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.
Have you ever wanted to hear what Aldo Leopold called the "dawn chorus?" Have you taken note of the orchestra of sounds around you?
Join the Aldo Leopold Foundation virtually on September 21 at 7 pm CST as Professor Stan Temple explores Aldo Leopold’s fascination with natural sounds and how they enhance our sense of place. Dr. Temple will introduce the new field of soundscape ecology and share his recreation of the dawn chorus of birds that Leopold meticulously documented at his beloved shack in June 1940. Phenology Calendar Coordinator Emily Oyos will be your host for the evening and will also announce the 2024 Phenology Calendar. If you can't attend the live event, you can still register to access the replay at any time.
Find more information and register here: https://www.crowdcast.io/c/soundscape
Check out many other great recordings of their past webinars and mark your calendar for their future events, by visiting their site.
September 29 is the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste Reduction, an opportunity to raise awareness of practices and innovations to reduce food loss and waste and build a more resilient food system.
Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, while an estimated 17 percent of total global food production is wasted (11 percent in households, 5 percent in the food service and 2 percent in retail). The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (9/29) is an opportunity to call to action both the public (national or local authorities) and the private sector (businesses and individuals), to prioritize actions and move ahead with innovation to reduce food loss and move towards restoring and building back better and resilient-ready, food systems. Anyone can take action to stop food loss and waste – for the sake of people and the planet. Click here for a resource and action guide.
What is the real cost of food?
In this video, Food and Agriculture Goodwill Ambassador, Diarmuid Gavin, makes a call to action for reducing food loss and waste.
On September 18, 2023, the CSA Motherhouse Sisters and Staff began a trial of documenting their food waste in an effort to eventually have their waste converted into renewable energy, namely biogas. Biogas is a cleaner alternative to traditional fossil fuels since it produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions when burned. It is used for various purposes such as heating, cooking, and generating electricity. This landfill diversion process is an alternative to composting and a goal set to accomplish in CSA’s 2023 Laudato Si’ Action Plan.
The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would do more than any other legislation to reduce the mountains of plastic waste we create each year.
The United States creates millions of metric tons of plastic waste each year, only 5% of it is recycled. We need to address this problem at every level to reduce pollution and its consequences for our communities, our environment, and our health.
If you've had enough of the single-use plastic that ends up clogging landfills, polluting our communities and harming our planet, please ACT TODAY!
Soon, Congress will unveil a bill that could flip the script on plastic waste. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act would do more than any other legislation to reduce the mountains of plastic waste we create each year. This bill will address plastic pollution from production to disposal -- overhauling a system that is currently failing us. But it needs our help.
The 78th UN General Assembly will take place at a time of unprecedented setbacks on global progress. During the United Nations General Assembly high-level week in September 2023, Heads of State and Government will gather at the UN Headquarters in New York to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed in a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
The 2023 SDG Summit, which will be held Sept 18-19 at the United Nations, marks the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Political leaders and experts from governments, international organizations, the private sector, civil society, women, youth, and other stakeholders will come together in a series of high-level meetings with the heads of state and government officials. The outcome of the Summit will be a negotiated political declaration. You can see the drafts of this declaration and learn more here.
While there are many important pieces to the political declaration, Sr. Jean Quinn, Executive Director of UNANIMA International, and others on the Working Group to End Homelessness, noticed in earlier drafts that there was no mention of homelessness - people without homes. Due to her persistence and influence, she was able to convince members of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to include this issue. Sr. Jean and the work of UNANIMA International on homelessness is highly reputable and this is a major accomplishment.
Parallel to the UNGA78, Sr. Jean moderated a hybrid event titled, “Global Homelessness and the Path Forward: An Overview of the Issue and its Place on the UN General Assembly’s Agenda” on the morning of September 7th.
Sister Jean shares: “As detailed in UNANIMA International’s publications and other research, it is well established that combating the issue of homelessness is integral in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Homelessness is deeply intertwined with both the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, climate change, and other major emerging issues for the international community.
On September 28, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will be presenting a report on homelessness to the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. The first of its kind, this report will update the UNGA on “the progress that has been achieved and challenges that remain in the implementation of inclusive social development policies and programmes to address homelessness, including recommendations for possible indicators on social protection and access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing in the aftermath of COVID-19,” as noted in operative clause 22 of A/RES/76/133. The presentation of this report can give Member States and civil society a better sense of homelessness and its manifestations.
Staying true to our mantra at UNANIMA International “don’t talk about us, without us,” this parallel event will provide a space to hear from thematic experts, Member States, civil society, and individuals with a lived experience in an open dialogue setting. It will give those interested in the issue of homelessness the opportunity to discuss the drivers, good practices from various state and non-state stakeholders, policy recommendations, and what the path forward is for addressing homelessness within the UN system. Together, we must ensure that the momentum achieved on homelessness continues so that the hidden homeless will no longer be left behind.
JPIC Coordinator, Tracy Abler, proudly represents the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA) on UNANIMA International’s Board of Directors. She serves as the Secretary on the Executive Committee and will be traveling to New York for a board meeting September 14-16, 2023.
World Ozone Day marks one of the rare times that world governments universally ratified a treaty and acted on it.
Adopted on September 16, 1987, The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is a landmark multilateral environmental agreement regulating the production and consumption of nearly 100 human-made ozone depleting substances (ODS). When we despair over the lack of progress in dealing with the climate crisis, remember that we have acted together globally in the past. We can do it again.
Read more from the UN about how the Montreal Protocol has succeeded in safeguarding the ozone layer.
Or watch these videos:
Are you ready to experience the Season of Creation?
The Season of Creation is September 1 - October 4. It is the season when ecumenical families join to contemplate God’s creation as sisters and brothers. Today’s special edition of Bending the Arc is entirely devoted to Season of Creation stories, learning, and action.
To start, you are invited to watch the Laudato Si’ Movement’s opening Global Ecumenical Online Prayer Service which was September 1 at 8 am CT. Faith leaders from around the globe will lead this time of prayer and reflection as we celebrate this year’s theme, “Let Justice and Peace Flow.” The mighty river is our symbol (Amos 5:24).
No registration required.
Watch on YouTube here: Global Ecumenical Prayer Service
Other upcoming Season of Creation events:
- September 7: LATAM FFNPT Symposium
- September 12: FFNPT launch in Oceania
- September 21: Webinar on Fossil Fuels in Africa
- September 30: Taizé ecumenical prayer
- October 4: Online Ecumenical Prayer Service
Catholics celebrating this special time may enjoy this Catholic Liturgical Guide for the Season of Creation, developed by Laudato Si' Movement Member Organizations. In addition, here are some resources to help you promote the Season of Creation in your community.
Pope Francis has already left us his message: "In this Season of Creation, as followers of Christ on our common synodal journey, let us live, work and pray so that our common home may once again teem with life."
