A Living Legacy of Environmental Justice

jason-burger-M7eapgUqKvg-unsplash.jpgAs we embark on a new year and new decade, we face many challenges as fires rage in Australia, Typhoons ram the shores of China, and heat waves last summer scorched India, just to name a few. All creation seems to be "groaning in travail" (Roman 8:22), especially the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters suffering the impact of our broken relationship with "dear Mother Earth".  As we hear these heartbreaking stories, we may easily be tempted to despair, but we can also be called to action to remedy our corner of the Earth. We are reminded that the Chinese word for crisis contains both danger and opportunity. Let us begin this new decade by seeing beyond the threat current environmental crises pose and see the opportunities to call forth our "better angels." Let us work to become courageous agents of healing and restoration as a living legacy for future generations. 

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Given the disparities among communities affected by these environmental disasters, we are reminded with this month's celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday how relevant his words continue to be:

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

The last stand of his life of service to justice in which he advocated for the safe working conditions of sanitation workers sparked his being recognized as the father of environmental justice.

We need not look far to see environmental health disparities near our home in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Participants in IPC's environmental bus tour last fall learned of inequalities in environmental health conditions of neighborhoods in Baltimore where legacy toxins are buried  in mounds and under housing developments posing long term threats to the wellbeing of these communities.

IPC's Board of Trustees is taking this call to environmental justice seriously by recognizing that "environmental burdens and benefits are disproportionately distributed across the Chesapeake watershed." These words found in their recently passed Resolution, "Ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in All that We Do,"  aim to be more than words on paper. This commitment will implement the following practices to ensure that environmental justice is front and center in all our work as IPC:

  • Strives for diversity and inclusion throughout our governance, leadership and staffing.
  • Commits to diversity and inclusion in our strategic goals, policies, initiatives, communications, and programs.
  • Acknowledges that this work is urgent and that we will always be learning.

Let's "keep on keepin' on" with the faith and dedication that Dr. King exemplified to equality, fairness, and justice for all - throughout our watershed in 2020!

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Kolya Braun-Greiner
Religious Educator