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Today is Terra Madre Day

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Right now, 1119 Terra Madre Days are being held in every corner of the world, in 124 different countries, all organized by the Slow Food and Terra Madre network. From New Zealand to the Americas, Slow Food members, Presidium producers, food communities, cooks, academics, young people and musicians have united in a collective global celebration of local food that’s good, clean and fair. This year confirms the success of the first edition in 2009, held on Slow Food’s 20th birthday, when 1,028 Terra Madre Days were held in 118 countries.

The objective of this year’s Terra Madre Day is to collect funds to finance the creation of a thousand vegetable gardens in Africa: in schools, in villages, on the outskirts of cities. The Terra Madre gardens will be run by the communities, planted with local varieties and cultivated using sustainable techniques. The idea is not new, but comes from many agricultural and educational projects already ongoing in Kenya, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania.

For more information, see Terra Madre Day on the Slow Food Movement Web site.

Fr. Charles Morris: Song of praise to the Creator

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Inspired by Tobit 13 (Blessed be God who lives forever...")

O Most blessed One!
Before the first spark of the Big Bang
You are there!

In the smallest quark and meson
You are there!

In the singing of the string to the 10th dimension
and in multiverses beyond imagining
You are there!

Behind the mysterious flow of dark energy and dark matter,
in the dance of nebulae and in the power of pulsars
You are there!

You are there when the earth was a boiling cauldron yet
You are also there when the first single celled amoeba were formed from the ocean's soup of amino acids.

You have been there throughout this great cosmic dance
-- both the without and the within of things!

You are there when the first primate's gaze heavenward brought the birth of wonder and when the first tools were forged and the fire found.

You are the Mystery beyond thought! You are the spark of artistic creativity. You are the Tao, the Spirit, Prana, the One beyond all names
Who Is love's face incarnate!

In the face of fear and separation

Gift endows interdisciplinary studies of theology and the environment at Yale

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The following is a press release.

NEW HAVEN, CT -A gift pledge of $3 million will endow a joint senior faculty appointment between Yale Divinity School/Berkeley Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in honor of H. Boone Porter, a Berkeley and Yale graduate, and his wife, Violet M. Porter.

The endowment promises to substantially enhance the interdisciplinary study of theology and the environment that has taken hold at Yale in recent years, culminating in the establishment of a joint degree program. The gift, finalized on Nov. 29, comes from the children of the Porters through the Porter Foundation. Boone Porter, who died in 1999, was a scholar, priest, writer, and environmentalist, and both he and his wife had a particularly significant impact on the life of the Episcopal Church.

Doing grace at meals instead of just saying it

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Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy once said: “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.” He was convinced there was a link between a carnivorous diet and peace. He told this story:

“Once, when walking from Moscow, I was offered a lift by some carters who were going to a neighboring forest to fetch wood. I was seated in the first cart with a strong, red, coarse cartman, who evidently drank. On entering a village we saw a naked, pink pig being dragged out of the yard to be slaughtered. It squealed in a dreadful voice, resembling the shriek of a man. Just as we were passing they began to kill it, gashing its throat with a knife.

“The pig squealed still more piercingly, broke away from the men, and ran off covered with blood. I did not see all the details, only the human-looking pink body of the pig and heard its desperate squeal, but the carter watched closely. They caught the pig and finished cutting its throat. When its squeals ceased the carter sighed heavily. ‘Do men really not have to answer for such things?’ he said.

Mexico climate talks reach the final day

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The world’s environment representatives worked through the night Thursday at the U.N. climate change summit in Mexico as they raced to overcome deep divides by the end of Friday over how to tackle the growing threat of global warming.

Ministers reported progress on many new mitigation and support mechanisms to help poor countries deal with global warming but by contrast much less success on how to cooperate on cutting global greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Time is running out, and we still have much work ahead of us,” said Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, who is chairing the Cancun summit. But she added, “A broad and balanced package of decisions is indeed within our grasp.” Chairs of various working groups reported a “consensus” on initiatives that would help poor countries adapt to climate change, and “convergence” on the creation of a global climate fund to channel money from wealthy to poor countries. Deals were less certain on protecting forests and improving technology cooperation.

Brazilian bishop wins the Right Livelihood Award

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On Dec. 6 Bishop Erwin Kräutler received the Right Livelihood Award, often referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize. The International Rivers blog reports on his award and the work he has done to oppose the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in the Amazon.

Austrian-born Bishop Erwin Krautler was one of four recipients of the Right Livelihood Award. He is the bishop of Xingu and oversees the largest diocese in Brazil, encompassing about 142,000 square miles (367,780 sq. kilometres) with vast swaths of jungle. He was chosen "for a lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and for his tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction," according to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

Fr. Sean McDonagh: Worldwide climate migration

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Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh is an ecologist, theologian and author. He writes and lectures on the relationship between faith, justice and ecology. He became involved in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation during his missionary years in the Philippines.

Even though the displacement of people, often on a permanent basis, always appears on any list of the consequences of climate change, little has been done to address their plight. The first assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR1), stated that the single greatest impact of climate change may well be the mass migration of humans, a phenomenon which is now being called –“climigration.”

Four spiritual ways to reduce stress

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I look out my window and see the squirrels bustle and the leaves fall, but I don’t see stress in the natural world. The energy there is calm and pure. How did we go so astray? Author Wayne Dyer says stress is just another word for fear. So perhaps the solution to reducing stress lies in less fear and learning from creation. Here are a few suggestions for doing that.

Meditate regularly. I have been meditating for years and I am convinced that it is the key to all of our ills. How does it reduce stress? By allowing us the space to sit quietly in God’s presence, focus on our breathing or a word/phrase, and observe and let go of our thoughts. Whatever we focus on, increases, and whatever we don’t focus on, decreases. So in meditation, we center on God, trust, peacefulness, openness, and the moment. We let go of obsessive thoughts and worry, the imperfect past, and the fearful future. We make room for the innate peace and perfection of the Holy Spirit within to emerge.

Excerpt from Wes Jackson's new book, Consulting the Genius of the Place

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The following excerpt is from Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, by Wes Jackson, published by Counterpoint Books.

We learned from a study by a graduate student named William Noll at the University of Nebraska. In the 1930s he did a master's thesis that compared a never-plowed native prairie with an adjacent wheat field on common soil. He looked at several things, but the water part of it was particularly interesting.

The native prairie allocated the rain water over the course of the year - what turned out to be the driest year on record. Even though there were plants that died, essentially all the perennial species survived. In contrast, the adjacent wheat field completely died. The prairie is a "system" that has evolved to receive and allocate water over the course of a year - it uses a natural water conservation program.

Book review: Consulting the Genius of the Place, by Wes Jackson

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CONSULTING THE GENIUS OF THE PLACE
AN ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO A NEW AGRICULTURE
By Wes Jackson
Published by Counterpoint Books, $26

Wes Jackson, founder of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has been a leading voice of the agrarian movement over the last four decades. The themes of place, biodiversity and the virtues of perennial plants that have figured in his previous books converge in Jackson’s thorough argument for a new approach to agriculture that is dictated not by market economies or agribusiness but rather by the land and ecology of a given place.

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August 15-28, 2014

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