Episode 17: Leave the Campsite Cleaner

This is an interview with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of the DePaul University College of Law and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy.  The podcast celebrates the decision by Dynegy Midwest Generation to enter into a settlement agreement with the State of Illinois to remove 3.3 million cubic yards of coal ash from its current location adjacent to the Middle Fork of the Vermillion River.  Illinois’s only National Scenic River, the Middle Fork, offers one of the most diverse habitats for animals and plants in Illinois, but remains threatened by erosion of the river bank near the coal ash pits.  The coal ash will now be removed, in part, through successful collaboration from environmental groups and citizen advocacy, including:

Eco-Justice Collaborative, (https://ecojusticecollaborative.org/),

PrairieRiversNetworks (https://prairierivers.org/dynegy-vermilion-middle-fork/)

EarthJustice’s coal ash program (https://earthjustice.org/about/offices/coal).

You may also find photos of the river and its exposed river bank on those websites.  You may also help ensure implementation of the settlement agreement.  You can find action steps and options on their respective websites.

The United Nations has established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess the science related to climate change.  On August 6, 2021, it issued its most recent report including the findings mentioned in the beginning of the podcast.  You can find this report at:  https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/

For an example of a current lawful assembly engaged in protecting water against an oil pipeline, all are invited to join the Treaty People Walk for Water.  Starting on August 7, water protectors are walking from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Minnesota State Capitol Building by August 25.  For more information, see:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/16nD-olTOZndvdIi8KIRAW0i-tYAXWUcRfa9nSHir0fI/edit or you may find more information about the Indigenous Environmental Network at:     https://www.ienearth.org/?fbclid=IwAR1nr1jQM0dBW82GY8UvXSp8Gnmr9pfKmFIvA9PjGy5dL7MXiXgIzfzpqyk

Healing the World We Call Home

In a conversation with a student recently together we wondered if any good could come out of a pandemic. It took a bit of time, but eventually we were able to move past our assessment of this very difficult past year. In so doing, we found ourselves smiling over the goodness almost lost in the cacophony of pandemic chaos.

One of the bright spots we found has to do with the beauty of blossoming spring days. Because of the pandemic, our earth has been able to take a deep breath. The signs of relief are apparent in skylines no longer hidden by smog and toxins, waterways sparkling with freshness and life, and forests exhaling ever more cleansing breaths. The earth has received a moment of reprieve from the abuse that millions of its citizens heaps upon the environment daily.

Soon we will celebrate two days set aside to remind us to be kind to our environment, Earth Day and Arbor Day. These days invite us to change our habits, plant trees, stop wasting natural resources, and wake up to the fact that we can and must change our relationship with our planet. As we prepare for these special April days let us take a moment to ponder how we care for our neighbors and ourselves through caring for creation.

When we honor the gifts that the earth showers upon us, we honor our human family. When we care for, share, and serve as good stewards of those gifts, we engage in charity toward all of humanity and all of creation. Simply put, our own Vincentian vision for the world must include a commitment to caring for creation.

St. Vincent knew that the work of justice was tedious and difficult, but he offered a simple recipe for serving as change agents in the world: “ . . . one must be firm and unchanging with regard to the end but gentle and humble as to the means.”1

In caring for one another by loving the earth and the heavens, our work must include a firm and unchanging commitment that we cannot neglect once we reach the other side of this pandemic. As Vincentians we must make a commitment to be gentle and humble in our walk with creation. We must also remain firm and unchanging in our resolve to continue healing this planet we call home.

Make a plan. What will your gentle and humble walk with our planet mean for you? What kind of commitment can you make to enable the earth to continue healing? How can your Earth Day (April 22) or Arbor Day (April 30) expressions be visible witness to your commitment to caring for creation?

1 Letter 618, To Francois Dufestel, Superior, In Annecy, 20 September 1642, CCD, 2:332.

Reflection by: Rev. Dr. Diane Dardon, D.Min., Director of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry