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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

I just thought that this one was funny and that many of you will be able to relate:

"I sometimes think my natural state is juggling, and that I ought to run away and join a circus."

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quote of the Day

"A goal, is something you want and are taking realistic steps to attain.  A fantasy is something you want.  Period.”
Lawrence Block

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quote: Servant leadership is a question of heart

"We have attempted to change leaders from the outside. In recent years we have found that effective leadership is an inside job. It is a question of heart. It's all about leadership character and intention. Why are you leading? Answering this question is so important. You can't fake being a servant leader" (Blanchard, 2007 p258).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote: Learning from experience

"The most powerful learning comes from direct experience. Indeed we learn eating, crawling, walking and communicating through direct trial and error ... But what happens when we can no longer observe the consequences of our actions? What happens if the primary consequences of our actions are in the future or a distant part of the larger system within which we operate? ... When our actions have consequences beyond our learning horizon, it becomes impossible to learn from direct experience."

This is one of the challenges that make it difficult to learn to be more sustainable.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chasing the wrong energy villain

Here we go again – boom and bust in the clean-tech sector. NSW Premier Kristina Keneally declared herself to be judge and jury in the case of rising energy prices and, urged on by a baying mob from the tabloid media and talkback radio, promptly shot the wrong villain.

See full article at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Difference Between Caring And Prioritising

"People care about a lot of things. Family, friends, health, the environment, having fun. If we were to ask just about anyone if they place importance on any one of those things, the answer is likely to be a resounding “yes”. Therefore, when it comes to the environment, it is easy to say “yes, environmental issues are important to me”. And we probably mean it. However, the reason that many voluntary environmental behaviours appear to have such slow uptake, compared to the concern expressed by the public, is that they often require sustainability to be prioritised over some other consideration.
Every decision requires, by definition, some kind of prioritisation process. Do we stay home and study, or go out and party? Do we choose the quick route or the scenic one? Decisions concerning the environment are no different. Do we buy the cheap one or the local one? Do we choose the speed of a car or the eco benefits of the train? The benefits represented by the various choices are all valid to us at some level. Nobody likes to waste time or money. Hence, the futility of gauging the importance of environmental issues by asking people to “rate how concerned you are about the environment”.
Several studies have done just that, and by and large the results show that people do care about the environment. A 2008 McKinsey survey found that “87 percent of consumers worry about the environmental and social impact of the products they buy”. In 2010, the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC) found “80% report that they are actually thinking about environmental issues when shopping”. Taken on their own, these numbers suggest that people are overwhelmingly in support of environmental initiatives. However, when it comes to actually doing something about it, people are reluctant to go out of their way. The McKinsey study found that no more than 33% of the consumers in the survey say they are ready to buy green products or have already done so. In the AFGC research, 13% of shoppers reported that they had purchased a product “just now” because of its environmental features.
So, what goes wrong? What explains the gap between 80%-plus concern and action as low as 13%. The answer could well lie in the realm of priorities and values. Although the AGFC survey found that 80% of people were thinking of green issues, we would probably find at least as many were thinking of price, quality, convenience etc. In other words, thinking about an issue is different to making a decision based on that issue above all others.
The gap between overall concern and priority is demonstrated by the findings of research into Americans views of the top priorities for the federal government. Almost half (44%) of those surveyed believed that environmental protection should be a “top priority” for 2010. However, this ranks the issue as 16th out of 21 issues surveyed, well below the economy, military and terrorism. The issue of global warming came dead last.
So, what do people value? Analysis of 500 responses to the MVQ, a values questionnaire created by Awake, shows that on average people allocate 66 points to the environmental value, out of a potential total of 100 points. This places environment as 19th out of 22 values measured. The top 5 values people report are insight, integrity, independence, family and fairness. So, while people would probably say the environment is important to them, there are 18 other more important things competing for their attention.
Back to the AGFC survey mentioned above. When it comes to prioritising environmental factors, only 14% of respondents said they are willing to compromise on cost, while a mere 6% will compromise on convenience. However you look at it, that makes it a tall order to convince people to pay a bit more for locally sourced, less processed products.
It is for this reason that our job as sustainability promoters is not to get people to care more, it is to get them to act more. It is unlikely that we will have much impact if we set out to change peoples values, by moving environment up the values ranking. For a start, we would have to consider the question of which values would we like to see moved down the priority list. Family? Integrity? It seems more promising to demonstrate how the eco-friendly option can meet the values people do hold strongly, so they are not forced to compromise on things dear to their heart. So it is worth considering, for instance, how can the green option meet the Family value (a cleaner, greener future?), or the Integrity value (match my actions to my environmental concerns?).
The more we can demonstrate to people that green choice will benefit them, not just the environment, the more likely it is that they will be prepared to make it a priority".

"Exercise of the Month – The Art Of Prioritise

We often talk about our intention to make something our priority in the future. Unless we are able to increase the overall time and resources we have available to us, any increase in priority in one area of our lives needs to be accompanied by a reduction in the priority given to another area.
1. List 3 things that you are planning to make a priority in the next 12 month (e.g., getting fit, saving money, getting into nature more)
2. For each of those priorities, what do you need to place a lower priority on? (e.g. Partying, watching TV, working extra hours at the office)
Deciding what we are going to make a priority is only half the job – we also need to be explicit about what we are going to invest less of our personal resources in. Next time you hear someone (especially a politician) talk about making something a priority, try asking them what they are going to de-prioritise!"

Source: Awake
Awake provides psychology-based services to support the development of sustainable behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations. Visit for more info

To find more articles in this blog from Awake click on the 'Behaviour Change for Sustainability' tab.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

A quote from my Sustainable Consumption research:

"if in our personal lives we are unsustainable, then we cannot be resilient as a community or a society,let alone globally. Too many people are under major stress these days, with depression, diabetes, obesity, retrenchment, bankruptcy, rug and alcohol abuse and various forms of rage (air rage, phone rage, road rage etc.) growing exponentially. We also have few positive role models to help us lately. The environment, the actual place within which we live, is itself being degraded and/or changed rapidly too often. These are signs of a socio-ecological system under siege. Many choose denial as well as withdrawal for temporary mental respite, according to ecopyschologists (see Glendinning, 1994). In our separation from nature (and each other), a decline in a more personal and spiritual relationship with the Earth, as well as a loving relationship with others, both of which can nurture us, is occurring (see Glacken, 1967; Hamilton, 2008)."

Source: Hay, Robert (2010) The Relevance of Ecocentrism, Personal Development and Transformational Leadership to Sustainability and Identity, Sustainable Development 18:169.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

A quote from my sustainable consumption research:

"The vulnerability of voluntary changes is a key problem. In the case of both green and ethical consumption, most corporations only responded to public pressure when their reputations or sales were at stake, thanks to activist groups such as Corporate Watch and Ethical Consumer. While consumer demand may be the carrot, it is high-profile and potentially damaging media reports into the less palatable aspects of firms’ activities which provide the very necessary stick to prompt changes in corporate behaviour (Pearson & Seyfang, 2001). Even these voluntary changes are vulnerable to erosion and shifting trends. In the UK, Littlewoods clothing stores were a major participant in the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), but a change of management led to its withdrawal from the ETI and its ethical trading team being closed down, as corporate responsibility was not seen as an important issue to consumers (ETI, 2003). Green consumerism was a trend during the
early 1990s, but as a result of changes in consumer preference during the 1990s,
sales of ‘green’ ranges of products fell and many supermarket own-brand ranges of ‘green’ cleaning products, for example, were discontinued (Childs & Whiting, 1998). These examples suggest that the social or environmental improvements made as a response to consumer pressure have been rescinded as attention shifted, rather than taken up as new minimum standards, and that ‘left to their own devices, transnational corporations] are likely to fulfil their responsibilities in a minimalist and fragmentary fashion . . . they still need strong and effective regulation and a coherent response from civil society’(UNRISD, 2000: 90)."

