Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Healing Initiative: Faith groups, Native Americans vital part of EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge

EHI-challnege info:

"Garbage Monsters" teach lessons to tribal students in Wisconsin; Native Americans and interfaith groups help collect a million pounds of e-waste, and a million pills to reach goal of EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge


(Kesenha, Wisconsin) - Tribal school students and their parents recently learned a creative lesson about the environment and the human capability to waste as they rummaged through their trash to find discarded items that were used to make the heads, legs, arms, eyes and bodies of "Garbage Monsters."

The students even named their multi-colored Garbage Monsters.

These same students will be cleaning up a town on their Wisconsin reservation this week as part of a Great Lakes environment project involving hundreds of cities in eight states.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has three projects underway to honor Earth Day 2008.

More on that in a moment.

EHI logo

Faith leaders across eight Great Lakes states are urging their members to participate in an Earth Day 2008 challenge to collect one million pounds of electronics and more than one million pills because trust is needed between all people to stop an environmental crisis.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge has moved into high gear with more than 100 projects involving literally hundreds of communities collecting pharmaceuticals, electronics and household poisons.

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (MITW) is holding a curbside pickup of electronics for members during Earth Week, April 21-24.

Over 1,000 pounds of electronics have been turned in at the MITW transfer station since April 1 and the total weigh of circuit boards to be recycled is expected to reach several tons by the end of the month.

The College of Menominee Nation is hosting pharmaceutical and electronics collections on April 22.

An EPA grant to the non-profit interfaith Earth Healing Initiative (EHI) is mobilizing religious communities in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.

Photo of Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

A Lutheran Bishop who has participated in interfaith Earth Day recycling projects for three years in a row encourages people of all faiths to get involved and help protect the environment.

We are in an environmental crisis in many ways, said Lutheran Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The Great Lakes watershed is really kind of a mother to all of us here in the populated areas of the upper Midwest, he said.

Interfaith environment projects like the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge will help ensure a better future for all humans, Skrenes said, adding sometimes its relationships and trusting each other that really count in environmental work.

The culture, the society and the environment are now connecting in some fantastic new ways to build relationships between people, said Skrenes, who has recorded several videos on interfaith environment action with help from the EHI.

We are building trust along and across denominational lines, in the Christian communities and into the wider faith communities of the whole country, Skrenes said.

Interfaith groups and Natives Americans are teaming with the earth healing Initiative to promote Earth day projects in numerous cities across eight states in the Great aLakes basin.

The colorful interfaith graphic in this image (above, top left) is used courtesy of Justice St. Rain and his Interfaith Resources Special Ideas website. St. Rain is an author and a member of the Baha'i Community

Rev. Magnuson photo

The EHI involves American Indian tribes and "a coalition and partnership of churches, synagogues and other faith traditions joining together and sharing their projects and resources to heal, protect and defend the environment," said founder Rev. Jon Magnuson of Marquette, Michigan.

Magnuson said that Michigan Native Americans have been working with the Cedar Tree Institute for five years and the EHI is hoping to expandi that relationship to tribes across the Great Lakes Basin.

Progressive Christians and other faith traditions can learn a lot about respecting the planet and wildlife from the heritage and culture of American Indian tribes, Magnuson said.

Garbage Monsters created by students at Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

On Friday, April 25, students at the tribal K-8 school are picking up litter and cleaning up the a reservation community.

The students and their parents recently created "Garbage Monsters" out of bottles, paper and other items found in their trash, said Diana Wolf, MITW Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator.

After naming their monsters, the students gave a presentation on other uses for the garbage they used to make the creatures.

Garbage Monsters offer fun ways for tribal school students to learn about reuse of bottles and other items in trash.

Photos show "garbage monsters" created by tribal school students who are learning about protecting the environment at the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin in Keshena. One photo (above, bottom right)shows electronics being recycled by the tribe that members are dropping off at the transfer station.

Interfaith and Native American participation in environment projects like the EPA Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge will help ensure a better future for all humans, said Skrenes, adding "sometimes its relationships and trusting each other that really count in environmental work."

Bishop Skrenes hopes everyone across the Great Lakes Basin will participate in their local project.

