Caring for Creation, Caring for Communities: Faith and the Environment in Language, Education and Development Work

Caring for Creation, Caring for Communities: Faith and the Environment in Language, Education and Development Work

Humans have always had a strong connection with the land and environment, be it as a means for sustenance, an object to respect or worship, a resource to exploit, a space to enjoy, or a societal and psychological anchor for being. Our relationship to a place is a foundational aspect of our identity and so changes to that place or environment become major influencers of changes in ourselves, our communities, our livelihoods, our well-being, and in some cases, our ability to survive. As a result, few of us can overlook the vital importance of caring for our environment, both for our own resilience and well-being as well as for those who will come after us. While for many this connection may have weakened over time, influenced by technological and mechanical advances, minority ethnolinguistic communities continue to have a particularly strong connection to their environment.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority of the earth’s people identify with one major faith or another. In fact 80% of the world’s population, well over four billion people, is estimated to adhere to one of 11 major world religions, while traditional religion remains widely practiced within many minority language groups. Faith is therefore a powerful force motivating human behavior and it should be no surprise that many faiths have much to say about caring for creation. Caring for Creation–also referred to as faith inspired and motivated environmental sustainability–is a concept present in several major faiths, most notably Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Other faiths also have tenets or practices that promote environmental sustainability.

This Community of Practice event will explore how these two ideas–faith and the environment–come together. We will explore how our faith and their teachings inform those of us working in language, education and development (LEAD) activities with non-dominant language groups, and how this can guide and motivate us as we look to serve communities more appropriately. How can we and the people we love and serve increase our resilience while contributing to healing this planet?

The LEAD Community of Practice is made up of people of differing faiths and no faith. As we come together we always recognise this diversity and benefit from the range of perspectives it brings on the issues with which we are all grappling. For this event in particular, however, it is important to note that for a number of reasons, including both the majority faith demographic in our group and the development of the topic, much of the focus will be on Christian Creation Care. Nevertheless, as with all topics discussed in our community, we eagerly look forward to exploring the importance and outworking of each one of our different faiths in our interactions with the environment. As a result we warmly welcome people with any or no faith to this event and expect it to be very relevant to all, regardless of your own faith background.

Event Goal:

Participants will develop an (increased) awareness of how environmental sustainability and faith are integral to one another, explore how faith is lived out daily as people and communities engage with their environment and sense of place, and see how engaging with the environment facilitates a more appropriate response to community needs and challenges.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the event participants will...

  1. have gained an awareness of creation care perspectives for their own faith as well as an appreciation of those of other faiths present through introspection, exploration and exposure to a variety of examples of faith-based environmental initiatives.

  2. be able to express the value of faith-based creation care to their organisations and/or communities, and will be equipped to promote faith-based environmental sustainability as an essential component of their personal and corporate goals and activities.

  3. have identified actions and/or changes that will demonstrate their commitment to creation care individually, and that will build resilience for environmental change and climate change in the communities where they live and work.

  4. learn how to help communities network with other communities and stakeholders to build sustainable alliances.  

  5. have strengthened existing connections within the community of practice and initiated new partnerships for future synergy on environmental activities.

    And by six months after the event participants will...

  6. have incorporated at least one major change or creation care-related initiative within their community or organisation (e.g. drastic reduction of plastics and waste).

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You may have been at, or had colleagues attend, the last event exploring the connects between the Environment and language, education and development. Take a look at the event narrative from that event to remind yourself how important this topic is and to start looking forward to this opportunity of learning and sharing together.

LOGISTICS

When? 8-11 May 2019 (4 days)
Where? Ubud, Indonesia. Venue to be confirmed.
How? The event will be facilitated in English, adopting a participatory style. Feedback to the whole group will be in English, but participants are encouraged to use whichever languages they are most comfortable with when working in smaller groups. The event will involve a day of ‘field visits’, seeing first hand how to integrate caring for creation and communities.
Costs? Early-bird registration (before 1 March 2019): 150 US Dollars per person. Registration from 1 March 2019 until registration closes on 12 April: 200 US Dollars. This fee covers all event materials, lunch and snacks for 4 days, and the field visit trips.

Accommodation: Participants are responsible for arranging and paying for all their travel, accommodation and food costs (including evening meals, local transport and - of course - flights). A wide range of accommodation is available in Ubud to suit all budgets but please take care in ensuring that your chosen accommodation is easily accessible to the venue.

Any questions? Check out the FAQs and email languageimpact@sil.org if you have any remaining queries.

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