Oil Spill Art and other Eco Issues

photo by J Henry Fair, featured in The Atlantic

The office I work with focuses on four major issue areas–hunger & homelessness, health & wellness, environmental justice, and education & literacy.  We evaluate each area for an entire year through a research project and then make programmatic changes to that area based on what we find.  Last year we turned our attention to environmental justice, and I thought the process was facisnating.

I think many of us would agree that if you are a Christian, you have some sort of obligation to the planet based on God’s charge to be a good steward.  Since the earth is God’s creation and it contains finite resources, we need to be mindful of the ways we respect and honor it.  What I did not know until last year, though, was the people side of environmental issues.  I had not heard the term ‘environmental racism’–the enactment of any policy or regulation that negatively affects the living conditions of low-income or minority communities at a rate disproportionate from affluent communities–and had really not given any thought to its implications.  Then again, considering that my background makes me an unlikely candidate to receive a toxic waste treatment plant in my neighborhood, perhaps it’s no wonder.

Beginning to educate myself on environmental justice has helped me think beyond the basic mantras of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ or ‘Be Water Wise.’  Although conservation is still incredibly significant, I find it far more compelling to consider that toxic hazards are strategically placed amidst communities whose voice is less likely to be heard.  Again I am reminded that we are called to be a voice for the voiceless, where ever we find them.

On this theme, here are four environmentally themed links for you to explore:

  • The photo above is from a photo series the Altantic ran about a month ago:  “The Art of Environmental Pollution.”  They are really captivating, in a creepy kind of way.
  • Suzanne Lee is merging eco and fashion with more than just organic or bamboo fibers.  She is growing her own clothes.
  • It’s Heal the Bay Day on September 17 and you can join a crew at many beaches to clean up the trash that poses threats to our fuzzy, feathered, and fishy friends.  Did you know that whatever you pick up is cataloged, and that information helps environmental organizations suggest policy changes?  For instance, a major part of the movement to ban plastic grocery bags came from that item being the highest cataloged in beach cleanups over a number of years.
  • I think part of what makes environmental issues fun is simply that the critters are pretty cute.  If you have no plans yet, you could enjoy them and a day at the beach–the Aquarium at the Santa Monica Pier is open for Labor Day.
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