If you are still looking for more over the season, visit seasonofcreation.org/
Alliant Energy recently opened subscriptions in a brand new solar garden project in Wisconsin. To help raise awareness of the new opportunity to go solar, they wrote an article about the CSA solar array and solar garden participation.
You can read it here and learn more about how to sign up for their new array.
Learn more about solar by coming on a guided tour of the CSA array with your group/company/organization. Request a tour here.
Make the Season of Creation the time you dedicate to calling your Senators and Representatives to ask them to sponsor and support critical climate bills.
Below are a few examples of bills you can learn about and tips for what to say when making phone calls:
Regarding S.1138 and H.R. 2443 - The Fossil Free Finance Act
For Senators: “Hi, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______. I’m calling because I’m extremely anxious and concerned about the climate crisis. I understand that Sen. Ed Markey has reintroduced S. 1138, the Fossil Free Finance Act, which would require big banks to stop financing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Is the Senator yet a co-sponsor? [Assuming they aren’t add:] I find that very disappointing. We are in a state of emergency yet Congress isn’t acting like it. What more will it take? I want the Senator to co-sponsor this bill now. Fossil fuel companies shouldn’t get more protection than we do. Thanks.”
For House Reps: “Hi, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is _______. I’m calling because I’m extremely anxious and concerned about the climate crisis. I understand that Rep Pressley has reintroduced H.R. 2443, the Fossil Free Finance Act, which would require big banks to stop financing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Is the Congressmember yet a co-sponsor? [Assuming they aren’t add:] I find that very disappointing. We are in a state of emergency yet Congress isn’t acting like it. What more will it take? I want the Congressmember to co-sponsor this bill now. Fossil fuel companies shouldn’t get more protection than we do. Thanks.”
Regarding S. 542 - Captured Carbon Utilization Parity Act
Hello, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is ______. I’d like the Senator to support S. 542, the bipartisan Captured Carbon Utilization Parity Act, a bill intended to create parity between the credit value for utilization and sequestration in the carbon capture tax credit. We need this if we are to meet our 2050 climate goals.[Only if they want more info:] Carbon utilization technologies present an opportunity to turn captured carbon dioxide pollution into useful products that would otherwise be made in a carbon-intensive way. Bringing the value of tax credits for utilization into line with the incentives for sequestration created in the IRA would clear a path for businesses to invest in this promising carbon reduction tool. Thanks!
Regarding H.R. 2989 - Save Our Sequoias Act
Call your House Rep and say: “Hi, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is _______. I’m concerned about a bill introduced by Kevin McCarthy —HR 2989 the "Save Our Sequoias" Act. The name sounds great, but this bill is actually stuffed with anti-environmental provisions that would expedite logging projects and undermine the environmental laws that keep our wild places safe. The bill is strongly opposed by over eighty environmental groups and I want to make sure the Congressmember doesn’t fall for the misleading name. We do need to save our Sequoias but waiving NEPA and giving logging companies carte blanche to clearcut trees is not the way to do it. Please oppose. Thanks.
Regarding S.2378 and H.R. 4760 - The FATCAT Act
Hi, I'm a constituent calling from [zip]. My name is _______. I’m calling to ask the Senator/Congressmember to co-sponsor and pass S. 2378 / H.R. 4760 the FATCAT Act, which will increase the jet fuel tax from 22 cents per gallon to $1.95, and apply the new revenues toward air quality monitoring and the development of clean transit alternatives. Private jets are killing us! They emit 14 times the CO2 per passenger than commercial flights and 50 times more than trains, yet they're taxed just 22 cents per gallon on jet fuel, far less than commercial flights. Not OK. Please tell the Senator/Congressmember I expect them to co-sponsor this bill. Thanks!
On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, a Zoom presentation, called Dominicans Embracing the Heart of Laudato Si’, will help discern the signs of the times, share the gift of Laudato Si’ and respond to the invitation to restore right relationships. All are invited to join for this important conversation.
The day will be presented by three expert presenters in the area of Laudato Si’. They include:
Dr. Lorna Gold, Director of Movement Building, FaithInvest and President of the Laudato Si’ Movement Board of Directors, Elizabeth Garlow, Co-founder, Francesco Collaborative and Senior Fellow, New America and Catherine Devitt, Programme Manager of FaithInvest. In addition, the day will include speakers and storytellers from the Dominican family who are bringing the gifts of Laudato Si' alive.
The day will be organized in two parts:
The morning session, Restoring Right Relationships with Laudato Si’, runs from 9:00 to 11:15 a.m. CDT via Zoom. This session will explore how Laudato Si' offers us the wisdom to see and respond to the ecological crisis. Participants will hear from Sharon Zayac, OP, Dominican Sisters of Springfield and Colette Kane, OP Dominican Sisters of Cabra and Program Director, An Tairsearch, Wicklow, Ireland, who will provide examples of Laudato Si' initiatives from the Dominican Family.
The afternoon session, Becoming Stewards for a More Just Economy, runs from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. CDT via Zoom. This session will take a deep dive into how finances and investments can be used as a force for good. Included in the afternoon is a storytelling session facilitated by Elizabeth Garlow that will include S. Marilin LLanes, OP, Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Lisa Kane, OP Dominicans of Racine and Pat Siemen, OP, Dominican Sisters of Adrian and the Dominican Climate Solutions Fund.
For more information, including presenter and panelist bio, a flyer, and a registration link, go to https://www.racinedominicans.org/dcjr/laudatosidominicans.cfm.
In this article of NCR, author Cindy Wooden describes Pope Francis’ meeting with a delegation of European lawyers on August 21, 2023. Pope Francis thanked the lawyers for their advocacy of environmental protections laws and announced he was writing another document on the environment.
In this Vatican News article, the Director of the Holy See Press Office further details that the second part of the Laudato Si’ encyclical letter will focus on the recent climate crises.
Download resources that include the monthly intention, prayer for nonviolence, a monthly reflection with questions, stories, and action.
Many of the presentations at The Parliament of the World's Religions focused on climate change and its devastating impact on humanity. In one presentation, entitled Lazarus and the Rich Man: Archetypes of Agony and Entitlement, Elizabeth-Anne Stewart explored the connection between environmental catastrophe and the "cloning" of the Lazaruses of this world. Using the backdrop of The Global Ethic and Pope Francis' Laudato Si', she invited participants to see their own patterns of entitlement and to consider more sustainable life choices. Unfortunately, the session was not taped, but she will be sharing her thoughts and PowerPoint via a Zoom presentation on Friday, September 1, at 10:00 a.m. CST/ 11:00 a.m. EST. There is no charge, and wherever you are in the world, you are welcome to join her.
No registration required. Simply tune in here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87904208232 . Meeting ID: 879 0420 8232.
