Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

Letter of gratitude and encouragement to AVL City Council regarding new City Manager

The Asheville City Council is discerning the best candidates for the next City Manager.  The CCA Director wrote a letter of gratitude and encouragement to the Council.

September 25, 2018

Dear Council Members,  As you seek to hire a gifted and qualified City Manager, I am writing to offer gratitude and encouragement – gratitude for your leadership in working toward a hospitable, equitable, and vibrant city, and encouragement to hire someone whose values aligns with your expressed commitment to a resilient and sustainable future. 

First, the gratitude.

In reading the strategic leadership opportunities for the City Manager candidate I see a particular concern for children, people of color, and those facing chronic and acute economic challenges. Thank you. I share those values as well. As a clergy person within the Christian tradition, I lean into a practice of loving God and my neighbor as myself.

The encouragement.

Beyond the social, economic and community opportunities expressed in the brochure, the City has a history of investing in sustainability and caring for creation including a 31% reduction in the city carbon footprint since 2008. My hope is that your finalists for the City Manager position will all align with your priorities of sustainability, as well as your economic and social aspirations. 

Specifically, may you seek a candidate who will elevate and integrate the Office of Sustainability in order for Asheville to be a more hospitable place for the both anticipated new neighbors to Asheville while ensuring that none of our current neighbors are left behind.

May you seek someone who has experience in climate resiliency, who has a clear understanding of sustainability and who will help end our dependence on fossil fuels while moving us toward a future of clean energy innovation and collaboration.

As the Director of the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina, I have the privilege of listening to faith communities share what they deeply care about. I hear them speak not only about their own faith community, their neighborhood or their city; they seek to create a beautiful world for future generations and for all of creation.

As you hear the stories and qualifications of the candidates, may your heart quicken when you hear visions of creative leadership around sustainability. May you lean in more closely to listen to the candidates who are both brilliant and tenaciously compassionate.

It will be a difficult discernment. I can imagine you will get many well-qualified candidates to help lead this wonderful city. May the best shine in you as you seek the best in others.   

Thank you,

Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri

Director, Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina

CCA supporting the Foothills Creation Care Alliance (FCCA) Inaugural Event

CCA Director, Scott Hardin-Nieri will support the inaugural event for the Foothills Creation Care Alliance as they continue to build their network of people of faith who are caring for the earth and loving their neighbors.  Below is the press release offered by Rev. Bill Garrad.

Saturday, September 29th 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Community Room at First United Methodist Church, Hickory, North Carolina 28601
Media Contacts: Rev. Bill Garrard, EarthKeeper, Foothills Creation Care Alliance (828.962.7566, foothillscca@gmail.com or pasotorgarrard@hotmail.com)
Engaging Local Congregations in Creation Care Ministries
By Bill Garrard, EarthKeeper
September 18, 2018

HICKORY – People of faith are charged by their Creator to care for the creation. In an inaugural event “Finding Joy in Creation Care: Helping Congregations Engage in Tending God’s Good Earth”, Foothills Creation Care Alliance (FCCA) is offering a gathering to connect congregations together as they learn many ways to develop creation care ministries among their people and in their communities. The event will be held from 10:00am-12:00n on Saturday, September 29th in the Community Room at First United Methodist Church, Hickory. All congregations are encouraged to send representatives.

Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, Director, Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina will share out of his experience of working for many years with congregations in the Asheville area helping affirm and grow their creation care efforts. Hardin-Nieri also works as the creation care leader for his Disciples of Christ denomination. Hardin-Nieri enjoys accompanying people as they connect to God’s outdoor world as they do the work of caring for the gift of God’s creation.

The session will focus on six areas of creation care ministry: “Sustainability Practices”  such as recycling, waste reduction, energy- efficient transportation, “Spirituality and Worship” as in special services and outdoor appreciation events, and “Education” as congregations intentionally offer book studies, films, or integrate creation care into their curriculum for children and youth. The area of “Building and Grounds” will focus on what kind of conservation practices and earth-friendly products are used in the care and maintenance of the church campus. “Fellowship and Outreach” will explore how to establish a congregation’s “Green Team” and doing community creation care outreach projects such as community gardens. “Advocacy and Finance” looks to impact the larger community through engagement with the policy issues and their effect on creation as well as how a congregation’s decisions about investments have creation care implications.

The format will include breakout groups to learn and share about each of these areas among participants. The groups are designed so that local congregations can connect in affinity groups to encourage each other and share their knowledge and resources. Grace Episcopal Church in Morganton will display an exhibit about its recently created pollinator garden. The event will conclude with a tour of First Methodist’s “Parable Garden” including their chickens.

Foothills Creation Care Alliance’s mission is to encourage congregations in the NC Foothills to better understand the theology of creation care and to be engaged in ministries of caring for God’s creation. This inaugural event is the first of many so that through mutual collaboration, educational experiences, and securing resources, congregations may take specific actions to care for creation and engage in advocacy that sustains all life on the earth.

First United Methodist in Hickory is located at 311 Third Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601. For further information about this event or Foothills Creation Care Alliance, contact Rev. Bill Garrard, EarthKeeper, (828.962.7566, foothillscca@gmail.com or pasotorgarrard@hotmail.com)

Join the 21-Day Eco-Challenge

Join the 21-Day Eco-Challenge- CCA Registration is open.