Source: Seyfang, Gill(2005) 'Shopping for Sustainability: Can Sustainable Consumption Promote Ecological Citizenship?', Environmental Politics, 14(2): 296

Friday, October 8, 2010

Events and workshops

S.O.L.E fair (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) & launch for Ecovenient, ethical concept store 30th October 30, 9am – 1pm, Murrumbeena, Vic. Find out more here
Fair@Square (fairtrade & ethical festival)
11-12th December 2010, 11am-6pm, Federation Square, Melbourne, Vic. Find out more here

Upcoming workshops ...
Saturday 30th October, 10.30am-1.00pm >> Flemington Library Supermarket tour
Thursday 28th October, 6pm >> Public workshop & Supermarket tour, Footscray
Tuesday 16th November, 6pm – 8.30pm >>'Greener Chirstmas' , Balwyn
Saturday 20th November, 10.30am - 1.00pm >> Altona Library Supermarket tour
Saturday 27 November >> Buy Nothing Day - stunts & fun!
Find out more or register online here

Zoo launch their 'WIpe for Wildlife' campaign

Australians currently flush more than 6 million trees down the toilet each year. This doesn't make sense, especially when toilet paper can be made from waste products such as recycled paper. So what type of toilet paper is wildlife friendly? Look for 100% post-consumer waste, made within Australia, using non-toxic chemicals. Get your school workplace, neighbourhood involved! Find out more at

No Impact November - Ethical Consumer Group

As part of our annual Household Action Challenge, we are taking on a 'No Impact November', and invite you and your household or community to be a part. It's a collaborative community experiment to explore alternatives ways of living with an emphasis on consuming less, sharing more and moving to a life with less oil dependency. It's a whole month of fun, but our specific challenge week will be from Thursday 11th to 18th November.
Interested in being a part? Come to our initial preparation meeting on Thursday October 14th as part of the ECG movie night. RSVP for details, or checkout the website No Impact November.

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future - When Predator Becomes Prey - Sharks in Trouble

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future - Towards More Sustainable Supply Chains

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future - What's in a Label?

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future - Communicating Climate Change Effectively

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future

How to deviate from climate change destruction – the case of the Great Barrier Reef

An interesting article:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can hierarchical thinking fix climate change?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New study: Religion a faint cultural memory for Generation Y

A challenge for the future of the church

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BP Oil Spill – why we care

Looking at pollution

Monday, October 4, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Be A Christian Environmentalist

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Green Seminary Initiative

Great Project

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Discussion Question

A study of 3,000 Americans has found that few believe religion influences their environmental views . Sadly, this concurs with the majority of research in this area which suggests that religiosity has very little relationship with pro-environmental behaviours .
Why do you think that developments in eco-theology and concern for the environment based on the Christian faith are not translating into empirical evidence of pro-environmental action related to religiosity?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Salt and Light Issue 13 - September 2010

Five Leaf Church Greening Initiative Newsletter
“We believe that Creation Care is a core Christian responsibility”
The aim of this newsletter is to provide a supportive and informative link between individuals and groups that share a care and Christian responsibility for our environment. You are on this newsletter list because you have expressed an interest in the Five Leaf Eco-Awards program or have communicated with the National Coordinator - Jessica Morthorpe.
 Letter from the Editor
 Church Greening News
 Events
 Featured Grants
 Doom and Gloom
 A Stirring of hope
 Resources
 Monthly Action Tip
 Reading
 Book Review
 Discussion Question
 Quotes of the month
 Crown of Thorns Blog
 Websites to visit
Letter from the Editor:
Hi Everyone,
Welcome to our new members.
Phew, September is almost over. For many of us involved in church greening it is the busiest month of the year as Season of Creation and Sustainable September are celebrated in churches around the country. This is a really important time of reflection and education for our congregations and I hope you have all learnt something new and inspiring for your creation care journey from this time – I know I have.
I am sure some of you will need a bit of a rest now, but I would urge you all to also keep in mind the importance of momentum. If you have just had an inspiring month of sermons and Bible Studies in your church and you feel your congregation is interested, make sure you capitalise on this by encouraging them to turn their enthusiasm into practical action. If your church hasn’t signed up to the Five Leaf Eco-Awards then please encourage them to do so, and if they have encourage the congregation to start thinking about how your church can earn its next award. Start with small, easily achievable actions and celebrate your achievements, then work your way up. There should be no better time to start acting than just after a period of reflection on what God’s word says about God’s love for creation and our relationship with it… If you need any help with ideas, resources, and advice about the awards – you know how to contact me.
Also, any members of this network who would be happy to share sermons/orders of service/songs/children’s addresses/activities from your church’s celebrations of creation with the rest of the network I would be very happy to collect this information in order to help others. Photos would also be great. For those of you who are celebrating St Francis of Assisi Day this weekend, why not send me some photos of the most exciting creatures you get?
For those in Melbourne, make sure you check out SkillsFest (details in the events section) on the 6th of November. Sharing our skills with each other is often an important route to more sustainable lifestyles by empowering us to act in more sustainable ways. The hosts, Port Melbourne Uniting Church, were also the first church in Australia to receive the Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate. While you are there check out their community garden and ask someone about the outreach programs they are running in their local community.
I hope you enjoy this month’s issue and apologies for skipping the August issue (due to unforeseen circumstances). If anyone has a particular issue they would like me to address in the next issue let me know.
Yours Sincerely - Jessica Morthorpe
Jessica Morthorpe
Founder and Director
Five Leaf Eco-Awards
Church Greening News
Salt and Light Members in the News
Members of this network Helen Yoo and Bruce Cooke have been featured in the news on the 14th of September talking about how their faith has led them to act for the environment. See
Jessica’s reflections on recent church greening events in Canberra
The Canberra Region Uniting Church Social Justice Network held a forum titled “Climate Change – making informed choices: Exploring an ethical Christian response to climate change” on the fourth of September. The event was a great success with the two speakers complimenting each other wonderfully and the stirring music of the chorus adding to the very thought-provoking atmosphere of the day.
I know many people who attended were quite inspired by the talks given by the two speakers, so I’ve tried to roughly summarise some of the main points from what Dr John Williams and Bishop George Browning said below:
Dr John Williams, a respected scientist and member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists as well as a committed Christian who has studied theology, began the proceedings with a speech in memory of Professor Charles Birch, a noted scientist and theologian.
John spoke of the need for both science and theology to use new wine in new wine skins. He raised four important challenges (from Cauthen, 2000) that science has raised for orthodox theology, creating a need for revision of Christian thought. Firstly, scientific method’s rise towards the dominant source of truth calls into question anything it cannot test – including any claims based on supernatural revelation and tradition. Secondly, science undermines the accepted story of the origin of the cosmos held by Christian Europe and presented a completely different picture through discoveries from 1500-1900. This included the discoveries of Darwin, around which controversy continues today. Thirdly, science presents a law abiding world which doesn’t fit easily with the ideas of miracles and the supernatural. Finally, science’s picture of nature as a self-contained causal system where one event leads to another, which leads to another, calls into question the need for a supernatural creator or the existence any divine purpose within nature. Nature came to be seen as a machine without need for a creator or purpose.
How theology has responded to these challenges is expressed in the diagram to the left.
These responses include conflict, independence, influence and harmony & dialogue.
Unlike conflict, independence holds both science and theology to be true, but within separate and exclusive fields. One of the major weaknesses of independence as a response is the idea that science is completely objective. This is false (though some scientists will try to claim they are objective) because science is not done in a vacuum. Science is a human cultural activity which is influenced, like all human activity, by the cultural and religious presuppositions of the scientist.
A better approach is one where “Science deals with the dimension of reality that its methods allow it to examine. Philosophy deals with the whole from which science abstracts. Theology deals with the purpose and meaning, and spiritual experiential dimensions of the whole of reality and focuses on the reality of God in relation to the world and human beings.” Science can help to blow away the husks to reveal the kernels within theology.
Charles Birch wrote in “A Purpose for Everything”:
“The good news is that new wine is fermenting in both the vats of science and those of religion. Neither the new science nor the new religion can be contained in the old formula of a legal -- mechanistic universe; that is, the image of a universe running according to rules laid down by an external law-maker. It has become evident to more and more people that science cannot live with an interventionist God…. If science and religion are to remain alive their formulations cannot remain static. “
Charles Birch goes on to write: “This is not a matter of making religion conform to each new model or discovery in science. It is a mutual matter. Science can be on guard to keep its concerns wide. Religion can point out the abstractions and false metaphors of science. Science can be a winnowing fan to religion, blowing away the husks to reveal the kernels. The encounter of religion with science compels it to purify its thinking about God from views of power that are sub-Christian. Together, both can discover the unity of nature. For if knowledge is one then each new discovery will involve some reshaping of the rest. As biology, for example, moves forward on its frontier at the molecular level, religion has a new way opened up for it also, just as evolutionary biology opened up a whole new province for religious thinking about creation.”
John says, “I think we can agree with Charles Birch when he said: “The church lost when it accepted from the Enlightenment a reinforcement of the idea that God made the world and left it to follow its own laws. Science and religion became two separate domains.”
Birch set it out clearly…”Science dealt with the secular realm while religion and theology had to do with a God who transcended that realm. God was removed from nature. And, as Tillich points out, when God is removed from nature, God gradually disappears altogether, because we are nature. If God has nothing to do with nature, he finally has nothing to do with our total being. “”
Charles Birch believed that there were three elements of religion: intuitive, cognitive and active. These give rise to passion, philosophy and program. “To live is to feel, to think and to act. The call to the full life is to love with all our heart and mind and strength, these three. There is no more emphatic utterance in all scriptures than that. I know of no greater commitment that life can make.”
John said, “Our task is to map a way forward in recognizing that Science and Theology need to be in active dialogue. Christian Theology has a lot of work to be done to build a new understanding based on wise and fresh insights into scripture and the life of Jesus that can reconnect us to nature and the process of creation which is ongoing.
Science has much to learn about understanding that these insights will be important to the values and meaning that drive and condition scientific effort. For we now know that science is a very human process which engages with and absorbs values and purpose and meaning. Clearly reason, theory, observation, objectivity and evidence are paramount and powerful but around which is embedded values often in unconscious ways.”
From his reading, John suggested some common themes for the future:
• “First we need to feel again, awe, wonder, and empathy with the earth and the ecosystems on which our life and breath depends…leading to wisdom.
• Second we need to understand our connectedness with the earth and that we are but a part of the earth and not separate from it. God cares for whole of creation of which we are but one part.
• Third we need to challenge and critique the institutions, structures and thinking that underpin our society in light of the above.”

I will conclude with one comment John made that I thought was quite powerful – “I feel in my heart that we have the way forward. We have to have the courage and conviction to do our bit for God’s creation”. The question becomes “how do we help people change when it hurts?”

Bishop George Browning went on with a speech titled “Should Private Barns have political, legal and moral ascendancy over ‘Common Wealth?’” Browning said that we need human evolution so that we can serve creation in our thinking, and that includes adapting the economy.
“I contend that there is not simply one crisis but four. There is an environmental crisis, an economic crisis, a crisis of equity and by no means least a crisis of the human vocation. It is the latter crisis that has to be addressed if there is to be any chance of addressing the other three.”
Browning said that since Capitalism has had no rival since the collapse of Communism it has become the assumed saviour and bulwark of our free society but we can no longer afford an unregulated capitalism as it is obvious that the market cannot, on its own, preserve a health balance between economy, environment and production. It also cannot create equity and instead panders to power and greed, corrupting the human vocation. The politics of developed nations have failed to set appropriate boundaries for the market during the 21st century, leading us to our current crises.
Browning outlined data from the Australian Conservation Foundation on global population and consumption that illustrated “That economic policy based upon exponential growth cannot survive many decades into the 21st century is not rocket science.” He concluded that “Clearly the current version of capitalism needs considerable overhaul if human beings are going to live in harmony with creation and indeed with one another for generations to come.” However there is currently huge resistance to this change from those with interests in the status quo.
He also commented on the inappropriateness of Gross Domestic Product or GDP as a measure of the success of a government and health of a nation. “GDP neither measures declining mineral reserves nor the cost of pollution. GDP does not measure the value of volunteerism or the care provided in society by the army of folk who look after the vulnerable. GDP is geared to a particular measurement that does not really relate to human happiness and contentment. Most research indicates that once human existence rises above abject poverty, happiness and fulfilment is not related to material wealth, indeed there is some evidence that with increased wealth, and in some circumstances, the graph moves in the opposite direction. Why then is so much human activity geared towards production and consumption when the indicators are that human happiness and fulfilment is only marginally related to those factors?”
He then moved on to discuss the theological aspects of these crises, saying:
“Christian belief and Christian living is predicated upon two foundational theologies, a Creation theology and a Redemption theology. Yet, many within the Church as well as many outside could be excused for believing that there is only one theology, namely a theology of redemption. A theology of redemption predominates in the preaching from most pulpits on Sunday, both Protestant and Catholic, and it is the judgement inherent in redemption theology that is predominantly heard by the outside world. It is my contention that redemption theology should be formed and influenced by creation theology and creation theology should be informed and influenced by redemption theology. Each needs the other.
Redemption theology has tended to make an almost exclusive emphasise upon the place of the individual within the plan and purpose of God to the neglect of the community and particularly to the neglect of the non-human creation. The question ‘are you saved’ is a question that is directed to the individual and implies a destiny that is separate from travelling companions. Most evangelical activity is based solely on a theology of redemption and as a consequence raises major cultural tensions; conversion can often means a cultural separation from the community which gives life and sustenance. In its apocalyptic form, redemption theology emphasises the corruption of the world, its transient nature and its destiny to pass away. This emphasis makes investment in it irrelevant and many Christian communities see environmental commitment as a denial of trust in the God who is bringing this world to its appointed end.
I contend that unless Christianity can re-find its legitimate voice in its creation based roots it will at best be on the margins of the major debates and challenges facing modern humanity and at worst will be irrelevant. Let me say again I am not wishing to abandon redemption theology: on the contrary, I want each to be informed by the other.”
He then discussed some of the lessons we learn from creation theology. Firstly our name, Adam; and that we are who we are in relation to one another and indeed in relation to the earth whose name is Adamah. Our destiny is not fulfilled as an individual it fulfilled in the health and integrity of the multitude of its relationships.
Secondly that creation is not crowned by humanity, but by the Sabbath. On the Sabbath God rests, God doesn’t stop work, but rather rests or dwells within creation. In the same way humanity should copy the pattern of God by caring for creation and furthering its harmony and completeness.
“At the heart of creation theology is the juxtaposition of blessing and cursing, the choice between life and death. Human beings are daily confronted with choice, choice between actions upon which the dew of blessing falls, or choice for activity which might appear in the short term to be enhancing personal life but which in the longer term carries a burdensome cost, a cost which may not be borne directly by the individual source of pollution, but either by current global humanity or by future generations. Although the cost of environmental irresponsibility might be borne by all, it is most likely to be caused by the prosperous who have the means to mitigate its effect, and to be felt most severely by the poor, who, while having made the smallest contribution to its effect, are burdened by its outcome with no means of mitigation or adaptation. This is an unavoidable matter of morality about which all must make a choice.”
He also suggested that we need to rethink the desirability of population growth and religious groups in particular need to rethink their positions on sexuality and contraception.
Browning concluded, “This is truly a moral dilemma that only the full hardy, the deaf, the blind, and above all the ill-informed can ignore. I would rather measure the success of today not upon the rise or fall of the GDP but upon the enhancement or diminishment of the choices it has left for our children’s future.”
The talking was broken up by a performance of ‘The Gifts of the Furies’ by the Chorus of Citizens which was greatly enjoyed by all and ended with a panel discussion including the Rev Rex Graham – Social Justice Consultant from the Synod of NSW and the ACT. The range of questions asked revealed the depth of learning and excitement generated by the forum.
I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the organisation of this event, it was truly a credit to you all. Also a big thanks to the speakers for your passion and inspiration.

O’Connor Uniting Church’s Day of Celebration and Solar Panel Commissioning on the 25th of September was also a great success. A variety of stalls, traditional Tongan and Samoan Dancing, singing by the Sing Australia choir and Tongan choir, the commissioning service, delicious food and a variety of music all made for a very exciting and interesting day. Also, the solar panel cross looks awesome! If you are in Canberra, check it out.


Ride to Worship Week
Religious communities unite to support the poor and the planet, and improve their health during Australia’s inaugural Ride to Worship Week!