Elizabeth-Anne Stewart is a friend of Sister Dolores Lytle.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States infamously used the Marshall Islands as an atom bomb testing ground. During that time, 67 atomic bombs were dropped in the islands, on and around the atolls of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrik, while the Marshallese could only haplessly look on. It was a shameful human experimentation that turned ancestral islands into dumping grounds for nuclear waste.
A peace ship, called The Golden Rule, set sail in 1958 to stop nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands, and inspired the many peacemakers and peace ships that followed. Veterans for Peace recovered and restored the original peace ship and the reborn Golden Rule is sailing once more, to show that nuclear abolition is possible, and that bravery and tenacity can overcome militarism. The Great Loop around the east coast, through the country and eventually around the Great Lakes is nearly complete.
Wisconsinites who missed the stop in Sheboygan last weekend have more opportunities to engage in community activities, presentations, boat tours and visits in southeastern cities on or near Lake Michigan throughout the month of September, including several stops over Labor Day Weekend, September 1-4. Learn more about the VFP Golden Rule Project, see the interactive map of the route and the current schedule at vfpgoldenruleproject.org
A bird best identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch insects. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees or caves. This species has suffered sharp declines as chimneys fall into disuse across the continent.
Doug Stadler, Fond du Lac Bird City expert on Swifts, will be there to guide understanding of the bird behavior.
August 18 & 20: MetalLink, corner of Western and Brooke Street - Meet in the parking lot on the south side of the factory between 7:45 and 8 p.m. All birds will likely be in their roost by 8:30 p.m.
August 25 & 27: St. Patrick’s Church - Same timeline as MetalLink
This event is organized by Fond du Lac Bird City. Contact Laura for more information at email@example.com
Learn more about the species: https://partnersinflight.org/species/14048/
Kyle Schwibinger is the newest addition to the CSA staff. Kyle works with the maintenance team to do general repairs and upkeep of the property. Additionally, in his role as CSA’s Land Steward, he monitors and manages the land held in conservation easement with Glacial Lakes Conservancy. Born and raised in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Kyle recently completed his bachelor’s degree in environmental science and management at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. He loves to spend his free time hunting, fishing, and camping in the north woods of Wisconsin. Since joining CSA’s staff, Kyle has enjoyed working with the land, seeing what it has to offer and what he can offer to it.
Pictured here is Kyle with Sister Patricia Weidman after a recent installation of one of three rain barrels at the Motherhouse campus.The benefits of using a rain barrel include reducing runoff and pollution, reducing erosion, flooding, and sewer backups.They obviously save money on water bills, but also help keep creeks and rivers healthy and raise stormwater awareness.The motherhouse residents have access to three rain barrels, which are used for watering indoor and outdoor plants.Two barrels are located near the vehicle garages and the third is located near the maintenance garage and the raised garden beds.
U.S. Catholic Church National Conference offers free session recordings and resources to encourage a greater understanding of Laudato Si’ goals that everyone can benefit from.
The 2023 Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church national conference, held June 14 - July 27, 2023, is part of a biennial conference series co-sponsored by Creighton University and Catholic Climate Covenant to equip and inspire Catholics to more deeply integrate Laudato Si’ and its creation care teachings into the U.S. Church. The purpose of this year’s conference was to encourage a greater understanding of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform’s seven goals and encourage Catholic individuals and groups to enroll in the platform, providing them with a clearer path for accomplishing each of the goals through speaker presentations.
Is there a goal you’d like to learn more about? Find the recordings from the conference series here, both in Spanish and English. PowerPoint slides are also provided. You are always encouraged to share what you know with others!
The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes enrolled in the platform in November 2021 and is successfully accomplishing the yearly goals the CSA Laudato Si Action Team has established. See how we are doing here: www.csasisters.org/lsap
Governor Evers signed the Wisconsin state budget, which includes funding for a collaborative project with the Oneida Nation, Audubon Great Lakes, NE Wisconsin Audubon, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for biodiversity to protect wetlands.
Audubon Great Lakes has been working for years to empower its network in the region to protect and restore wetlands that improves habitat for breeding and migratory birds, builds its coastal communities’ resilience to climate change, and improves water quality for birds and people.This work includes educating state policymakers about the value of Wisconsin’s wetlands. The results of their work recently reached new heights when Governor Evers signed the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 state budget, which included $350,000 over the next two years to fund an ongoing collaborative. Read more here.
Whether you are beginning your ecological journey of prayer and action or a long-time leader, you are welcome to join this fall’s cohort for Laudato Si’ Animators training. The new format is “on demand,” meaning you will read lessons and complete the training on your own time with community meetings held regionally. This training is not limited to Catholic individuals or religious institutions. Pope Francis’ appeal in his encyclical is that in protecting our common home, we need to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development (LS 13). This includes businesses, educational and healthcare institutions, nonprofits, and even families. Visit the Laudato Si Animators Thinkific site to learn more and to REGISTER TODAY!
CSA currently has six animators within the congregation, including sisters, associates, and staff who have completed this training and have been certified with submission of a capstone project report. We aim to grow more animators each year. This free training is offered twice a year. Please consider joining us or share this opportunity with others.
AUGUST 5 PRAIRIE FEST
Connect with sisters at the Prairie Fest from 9-Noon on Saturday, August 5. Sisters will staff one of many booths at the event, which will offer education and interaction with many of our partners in caring for creation.
AUGUST 12 POLLINATOR WALK (RSVP required)
The next weekend, RSVP for one of four remaining spaces in the August 12 Pollinator Walk. Learn about the importance of pollinator diversity and prairie plants through exploration in the CSA prairie led by DNR expert, Jay Watson. This Land Trust Days event is a great way to gather knowledge on identification and other fun information on these powerfully important species! And hopefully, we will spot the federally protected Rusty Patched Bumble Bee again! Families welcome to attend. This event is $10 for non-members. Please bring cash to the event.RSVP required to firstname.lastname@example.org
September 9 CONSERVATION CONNECTION (Ticket purchase required)
Then, get your ticket for a day of Conservation Connection on September 9. As Laudato Si' partners with Glacial Lakes Conservancy (GLC), the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes invites you to join a day of fun activities on our beautiful conservation easement for GLC’s annual fundraiser.
Enjoy a catered lunch with a presentation by Gary Casper, games & activities, an optional guided hike from naturalist David Kuckuk, and plein air artists on the Niagara Escarpment.
All proceeds from this fundraising event support Glacial Lakes Conservancy's mission to permanently preserve and protect land and water resources for future generations.
Tickets and more information are available at www.glaciallakes.org
$70 per person; tickets available until September 1.
Common Yellowthroat Warblers are one of the few Wood Warblers to stay in Wisconsin after migration and nest. This warbler is one of the more difficult to see, but not to hear with their distinct witchity witchity witchity call.
