Responding faithfully to the ongoing climate emergency means making connections between the multiple challenges we face – in health, the economy, racial justice, water and air pollution – and how we feed and power ourselves and how we treat the ground we walk on and the land where we build our houses of worship.
We invite you to explore a few of these connections as we observe Earth Month and Faith Climate Action Week. Please join us for a series of three free webinars in April around the intersecting themes of climate, land, agriculture, health, public policy, and faith.
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There is no cost for these webinars, but if you value events like this, we welcome your financial contributions to WIP&L so that we can continue to offer them. If you wish to donate, please mail a check to: Wisconsin Interfaith Power & Light, 30 West Mifflin St., Suite 602, Madison WI 53603, or visit our website to donate via Paypal.
About the Workshop Topics and Speakers
April 6: Congregations, Land and Climate
Faith Climate Action Week (FCAW), a program of Interfaith Power and Light, is ten days in April during Earth Month when congregations across the U.S. focus on how we can all take action to protect our climate. The theme of this year’s Faith Climate Action Week (April 16-25, 2021) is “Sacred Ground: Cultivating Connections Between our Faith, our Food, and the Climate.” Faith leaders can give sermons or talks on the theme of food, faith and climate. You can organize a screening of the featured film, Kiss the Ground, and use questions from the screening kit to hold a congregational discussion around regenerative agriculture’s potential to supply food while stabilizing climate and restoring ecosystems, and join the national IPL webinar on the film. Congregants can take part in the IPL National Earth Day Climate Prayer. These activities and more are in the FCAW kit which you can download to plan action with your congregation.
Presenter: Sarah Paulos is the Community Engagement and Programs Manager for Interfaith Power & Light. Prior to IPL Sarah served for twelve years as the Program and Outreach Coordinator for Iowa IPL training green teams in Iowa and sixteen other states to conduct the Cool Congregations program, which she created for her home congregation. She has developed additional educational programs including Food, Faith, Climate: Connecting the Dots, The Good Life Redefined addressing how our “stuff” contributes to climate change, Faith for Energy Equity on environmental justice, and Common Good, on advocacy.
Terra Theim will present her guide for communal gardens – group gardening with a purpose. Leaning on her years helping launch and run the food pantry garden at Madison Christian Community, Terra will provide necessary steps and tips that any group can use to get a communal garden up and running. While every group and garden site is unique, some elements of a communal garden are universal and Terra will give insights on what your team needs to build a successful communal garden.
Presenter: Terra Theim, PhD, has been gardening for as long as she can remember. Terra was so interested in plants, she pursued her doctorate in botany, focusing on evolutionary ecology in tropical forests. Back home in Wisconsin, Terra spent over a decade teaching plant and environmental science at Edgewood College and now works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a graduate program coordinator. She has been fortunate enough to help the Madison Christian Community Garden grow and develop into a beautiful and productive communal garden serving food pantries in the Madison area.
Learn how the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross (Green Bay Franciscans) are committed to living sustainably. That includes incorporating sustainable features in their grounds and building as well as adding a solar photovoltaic system on their property. Learn how you may be able to incorporate more sustainable features, including solar, in your congregational Sacred Space.
Presenter: Sister Rose Jochman is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross, Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is currently Chairperson of her order’s Sustainability Committee. She was formerly a grade schoolteacher for 18 years, primarily teaching math and science. She has served on their Leadership Team and on the Building Committee for a new Motherhouse.
Public health physicians say that climate change is the greatest public health threat of this century. Unless emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants are drastically decreased, there will be reduced agricultural and seafood harvests, problems obtaining fresh water, heat waves causing hyperthermia and kidney disease, greater range of some infectious diseases, and more droughts and floods. Using renewable energy to replace fossil fuels helps everyone alive now and protects future generations.
Presenter: Bruce Krawisz, M.D., is Emeritus Researcher, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. He is a graduate of Mayo Medical School (Rochester, MN) and has done postgraduate work at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and Washington University (St. Louis). He is Board Certified in Anatomic Pathology and Molecular Genetic Pathology, and has served as pathologist and Clinical Laboratory Director for the Marshfield Health System. He is the author of “The Climate Crisis Is a Public Health Crisis” in Sojourners Magazine, August 12, 2019. and has an online video on climate change and health.