Saying its not your grandfathers environment movement anymore, Skrenes said that environmental work is now more mainstream and no longer an obscure thing for a certain group of people unlike 40 years ago when he was in high school and I dare say some of my relatives said it was kind of a hippie movement.

The church is called to bring people together to be part of the healing, Skrenes said.

This interfaith earth healing effort is really a great gift that has been given to all of us, Skrenes said. It is our calling and our responsibility to assist in renewal and rebuilding - its Gods work and its the work of Gods people.

Examples of established interfaith organizations that are assisting the EHI include the University of Minnesota Lutheran Campus Ministry, the Arrowhead Interfaith Council in Duluth, the Marquette University Ministry outlets in Milwaukee, several Catholic interfaith groups and the office of Ecumenical Formation and Inter-Religious Relations at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Residents of Duluth, Minnesota will clean out their medicine cabinets on April 26 as part of the challenge.

Two previous Duluth area pharmaceutical collections held in 2007 garnered nearly 600 pounds of unwanted medications from about 400 families.

Photo of Rev. Doug Paulson

The Earth Healing Initiative interfaith liaison in Duluth is Rev. Doug Paulson, a campus pastor for Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota.

Paulson said he has spread the information to dozens of churches and temples with help from the Arrowhead Interfaith Council.

The drive-thru event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 26 at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 2626 Courtland Street in Duluth.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Earth Healing Initiative is helping with two challenge events.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District held its successful "prescription for clean water and safe kids" pharmaceutical collection on Saturday, April 19 in Milwaukee, Racine, Ozaukee, and Washington counties.

Meanwhile, the city of Milwaukee is hosting an electronic waste collection for its residents on Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in a parking lot just south of Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee

Rev. Brad Brown photo

The Earth Healing Initiative Milwaukee interfaith liaison is Rev. Brad Brown, campus pastor at Marquette University Lutheran Campus Ministry.

Brown said interfaith contacts at the university have helped distribute 5,000 of the 200,000 postcards promoting the pharmaceutical collection.

Clergy in local churches and temples have promoted both events, Brown said.

EPA grants to some of the organizers help fund projects aimed at recycling computers, cell phones and other electronics commonly known as "e-waste plus collecting out-of-date and unwanted pharmaceuticals for proper disposal in high tech incinerators.

To comply with federal drug laws, police officers and pharmacists are accepting the medications. While some of the projects have been running all month or during Earth Week, the bulk of the remaining events will be held Saturday, April 26. Collections, rules, times and dates vary from city to city.

EHI Collage

The interfaith EHI is one of numerous environment and Native American projects founded by the non-profit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, Michigan including the Earth Keepers, known for removing more than 370 tons of e-Waste, pharmaceuticals and household hazardous waste (HHW) during three Earth Day clean sweeps across the Upper Peninsula.

The northern Michigan Earth Keepers have alliances with ten faith traditions across the Upper Peninsula, and the EHI is coordinating the same relationships with religious communities across the Great Lakes and beyond.

Bishop Skrenes is among the faith leaders who have signed the northern Michigan Earth Keeper Covenant pledging to actively participate in environment projects, build bridges with others faiths, and reach out to Native American communities.

Bishop Skrenes said the interfaith clean sweep is an example for other communities in the world because it shows like-minded people with good hearts can make a real impact in their communities when tackling environmental problem that seem daunting or too big for the average person to really make a difference.

The ongoing Earth Keeper project involves the congregations of over 150 churches and temples representing ten faith communities: Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Bahá'í, Jewish, Zen Buddhist and the Religious Society of Friends commonly known as the Quakers.

The Upper Peninsula Earth Keepers set up collection sites across a 400-mile area of northern Michigan on Earth Day 2005-2007. About 15,000 residents turned in over 320 tons of e-Waste, 45 tons of HHW including car batteries, oil-based paint, pesticides, liquid mercury, and other common poisons and over one ton of pharmaceuticals including $500,000 in narcotics.

People of many spiritual dimensions resonate to this work, Skrenes said. This is a good effort for all of us to be involved with.