More than half of our nation's bird species migrate to Latin America and the Caribbean for wintering habitat, including beloved yet declining songbirds, shorebirds, and more. We have lost three billion birds in North America alone since 1970, and to stem the tide of further devastating losses of migratory birds, we need to invest in protecting their habitats across the Western Hemisphere. The bipartisan Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act (H.R. 4389) would do just that by expanding available funding for the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grant program.
Ask your U.S. Representative to support urgently needed conservation funding for America’s migratory birds. Find them here.
The Strait Story webinar explores Enbridge Line 5 and its Trespass on State Waters and Indigenous Lands.
Enbridge’s Line 5 oil line has spilled 1.1 million gallons over its lifetime. This illuminating webinar features those on the front lines of the legal, tribal, administrative, and organizing fight to shut it down.
Nearly 23 million gallons of oil daily flow through two aging pipelines in the heart of the Great Lakes, just 1.5 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. Constructed during the Eisenhower administration in 1953, the two 20-inch-in-diameter “Line 5” crude oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge, Inc. lie exposed at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac - a busy shipping channel. Several trouble factors have come together that cause grave concern for the ecology of the Great Lakes, home to 21% of the world’s fresh surface water. Read more.
Oil and Water Don’t Mix (OWDM) and For the Love of Water (FLOW) were honored to host a distinguished panel of experts working to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 crude oil pipeline in a webinar on July 19, 2023. You can watch the 1-hour long recording here.
If you have not asked Pres. Biden to shut down Line 5, can you please take 1 minute right now? It is easy to send him a message here.
Rock County has entered into a lease agreement with Alliant Energy to develop an Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables solar project on 10 acres adjacent to the Janesville Community Solar Garden.
“Our partnership with Alliant Energy to develop a 1.4-megawatt solar energy system demonstrates our commitment to renewable, clean energy generation,” said Brent Sutherland, Director of Facilities Management in Rock County. “This solar project is a win for residents of Rock County because we can offset some of our greenhouse gas emissions without having to make costly upgrades to our facilities.”
Once operational, Rock County will receive annual fixed lease payments for 20 years. The project is part of the Alliant Energy® Customer-Hosted Renewables program, which enables customers with available land to host solar facilities, receive lease payments and get renewable energy credits.
“We are excited to be working with Rock County toward achieving a more sustainable future,” said Coleman Peiffer, manager of customer and community development for Alliant Energy. “The project aligns with our purpose to strengthen communities. It also provides the opportunity to enhance community exposure to renewables while showcasing how renewables can integrate with community planning and development.”
Alliant Energy will design, construct, own, operate and maintain both solar projects. Construction will begin this fall, with estimated completion by the end of 2024. The timeline is contingent on design, permitting and equipment availability.
The Janesville community solar garden and the Rock County customer-hosted solar project are important milestones in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint, the company’s roadmap to accelerate its transition to renewable energy. It puts the company on a path to achieve its Clean Energy Vision, which includes a goal to attain net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by 2050.
MADISON, WI (April 25, 2023) – Rock County and Alliant Energy have announced their plan to construct a 2.25-megawatt (MW) community solar garden alongside a 1.4-MW customer-hosted project in Janesville, Wisconsin.
The proposed project will mark Alliant Energy’s second community solar garden in Wisconsin and third overall. After the success of the company’s first community solar garden in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the next opportunity to bring community solar to the state is a direct response to customer requests for additional access to renewable energy.
The solar blocks are now available for subscription for $337 each. Businesses interested in demonstrating leadership and commitment to sustainable practices in the community are invited to become anchor tenants.
“We are thankful to Rock County for its interest in helping us launch this exciting project where our Wisconsin customers can receive the benefits of clean, renewable energy,” said David de Leon, president of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “We anticipate blocks will be sold quickly given the level of interest we’ve gathered and the number of customers already on the waitlist. The Community Solar program is just one more way we can use our knowledge and resources to serve our customers while bringing them options and solutions to meet their needs.”
The solar garden will be located east of the Rock Haven Assisted Living facility on county-owned property. At maximum output the community solar garden could power up to 1,800 homes annually.
The Janesville-based garden is part of the Alliant Energy® Community Solar program, which allows the company’s electric customers to benefit from solar power without installing solar panels on their property. Subscribers receive monthly credits on their electric bill for every solar block purchased. Credits will begin once the garden is operational and continue for the 20-year life of the project. The garden will consist of 9,000 solar blocks, and each 250-watt block will produce an estimated average of 441 kilowatts annually.
Solar blocks can also be purchased for other Alliant Energy electric customers or donated to the Hometown Care Energy Fund. The gift helps family, friends, neighbors or nonprofit organizations receive 20 years of solar credits.
Alliant Energy’s first community solar garden, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, became operational January 2022. The second, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is expected to become operational in early 2024.
Alliant Energy will design, construct, own, operate and maintain both solar projects. Construction will begin this fall, with estimated completion by the end of 2024. The timeline is contingent on design, permitting and equipment availability.
The Janesville community solar garden and the Rock County customer-hosted solar project are important milestones in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint, the company’s roadmap to accelerate its transition to renewable energy. It puts the company on a path to achieve its Clean Energy Vision, which includes a goal to attain net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by 2050.
For more information, to subscribe or donate, visit alliantenergy.com/communitysolar.
About Alliant Energy
Alliant Energy Corporation provides regulated energy service to 985,000 electric and 425,000 natural gas customers across Iowa and Wisconsin. Alliant Energy’s mission is to deliver energy solutions and exceptional service customers and communities count on — safely, efficiently and responsibly. Interstate Power and Light Company and Wisconsin Power and Light Company are Alliant Energy’s two public energy companies. Alliant Energy is a component of the Nasdaq CRD Sustainability Index, Bloomberg’s 2022 Gender-Equality Index, and the S&P 500. For more information, visit alliantenergy.com and follow Alliant Energy on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
After two decades of negotiations, the 193 United Nations Member States have adopted a landmark legally binding marine biodiversity treaty for the high seas beyond national boundaries, covering two thirds of Earth’s oceans. This was announced in June by UN Secretary-General António Guterres during the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity in New York. Guterres hails the historic agreement as giving the ocean “a fighting chance.” Watch his address here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9s8Hnov7YI
The new treaty will be opened for signatures this fall during the annual meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly. It will take effect once it is ratified by 60 countries. Learn more.
Drivers in rural Wisconsin may be surprised to find yard signs and billboards opposing the construction of new solar farms. Rural residents have various reasons for the protests: Some consider the solar fields to be a visual blight, some worry about their community being left to deal with defunct panels in 50 years, and others consider it to be a poor use of prime farmland.
In response to the third complaint, Clean Wisconsin took a look at the return on investment for farmers who use the land to grow corn for ethanol vs farmers who lease the land for solar farms. Their research from January 2023 indicates that “assuming average energy return on investment, net energy production per acre is 100-125x greater for solar photovoltaics than for corn-based ethanol.”
