From our friends at Renewal: Students Caring for Creation. Here's a collection of updates and photos from Tyler Amy's latest visit to the West Coast.
Azusa Pacific University, California: Bikes are in abundance. This semester, students are starting a new bike repair shop on campus.
Westmont College, California: The garden is looking tasty. Much of this food is being used in the university dining commons. The dining services even hired a Westmont alum (and Renewal SLT alum) to be a part-time gardener. Keep up the great work Anthony.
Biola University, California: Another great looking garden. This space has seen significant improvements in the last year due to many volunteer hours by faculty, staff and students.
Trinity Western University, British Columbia: Students are removing invasive plant species from the riparian zone at the A Rocha Brooksdale Environmental Centre. The Little Campbell River is home to many aquatic species, including delicate salmon runs. Removing the invasive species and planting native trees and shrubs ensures the waters are protected.
Northwest University, Washington: This building used to be a part of the Seattle Seahawks (football) training facility. When the building came under university ownership, they retrofitted it - making offices, classrooms and a fitness center.
Seattle Pacific University, Washington: Students are getting their hands dirty. Much of the produce grown is given to the local food pantry.
George Fox University, Oregon: This group of students meet once a week, hoping to seek truth together. They invited Renewal to the meeting. We talked about what it means to care for creation and the importance of living sustainable lives. We tried practicing sustainability by planting basil and tomato plants.
Warner Pacific College, Oregon: The sticker on this van says it all.
by Tyler Amy
For years, my mom has talked about owning her own Singer sewing machine. She recalls some of her earliest memories of sitting on her mother's lap as a youngster, watching the treadle bob up and down, wheels spinning, needle stitching. A treadle sewing machine, if you've never experienced one, is foot powered. A simple pedal, or treadle, when pumped by foot in rhythm, turns a belt that turns a wheel that allows the needle to stitch. (I apologize for my basic description for all you longtime treadle users, but you get the idea.) Probably the most well-known of these sewing machines are those produced by Singer Manufacturing Company, or a variation of the Singer name.
Dad recently came across a gorgeous, old Singer sewing machine. It was left in an estate sale of a well-known woman in town. She lived to see 88 full years and at some point during her years, her mother passed down this Singer to her. Dad inquired about and inspected this machine. All sewing parts seemed to be in good working order, except for a spent leather belt, and the wooden desktop and drawers seem to be in good condition, albeit they could use a little oil.
When mom unveiled it Christmas morning, she was struck. She inspected it from top to bottom, opening the drawers, admiring the ornate designs of this particular model (Model 127 aka The Singer Sphinx). Dad smiled and knew he made the right decision.
Of course, we all know the expensive presents, the Black Friday shopping, the 'gotta-have' gifts is not what Christmas is about. My parents understand that, but they do enjoy getting gifts for the family that have real use and aren't wallet-busters.
The Singer sewing machine is a perfect example.
Mom's "new" treadle sewing machine was made in September of 1917 in Elizabeth, New Jersey (surprisingly, you can research that rather easily with the serial number). The machine has not sat idle, but shows the signs of use and also of care. The drawers contain bits and pieces of fabric, labels, pins and other assorted pieces. Although she didn't sit down and stitch a quilt on Christmas morn, mom has plans for her Singer to get back to work and not merely collect dust. It will add beauty to the house and will be much quieter than today's electric sewing machines.
This got me thinking: How many iPods are going to be in good working condition in the year 2105? (Remember: the Singer is 94 years old.) We could look at the most popular advertisements this holiday season, Consumer Reports, shelves of any mega-box store, or a variety of other places and find very few things being sold today that we can genuinely imagine lasting 94 years or more.
Even now that I'm in my mid-twenties, I still learn lessons on Christmas morning. The lessons used to be about giving, sharing and loving neighbors, or at least cousins. This year, the lesson I learned was to live with less. As retail stores want us to believe the Christmas season is becoming more and more about, well, more and more, may we find ways for it to be about less and less. May we consume less and consume better.
Tyler Amy is the National Coordinator of Renewal - a Christ-centered, creation care network that focuses on inspiring, connecting, and equipping college students in their work on campus. He lives in Buffalo, NY and is eagerly anticipating a warm quilt made by his mother on her new Singer.
by Tyler Amy
This week Renewal hosted their annual Day of Prayer, with the theme this year being water issues. As students from Alabama to Alberta creatively gathered on their respective campuses to pray for water-related issues, I sat at my desk staring out the window wondering how much longer November could fight off the snow here in Buffalo, NY.
I began praying for water-related issues here in the Great Lakes region but something felt wrong or out of place.
Now, I know God does not care whether I pray at my desk, in a church or atop a mountain, but it seemed as if God was asking me to step outside to pray.
I felt it was only appropriate to go where I could experience some water Buffalo's LaSalle Park. The spacious park sits overlooking the junction of Lake Erie as it turns into the Niagara River. The water will flow northward until it takes a plummet over the legendary Niagara Falls and then on to Lake Ontario.
As I sat at a well-worn bench and looked around, I realized how interesting of a place I was at. Ahead of me flowed Lake Erie and the Niagara River with its countless creatures, behind me only one hundred yards sat the historic water pumping station for the City of Buffalo and beside me waddled numerous ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis). Each of these players (any many more), including myself, depend on Lake Erie and the Niagara River everyday. It's our common bond. It's our life source.
Now I'm not trying to say the Niagara River has magical powers. I'm merely trying to articulate how essential water is for all of us " human and non-human. God's reveals to us the importance of water throughout scripture. One of my favorites is when Elisha heals the water of the city of Jericho (2 Kings 2:19-22).
As I reflect on why hundreds of students, staff and faculty across the US and Canada prayed for water issues this week, I am reminded that God is delighted by those who seek His healing, comfort and wisdom in all matters of life, including one of the most important how we use water.
Tyler Amy is the National Coordinator of Renewal - a Christ-centered creation care network that focuses on inspiring, connecting, and equipping college students in their work on campus.
by Gretchen Peck, Renewal: Students Caring for Creation
Today’s walk can be summed up in two words: wet and cold! It was in the 40’s and started raining about five minutes into the walk. Thankfully we didn’t have far to go and the scenery was beautiful even in the rain. Our trail ran along Greenbriar River, one of the six rivers that flow out of Pocahontas County.
After reaching Marlinton we dried out at the laundromat and ate some good country fixins’ (pinto beans and cornbread for me thank you!) at a local restaurant. Currently, we are at Allen Johnson’s library which is the only one in the state to loan out fishing poles and binoculars. (This library also won an award in 2003 for being the best rural library in the US.) Tonight we are participating in a meeting similar to last night’s where we will meet and speak with members of the community.
(Post regarding Monday, May 11, 2010)
By Gretchen Peck,
I think we are falling in love with West Virginia. The past two days have been filled with so much good"good walking, good people, good food, good conversations, and good sights. Yesterday morning we departed from a town called Summersville. The walking was mostly on a two lane road with part diverging onto an old railroad bed. In the morning we worshiped at a little Methodist church which welcomed us warmly (even though we hadn't showered in a couple days"). West Virginia is filled with churches. There's just about every denomination you can think of and they all start at 11 o'clock. We probably passed at least ten during the fifteen miles that we walked.
After our full day of hiking we ended in Richwood where we met up with a new addition to our group-Elaine and also our host for the night-Bob Henry Baber. Bob took us up (literally) to his farm which lies above 4,000 feet and along with another friend Ronda, served us a delicious meal. One of the highlights was getting to dig up ramps from the woods. Ramps are a type of leek and are celebrated in West Virginia. In fact, Richfield boasts the largest ramp festival every spring. Apparently, ramps also have something to boast about"their lingering pungency on a person who consumes large amounts of them!
Another highlight of the evening was sitting around Bob's table sharing each of our stories. Bob is an especially gifted storyteller. He told us about his work on reclaiming a clear-cut mountain and shared with us beautiful poetry that he wrote about the coal industry.
