Each one of us has an environmental story. It is the experience or collection of experiences that inform our environmental activism today. Our environmental stories are what motivate us to be good stewards of the Earth, move us spiritually or morally, and inform the decisions that we make every day to lessen our impact on the environment. Stories play a vital role in environmental conservation and activism: they bring people together, bridge gaps in culture, language, politics, age and education, and allow both tellers and listeners the chance to contemplate the world around them and their place in it. Stories can prompt listeners to change their minds or be called to action, something which facts can rarely do.
As we welcome in the month of July and I begin my last month as an AmeriCorps member at IPC, I find myself thinking a lot about environmental stories – about my own, the many people I’ve met during my time at IPC, and the faith traditions that bring us all to this work. Stories unite all of us in our creation care work, and they are going to sustain and grow the movement we are building here at IPC.
On my first day at IPC I was asked to share my own environmental story. This was the first time I was ever asked to pinpoint the moments, places, and people that moved me to pursue a career that is rooted in the environment. I reflected back on my time praying outside at Jewish summer camp in the beautiful woods of New England, the times I went to the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall with my mom and learned about renewable energy and zero waste practices, and the many Shabbats (Sabbaths) I spent outside in the park behind my house as a kid. This exercise was deeply meaningful to me because it allowed me to formulate my own story, one from which I can draw inspiration and can be used to inspire others. I have since returned to my environmental story many times, for it has soothed me in times of doubt and motivated me when I felt lost.
During my time at IPC I’ve worked on growing and developing our Partner Pledge Program. We now have close to 70 Partner Congregations and the number will only continue to grow after I leave. Each new congregation comes with its own green team leaders and congregants, and with them, new stories – stories from different faith practices, personal stories, stories of perseverance during a pandemic, stories of community and resilience. Through my role at IPC I have been able to hear many of these stories, and they have brought me energy, motivation, and a renewed sense of hope. It brings me joy knowing that many others will be affected by these stories just as I have.
As my service year comes to an end, I am filled with gratitude for the time I have spent at IPC. I came into my service year wanting to expand my environmental knowledge and to gain experience in the environmental field, but I am leaving with so much more than that. I am leaving with a deep appreciation for faith communities and their power to energize, organize, and activate. I am leaving with a new, hopeful perspective and a renewed sense of energy for environmental restoration efforts. And lastly, I am leaving with a new chapter in my story that I can’t wait to share and revisit as I continue on my journey.
IPC is currently looking for a new AmeriCorps Member for 2021-22. To learn more and apply, check out our jobs page here.
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