Additionally, they considered how much land would be needed to meet Wisconsin’s carbon-free goals and calculated that “less than 1/3 of the land currently being used to grow corn for ethanol” would need to be converted to solar farms.
The Farm Bill, which expires this year, is a critical piece of U.S. legislation which is authorized every five years. It includes nearly $1 trillion in spending and helps determine what food is grown, how it’s grown, and how affordable it is. It provides funding for international programs that train farmers to adapt to climate change and provides emergency and developmental support to more than 4 billion people. It is also crucial in responding to the climate crisis. Learn more. You are invited to use the SSND Voter Voice tool to urge the U.S. Congress to prioritize timely passage of the 2023 Farm Bill and to reauthorize existing domestic and international programs that address hunger needs and support long-term solutions.
1. Choose reusable serving ware
Rather than rely on single-use plastic plates, cups and utensils, opt for reusable alternatives instead. The most environmentally friendly plate, glass, or fork is the one you already own—and if you don't have enough on hand for the whole party, make it a BYO BBQ and encourage your friends and family to bring their own from home!
2. Ditch the single-use straws
Plastic straws are one of the most common forms of plastic waste found in our oceans. You can avoid contributing to this problem by providing your guests with reusable or biodegradable straws. Consider offering paper, bamboo or stainless steel straws as a sustainable alternative -- or, simply skip the straws altogether.
3. Say no to plastic bottles
Plastic bottles are another major source of plastic waste, and fortunately, it's easy to find an alternative. Instead of purchasing individual plastic bottles, opt for beverages that come in aluminum cans or glass bottles. You can also offer pitchers of water, homemade lemonade or other refreshing drinks in large, reusable dispensers, and provide your guests with a designated area for refilling their reusable water bottles.
4. Choose eco-friendly decorations
Store displays are full of disposable plastic decorations for summer gatherings. But there are plenty of plastic-free alternatives, perhaps even right in your own backyard. Consider using cloth tablecloths or picnic blankets you already have on hand and natural materials such as flowers, leaves or branches to make centerpieces.
5. Have a plan for waste management
Set up clearly labeled trash, recycling, and composting bins to help your guests dispose of their waste correctly. By doing so, you can minimize your barbecue's environmental impact by ensuring cans and bottles get recycled and food and paper waste can be composted.
By following these five tips at your summer gatherings, you can significantly reduce plastic waste and inspire others to adopt eco-friendly practices. Together, we can celebrate our time together while also safeguarding the plant for future generations.
The Laudato Si’ Movement offers this month’s Laudato Si’ Encounter, a monthly prayer guide. In it, you will find:
- A prayer for the “builders of the future”;
- A reflection on parables to guide you in prayer
- The eco-conversion story of Robert Kitumaine, a Laudato Si’ Animator from the Democratic Republic of Congo;
- A reminder about our synodal journey towards 2025;
- And Laudato Si’ Movement’s featured value of the month - a holistic approach.
“Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church: A Conference Series on Our Common Home” is a biennial series to equip and inspire Catholics to more deeply integrate Laudato Si’ and its climate change teaching into the U.S. Church.
The 2023 convening will be virtual and opened on June 14 with a keynote address from Ms. Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who brokered the Paris Agreement.
Throughout June and July, the series will host virtual 90-minute sessions on each of the seven goals of the Vatican's Laudato Si' Action Platform. Each session will feature a scholar who describes the goal, a practitioner who outlines their work to achieve the goal, and a moderated Q&A.
Here is the full schedule and the full list of speakers for the conference. You can register now for free, and will receive a link for access to all eight sessions that are offered about once a week through the end of July. The sessions are also recorded and sent, when you register. To get you started, here is the opening session from June 14, 2023.
June 15, 2023 marks the start of the Brothertown Indian Nation’s 3-day, 90-mile walk around Lake Winnebago for their Annual Water Walk. A Water Walk is an indigenous-led initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of water and the need for protection of water. Organizers and participants have walked around bodies of water since 2003 as a way of taking action against water pollution.
The Walk begins with a beautiful ceremony in which water collected from the four directions and four bodies of water across the state, are mingled together; the last being the water collected that morning from the SE shore of Lake Winnebago. The water is transferred into a copper bucket. Copper is said to clean, heal and amplify prayers for water. The bucket is always carried forward by a woman and a protector follows with his or her staff to guide and protect the woman and the water. Participants sing and pray along their route, adding their prayers to the water. Following completion of the walk, the water that has been prayed upon for the duration of the walk is then returned to Lake Winnebago.
Jessica Ryan, Vice Chair of the Brothertown Indian Nation explains the Water Walk in this 2022 video:
(video credit to Scott Rodman)
On May 31, 2023, the CSA Leadership Team hosted indigenous guests from Wisconsin. They came to give thanks for CSA’s sponsorship that allowed eight Fond du Lac residents to participate in the Women and Water Coming Together Symposium in 2019 and for the four who will be attending in July 2023. Registration is open now for this immersion experience at the Abiiooji-Aki Cultural Healing Center in Hayward, WI, July 30 - August 3, 2023. The mission and vision for the symposium is to bring women from all walks of life to attend this four-day event. For details and registration, visit https://www.spiritofthewater.org/
During her visit with CSA, Maryellen Baker, an Ojibwe woman living on the Lac Courte Orielles Indian Reservation and teacher at Abiiooji-Aki, shared her experience walking with Grandmother Josephine Madamin, the founding member of the water protectors movement. Annually, women come together to raise awareness about society’s negligence towards water and to remind all… Water is Life.
Hear Maryellen’s important message in this video:
A collaborative project sponsored by Catholic Climate Covenant and the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Wholemakers was created by young adults for young adults, weaving together the latest in climate science with insights from Catholic tradition to equip participants to be the faithful protagonists of transformation the world so urgently needs. Learn more here.
This resource is available for use in high schools, college campuses, and small groups in parishes or other settings, with tracks focusing on Spirituality & Ecology, Sustainability & Simple Living, and Social Action & Civic Love. Access the curriculum (for free) here.
The ocean connects, sustains, and supports us all. Yet its health is at a tipping point and so is the well-being of all that depends on it. We need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life. This year, it’s time to put the oceans first. Click here to learn about (and register for) the live UN World Oceans Day Broadcast on June 8 at 9 am (Central).
You may also enjoy this relaxation video of captivating moments of jellyfish and fish in the ocean.
It’s undeniable that the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from air travel contribute to climate change, a fact that can easily leave you with flyer’s remorse. But have you ever considered how to offset your carbon footprint when flying?
Look for airlines that offer environmentally-friendly carbon offset flights. These are voluntary programs that allow travelers to compensate for the amount of carbon dioxide their flight puts out with a reduction of the same amount through environmental action - like planting a tree! Around a third of airlines have some sort of carbon offset program, but how they work varies. You’ll need to do your homework to ensure you are verifiably reducing carbon emissions. You can also donate to carbon offset organizations yourself. Learn more here.