In his book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip Heath suggests that leaders who are seeking organizational change may slip into ideas about others like “Why are these people acting so badly? They must be bad people.” Instead, he suggests that we lead by setting up situations that bring out the good in people, including ourselves. This holds true for families, churches, faith communities, neighborhoods, and individuals.

Both individual and collective changes are often difficult. Sometimes a brief restart or behavioral experiment can support a new habit. This is one reason why the Creation Care Alliance is inviting all and any faith communities and individuals to participate in the 21-Day Eco-Challenge October 3-24, 2018.

The EcoChallenge is a 21-day sustainability engagement program. Individuals and faith communities track and share their creation care progress online in a robust platform and earn points for taking action. The combination of collective action, camaraderie, and friendly competition make change a little easier — and a lot more fun. The EcoChallenge is free and open to the public.

EcoChallenge provides tools and inspiration to turn intention into action and gives participants a fun and social way to think about and act on proven solutions that make a difference for you, your community, and the planet. Over 100 actions within nine Challenge categories provide participants with diverse options to take action. Challenge categories include waste, food, health, transportation, energy, community, nature, water, simplicity and “create your own”.

You can participate in two ways.

  1. You can join the Creation Care Alliance Team Scott Hardin-Nieri is the current team Captain and can answer questions you might have.  scott@creationcarealliance.org

2. Register as a congregational or organizational team (it only takes one person to form a team)

If you are joining the October Eco-Challenge as a team, please consider naming the organization Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina/Mountaintrue with your congregational team name. This will help us identify congregations that are connected to our network while still highlighting your congregational team name. 

An example would be: Organization: Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina Team Name: First Christian Church, Black Mountain.

If you wish, you can actually have multiple teams within the same congregation such as “First Presbyterian Youth” and “First Presbyterian Elders”.

We hope to have several CCA faith community teams across Western North Carolina participate and feel like we can learn together and generate more support if we have a coordinated effort. 

Last year during the Global Project Drawdown Eco-Challenge the Asheville High School Team ranked #1 of 750 teams. 

You can get a sense of the format and impact here from the CCA team that participated last spring.

Take a look at our COLLECTIVE IMPACT- Small actions add up to big impact — this is what happens when thousands of actions are taken together.

Up to 150,402 POUNDS OF CO2 HAVE BEEN SAVED
UP TO 56,169 GALLONS OF WATER HAVE BEEN SAVED
UP TO183,396 MINUTES SPENT LEARNING
UP TO 21,165 MEATLESS OR VEGAN MEALS CONSUMED
UP TO 18,138 MILES TRAVELLED BY CARPOOL
UP TO 4,793 LOCALLY SOURCED MEALS CONSUMED
UP TO 2,677 LIGHTBULBS REPLACED
UP TO 200 HOURS VOLUNTEERED
UP TO 2,037 PUBLIC OFFICIALS OR LEADERS CONTACTED
UP TO 3,706 CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE
UP TO 493 PEOPLE HELPED
UP TO 716 DOCUMENTARIES WATCHED
UP TO 7,655 MILES TRAVELLED BY BIKE
UP TO 6,689 ZERO-WASTE MEALS CONSUMED
UP TO 35,334 MILES TRAVELLED BY BUS

Youth to gather at Mission: Earth 2018

The Creation Care Alliance and the Asheville Youth Mission are inviting youth groups from a variety of denominations to come together for food, service learning, prayer and to explore stories about creation care, justice, and faith. Read More

It Was a Week of Listening . . .

This past June, I joined other church leaders, farmers, foragers, justice advocates and theologians for the Wake Forest School of Divinity Summer Institute in Swannanoa – or as we called it throughout the week, Katuah, the Cherokee name for these parts of Western North Carolina.
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Earth Day Vigil 2018

Sunday, April 22, 5:30-7:30 pm at First Baptist Church, 5 Oak Street, Asheville, NC 28801

The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina invites you to join us for a vigil celebrating God’s creation and calling on people of faith to care for it.  We will gather outside of First Baptist Church for an afternoon of song, reflection, and to hear messages of inspiration and action from local faith and community leaders.  All are welcome!   

About Three Great Loves.   The Three Loves of Love of Creation, Neighbor, and Child are found in many faith traditions and histories.  The United Church of Christ denomination is focusing on The Three Great Loves as they work to care for the world in the next few years. Our Creation Care Alliance team found the intersectionality of this movement a compelling theme for Earth Day 2018. 

What Lent Can Teach Us About Uncertainty and Action

As spring emerges around us, some Christians are observing the season of Lent, a 40-day period of sacrifice and preparation prior to Easter Sunday. While Easter is a celebration of new life, forgiveness, and wholeness, Lent takes on a more introspective and somber tone, reflecting the defining moments in the wilderness in the early stories of Jesus. The beginning of this period is marked by Ash Wednesday, when ashes are placed on the foreheads of the gathered to indicate grief, humility and repentance. Ash Wednesday blessings often use the words: “Remember, you are from dust and to dust you return.” Men, women, children, babies, students, executives, coal miners, bartenders, everybody who chooses to receive ashes on their foreheads at this time are reminded of the fragility, gifts and natural cycles of life. Read More

Piney Mountain United Methodist Church to Reduce Carbon Emissions by 386 Tons- Featured on Asheville.com

CCA Partner Piney Mountain UMC was featured on Asheville.com for their work with neighbors sharing LED Lightbulbs.”Piney Mountain United Methodist Church in Candler will reduce carbon emissions by 386 tons and save $72,000 over 10 years as the result of a new initiative. Read More