Thursday, April 7, 2011

Where We Live: Creation Corner Column, April 2011

Stand For What You Stand On: Where We Live

As this is being written we are mindful of (1) our nation's worst coalfield disaster since 1970, a year ago, April 5, 2010, at the West Virginia Massey Energy Co. Upper Big Branch Mine; (2) the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion in the Ukraine, April 26, 1986; and (3) the most recent Tokyo Japan Electric Power Company Fukushima nuclear power complex catastrophe following an earthquake and tsunami there.

And of course the first anniversary of the 2010 BP (British Petroleum) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurs this coming Easter weekend, and the world will focus on lessons learned from that tragic event.

This year that same weekend is Earth Day and Earth Day Sunday. Our April monthly column focus for that is not global, but instead is local: "Where Two or More are Gathered" (, and raises up concerns we here are acquainted with, yet need to be reminded of so we may take action on behalf of all of creation.

As we "think globally" we also "act locally" in our Susquehanna River bioregion, especially the west branch of it, and more specifically along the various watersheds locally. Helping to steward water resources is an action that people of faith can do, and the Lycoming County PA Conservation District Watershed Notes e-newsletter ( provides information about each of our nine local watershed associations (Loyalsock Creek, Lycoming Creek, Muncy Creek, Greater Nippenose Valley, Black Hole Creek, Pine Creek Preservation Association, Rose Valley/Mill Creek, Pine Creek Watershed Council, and Larry's Creek Watershed Association).

Other watershed efforts include Trout Unlimited (Susquehanna Chapter:; Northcentral PA Conservancy (; Otzinachson region of the PA Chapter of the Sierra Club (; and the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies (

There is also, from the perspective of the humanities, the print and on-line "Watershed: The Journal of the Susquehanna" (see

Also see "Water Stewards: A Toolkit for Congregational Care of Local Watersheds" (

Regarding watershed food issues, studies about "food miles" (the average number of miles it reportedly takes for your dinner to get to your table), show that many factors determine whether a food item is "environmentally friendly." In order to shrink the fossil fuel (greenhouse gas emissions) in our diets, we need to consider not just what transportation accounts for, but also how the food is produced. Eating lower on the food chain is a key (switching from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet).

Eating locally also has its place, according to an article in the current March/April "E" magazine. "Local food builds community, poses a smaller risk for food-borne contaminants and tastes a lot better. It doesn't require the refrigeration for long-distance hauling, and is often free from packaging waste."

Also, on watershed food issues, see the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture ( and and other examples of community supported agriculture (CSA).

Simple ways to act on behalf of local food production include purchasing food at a farmer's market, hosting a church "bioregional meal" (food taken from no more than 25 miles away), or growing a "garden of eatin'" on church land.

One watershed air issue, that of the "perils of barrels", (pollution from backyard burner barrel burning) is being addressed by bans in some communities, and this "Creation Corner" column compiler can provide more information on that subject (e-mail Michael Ochs, . Carpooling can also help offset air pollution.

Bible study on water, food and air issues can be guided through environmental social statements of your church.

For further aid in taking action, see For more information, contact the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches.

Remember, a healthy watershed is harmonious with the needs of people, the land and natural resources. By giving back to our environment, by providing for the health of the soil, water, air, plants, and animals, we help to create a watershed that will sustain generations beyond ours. Watershed care guides help us in this our responsibility.

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