Of course, reducing your carbon footprint overall will have a greater impact than offsetting your infrequent flights. Consider walking or biking rather than driving, or share rides. Now that the weather is warmer, consider hanging your laundry instead of using the dryer. Other ideas include cutting down on the AC or heat where possible, buying locally, or using a smaller car or an electric one. These ideas and more about offsetting the carbon footprint of flying can be found here.
CarbonFund.org also offers this carbon footprint calculator for individuals and households that is free to use.
In a recent NCR online article, Christopher Cox, associate director of Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment, “understanding the connections between the poor, climate change and the apparel industry is crucial.” Cox, a friend and former colleague to the CSA Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office, has spent years working on the Human Thread Campaign, a Catholic movement in solidarity with garment workers, and is now involved in encouraging corporate responsibility through shareholder engagement. Read more and learn how to bring Laudato Si’ into your wardrobe here.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) was adopted in December 2022 at COP 15 following a 4-year consultation and negotiation process. This historic framework, which supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. How do we go from agreement to action? Learn more!
We know that everything in nature is interconnected - plants, animals, micro-organisms, and us. Without one, the other is vulnerable. But biodiversity is facing a major threat from human activities. Protecting biodiversity is vital to safeguard our future and that of generations to come. People Need Biodiversity!
If you agree, watch and share this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiwkDKBJB4s
Are you fascinated by trees? Do you notice when they change according to the season and when they are healthy or diseased? Do you have a favorite tree or trees? Is there a tree in your view from your prayer chair where you meditate?
Our CSA property includes woodlands, prairie, streams, and ponds. S. Hertha wrote, “We have been part of a research project sponsored by the US Forest Service for many years. Every seven years the Forest Service measures trees in three or four areas in our woodlands to study the health and growth of the trees. The project extrapolates information about the health of the environment from the health of the trees. “
There are four sites that are being studied, three in the woodlands and one in the prairie. The information gathered from these four sites represents the average findings in a 640-acre area.
The agent, who studied the same trees seven years ago, buried a nail in the ground along with a GPS to mark the coordinates of the trees in the study. He measured the growth in circumference and height of selected trees to determine the health of those trees and the surrounding vegetation.
The selected trees are marked with a white paste horizontally and vertically.
The agent marked a 12-foot circle around the GPS point and counted the tree saplings and vegetation, such as weeds, flowers, and mushrooms. He studied the trees for four hours while writing his report, which is pending.
Healthy forests and grasslands help mitigate climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in plants and soils. The Forest Service works with private landowners, non-governmental organizations, and tribal governments to foster climate-informed, sustainable land management. To learn about the U.S. Forest Service, click https://www.fs.usda.gov/.
How do trees reduce the effects of climate change? As trees grow, they take up carbon from the atmosphere. Strategically placed trees help cut energy costs in your home. They provide cooling shade in summer and block cold winter winds. Click to learn more: https://www.fs.usda.gov/search?Content=climate+change
Plant a tree! Hug a tree! Donate a tree in memory of your loved one!
The JPIC Office has added the DVD, “The Hidden Life of Trees” to its Resource Library. The film is based on the worldwide bestselling book, by Peter Wohlleben, which has profoundly changed how we think of forests. Watch the trailer now and consider borrowing the DVD to show in your homes and circles. A list of ecology education resources available for loan, from the JPIC Library, can be found here: JPIC Resources.
On May 9, 2023, CSA, and other women religious communities, joined NGOs like Defenders for Life and Southern Border Communities Coalition in signing a letter urging Congress to protect border communities, border lands and border wildlife in FY24 appropriations. This letter asks congressional appropriators to rescind all previously appropriated border wall funding, reject proposals for new funding and provide funding to land management agencies to mitigate damage from wall construction.
What is it about the universe that so fascinates the human spirit? We turn to the sun during the day looking for warmth and reassurance, and to the night sky in wonder and awe. We have always been challenged by its immensity, captivated by its power, thrilled by its grandeur. Down through the centuries, many have believed that the mystery of their future is somehow hidden in the position of the stars. It is no wonder that celestial bodies have frequently been thought to be somehow divine. The way we understand the cosmos has always influenced many of our religious perceptions.
Evidence of this celestial influence can be traced throughout the history of scientific discovery. Pythagoras’ insistence that Earth is a sphere and not flat challenged literal belief that God is enthroned in the heavens above us. Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the universe further threatened well established concepts of divinely determined human dominance in the universe. Darwin’s insight into evolutionary processes disputes the notion of the direct creation of humankind. These revolutionary scientific discoveries or theories have challenged time-honored religious understandings of how God works and of the place of human beings in creation. Over time many of these theological understandings have been corrected or reinterpreted. However, correction or reinterpretation has not come easily.
We face such a scientific revolutionary situation today. Contemporary cosmologists speak of an evolving universe, one that was not completed in six days of creation, regardless of how one might perceive the meaning of the six days spoken of in the Bible’s creation narrative. They insist that there are actually multiverses containing billions of galaxies, some of which, no doubt, contain planets that are able to support life. If this is the case, how are we to understand the Bible’s claims of human superiority? How are we to reconcile the findings of contemporary science that is cosmocentric (centered on the cosmos) with the religious message of the Bible which is so obviously based on an ancient understanding of the universe that is fundamentally anthropocentric (centered on humans)? This is the challenge placed before us today.
Perhaps we have not realized the gravity of ecological issues, because we were not attentive to the limits of the natural wealth of the world, a world that has been prodigal in surrendering its treasures to us. Even when we have been conscious of nature's limits, we may have disregarded them because we believed that the wealth of creation was ours for the taking. After all, does not our biblical tradition assure us that we were commissioned by God to "subdue the earth and have dominion over the fish and the birds and every living thing" (cf., Gen 1:26; 28)? This understanding of our relationship with the rest of the created world was even illustrated formerly in some catechisms, and even in some elementary science books, by means of a pyramid. In this depiction, the vast variety of mineral creation formed the base of the figure; vegetation in its myriad forms was situated just above the mineral world; all forms of animate creation were located higher still; and human beings enjoyed the pride of place at the top.
This symbolic representation led us to believe that God had created the less complex forms of nature to serve the needs and ends of the more complex forms. This point of view, which is an example of anthropocentricism in the extreme, has made a lasting impression on our scientific imagination and on the theological understanding that supports it. We learned this perspective so well that we find it difficult to appreciate how inaccurate and ecologically dangerous it is. Such an anthropocentric worldview, whether androcentric (male-centered) or a gynocentric (female-centered), is certainly not the worldview found in the Bible. There we read that "the earth is the LORD"s (Ps 24:1), not ours. Furthermore, the world’s fundamental value does not lie in its usefulness to us. Rather, it lies in the fact of its having come from the creative hand of God who, as we read on the first creation narrative, exclaimed that all things were good, even before humans appeared on the scene (cf. Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25). We may have been told "to subdue and have dominion," as we read in Genesis 1 (vv. 26, 28), "to serve it (the garden) and to guard it," as stated in Genesis 2 (v.15), but we were not directed to be tyrannical in our governance of the treasures of creation. Rather, we were meant to be stewards, responsible for creation and accountable to God to whom all creation belongs.