This is about the environment, this is about cleaning up and making things new again and restoring things to the ways they once were and can be, Skrenes said.

People who are spiritual reflect upon and think about creation, Skrenes said. We think about the lakes and the streams and the forest and all of the rest that God has produced.

The 2008 EPA challenge collection sites in large cities and surrounding areas like Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland.

Illinois: Alton, Beecher, Bellwood, Bolingbrook, Carol Stream, Channahon, Chicago, Elk Grove Village, Elmhurst, Glenview, Joliet, Lockport, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Romeoville, Shorewood, Villa Park, West Chicago, Wheaton, Woodstock

Indiana: Columbia City, Hammond, Knox, LaPorte, Fort Wayne, Rushville, Valparaiso

Michigan: Bay City (two events), Benton Harbor, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn Heights, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Goodells, Grand Rapids (two events) Harbor Springs, Lansing, Midland, Monroe, Royal Oaks, Sault Ste. Marie, Southfield, Traverse City

Minnesota: Blaine, Brooklyn Park, Duluth, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Madison, Maple Grove, New Ulm, Saint Cloud, Shakopee, St. Louis Park, St. Paul
New York: Brockport, Buffalo, Fredonia, Rochester (two events), Syracuse (two events).

Ohio: Cleveland, Grove City, Kent, Perrysburg, Sandusky, Springfield, Toledo, Warren

Pennsylvania: Erie, Lancaster

Wisconsin: Appleton, Brillion, Chilton, Crandon, Green Bay, Keshena (Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and College of Menominee Nation), Manitowoc, Milwaukee (two events), New Holstein, Oshkosh, Plover (two events), Racine, Superior, Waupaca.

paint graphic

The EHI works in collaboration with the EPA and other government and non-government organizations, said Magnuson, executive director of the Cedar Tree Institute

The EHI is organizing faith community volunteers and participants plus providing free media assistance to the Earth Day projects including press releases, press contacts, internet videos, podcasts and postings.

For more information on the EHI project call 906-401-0109.
Related websites:
Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge:
Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge event list:
EPA Press Release on challenge:
Earth Healing Initiative:

Interfaith graphics by Justice St. Rain (Bah'i Community) of Interfaith Resources - Special Ideas website:

Call Justice St. Rain at Interfaith resources:
Interfaith Resources
416 W 4th St.
Bloomington IN
Bah'u'llh, the One who founded the Faithclaims to fulfill the prophecies concerning the Promised One of all religions. His life and teachings are worthy of further study to determine the goodness of His fruit, and the validity of His claim.

Quote from Finding Common Ground
How many beliefs do you share with members of the Bah'i Community?
You may be surprised!
By Justice St. Rain
(Bloomington, IN: Published by Special Ideas, 1997), p. 11

Interfaith graphics located with help from Bahai Media and Public Information specialist Ellen Price

wk: 847-733-3559


Earth Healing Initiative Keshena, WI page:

Earth Healing Initiative:

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin homepage

College of Menominee Nation:

Earth Week Flyer - Call: Diana 715-799-5189 or Jeremy 715-799-5710:

Duluth, Minnesota:

University of Minnesota Lutheran Campus Ministry
P.O. Box 3649
Duluth, MN

UM LCM Website:

Pastor Doug Paulson page: Anchored in Christ's love, Lutheran Campus Ministry is an open, welcoming and caring Community:
Arrowhead Interfaith Council (AIC)
102 W. 2nd Street
Duluth, MN

Arrowhead Interfaith Council (AIC) website

AIC members page:
AIC President
Erik Nordgren, AIC President
AIC Interfaith Committee
"The Interfaith Committee plans events which foster interfaith dialogue and learning"

AIC Interfaith Committee Chair
JoAnn Chesser
Milwaukee, WI:

Rev. Brad Brown
Lutheran Campus Pastor Marquette University


414-288-3691 (Pastor Brown vm)
414-305-2349 (cell)
Pastor Brad Brown's blog:

Marquette University Lutheran Campus Ministry website:
Marquette University Ministry
AMU 236
1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee., WI
Phone: 414-288-6873
Fax: 414-288-3696
Campus faith list:


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