Ride to Worship Week, an ARRCC initiative, will run from 9-15 October 2010. During the week, people of all religions are being encouraged to leave the car at home and cycle to their faith-based activities.

ARRCC President Thea Ormerod says the event is an opportunity for religious communities to reduce their carbon footprint and promote the benefits of regular exercise.

“By committing to cycling or walking to worship this October, you can help slow global warming and improve your physical and mental health. You reduce the risk of life threatening illnesses including heart disease, obesity and diabetes," Thea says.

Religious communities are encouraged to ride or walk all or part of the way to their faith-based activities during Ride to Worship Week.

“If you live too far away, you could use public transport,” says Thea. “If you have to drive, why not leave the car at least a kilometre or two from your destination and cycle or walk the remaining distance, or share a lift with a friend.”

Register now
It takes just a few minutes to register online for Ride to Worship Week. We can then send you information and resources to help make Ride to Worship Week the best possible event for your community. Register here photo petition - sign up!
Ride to Worship Week coincides with the International Day of Climate Action (Sunday 10 October). If you are participating in Ride to Worship on 10 October, we encourage you to take a photo and then post it online as an entry in's photo petition. The petition will be directed to negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in December 2010.

Available Resources:
1. Guidelines on how your place of worship can participate in Ride to Worship Week. (Word document, 24kB.)
2. Template announcement for your place of worship's newsletter (please feel free to edit to suit your event). (Word document, 28kB.)
3. Template poster for your noticeboard (please feel free to edit to suit your event). (Word document, 150kB)
4. Template powerpoint presentation with accompanying notes, to show e.g. during the announcements at a worship service (please feel free to edit to suit your event).
Generic version (2.2MB)
Christian version (2.2MB)
5. PDF brochure on "all you need to know about riding to worship" to make available to worshippers (1.0MB).

10th October - Global Work Party
The World Council of Churches encourages all churches to join the 10/10/10 Global Work Party campaign with prayers, vigils and actions. On 10/10/10, in every corner of the globe, communities will implement solutions to the climate crisis: from solar panels to community gardens, wind turbines to bike workshops. Communities will take part in an international photo petition to tell leaders: “We're getting to work--what about you?”. More info.

10.10.10. Micah Challenge International Day of Action on Poverty
Climate change threatens to undermine all the progress made to date on the millennium development goals. These goals were agreed to by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000 and aim to halve global poverty by 2015.Join with other Christians around the world taking action for global poverty.
Visit the climate justice section for more resources in early October.

Australia’s most Fairtrade Friendly Supermarket
We’re searching for Australia’s most Fairtrade friendly supermarket and we need your help to find it! Simply visit your local supermarket between 27 September–10 October 2010, find all the Fairtrade certified products you can and fill out a postcard or go to
The entry with the best idea for making Aussies supermarkets more Fairtrade friendly will win a holiday package from virgin blue worth up to $2000


Emergency Regency Honeyeater Tree Planting weekend 2nd – 3rd October
Our 2010 planting season has gone amazingly well so far, with close to 800 school students and 350 community volunteers involved so far. Their combined efforts have planted approx 25,000 seedlings, and restored over 50 hectares of habitat on 12 sites since early July. It's been a fantastic team effort!!
But we are a bit behind schedule at present, as several schools had to postpone their planting days because of the wet weather. On top of that, volunteer numbers were reduced on both the election w/e and the floods w/e, and our school plantings have come to a halt during the holidays of course.
With several big sites still to do, we have scheduled a 5th planting weekend to take advantage of the really good planting conditions this year. The 2 sites for the emergency weekend are on really productive soils along creek lines and so will be fantastic feeding and breeding habitat for our threatened wildlife.
Please promote the weekend to your friends and various clubs, then come and join us in the Lurg Hills for an action-packed weekend in the countryside - in beautiful spring weather!!
Meeting Place: 9 am at Benalla Ceramic Mural, beside the bridge over Lake Benalla
OR beside the CFA shed in Winton township
Accommodation: Benalla Scout & Guide Halls (mattresses supplied, but BYO sleeping bag & pillow)
Minor kitchen facilities available
Sumptuous meals provided for Saturday night's dinner & Sunday's BBQ lunch
Free bush dance on Saturday night
What to bring: Sturdy work clothes, gloves, sunscreen & hat
BYO lunch for in the field on Saturday
Bookings: Ray Thomas
(03) 57 611 515

Saving Australia's Threatened Wildlife
Wednesday 6 October, 7:30 Pm
Currawong Bush Park, Conference Centre, 277 Reynolds road, Doncaster east
Speaker: Shauna Chadlowe, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
Enquiries: 9840 9124

Acting Together For A Sustainable Future: Local Government And Community Environment Action And Programs
Thursday 7 October, 2010, 6.00PM
VLGA, 60 Leicester St, Carlton 3053
• Keep track of local government and community action and interest in environmental sustainability
• Find out about emerging actions and programs
• Learn about what’s happening on the ground, and
• Learn how to access sustainability and climate change resources and funds.
Topics and programs include:
• Sustainable precincts, including zero emission neighbourhoods, Armstrong creek, and smart energy zones
• Local government sustainability information & tools including the utility tracker, best practice tracker, and the sustainability resource locator
• Keep Australia beautiful Victoria’s programs - recognising and celebrating community actions at a grassroots level
• Greenpower trends and challenges, and
• The new Victorian government climate communities website and grants program supporting local actions tackling climate change.
Speaker and biographical information to be provided on our website.
Times: 6pm: networking, finger-food & refreshments
7pm: Leading Edge Forum
Please RSVP By Monday 4 October, Online At Http://Www.Vlga.Org.Au/Events___Training/Leading_Edge_Forum/Form/Register_For_LEF.Aspx Or Phone (03) 9349 7999.

Western Heights Uniting Church Ecofest
Saturday 9 October, 10 Am – 3 Pm
Interactive displays, local activist group stalls, take-aways, kids activities, practical tips for being green, chook feeder competition, movies, food and fair-trade products.
Enquiries Bec Wilson

24th October - A GRAND STAND for the Environment Inc. presents
Melbourne Playback Theatre together with Fay White
Acting for Our Earth:
Climate Playback - Imagining a New Future
We’re in a time when we need to listen more intently: to the earth, and to young people and children amongst us. Our concerns for future generations will take form in Climate Playback as we share stories, hopes and fears, and sing ourselves into new possibilities.
All are welcome! Young people: bring your friends. Families: come together. Grandparents: bring your grandchildren; and let our shared stories of love for the earth heal us and transform our living.
Sunday 24 October 2.00 - 4.30pm in the Templestowe Uniting Church
104 Atkinson Street
Refreshments to follow
Parking at 111 Wood Street
Enquiries to 9846 8464 or 9439 0967
Tickets: $10 per person or $25 for families

SkillsFest 2010, 6th November 2010
A community event to share and celebrate skills for living in the inner city. Fun and free mini workshops and hands-on activities for all ages will include bicycle maintenance, growing your own food, arts and crafts, making new things from old, DIY repairs, storytelling and more. There will also be entertainment by local musicians and singers and community stalls. All activities will be run for and by local people. SkillsFest is supported by South Port UnitingCare, South Port Uniting Church and the City of Port Phillip.
Venue: Port Melbourne Uniting Church & Simply Living Community Garden, cnr Bridge & Nott Sts (Melway 2J F3). Details: or ph Janet Hoare 9690 1188

Black Mountain Wildflower Ramble - 9 October
Black Mountain Wildflower Ramble (9:30 – noon, Sat 9 October)
Meet at the Belconnen Way entry, just before Caswell Drive turnoff (look for the balloons). Join wildflower lovers for the 39th annual Burbidge/Chippendale ramble around Black Mountain to enjoy the spring diversity. This will be an easy guided walk.
Our leaders this year will be Laurie Adams, Isobel Crawford, Jean Geue and possibly Peter Ormay. All are welcome - it's a great way to celebrate the spring and find out how to look for our sometimes cryptic wildflowers. Bring your friends, especially those who are new to plant identification.
BYO morning tea, hat, sunblock, water and stout shoes. Contact Jean Geue on 6251-1601.