Rejection of the current distorted anthropocentrism
In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis denounces what he calls tyrannical, distorted, or misguided anthropocentrism. By this he is referring to a prevailing point of view that sees humankind as the center of all created reality and the measure according to which all else is to be evaluated. Such a perspective has little concern for other creatures except to the extent that they are useful in advancing human goals. This way of thinking has often been legitimated and reinforced by a literal reading of the creation narrative in Genesis 1, where human beings appear to have been created godlike and commissioned by God to "subdue the earth and have dominion over the fish and the birds and every living thing" (cf., Gen 1:26; 28). A closer look at this narrative will offer us a very different view of humankind’s place in natural creation.
1) Image of God
In the first creation account (Gen 1:1-2:4a), the fundamental character of the human couple and of their subsequent commissioning is found in the expression “image of God” and in the twofold commission “subdue’ and ‘have dominion” (vv. 27-28). In the ancient world, people fashioned images of their gods. The images were not considered the gods themselves but were simply representations of the power and authority of the gods, power and authority that was really jurisdictional. Thus, when in Egypt, one was under the jurisdiction of Egyptian gods; when in Mesopotamia, under Mesopotamian gods; etc. This explains the religious trauma experienced by people when they were exiled from their land, which was really the land of their god. Their religious identity was challenged by such an upheaval. Aspects of this practice of setting up images were not unlike the way we revere national flags, which are symbols of the jurisdiction of the power and authority of the nation. While it is true that in the ancient world, the images as symbols of power and authority often came to be valued as idols that actually possessed some form of divine power, this does not seem always to have been the original intent.
Since this is how images of gods functioned in ancient times, then to say that the human couple was made in the ‘image of God’ is to say that they were meant to represent where and how God exercised power and authority. (To think of ‘image of God’ as the soul is a much latter Greek concept.) Though they were not themselves divine, there was always the great temptation, as was the case with material images of gods, to begin to think of themselves as somehow divine. In fact, Genesis 3 tells us that this was precisely the sin of the first couple. They were not satisfied being ‘image of God,’ following God’s directives and representing where and how God is sovereign. In the narrative, the serpent argued: “God knows well that the moment you eat of it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (v.5). In other words, being ‘image of God’ was not enough for the human couple when they might have the opportunity of being like gods. The serpent suggested something very attractive, and the couple chose to follow that attraction. This sin was certainly one of disobedience. However, the underlying reason for the disobedience was hubris, which is understood to be excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods.
A passage from the book of the prophet Ezekiel condemns the same kind of hubris. There we read that the prophet reinterpreted elements of Genesis’ story of sin in his condemnation of the prince of the ancient Phoenician city Tyre. The prince’s successes in trading led him to think too highly of himself. This excessive pride resulted in violence and exploitation:
Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, "I am a god!
I sit on a god's throne in the heart of the sea!"
But you are a man, not a god;
yet you pretend you are a god at heart!
His hubris led to his downfall:
Then, face to face with your killers,
will you still say, "I am a god"?
No, you are a man, not a god,
handed over to those who slay you.
When we read this first creation account in this way, we discover that human beings are not autonomous sovereigns of the natural world who were granted a license to exploit the earth or tyrannize other creatures, as a literal reading has sometimes claimed. Instead, they were issued a mandate which included serious responsibility for the world of which they were a part, and accountability to the creator for the governance of that world. This way of reading the creation narrative challenges any kind of tyrannical, distorted, or misguided anthropocentrism. Ignorance of or unwillingness to acknowledge the limitations of human governance over the natural world may be at the heart of much of the arrogance many people exhibit today in their attitudes toward the rest of creation. Many still want to "be like God," boasting unconditional authority and unlimited control over other people and over the rest of nature. Temptation to hubris is ever present.
This year is the first year that Fond du Lac City Council has approved the opportunity for residents to participate in “No Mow May.” The trend began in the UK and has been gaining traction in Wisconsin over the past few years as a way to begin a journey toward more biodiversity in lawns. CSA’s property has large pockets of land that provide habitat and food to pollinators, so not mowing the turf grass was not expected to provide many additional benefits. The grass in itself does not support biodiversity, it is the flowering plants within it that are of use to early spring pollinators. For homeowners who spray their lawns to remove any broadleaf plants, no mow May provides no benefit to pollinators, since there is no food for them in the turfgrass. Large sections of the area closest to the motherhouse are uniform turfgrass and are usually mowed throughout the year. However, there was a desire to show support for the movement and provide a visual cue of that support. With that in mind, three sections of the lawn areas were designated as “no mow” sites for the month of May, while the other lawn areas were mowed as usual.
On March 12, a staff member spotted something new in one of the three sections. A pink blossom sitting atop tall stems poking out of a rosette of green leaves: a Shootingstar. Shootingstar plants are spring ephemeral plants native to Wisconsin, meaning they bloom very briefly in the spring before losing their blossoms and going dormant for the summer with only the broad leaves remaining. These plants are part of the Dodecatheon family and are called Shootingstars because of the shape of their flowers. While they do not provide food (nectar) for visiting queen bees, they do provide pollen which is used to feed their larvae, ultimately ensuring the survival of their nest. Pollen collection on these plants is a site to see and hear! Because of the shape of the blossoms, bees collect the pollen through a process called “Buzz Pollination.” They push their bodies against the tip of the flower and vibrate their wings to shake the pollen out of the narrow tube. This same process is vital for pollinating the tomatoes and blueberries we eat later in the summer.
As the week progressed, many more individual plants came into bloom, which would never have happened if the lawn area had been mowed. The plants that have been discovered will be transplanted to areas where they won’t be in danger of mowing in future years and will be sure to feed just-awoken queen bees for years to come. A wonderful No Mow May success story!
In March, the Fond du Lac City Council approved a No Mow May pilot program. The initiative behind the program is to allow flowers (yes, even dandelions!) to grow, and increase the habitat for bees and other pollinators.City residents will be allowed to let their grass lawn grow during the month of May 2023, without being in violation of City Ordinance 476.10, which limits the height of grass to six inches.
No Mow May was first popularized in the United Kingdom but is now gaining traction across North America. In 2020, residents of Appleton, Wisconsin, an affiliate of Bee City USA, became energized about No Mow May and they convinced their City Council to suspend their weed ordinance for the month of May. Over 435 registered property owners participated that year. Empowered by their success in 2020, the Appleton Bee City committee spread the word and attracted even more participants in 2021, and in 2022 it spread to communities across the country.
