsin Grid Resilience Grant Program, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, and the Energy Innovation Grant Program (EIGP), are designed to upgrade and strengthen energy infrastructure in the state, helping to ensure critical access to secure, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy while accelerating the state’s clean energy economy. These historic programs will infuse approximately $20 million into Wisconsin, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden in 2021.
“Investing in clean energy is a key part of our work toward building infrastructure, a workforce, and an economy in Wisconsin that can meet the needs of the 21st Century, and these programs will play a critical part in these efforts moving forward,” said Gov. Evers. “We are making progress on our clean energy goals, including having 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, and these grant programs represent a historic investment in our state’s future that will help us reach these goals, boost our economy, strengthen local communities, and protect our environment.”
“As our state continues to transition to cleaner and more renewable electric generation, clean energy innovation and investments in the resiliency of critical energy infrastructure will be needed to maintain safety, reliability, and affordably for customers,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “By working with federal, state, and local partners, we are well-prepared to roll out these programs and maximize the impact of these opportunities throughout the state.”
The EIGP supports a wide variety of energy projects. Since 2018, $32 million in EIGP funding has been awarded to projects that have demonstrated innovation in energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, comprehensive energy planning, feasibility studies for microgrids, and more. This year, $7.8 million will be available, funded by the BIL. Grants are available for Wisconsin manufacturers, municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, Native Nations, and like entities. The application period begins Nov. 30, 2023, and will remain open until March 1, 2024.
The new EECBG Program was created to support local governments and Tribes in implementing strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency. To meet these goals, Wisconsin is making $2.3 million available for eligible rural local governments to support comprehensive energy planning, renewable resource planning, and energy efficiency audits and projects. The application period begins Nov. 30, 2023, and will remain open until Jan. 31, 2024. A separate stream of EECBG funds has been directly allocated to Native Nations and many municipalities in Wisconsin.
The new Wisconsin Grid Resilience Grant Program was created to improve the resiliency of the electric grid. Activities that are eligible for nearly $10 million in grant funding over two fiscal years include but are not limited to: hardening of power lines, facilities, and substations; weatherization technologies and equipment; monitoring and control technologies; adaptive protection technologies; fire-resistant technologies; distributed energy resources that support system resilience during disruptive events; and workforce recruitment and skills training. Eligible program participants are electric grid operators, electricity storage operators, electricity generators, transmission owners or operators, distribution providers, and fuel suppliers. A minimum of 75 percent of available grant funds will be set aside for projects from eligible entities defined by the BIL as small utilities. The application period begins Nov. 16, 2023, and will remain open until Feb. 16, 2024.