Spring flower walks, ANBG, 11 September - 10 October
Spring flower walks, ANBG (11:00 am & 2:00 pm daily, Sat 11 Sept – Sun 10 Oct
Meet at the Visitor Centre in the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Let our friendly guides show you the beauty and diversity of spring flowers in the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Surround yourself with the scents and colours of some of our wonderful native flora.
Free. No bookings required. For enquiries please call the Visitor Centre on 02 6250 9540.

K2C Biodiversity & Farming Fair, Bredbo - 10 October
Kosciuszko to Coast (K2C) will be holding a Biodiversity and Farming Fair at Bredbo, with lots of great stalls and activities. For the Speakers Hall we are planning a number of great presentations on biodiversity, sustainable farming and what K2C and partners are doing. For general inquiries about K2C and how your group might participate, please contact K2C Facilitator, Lauren van Dyke at,, or Ph: 0411 402 978.

Valley Ponds - Family Bike Ride - 17 October
Join us on a family bike ride on Sunday 17 October 2010 from 9am to 11am. Meet at the Scout Hall, The Valley Ave, Gungahlin and learn about the proposed The Valley Ponds. Cycle around Yerrabi Ponds (keeping an eye out for Black Swans) and to Strayleaf, Forde and observe the water sensitive urban design initiatives.
Event ends at Mulligan's Flat with a morning tea provided. Approximately 1 hour riding time.
Bookings: Hilary Thomson 6207 5849 This is a free event but bookings are required.
Please visit Valley Ponds on Facebook:!/pages/Valley-

For members, remember that the ARRCC AGM is on the 19th October. See their website for details.
Featured Grants
NSW Climate Change Fund Community Savers Grants
Community and other not-for-profit organisations (including churches and other religious organisations) are invited to apply for up to $40,000 to undertake simple and low-cost water and energy upgrades in their facilities. Applications for Community Savers close on Monday 25 October 2010.
Community Savers is a funding stream under the Public Facilities Program, under the NSW Climate Change Fund. The Public Facilities Program aims to assist water and energy savings in public and community facilities in NSW. The focus is on projects delivering real water and energy savings and generating community support. It provides $30 million over five years.
Projects must save:
• drinkable water supplied from a reticulated water supply network in NSW, and/or
• electricity and related greenhouse gas emissions and/or reduce peak electricity demand in NSW.
Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to:
• projects which improve the efficiency of buildings and appliances – e.g. lighting upgrades, installation of skylights, insulation for cooling and heating efficiency, ceiling fans, solar reflective glazing
• projects which reduce electricity consumption and/or peak demand – e.g. hot water system upgrade to gas, solar or heat pump
• projects which reduce drinkable water demand from a reticulated water supply network – e.g. dual flush toilets, irrigation system upgrades, water recycling, rainwater tanks, stormwater harvesting
• education activities which have the potential to increase the adoption of efficient technologies and behaviours.
Funding will NOT be provided for:
• Projects in residential dwellings
• Projects that do not result in energy, water or peak electricity demand savings
• Projects that involve the installation of:
o Solar photovoltaic systems
o All foil insulation, or
o LED lighting (except for foyers, showrooms and exit lights)
• Projects that are public awareness or education only
• Devolved grants, that is funding for one party to distribute funds or products to other parties
• Projects that it is reasonable to expect would proceed without assistance from the NSW Climate Change Fund.
Applicants are required to provide the following information. The Guide for Applicants details full requirements
• at least two competitive itemised quotes for work from qualified tradespeople or a proposal from a design specialist
• completed electronic application form, submitted before 5.00pm on Monday 25 October 2010
For more information see:
Home Comfort Scheme
Offering more than $100 worth of free energy saving products, installed at no charge, the home comfort scheme, provided by brotherhood green is a free service available to residents of north West Melbourne who hold a healthcare, pension or concession card.
Maribyrnong residents with a pension, health care or concession card can book in a free home energy check from brotherhood green today. Call 9380 7830 or visit
Brotherhood green is a social enterprise of the brotherhood of St Laurence.

Doom and Gloom
Wasted opportunity for Delhi's environment
By Mridu Khullar Relph
ABC Environment | 28 Sep 2010 Credit: Getty.
The Commonwealth Games have not improved the lot either of New Delhi's poorest residents or the capital's natural environment.
Delhi’s 150,000 poor wastepickers are being forced out of the city to improve its image for the Commonwealth games while private firms are being invited to replace them. This is despite recent studies which have found that wastepickers reduce Delhi’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 962,133 tonnes of CO2 per year, more than three times that of other waste projects in the city to be given carbon credits. These savings are equivalent to removing 174,000 passenger vehicles from the roads annually or providing electricity to about 130,000 homes for one year.
“"I think it's very shitty," says Bharati Chaturvedi of the waste management of the games. "It's unfortunate that rather than aspire to higher standards, they're actually lowering them in multiple ways." By weeding out the wastepickers, she says, they've robbed the poor of their share of the city's wealth. "If the games were really that green, they would have built a bunch of bioreactors for the organic waste, which we could have used once the Games were over."”
Sustainable events have the potential to bring the environment to the attention of many people “This, unfortunately, has not happened in Delhi. What were sold to the media as green and environment-friendly Games, may in fact be hurting the environment and creating long-term problems that will have to be borne by the city's population.
"Above everything else," says Bharati Chaturvedi, "this has been a lost opportunity”.”
To see the full article visit:
Marine parks moratorium proposed
Many of us associate the word ‘moratorium’ with the ban on hunting whales (a very good thing). In NSW, the word is now becoming associated with a proposed ban on new marine parks (a very bad thing). The Shooters and Fishers Party has put forward a proposal to parliament for a five year moratorium on new marine parks and extensions to the sanctuary zones within existing parks.
The NSW government has given its 'in principle' support to this appalling legislation to stop any new marine parks in NSW. This move goes against the overwhelming scientific and community support for marine parks.
These multiple use areas balance fishing in the majority of the park with a series of protected sanctuaries where marine life can breed, mature and grow.
Visit to add your voice in support of marine parks

Call to list Sandbar shark rejected
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW, in partnership with the Humane Society International, prepared a detailed proposal to list the sandbar shark as a threatened species under Australia’s foremost environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Unfortunately, we have recently heard that neither the sandbar nor the scalloped hammerhead or the bull shark will be assessed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
Mortality from fishing is the main threat facing all three species. Sandbars, in particular, are commonly targeted in longline fisheries on account of the high value of their fins. In NSW, a recent independent scientific review raised concerns the species may already be depleted as a direct result of fishing pressure.
Unfortunately, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee decided there was not enough evidence for these three species to undergo the thorough assessment required to list them as threatened. Although we were unsuccessful this time, we, and the Humane Society International, will try again next year.
Source: Adopt-A-Shark Newsletter, NSW Conservation Council

A Stirring of Hope
Spinning the Environmental Good News
By Donnella Meadows
“Contrary to popular opinion, sometimes there's good news about the environment -- lately there's been quite a spate of it. Some has come about through luck, some through the wisdom and forbearance of the human race, and some is completely unexplained, which leaves plenty of room for commentators to spin the environmental news, like any news, in many different directions…”
Read the article here:
Earth Ministry’s Resources page
Resources available include:
• Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save God’s Earth
• Earth Letter Newsletter
• Greening Congregations Handbook
• Bible Studies
• Caring for All Creation Curriculum
Monthly Action Tip
Working Together in Faith to Save Our Planet
Learn about the importance of interfaith work for the environment. Visit to learn more and check out the following article about how the Islamic faith is also rediscovering the green messages within its holy texts:

The Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book
by Matthew Sleeth
Learn more about what the Bible says about our responsibility to care for creation from one of the leading authors in this area -
As an emergency room doctor, Matthew Sleeth saw a disturbing increase in asthma, autoimmune diseases, cancers, and other environmentally related disease. One slow night in the ER, Sleeth picked up a Gideon-s Bible in the waiting room. Although raised in a Christian home, he had long ago abandoned his childhood beliefs. Reading the Gospels that night, he found both the spiritual and environmental answers he had been seeking. As a result, the Sleeth family took an accounting of their lifestyle, drastically reduced their reliance on electricity and fossil fuels, and began sharing their journey with others.
In THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE EARTH Sleeth uses the Bible as a teaching mechanism, retelling the often radically counter-culture Bible stories that motivated his environmental journey and showing Christians how to get behind the issue. The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us about how our transportation choices affect our global neighbours. The prophet Daniel calls to question our dietary habits. And the story of Noah addresses key issues for life on Earth: how do we relate to the Creator, to others in the human community, and to the rest of the natural world? With passion and faith, Sleeth provides a new green lens through which we can read the Bible to discover answers to our biggest questions about the environment and how to care for it.
Available as a Kindle book from
Book Review
The NIV Stewardship Study Bible
Explore the powerful themes of stewardship woven throughout Scripture, learn about Biblical characters who exemplify effective stewardship, prepare yourself for the inevitable challenges to effective daily stewardship, and explore God's design for your life as God’s steward. In this resource you will discover why you have been given the privilege of managing God's resources. You will also benefit from hundreds of stewardship thought-leaders, past and present, sharing keen insights to help us mature as God's stewards.
The NIV Stewardship Study Bible uses a variety of engaging features to lead individuals through a comprehensive study of what it means to be managers entrusted with the resources of God. Through 366 Exploring Stewardship notes, profiles of individuals, notes on challenges to stewardship, quotes on stewardship from respected Christians throughout the ages, and other articles and helps, the NIV Stewardship Study Bible projects a positive picture of the privilege that we have to manage what God has given us to his glory and to the building of his kingdom.
Discover God’s design for life, the environment, finances, generosity, and eternity.
Discussion Questions
A study of 3,000 Americans has found that few believe religion influences their environmental views . Sadly, this concurs with the majority of research in this area which suggests that religiosity has very little relationship with pro-environmental behaviours .
Why do you think that developments in eco-theology and concern for the environment based on the Christian faith are not translating into empirical evidence of pro-environmental action related to religiosity?
To answer visit or join the Church Greening and Christian Environmentalist Network on Facebook.
Quotes of the Month
“Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“So long as people can change the world can change” Two Weeks Notice
“Character alone will have real effect on masses” Gandhi
Crown of Thorns Blog
Want to learn more about church greening or reflect on what the Bible says about the environment? Then visit the Crown of Thorns blog by Jessica Morthorpe at
Websites to Visit:
Roots and Shoots
Jane Goodall’s global youth program for environmental awareness and action.

Save Our Last Sharks Website Launch!
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is proud to announce the launch of our new website
The website provides scientific information about some of our best known and most intriguing shark species, as well as up to date news about the threats facing sharks.
Have you ever wondered how sharks reproduce? Do they sleep? How many teeth do they have?
For the answers to these and other questions, visit the website. Coming soon to the new site is a special resource section for teachers and students.

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to any individual or group who may be interested.
If you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter email

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Upcoming Workshop – Cultivating Sustainability in Adelaide

A Cultivating Sustainability workshop has been confirmed for Adelaide on Tuesday, November 30th.

To register interest, please email

Online registration details and further information is available at

About the Workshop

Cultivating Sustainability is a 1-day workshop which provides sustainability advocates with insights, models and practical tools to support their behaviour change efforts. Anybody who has taken on the challenge of influencing others to live and work more sustainably will find this workshop a valuable addition to their skills.

Cost: For-profits $250pp

Not-for-profit/Government $200pp

Individuals/Community Groups $120pp

Feedback from attendees of recent Cultivating Sustainability workshops included…

“Great framework for encouraging behavioural change within organisations”

“Provided me with tools and insights to challenge me to review how I am approaching my sustainability project”

”This workshop has given me good insight into the motivating factors in people’s behaviour and ways to get lasting change”

“I found the workshop useful to help me learn practical and positive/inspirational ways to change peoples attitudes and behaviours towards sustainability”

For more information about the Cultivating Sustainability workshop, see

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Upcoming Workshop – Cultivating Sustainability in Sydney with the NPDISE

Awake is proud to have been selected as a provider of one of 14 modules for the National Professional Development Initiative for Sustainability Educators. The NPDISE is supported and endorsed by Australia’s peak environmental education organisations. It identifies, recognises and facilitates delivery of endorsed professional development for sustainability / environmental education practitioners.

As part of the NPDISE initiative, a Cultivating Sustainability workshop will be held in Sydney on November 24th. The workshop is open to anyone who is interested.

All information and registration details can be found at

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Psychological Benefits of Nature

"Few would argue that a good walk in nature leaves us feeling revitalised and uplifted. While the very act of taking exercise has undoubted benefits, there are numerous studies which show that connecting with nature specifically leads to a wide variety of positive outcomes, physically, psychologically and even socially.

A 2008 study showed that people who reported high contact with nature were more likely to also report feeling positive and on top of the world. Other studies have found that connecting with nature reduces stress and improves cognitive functioning.

It does not even need to be a connection with real nature that produces the benefits. A US study examined the effects of a 15-minute walk outdoors, versus watching a nature video. Both approaches had a positive effect on peoples emotions, attention, and ability to self-reflect, although the walk in real nature had a more powerful effect. In a similar study, people shown photographs of nature settings reported greater increases in “vitality” than those shown photos of buildings – although neither was as effective as leading them on a walk through nature.

Children appear especially likely to benefit from exposure to nature. One interesting piece of research studied the effects on children upon relocating into a different house. Houses were rated according to the naturalness of their settings, including the view from the windows and the existence of natural elements in the yard. The authors reported that “results indicate that children whose homes improved the most in terms of greenness following relocation also tended to have the highest levels of cognitive functioning following the move”.

Another fascinating series of studies by Bruce Appleyard uses a technique called “Cognitive Mapping” to get children to draw representations of their neighbourhood. In one of the studies, he asked them to draw a map of their neighbourhood, and to comment on and represent positive elements and negative or dangerous elements. Those children in heavily traffic dependent neighbourhoods were more likely to draw dangerous, negative elements, their maps being more linear and lacking detail. In contrast, children in low traffic dependent areas drew more trees, play areas and positive, detailed images. The conclusion from this and similar studies is that children who view their neighbourhood from the back of a car see it as less rich and detailed, and more dangerous.

There are a few theories as to why contact with nature has such a positive effect on us, one of which is Attention Restoration Theory (ART). ART proposes that our attention gets stretched by day to day living, which negatively impacts our concentration, problem-solving ability and mood. By connecting with nature, our attention is restored, thus reducing these negative effects. A leading proponent of ART, Robert Kaplan, describes the following four elements of a natural setting as critical to restoration of attention.

· being away: being distinct, either physically or conceptually, from the everyday environment

· fascination: containing patterns that hold one’s attention effortlessly

· extent: having scope and coherence that allow one to remain engaged

· compatibility: fitting with and supporting what one wants or is inclined to do

When these four elements are present, the conditions are ideal for our attention to take a break and restore all manner of cognitive and emotional capacities.

The emerging field of Eco-therapy recognises these benefits and is incorporating a number of principles into interventions to alleviate all kinds of medical and psychological disorders. An overview of Eco-therapy research describes a study where 90% of participants who went on a nature walk reported an elevation in self-esteem, whereas 44% of those who walked through an indoor shopping centre reported reduced self-esteem.

Aside from the straight wellbeing benefits of exposure to nature, there are a number of other positive outcomes for society and the planet. One of these benefits is an enhanced desire to undertake environmentally friendly behaviours. A German study found that experiences in nature created an emotional affinity to it, which in turn made people more likely to take actions to protect the natural environment. Another study found that those who had a greater appreciation for the restorative aspects of a natural setting (based on the ART theory above), were more likely to report eco-friendly behaviour. Furthermore, research has even shown that people who have had positive experiences with nature are more likely to be involved in community service.

So the evidence is unequivocal – the more we can create opportunities for people to engage with nature, the greater the benefits, psychologically, physically, emotionally and socially."


"The feature article above highlights the importance of connecting with nature for our wellbeing. This months exercise provides an opportunity to review and look for ways we can incorporate “nature time” into our day.

1. Thinking about your day-to-day routine, do you get regular exposure to nature?

2. What could you do to increase your daily contact with natural settings? Could you…

a. Take your lunch break outside instead of inside?

b. Add a 15-minute walk to your day – perhaps before breakfast or after dinner?

c. Move your desk so that you have a view of a natural setting?

d. Do some of your work outside?