Lawns cover 40 million acres, or 2%, of land in the US, making them the single largest irrigated crop we grow. Lawns are mowed, raked, fertilized, weeded, chemically treated, and watered—sucking up time, money, and other resources. Lawns provide little benefit to wildlife and are often harmful. Grass-only lawns lack floral resources and nesting sites for bees and are often treated with pesticides that harm bees and other invertebrates. How does the fate of bees affect us? Watch this video.
If you live in the city of Fond du Lac, you are being asked to register your participation in “No Mow May” by using this link. You are also encouraged to display a sign to promote the initiative (and let your neighbors know what you’re up to!).
The CSA Motherhouse Grounds has several large biodiversity pockets within its 237-acre property that make “No Mow May” less necessary here, but several Sisters and Associates are proudly welcoming pollinators to their yards with signs like these:
Remember, No Mow May is a great starting point for welcoming biodiversity to your little patch of Earth, but it isn’t magic and definitely can’t be a stopping point for action. Sign up to tour our conservation easement to learn more about future steps you can take, too!
Laudato Si’ Week 2023 will be celebrated May 21-28 with the film “The Letter” to mark the eighth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on care for creation. It is a global celebration to rejoice in the progress we have made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life, and to show how the protagonists of “The Letter” are already doing so.
A film screening of “The Letter” was shown during CSA’s Earth Day Fair on April 22 this year. Inspired by this, a fair exhibitor also hosted a screening at her local church a week later! During Laudato Si’ week, more people are encouraged to host a screening event, watch the movie, or host other events. More details can be found here: https://laudatosiweek.org/
Chelsea Koenigs, CSA Motherhouse Receptionist, Social Media Specialist and Laudato Si’ animator since Spring 2022, is creating a series of social media posts for Laudato Si’ Week, May 21-28, where she will highlight one of each of the seven goals daily and share specific actions taken by members of the CSA community that support these goals. Find CSA on any of our social media platforms (see the links at the very bottom of this website) to follow along.
In early 2023, CSA joined local groups to include the Fond du Lac Audubon Society, Fond du Lac Master Gardener Association, Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum, Sustain Fond du Lac, and Pilgrim United Church of Christ in promoting and taking orders for home compost bins. Over 50 bins were purchased in the Fond du Lac community, including orders from CSA Sisters, Associates, and the Motherhouse.
Cutting down food waste and introducing composting is one of CSA’s goals in our year 2 plan of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. In a report by Feeding America, it is estimated that nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted, 119 billion pounds each year. The other side of this travesty is that food waste also exacerbates the climate crisis. Food in landfills generates significant greenhouse (methane) gas emissions. Landfills also waste land, water, and harm biodiversity.
While composting can seem intimidating for the beginner, there are plenty of online resources to help one get started. In Wisconsin, we have found Recycling Connections to be helpful and they offered a Spring Backyard Composting webinar that can be found on their YouTube channel.
We can also learn from each other. Sisters Pat Hayes and Marilyn Ellickson live at the Leo House in New York, where they have been composting organic materials for the past ten years. Fresh coffee, fruit, and eggs are some of the foods served each day at breakfast to guests and in turn the egg shells, coffee grounds, and melon rinds are the materials that get composted. Marilyn shares, “they are packed in bio-degradable bags, then wheeled each Wednesday morning to a neighborhood collection site. The East Side Ecology Center sub-contracts with the NY Sanitation Department to manage the site and to haul the collected organics to a designated site where they are transposed back into black soil. The new soil is distributed to city parks, used for tree maintenance, and used to grow the floral displays decorating the city streets.”
Shown in the photo (below) is Sister Marilyn Ellickson and to her right is the composting container used in the CSA household. It is a lidded Tupperware dish, lined with a bio-degradable bag, and is easily stored beneath their sink. When full, the bag is tied shut and placed into the large Leo House bin stored out in the alley until its weekly removal.
Goal #3 of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform (Ecological Economics) includes a call for us to focus on the impact the production and distribution of goods and services have on people and planet (now and in the future) and to reflect that concern in our purchasing decisions. It challenges us to examine our own levels of consumption and waste, serving as a profound reminder of “the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers” (LS 206). As both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict have reminded us, “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act.” Click here to learn more and explore actions you can take to practice responsible purchasing and support ecological economics.
Watch and share this music video, “Granddaughter’s Eyes”, which is a powerful call to action on climate change. Through evocative storytelling, the song urges us to see the world through the eyes of future generations and inspires us to make small changes in our daily lives to preserve the planet for posterity.
Ahead of Earth Day, April 22, 2023, 31 faith-based organizations announced they are ending financial investments in fossil fuels for the sake of the planet and the people and creatures who call it home. Read more about the Earth Day announcement here.
In a follow-up editorial by NCR staff on May 2nd, it was noted that this brought the total number of Catholic archdioceses and dioceses worldwide that have announced plans to stop investing in coal, oil, and gas to 65, according to data on the Laudato Si' Movement website. “Notably absent from the tally is the nation currently ranked second in annual carbon dioxide emissions, and that holds the title of greatest emitter of all time—the United States of America," they write. Read more of this NCR editorial here.
What is divestment and why should we divest in fossil fuels? Learn more here, including stories of Catholic institutions that have divested.
The second Saturday of May is World Migratory Bird Day in Canada and the US. The day is marked on October 14, the second Saturday of October, in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. The two days reflect the cyclical nature of bird migration. The theme in 2023 is “Water: Sustaining Bird Life” and focuses attention on how the increasing human demand for water, pollution and climate change, are impacting the availability of clean water and the conservation status of many migratory birds. Learn more at World Migratory Bird Day in the Americas
In Fond du Lac, we'll be celebrating on May 6. Visitors are welcome to join a bird walk in CSA's oak savannah at 10 a.m. Details and additional events can be found on the Fond du Lac Bird City Facebook page.
On March 30, 2023, UNANIMA International (UI) and other faith actors that had previously collaborated during COP27 (in Egypt last November), co-sponsored a climate action webinar called, “Last Call to Achieve Climate Targets.” The webinar provided an assessment of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
That webinar recording can be found here.
A Catholic Actors’ Statement on Climate Change from the assessment of the IPCC AR6 Synthesis report was also created, encouraging congregations and other Catholic groups in environmental advocacy to sign-on. On April 3, 2023, the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes CSA) joined these efforts and signed on to this statement, which will be disseminated among the National Delegates working at the UN in New York City.
You can read the read and sign the statement here.
Additional background: Seven Climate Summits (COPs) have passed since the Paris Agreement and little progress has been made in terms of climate change mitigation. Science has spoken once more in its latest IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report (SR6), Climate Change 2023: "Net zero CO2 energy systems entail: a substantial reduction in overall fossil fuel use, minimal use of unabated fossil fuels, and use of carbon capture and storage in the remaining fossil fuel systems; electricity systems that emit no net CO2".