This morning, we were very blessed to spend the whole day walking through the Monongahela National Forest. The foliage changed from tulip trees and sycamores to birches and hemlocks as we increased in altitude. This preserve is interesting because there is a little pocket of northern-like biome with cranberry bogs and trees that normally only grow in higher latitudes.
We have also been blessed today with good conversations. Walking is an excellent way to get to know someone and a perfect opportunity to discuss paths and goals. We learned that Elaine wants to be trained in leading silent retreats and we helped Ben discern what he should pursue in grad school.
The day ended at a Methodist church in Hillsboro where a full spread awaited us. We feasted! Afterwards Mitch led a talk with some community members on our call as Christians to care for the earth and how we can do that in our own churches and homes.
Our final treat for the day was seeing our lodgings for the night. A mountain lodge complete with a glowing fire (yes, it's cold here) and lofts greeted us and we responded with "wows" and wide eyes. Susan Burt runs a camp for girls here at High Rocks. Susan is a visionary and has a contagious spirit. She started High Rocks as a place for young girls to be encouraged in faith and character and to equip them for college feeling smart and beautiful. I wish we had more time to stay here but tomorrow we're off to Marlinton!
Seventeen point five miles down! And we're (mostly) in good shape and ready to rock and roll again tomorrow. Today was a perfect walking day. Beautiful blue sky, a nice breeze and not too many hills. At our starting point in Ansted we were blessed to be joined by a few members from the community (and a friendly puppy!). Also along was independent journalist Michael Garrity from Dayton.
Most of the mileage was along a four lane highway but we were still amazed by the blooming black locust trees, American goldfinchs, and a black rat snake. We passed several breathtaking sights as we crossed bridges over the Meadow River and the Summersville Resevoir.
Suprisingly, we didn't get bored of each other and even had fun picking up trash along the road. In the span of a couple miles we filled a trash bag.
Tonight we have the privilege of staying at Summersville Presbyterian Church which is pastored by the barefoot Reverend Greg Kuper. Rev. Kuper shared with us the initiatives that his church is doing to encourage sustainability. This past winter they reduced their gas usage by over 30 percent and they offer recycling services to congregation members.
We're looking forward to another day of being outdoors and enjoying god's creation tomorrow"but first a good night's sleep!
You can see Rev. Mitch, Alexei, and Gretchen and their reflections on Day 1 here.
(From Friday May 7, 2010)
By Gretchen Peck, Renewal : Students Caring for Creation
After an early morning and long drive from Washington DC, we arrived this afternoon to West Virginia. Mitch and Clare Hescox, Alexei Laushkin, Ben Lowe and myself were greeted by Allen Johnson and Rebecca Eppling from Christians for the Mountains. Allen guided us down narrow rutted roads, past coal trucks, and through hollows (pronounced "hollers") to our destination, the Stanley Heirs Park. Home to Larry Gibson, the homestead is a 50-acre plot of land surrounded by acres and acres of destroyed mountains and devastated landscape. What used to be lush mountains are now flattened terraces, what was formerly pristine valley now filled with "overburden", aka the tops of mountains.
Larry Gibson passionately told us his story and the challenges he has had to face by staying in the middle of coal industrial work. Larry spoke about the way people used to live by depending on the plants and animals around them, they respected the land, and the land provided for them. Even though his property is extremely valuable to the mining industry, he refuses to move because his family has lived on this land for generations. He has a conviction that mountaintop removal has costly human health impacts. He challenged us to think on what we would be willing to fight for, what if anything would we defend? It is in this light that he takes his stand for mountains and homestead.
After Larry's, we went to Ansted, W.V. our starting point for the walk tomorrow. In the evening, we met with Mrs. Katheryne Hoffman a W.V. resident for many years and very involved in her local community. She went on to tell us the history of her mountain conservation work in Ansted. She has had to fight to express the views of the local community, which is not interested in potential new mine work. She spoke of her community-based approach, and connected these local issues to human health and clean water.
So, on to spread and add to these stories with the people we encounter on the walk to DC. With prayer for change and thanksgiving for the beauty that still exists, we look forward to tomorrow!