Nalini Nadkarni’s “Trees and Spirituality” sermon allows parishioners to connect with the natural world

Trees&SpiritualityBookCoverOn Sunday, September 22nd, Nalini Nadkarni gave a sermon on “Trees and Spirituality” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Salt Lake City. The Reverend Tom Goldsmith shared his pulpit for twenty-five minutes to present this interfaith talk about the many connections that exist between trees/forests and spirituality/religions of the world.

Along with several students from The University of Utah, Dr. Nadkarni also produced a small booklet that maps and documents (with both scientific and spiritual materials) all of the trees that grow on the grounds of this church. After the services, congregants went outside with a copy of this booklet and learned about the trees that are protected on their sacred ground.

Dr. Nadkarni has plans to produce similar booklets for other places of worship, which would create the potential for a “tree tour of churches” in which congregations visit and learn about trees at other churches and churches that have other trees.

You can read more about the project here and download the booklet here.

Guide to Environmental Justice at ESA 2013


Below is a list of events at the 98th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America that involve environmental justice…

Environmental Justice section events:

ESA Applied Ecology, Agroecology, Urban Ecosystems, Human Ecology, and Environmental Justice Joint Mixer
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM
200D, Minneapolis Convention Center

ESA Environmental Justice Business Meeting
Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:15 PM
Director’s 4, Hilton Minneapolis
All are welcome to share ideas and get involved in section activities!

Workshops and Special Sessions:

SS 4: Generating a Historical Time Line of ‘Earth Stewards’ to Inspire Our Future
Monday, August 5, 2013: 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
101E, Minneapolis Convention Center
Organizer: Robert A. Dyball

WK 41: Developing Action Plans for Incorporating Environmental Justice (EJ) in Ecological Research and Education: Learning from Diverse EJ Practitioners How to Shape Future Community Sustainability
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
L100B, Minneapolis Convention Center
Organizer: Carmen R. Cid

WK 51: Launching A Scientists’ Speakers Bureau for Outreach to Faith and Justice Communities
Thursday, August 8, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:15 PM
Director’s 2, Hilton Minneapolis
Organizer: Gregory E. Hitzhusen

Fostering Community-Ecologist Partnerships for Environmental Justice
Friday, August 9, 2013: 12:00 PM-5:00 PM
University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. North, Minneapolis, MN
Organizer: Megan Gregory

Symposia and Organized Oral Sessions:

OOS 7: Doing Justice Through Your Research: Following Your Passion and Creating a Just Society as an Ecologist
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
101B, Minneapolis Convention Center
Organizer: Leanne M. Jablonski

SYMP 13: Can Ethics and Justice Pave a Sustainable Pathway for Human Ecosystems?
Wednesday, August 7, 2013: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
M100EF, Minneapolis Convention Center
Organizer: Mimi E. Lam

Other Talks:

COS 49-10: The University of St. Thomas Stewardship Garden: Combining biodiversity research and community service in an urban agriculture setting
Tuesday, August 6, 2013: 4:40 PM
M101A, Minneapolis Convention Center
Ashela A. Richardson, Biology, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN
Quinn A. Wrenholt, Biology, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN
Adam D. Kay, Biology, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN

IGN 9-7: Urban Climate and Social Inequities
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
101H, Minneapolis Convention Center
William G. Wilson, Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC

ESA MN 2013 workshop: Fostering Community-Ecologist Partnerships for Environmental Justice

“Fostering Community-Ecologist Partnerships for Environmental Justice”

Friday, August 9     ●     12 – 5 pm (lunch available at 11:30 am)    

University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. North, Minneapolis, MN

Do you work with a community-based organization focusing on environmental justice issues in the Minneapolis, MN area?  Would you like to share the story of one of your projects, learn from other organizations doing similar work, and strengthen partnerships with ecologists? 

If so, please contact us to learn more about participating in this workshop on “Fostering Community-Ecologist Partnerships for Environmental Justice,” to be held on Friday, August 9 from 12-5 pm in Minneapolis, MN.


One of the goals of the Environmental Justice Section of the Ecological Society of America is to promote partnerships between community organizations and ecologists that contribute to healthy, sustainable communities.  In 2013, we received a planning grant from the ESA Governing Board to support a workshop, “Fostering Community-Ecologist Partnerships for Environmental Justice” following ESA’s 2013 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.  This workshop will engage EJ organizations and ESA members in sharing, learning from, and supporting community-led EJ work that includes research and education partnerships with ecologists.

 Workshop Goals:

  • Share and learn from stories of community-ecologist partnerships: We will provide a forum for EJ organizations to share stories of specific projects involving community-based ecological research.  From these, we will identify lessons and further work to enhance community-ecologist partnerships.
  • Lay the foundation for a community of practice (CoP): We will explore the potential for an ongoing CoP dedicated to supporting and enhancing community-ecologist partnerships for EJ.  We will consider:
    • Structures and technologies for ongoing communication
    • Potential functions and activities of a CoP
  • Outline resources we could develop to provide guidance to community organizations and ecologists seeking to collaborate.  We will consider:
    • A guidebook/summary of best practices
    • A collection of multimedia practice stories
    • An annotated guide to resources on community-ecologist partnerships and participatory research in general.

