HP: What is this Earth-based Spirituality Action Team? What are the goals of the group, and who’s eligible for membership?
BE: We’re just getting started, so I’ll use future tense. The team is being organized under the auspices of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. It’s for people who want to do something about the climate crisis. It’s open to anyone, anywhere, who understands or experiences the Earth as sacred.
HP: So it’s for a certain type of Pagan?
BE: Yes, and more inclusive than that. We are advertising it as being for Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Occultists, Druids, Gaians, Goddess-worshippers, Earth-worshippers, Animists, Deep Ecologists, Scientific Pantheists, Creation-centered Christians, Secular Humanists, Religious Naturalists, and so forth. I’m sure there are some Heathens who will want to get on board. We enthusiastically welcome indigenous people, followers of African Diasporic Traditions, shamanic practitioners, and anyone who shares our reverence for Mother Earth.
HP: I’m thinking about the OTO members I know. Do Occultists describe themselves as “Earth-based”?
BE: I’m not sure how many, but certainly some do! It’s a big world with so much diversity of practice. We didn’t want to leave anyone out. The spirit of inclusion is the important thing. Even if a person doesn’t consider their practice to be “Earth-based,” they’re still welcome, so long as they’re interested in taking action on the climate crisis. It’s an action team, after all.
HP: I see there is an inaugural conference call scheduled for the 24th of September. (details below)
BE: Indeed. It will be online, using Zoom, and we have a very special guest speaker lined up: M. Macha NightMare. Many readers of HP will recognize her as a prominent Pagan, an author, an activist, and a ritualist. What’s particularly exciting is that she isn’t just speaking, she’s joining the group and aims to take an active role. She’s going to talk about interfaith cooperation. That’s something that’s interested me for years. Of course, the team itself could be considered an exercise in interfaith dialog, given the diversity we’re aiming for. But I think Macha will be talking about working with folks from the big dominant religions, like Christianity and Islam for example. I do think Earth-based practitioners have something unique and valuable to bring to the table, especially on ecological issues.
HP: How did the two of you start working together?
BE: I think it was back a few years ago working on “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” spearheaded by John Halstead. That is still collecting signatures at ecopagan.com
, by the way. A few of us connected through that project and discussed the idea of forming some sort of pan-Pagan organization focused on environmental justice. I suppose you could say this new team is the late-ripening fruit of those earlier conversations.
HP: You mentioned Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Who are they, and how did this team get started within Citizens’ Climate Lobby?
BE: Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a grassroots nonprofit started here in the United States about ten years ago, which has grown into a into a global organization. Everyone — well, almost everyone — acknowledges we have a huge problem with how we humans pump so much carbon into the atmosphere, in industrialized societies. Everyone knows we need to limit these emissions, but how? One solution that has emerged as the most credible is called “carbon fee and dividend.” The idea is you put a price on carbon pollution, collect a fee from the polluters, and then pay that back to the citizens. That puts economic pressure to change the footing of our economy, and helps the common person cope with the changes. It may only be one piece of the puzzle, but it’s a pretty big piece. That’s the solution that Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocates.
HP: But how did the Earth-based Spirituality Team come to be a part of it?
BE: Oh yes. Sorry, I got carried away. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Washington DC with Citizens’ Climate Lobby back in June. After twenty years of political organizing, it was my first time actually going to congressional offices, meeting with staff, and talking about the policy changes we need to see. That was an educational experience, to be sure. But I was also there for the annual conference for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and I attended a panel discussion with leaders from various faith-based action teams active in the organization. Muslims and Catholics and Episcopalians and Jewish folks were all represented. There are teams for Bahá’ís and Buddhists and Hindus. That’s great, of course. But our community had no visibility. And later when I looked across the whole body of attendees in a plenary session — about 1,500 people — I just knew there had to be a lot of Pagans there. And Humanists. And Earth-worshipers. And so on. So when I got home, I meditated on it. Do I have the capacity to take on trying to organize something like this?
HP: I guess you decided yes.
BE: But I can’t do it alone! Citizens Climate Lobby offers some good support in terms of pointers and guides and an overarching structure and philosophy. More to the point, if this team is to succeed, we’ll need a steering committee of people willing to take an active role in setting the agenda, planning the activities, and communicating. That will be something I’ll definitely bring up on this first call.
HP: Thanks for your time and effort, Bart.
About the Author: Bart Everson
What can we learn, and how can we teach, from the cycles of the Earth — both the cycles within us, and the cycles in which we find ourselves?
In addition to writing the A Pedagogy of Gaia column here at HumanisticPaganism,Bart Everson is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband and a father. An award-winning videographer, he is co-creator of ROX, the first TV show on the internet. As a media artist and an advocate for faculty development in higher education, he is interested in current and emerging trends in social media, blogging, podcasting, et cetera, as well as contemplative pedagogy and integrative learning. He is a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana, past president of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, sometime contributor to Rising Tide, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle.
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M. Macha NightMare