By Rev. Carol Bodeau firstname.lastname@example.org
The month of October at Westside this year—in our series of “grassroots theology” topics—is focused on nature and the environment. We are kicking October off with our annual Animal Blessing on Oct. 6, and later in the month we’ll be hearing from the local Interfaith Power and Light chapter about climate change, as well as from some in-house thinkers (David Howell, Linda Fippin, and Yetta Jaeger) on the topic of evolution and creation. This month also includes our annual church retreat at Pickett State Park, and we’ve just finished our first Spirit Quest camping trip.
So topics of environmentalism, which have been in the public eye with last week’s climate marches and strikes, and our connection to the earth are also at the forefront at Westside. The way this has come most powerfully into our sphere recently was a series of encounters with developers and the city of Farragut regarding clearing of the forest adjacent to our playground area. The clearing was done as part of making way for a new housing subdivision that the owners of the land next to ours hope to begin soon. As some of you may have heard, the exchanges included calls to various city officials, Westsiders creating a ‘watch line’ to make sure the developers honored the buffer zone between their property and ours, and me stopping a bulldozer from ploughing across that line.
It wasn’t newsworthy in any big sense, but it was a very direct experience of Westsiders grappling with the challenges that come when humans have competing ideas about how best to manage our natural home. There are many competing values, needs, and interests whenever questions of the environment come up, and these can be difficult—if not impossible—to simplify into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides.
One of our 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism is honoring the ‘interdependent web of life of which we are a part,’ and for many of us that means engaging in a wide range of activities to protect natural areas and other species. How do you feel about environmentalism? Or environmental activism? And where do you think Westside should put its energy on this topic?
Join me on Sunday, Oct. 6 after the service for a discussion about this topic, or share your ideas by email. Let’s talk together about what it means to be good stewards of our corner of the ‘interdependent web.’