How can we make Wisconsin’s communities more resilient and help ecosystems thrive on a changing planet? The recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change views the challenges of climate disruption with an intersectional and environmental justice lens. The Task Force’s proposals prioritize impacted communities and look to communities of color and indigenous communities for leadership and solutions. This is sacred work for both people and the planet that requires us to make connections between our land, our water, our food, our recreation, and our communities. Governor Evers has incorporated many of the Task Force recommendations into his proposed budget. How can we carry this movement forward?
Presenter: Kirsten Shead was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change in 2019. She is the Co-Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons, a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our common waters. She has an unwavering commitment to social justice, environmental stewardship and the Milwaukee community at large.
How we choose to generate electricity has consequences that reach far beyond the return on shareholder investment, affecting everything from public health to a stable climate. When air, water, and soil are polluted, health and life are put at risk. The Clean Power Coalition (CPC) is calling for We Energies to phase out its use of coal, specifically at the Oak Creek power plant, in favor of clean energy. This workshop will describe actions taken by the CPC over the past three years in an effort to get the plant shut down and offer suggestions on what people might do to help with those efforts.
Presenters: Janet Weyker is a Racine Dominican Sister. She grew up on a farm in southeast Wisconsin and through the years has been a teacher, school administrator, campus minister, pastoral associate, and was the founding director of the Eco-Justice Center. She served on the Board of WIPL and currently is involved with environmental justice issues through Greening Greater Racine, Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin, Sierra Club, and the Racine Dominican Focus on Earth Committee. John Helt is a retired United Church of Christ pastor who lives in Milwaukee. He is past president of the WIPL board and now serves as co-chair of the Creation Care Team for the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ. He has represented WIPL on the Clean Power Coalition.
With each passing day, our climate challenge becomes more obvious and our window to act smaller, as the imperative to do so only grows. A big component of confronting climate change resides in our food system, which also faces the acute challenge of adapting to the climate impacts we are already experiencing. If we are serious about addressing climate change and realistic about what needs to be done, we have to transform our food system in the years ahead, and consumers and farmers alike have an important part to play in this process.
Scott Laeser is the Water Program Director for Clean Wisconsin, an environmental non profit focused on protecting Wisconsin’s water, air, and natural resources. At Clean Wisconsin, he works with state and local officials, agricultural groups, and other environmental organizations to advance policies to improve water quality in the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams, and improve access to and prevent pollution of Wisconsin’s drinking water. He also runs an organic produce farm in Southwest Wisconsin with his wife Chelsea, where they focus on growing healthy food and managing their farm to protect Wisconsin’s water resources and climate. Laeser has worked on water, agricultural, and climate policy issues for over ten years in both Wisconsin and Washington, DC. He grew up in Wisconsin one block from Lake Michigan and spent countless hours fishing, hunting, and exploring the forests, streams, and lakes that make Wisconsin special.
Two Wisconsin-based faith organizations care deeply about the future of family farming, the link between land and people, fostering sustainable farming methods, bringing food production closer to the people consuming it and finding ways to combat climate change. This workshop will focus on the past and future directions of the Harvest of Hope Fund and the Food, Faith and Farming Network, two organizations with unique, yet compatible missions related to agriculture.
Presenters: Nick Utphall is Pastor of Advent Lutheran Church (part of the ecumenical Madison Christian Community) and serves on the Board of the Food, Faith and Farming Network. Roger Williams is Founder and Chair of the Harvest of Hope Fund and serves as Treasurer and Board member of the Food, Faith and Farming Network (UW-Madison Emeritus Professor).
Dairyland Power Cooperative provides the wholesale power requirements for 24 distribution electric cooperatives. These cooperatives, in turn, supply the energy needs of over 600,000 people in western Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa and northwest Illinois. Solar energy is a key element of Dairyland Power’s transition to a lower carbon future. Dairyland Power is a solar leader in the upper Midwest with 20 solar projects operating around its service area. Many of Dairyland Power’s member cooperatives have piggybacked on to Dairyland Power’s projects with community solar gardens. In addition, there are over 2,700 consumer-owned distributed generation installations in the Dairyland Power service area. Learn how these projects are of value to farmers and rural communities, and for Wisconsin as a whole.
Presenter: Craig Harmes is Manager of Business Development for Dairyland Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission utility. Craig has over 33 years of experience working for electric cooperatives. He directs Dairyland Power’s distributed generation and business development efforts and assists Dairyland Power’s 24 member cooperatives with their renewable energy and economic development programs and activities.