3. When choosing a spot to connect to nature, you may wish to compare it to the 4 key elements of a natural setting outlined above

· being away: is it away from your normal environment?

· fascination: does it contain patterns that hold one’s attention effortlessly?

· extent: does it have scope and coherence that allows you to remain engaged?

· compatibility: does it fit with what you are inclined to do?

Although many of us regularly take a break in the fresh air, I’d be surprised if many people deliberately take the time to consider the quality of the natural setting we choose. By doing so, we may find that we gain the maximum benefit from our contact with nature."

Source: Awake provides psychology-based services to support the development of sustainable behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations. Visit for more info

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Your Attention Please!

"Something I dislike even more than getting coffee in a takeaway cup, is getting one with a lid on it. I don’t drink through them, and they go straight in the rubbish bin. On those rare occasions when I succumb to the temptations of convenience and order a takeaway coffee, I usually remember to ask the person making the coffee not to put a lid on. But every now and then, I get distracted and remember at the precise second that the lid is going on – too late, the lid has got a splash of coffee on it and is on it’s way to the landfill along with millions of others.

Sometimes the simplest of things can undermine our efforts to lead a more eco-friendly life. One of the most common of these is that we simply forget. We can have the commitment and motivation to do the right thing, and all the resources and knowledge we need, but sometimes it just doesn’t occur to us at the time. Modern lifestyles which place a premium on multi-tasking and almost being obliged to be busy are perfect breeding grounds for forgetfulness. We have a limited capacity for what we can have our attention on at any given time, so often considerations of the environmental impacts of our behaviours fall by the wayside.

Forgetfulness is often cited as a barrier to engaging in pro-environmental behaviours. For example, in a study of common barriers to sustainable behaviours in a Tasmanian community, people were asked what stops them turning off their appliances at the wall when not it use. The 2nd most common response was “I don’t think of it”. This is important information to know, as it tells us that we don’t just need to convince people that a behaviour is a good idea, and to provide them with the knowledge and tools they need, but we also need to find a way of making it top of mind at the critical time that the behaviour is to be undertaken.

A key factor which seems to get in the way of remembering to make eco-friendly decisions is our propensity to engage in habitual behaviours (see Wake-Up Call July 2008 for an overview of habits). Research tells us that as many as 50% of our daily behaviours are habitual, whereby we make decisions on a kind of auto-pilot. For behaviours which we have done before, there is no need to waste precious mental resources in “re-making” the decision. Instead we often take mental shortcuts which allow information to fit into our pre-existing beliefs. An interesting article about Mindfulness And Sustainable Behavior discusses this issue, and describes a situation where a shopper may read a label which says a product is “all natural”. “The shopper may not take the time to further examine the product and the real meaning behind its claim of ‘all natural,’ particularly if he or she is under time pressure or is multitasking.” If that person has already decided that “natural is good”, then the labeling of the product makes it easy for them satisfy that preference without investing too much attention.

So the question is, how do we ensure that people have the presence of mind to undertake eco-friendly behaviours? One simple method is to provide prompts, or reminders, at the point at which the behaviour is to be undertaken. Community-based Social Marketing (CBSM) guru Doug McKenzie-Mohr discusses the use of prompts at length. One of the most successful methods he describes is the use of “shelf-talkers”, small signs on shop shelves which remind shoppers of the eco benefits of certain products. This simple, yet effective, tactic has repeatedly yielded demonstrable increases in the purchase of environmentally beneficial products. Similarly, providing prompts and reminders has proven effective at reducing littering.

Another possible approach in countering unsustainable habitual behaviours is to change the context in which those behaviours occur. The authors of Mindfulness And Sustainable Behavior sum up the situation by saying that “we either must change the attentional practices in our culture to be more encouraging of mindfulness, or change the available choices so people can function more sustainably while on autopilot.” Given that people are likely to continue undertaking habitual behaviours for the foreseeable future, the latter approach appears to be the most promising. Indeed, changes in the conditions which support unsustainable behaviours have been found to be effective. Many offices have adopted a policy of moving rubbish bins from each desk, instead placing them in a central point, while making recycling bins more easily accessible. In most cases this leads to a substantial reduction in waste going to landfill – in fact a similar approach in Ontario claims at least 50% waste reduction.

No matter how committed we are personally to making sustainable choices, it’s good to have a helping hand from the world around us – now if we can just get coffee shops to start asking us if we really need a lid!

Exercise of the Month – Helping yourself to remember

A simple one this month, following on from the feature article above about remembering things.

1. Think of some pro-environmental behaviours which you often simply forget to undertake, or just can’t seem to get in the habit of doing.

2. If it is a habitual behaviour

a. try to identify the external conditions which hold the non-preferred behaviour in place. (e.g. Is the landfill bin in easier reach than the compost bucket? Is the bike in the garden shed out the back, making it hard to access for those short trips?)

b. find a way to disrupt those conditions which support non-preferred behaviour. (e.g. move the compost bucket, or make the bike easier to get to than the car)

3. If it is simply something you forget to do, consider ways in which you could remind yourself. (e.g. could you put a re-usable shopping bag in the front seat of the car, or in your handbag? Could you install a shower timer?)

More tips like these can be found at

In an ideal world, our external environment would support our intentions to do the right thing. But there are also plenty of opportunities to support ourselves. "

Source: Awake provides psychology-based services to support the development of sustainable behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations. Visit for more info

Ocean Sunday Bible Study

Based on the Season of Creation Bible Study for Ocean Sunday by Norman Habel. Adapted for Kippax Uniting Church by Jessica Morthorpe and Steve Coster. For the PDF version with pictures to use in your church email fiveleafecoawards at

The Ocean – vast, deep, mysterious, and teeming with life. It is a source of life, livelihood, inspiration and peace for billions; covering three quarters of our planet and containing 80% of the total life on Earth. The ocean’s vast and unexplored reaches make it our last chance to experience what the Bible’s authors must have felt when they contemplated nature – the vastness, the untouchability, the unchartered, the challenge and the threat of God’s creation.

The ocean seems invincible, and yet it is surprisingly fragile and increasingly harmed by the hands of man. A sink that is becoming the waste dump of the world and a depleted mine of resources. The ocean presents unique challenges because of its size, its status as a shared resource, and its ability to slip out of mind. 

Reading and Discussion
Discuss: Are you a sea person?  Do you have a sense of excitement when you plunge into the ocean?  Or are the deep sea waters a fearsome sight?  Are you fascinated by the millions of hidden species living deep in the ocean?  Is the ocean an expression of infinity, the deep mystery of God’s presence?

Going into Deep Water
Read Luke 5.1-11
Many of us like to think we have learned something of the art of fishing, whether in streams, lakes or the sea.  Of course, modern boats have so-called fish finders that identify schools of fish below the boat and give those fishing a definite advantage. Simon Peter had no fish finder.  He relied on knowing the ‘way’ of the fish, their feeding habits and their normal habitats.
After Jesus taught some people from Peter’s boat, he suggested that Peter go fishing.  Understandably Peter was surprised.  After all, he had been fishing all night in his usual spots and there was nothing around.  Jesus’ request has a special catch: Put out into the deep water!’
The deep is the realm of mystery and wonder. The deep is what Job had been challenged to explore beneath the seas and in the world of the dead. The deep was the unknown. And it is precisely in that domain that the disciples catch a mass of fish.  Jesus challenges them to move beyond their comfort zones, the known world and to explore the deep.
Peter’s response is to fall at Jesus’ knees and say:  ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’
How does Jesus respond?  By giving Peter another challenge! He essentially tells Peter to stop feeling sorry for himself.  Fish from the deep is the first challenge. There is an even bigger challenge; catching human beings with the new message I bring.
Just how massive and deep that message turns out to be is reflected in the epistle lesson of Ephesians 1.3-10.  This Jesus is the Christ who not only brings his disciples face to face with the waters of the deep, but with the cosmic mysteries of redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and hope.  For this Christ is destined to ‘gather up’ all things in the cosmos—the seas, the stars and the skies—and once again unite them according to God’s plan.