Workshop Approach & Agenda: Sharing and learning from practice stories

  • We will develop the final workshop agenda in collaboration with participating community organizations, but our tentative plan is to begin with each organization sharing the story of a specific project involving community-based ecological research.  Each organization is encouraged to be creative in choosing the format and media that best portrays your hopes, activities, successes, and struggles in a specific effort.
  • We will use these stories as a starting point for discussing the types of relationships and resources that would support useful research and education partnerships with ecologists – and then lay the foundation for creating those relationships and resources together.

Faith Community Outreach: Reverend Bob Murphy

“If you want environmental peace, work for environmental justice.”

Bob-Murphy-newRev. Bob Murphy uses these words to explain his environmental justice ministry. During the 1990s, Rev. Murphy was a circuit rider on the coast of North Carolina. He served as a Red Cross volunteer during six hurricanes. He worked with the NAACP and migrant farm workers.

In the year 2000, Murphy moved to the coast of Massachusetts to continue his ministry. He serves as the pastor for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowswhip of Falmouth, Massachusetts, and he’s active in a variety of projects and programs that bring social justice and environmental protection concerns together. In 2011, he received a Special Service Award from the national Sierra Club. This year, we was honored for his Red Cross work on Cape Cod. Murphy is active in the environmental justice movement in New England. He was an organizer for the first New England summit meeting on environmental justice in 2012.

“It’s difficult to talk about global warming, or about polar bears, when a family is worried about paying for food and energy-efficient housing,” notes Murphy. “On Cape Cod, advocates for environmental justice start with immediate problems and we give a lot of attention to low-income people.”

Murphy’s Cape Cod congregation focuses its attention on three areas of special concern. With energy issues, the congregation emphasizes the importance of energy justice. The goal is to provide all families with an adequate source of energy that is safe, affordable and sustainable. In responding to climate change, the first concern is health and safety. Church volunteers train with organizations like the Red Cross and the Medical Reserve Corps. The Falmouth fellowship supports local food production that is safe and sustainable. Fresh produce is raised for community food pantries. In the fall, the congregation sponsors its annual Rachel Carson Harvest Dinner, to celebrate organic gardening and to raise money to help feed the hungry.

ESA MN 2013 workshop: Launching a Scientists’ Speakers Bureau

During the ESA annual meeting in Minneapolis, this workshop will enable ESA to move forward with a scientists’ speakers bureau for Earth stewardship outreach in faith communities. An excellent line-up of ESAmnspeakers includes:

Matthew Anderson, Executive Director of Audubon MN, former Executive Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment; Nalini Nadkarni, University of Utah; Dorothy Boorse, Gordon College; Doug Boucher, Union of Concerned Scientists; Rick Hammer, Hardin-Simmons University; Greg Hitzhusen, Ohio State University and Ohio Interfaith Power and Light; Leanne Jablonski, University of Dayton and Marianist Environmental Education Center; Terry Chapin, Past President, ESA

Workshop Description:

Workshop 8941: Launching A Scientists’ Speakers Bureau for Outreach to Faith and Justice Communities

Time: Thursday, August 8, 2013: 11:30 AM-1:15 PM

Place: Director’s 2, Hilton Minneapolis

Description: This session builds on previous ESA annual meeting sessions to advance the implementation of a national speakers bureau in partnership with national faith bodies and community-based justice organizations. With 83% of the American public (including 71% of ESA members surveyed) claiming membership in over 300,000 congregations, religious organizations and their partners are uniquely positioned to engage citizens in ecological issues. Developing ecologically fruitful collaboration between scientists and these communities can help bridge historic divides and provide sound science to shape sustainable ecosystem futures. Over the past year, participants from 2011 and 2012 ESA meeting speakers bureau workshops have piloted diverse outreach efforts to faith communities nationwide, tracked their impact, and shared outcomes through ongoing networking conference calls and webinars. We will review the successes and challenges of ESA members’ outreach to date, highlight the analysis of these outreach approaches, and summarize the commitments of partner organizations to help formally launch the speakers bureau. We will also address remaining issues related to implementing the speakers bureau, and discuss and formulate recommendations for ESA and our partners. Speakers from partner organizations (e.g. Interfaith Power and Light, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists) will highlight collaborators’ perspectives in this emerging dialogue between ecologists and a range of communities, and describe key examples of outreach that can be replicated. All ESA attendees interested in outreach to faith and justice communities are encouraged to participate, add to the discussion, or learn how to get involved in similar outreach.

Summary: Organizing session and overview of successful pilot projects as we implement a speakers bureau to provide sound science and timely ecological information to local communities and influential social organizations, including faith and EJ-impacted communities. Contribute to the speakers network as we discuss outreach results, and finalize recommendations for national launch.

Speakers Bureau Webinar (March 2013)

Ecological Society of AmericaJoin us for a webinar on Mar 26, 2013 at noon EDT.Register now! interested in doing Earth stewardship outreach to faith communities are welcome to join this webinar to continue discussion and sharing of resources leading to the creation of a national scientists’ speakers bureau for Earth stewardship outreach to faith communities. Cassandra Carmichael, National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs Director, and Alexei Laushkin, Evangelical Environmental Network Sr. Communications Director, will share strategies and resources for successful outreach; Dr. Rick Hammer will report on outreach in his Baptist church in Texas; Rev. Bob Murphy of Cape Cod will report on faith-based public health and safety efforts related to climate change. For more information, visit:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

View System Requirements

Resources and Documents that may be referred to in the webinar:

Dr. Rick Hammer article on biodiversity from a Biblical perspective, published in the Baptist Standard, TX

Sun Come Up (climate change documentary from Catholic Climate Coalition) Youth Education Packet

Speakers will include Cassandra Carmichael (National Council of Churches EcoJustice Programs Director, hosting), and Alexei Laushkin (Evangelical Environmental Network, Sr. Communications Director)

As always, we invite contributions from anyone on the speakers bureau list, especially to report on ecology/science outreach work you have been doing in faith communities, and to raise current questions.

We will also be looking forward to summarizing all our efforts at ESA MN in August — the 8/8/13, 11:30am workshop description is found here, and you can click here for the Survey Monkey link to record your outreach experiences — and taking next steps to implement the speakers bureau.  Thanks for all your efforts, and we’re looking forward to connecting again on March 26!

Best wishes,

Greg Hitzhusen

Speakers Bureau Conference Call (November 2012)


Some files for use in Thursday’s call:

PresbyEcoStewardsMGregory (Megan’s powerpoint)

GreenFaithYouthPoemDoll (Julie’s slide)

also note other resources at:

Call 1:  Thursday, November 15, 2012, 8:00-9:30pm Eastern 
Call 2: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Noon-1:30pm Eastern (webinar)


8:00pm-9:30pm* eastern, Thursday, Nov. 15

1) Welcome, Updates and Announcements

2) Outreach reports

-Julie Doll (Michigan State), Michigan youth outreach

-Joseph Leyda (Leyda Consulting), approaching congregations as an outsider

-open to others

3) Resources and Connections to help speakers find faith communities interested in outreach

-Megan Gregory (Cornell) Presbyterian Earth Care Congregations program

-Bill Bradlee (Interfaith Power and Light, State Affiliate Coordinator) and/or Susan Stephenson (Executive Director), how to connect with IPL networks

-Alexei Laushkin (Sr. Communications Director, Evangelical Environmental Network), connecting with evangelical congregations

-open to others

4) Further Resources and Support

-open discussion to propose outreach resources to feature in February’s follow-up webinar, and for general posting at

-Leanne Jablonski (U Dayton, Marianist Environmental Ed Center), use of Sun Come Up video in Catholic and other communities

5) Evaluation Measures and Next Steps

-open discussion about how best to track and evaluate the outreach we’re piloting this year, summarize it during an ESA MN 2013 workshop, and make recommendations for implementing the speakers bureau

*note: some of you can only make the call until 9pm Eastern, and that is fine – for those who can only join late in the call, we’ll make room to add your comments

Other reports:

From Meg Lowman: sorry I can not be on this call! Of note, I just returned from speaking to Coptic priests in Ethiopia, and will be leading a workshop for them on Ecosystem Services this janauary. And I continue to lecture to USA venues — information on my website about the project of religion and science at

From Dorothy Boorse: I am in on two things that might be of interest to the group. The first is an initiative of the LauSanne movement (a largely evangelical Christian but worldwide, not just American) and World Evangelical Alliance (also worldwide) , who called a meeting of scientists and theologians two weeks ago to draft a statement on care of the environment and climate change- in the hopes that this will serve as another key document in the Christian faith community- it is a call for action .

Here is a press release, although I think the call to action is still not released

The second is that the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists, a small group that was basically formed when there were so many threats to the endangered species act a decade ago, is getting more active.  There will be some things coming out of that soon. They might have an interest in partnering.

From Rick Hammer: I thought I would briefly report back with some of the outreach work I have been engaged in and what’s on the horizon. First, I am a member of a moderate Baptist church with a membership of about 1900 here in Texas.  I had lunch with my pastor last week to discuss the possibility of me leading and teaching a Sunday evening course on Christian environmental stewardship. He was enthusiastic and the plan is to get this class started this fall. I may have the chance to speak to the entire congregation on a Sunday morning as well. For the class I plan to use Calvin DeWitt’s ‘ Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care.’ In my writing and teaching I try to bring the perspective of a biologist with an emphasis on what biodiversity is and why it’s important.  I have written a short essay about biodiversity from a Christian Biblical perspective and had this published in the Baptist Standard, which is a biweekly publication for all Texas Baptists.