Jesus, Lord of the Oceans
Read Mark 4: 35-41 and Psalm 69:34
Discuss:  In the light of these texts, do you think Jesus has a special relationship with the sea?  Does Christ come to heal our broken relationship with the seas as well as with God and each other? What voice might we hear from the ocean in response to Christ’s coming?

Discuss:  What does our faith tell us about how we should treat the ocean?

Discuss: What do you think we ought to do to raise awareness of the precarious state of our oceans?  Is this more than a moral issue for you? What do you think the
Church Christians can contribute to the conservation of our oceans and their creatures?

Major Environmental Issues Affecting the Ocean
 Split the eight topics below among your group and read the information provided.
Discuss whether you were aware of these issues and how concerned you feel you should be about them.

Overfishing refers to when more fish are caught than the system can naturally produce.
Legends tell that the oceans were once so full of fish and other creatures that you could almost walk on them. We know this is no longer the case. In 1900 the ocean contained at least six times more fish than in 2009. It also takes 17 times as much effort to catch a ton of Northsea fish as it did then[1]. Unlike Jesus, who fed 5,000 with two fish, we have squandered this resource and threatened its survival. New technologies like the advent of fish finders have removed the respect of the hunter/fisherman and made it possible to wipe out entire species with ease. Entire populations of 150 year old Orange Roughy fish can be scooped up in a single night. As traditional target species are wiped out boats begin catching deeper sea species – many of which we know very little about.

Bycatch refers to the capture and death of non-target marine animals during commercial fishing. It is the additional cost of the seafood we eat and is one of the principal threats to marine biodiversity worldwide[2]. Prawn trawling can catch up to 10-20kg of bycatch for every 1kg of prawns caught[3]. Bycatch is indiscriminate and can include even protected and critically endangered species like the Grey Nurse Shark. It is a very wasteful and unnecessary practice that would probably never have been allowed to exist on land, but in the ocean no one sees it occurring so it is seen as an acceptable cost.
Action: Buy MSC Certified Seafood and campaign for action on bycatch reduction.

Shark finning
Shark fins are a delicacy popular as a status symbol in many Asian countries. It is one of the cruellest practices perpetrated against any animal. Sharks are caught, their fins cut off while they are still alive, and released to drown or bleed to death. Everything but the fins (95% of the animal) is wasted as shark meat has comparatively low value compared to the fins and would take up valuable cargo space. Shark finning is largely unmanaged and unmonitored or illegal. These sharks come indiscriminately from all species and age groups and the practice threatens the stability of marine ecosystems where sharks are the apex predator[4]. It is estimated that more than 100 million sharks are killed for their fins annually, or about 270,000 every day, threatening many species with extinction. Shark numbers around the globe have declined by 90%[5].

Ocean acidification
One of the reasons the impacts of our CO2 emissions have been reduced so far is because the ocean absorbs about a third of the CO2 emitted from burning fossil fuels. The cost of this is the acidification of the ocean. As CO2 dissolves in seawater it produces carbonic acid, which reduces the pH of the seawater. Global ocean pH has dropped globally by about 0.1pH units since the industrial revolution. This is not alarming itself, but the rate of change is concerning. Ocean acidification has worrying potential impacts on marine organisms that rely on carbonates to form their shells, such as corals, calcareous phytoplankton and molluscs[6].
Action: Reduce your carbon footprint

Coral bleaching
Coral can bleach, or lose its colour, when it is stressed. A major cause of stress is increasing water temperatures. There were major bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef’s inshore waters in 1998 and 2002, creating concerns about the reef’s health. Predicted temperature increases due to climate change are a major threat to the survival of coral reefs around the world[7]. 
Action: Campaign for erosion, carbon and pesticide use reduction in our farmlands

Sea level rise

 Global average sea levels rose at the rate of 1.8 mm per year from 1961 to 2003. From 1993 to 2003 this rate increased to approximately 3.1 mm per year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will continue to rise, and possibly accelerate as climate change continues. This is due to a combination of the thermal expansion of the oceans as temperatures rise, the melting of ice around the world and changes in water storage on land. Increasing sea levels will lead to increased coastal flooding and storm surges, increased coastal erosion and salinity of rivers, the loss of low-lying coastal communities and infrastructure, the loss of mangroves and wetlands and impacts on marine ecosystems such as coral reefs[8].

Action: Reduce your carbon footprint

Marine Pollution
Eighty percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. The majority of the waste we produce on land eventually ends up in the oceans – either deliberately or through run-off from rivers and drains. This includes sewage, oil, fertiliser runoff from farms, toxic chemicals (which accumulate in predatory species such as tuna and dolphins) and solid garbage (such as plastic bags, plastic six-pack rings for drink bottles and cigarette butts), which is often swallowed by marine animals[9].
Action: Use reusable bags for grocery shopping and don’t litter. It is also recommended that you cut each circle in plastic six-pack rings for drink bottles before placing these items in the bin to prevent them strangling wildlife.

Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) or Marine National Parks provide protection for marine habitats to enable the reproduction and protection of marine biodiversity. MPAs protect the breeding areas of commercial fish species and increase fish catches in the surrounding areas. They are also very valuable for education and research; and can be used in the conservation of threatened marine species such as dugongs, turtles and dolphins and the habitats they depend on. Scientists recommend the protection of at least 20-30% of each marine habitat to ensure the health and productivity of the ocean[10].

Call to action
The Legend of the Starfish
“A vacationing businessman was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy.
Along the shore were many starfish that had been washed up by the tide and were sure to die before the tide returned.
The boy walked slowly along the shore and occasionally reached down and tossed the beached starfish back into the ocean.
The businessman, hoping to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense, walked up to the boy and said, "I have been watching what you are doing, son. You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day. Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time. Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?"
The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said, "It makes a difference to that one”.”

Creation invites us to reveal our nature as the Children of God by being the agents of God’s redemption of creation. By caring for the oceans we show our love of God, its creator, and our obedience to God’s will and ways. Jesus’ teachings tell us we must start with ourselves and our own actions, knowing we can save the world if we change ourselves and let that influence others.

Closing Prayers
Lord God Almighty, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of Heaven and Earth,
Thank you for the gift of Oceans.
Thank you for the way the vast breadth and depth of the Ocean reminds us of how wide and deep your love is for us.
Thank you that the power of the waves crashing against the seashore reminds us of your incredible strength, and that nothing can ever stand between us and that love.
Thank you Lord that you care for each and every one of us when we are like the starfish washed upon the seashore, needing you to save us.
Thank you for the remaining mystery and unknown areas of the oceans, our last frontier.
Thank you for using this mystery, this sense that we will never truly understand all the wonders of your creation, to remind us of your great mysteries that will always be beyond us.
Thank you for the way you have made the oceans teem with life of every shape and size. Thank you for their incredible diversity and the way it reminds us of your power, care and attention to detail.
Lord, many years ago we began to realise that the land was not as vast and invincible to our impact as we thought. We began to notice the great scars we have put upon her surface. Now Lord we begin to see that the ocean too is harmed by our actions. Help us to do what we can, as your people, to speak for the oceans.
The oceans are voiceless because they are often far away and out of sight. Help us to be good neighbours to the voiceless and the vulnerable.
Thank you that even though everything we do may only be a drop in the ocean, the ocean would be less without that drop.
We commit to preserve life that your creatures might praise you.
Lord we join with the ocean and all its creatures to praise your Holy name and we lift up our voices and hearts in praise to you.

Encourage reflection and prayer on today’s study.

Quotes for further reflection
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

I find myself at the extremity of a long beach. How gladly does the spirit leap forth, and suddenly enlarge its sense of being to the full extent of the broad, blue, sunny deep! A greeting and a homage to the Sea! I descend over its margin, and dip my hand into the wave that meets me, and bathe my brow. That far-resounding roar is the Ocean's voice of welcome. His salt breath brings a blessing along with it ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Additional Resources
Australian Marine Conservation Society
Bycatch Animation – a very good explanation of the concept
Ocean Acidification
Sharkwater website (shark finning and bycatch)
Ocean Pollution
Ocean Conservation
Article on fish scarcity by Catholic priest Sean McDonagh
A Theology of Fly Fishing

Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+