LIVING LIGHT
Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #37: Fridays for Future in Vienna - Let’s Join them!

September 23, 2021
Rosie Evans (with greetings from Durham)
Tomorrow, Friday 24th September, the Global Climate Strike will be taking place across the world, and it’s happening in Vienna too! It is part of the Fridays For Future Movement, which began in August 2018, when Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and other young activists sat outside the Swedish parliament as a protest against the lack of action to fight the climate crisis. Since then, the movement has grown, and now more people than ever are joining in with the strikes.
 
Foto: A shot of the fridays for future grou's Austrian website. Join them on Friday, at 12pm noon on Friday, 24th, at Praterstern, or somewhat later at the Heldenplatz. www.fridaysforfuture.at
The aim of the strike this time is to demand for intersectional climate justice. The information on the climate strike webpage talks about the need for the unheard voices of Most Affected Peoples and Areas (MAPA) to be heard and taken seriously. In a previous blog, I wrote about the emotional video from the exhibition at the Hundertwasser museum, which showed communities scooping up mud with their hands to create flood barriers because of the devastating effects of climate change. This was, for me, a wake-up-call when I saw how climate change affects Most Affected Peoples and Areas. According to the Future for Fridays campaign, “MAPA voices must be amplified and centered in our fight for climate justice, otherwise even if we succeeded in limiting global warming to safe levels for life on Earth, marginalized communities would still be sacrificed and left behind, thus only part of the problem would be solved.” This is why there is a particular focus during tomorrow’s strike on the need for intersectional climate justice.
 
Foto: The Message that Climate Strike organizers and participants are sending is clear: Our planet is on fire, and we want to see change. We are all in this together! www.FridaysforFuture.at. 
I also spoke to Christ Church’s Local Environmental Officer, Monika, to ask why she felt it is important to strike, particularly in Vienna. This was her response:
 “What are we demonstrating for, here in Vienna? In Vienna, it seems, environmental mindfulness already is everywhere, from the incredibly effective waste collection through to bike paths, public transport and district heating.  Digging a little deeper, tough, reveals an astounding policy gap in our host country Austria. The Climate Change Performance Index, an international comparisons of policies suitable to slow down Climate Change puts Austria on #35, well behind the UK (#5), India (#10), or even Germany (#19).  Last year’s Climate Referendum, supported by over 380,000 signatures, led to a parliamentary hearing in February during which it became amply clear that not only is Austrian legislation way behind, but also that target setting and tax reform are direly needed.  Interestingly, right after, in April, the Austrian Court of Auditors bashed the government for poor policies in addressing climate change, pointing to the looming cost of fixing things too late, and also demanding target setting.  On the upside, policy action is now beginning to be visible, for example with the Renewable Energy Expansion law, passed by parliament in July.  The new law sets the country on a very ambitious course of aiming for 100% of electricity sourced from renewables by 2030. Plenty more remains to be done, though - in housing, mobility, industry, and so on.  So, yes, we have good reasons to join the Fridays for Future demonstrations tomorrow...!"
 If you feel inspired to take part in the strike, the meeting point is Praterstern at 12 noon, tomorrow and then the final rally will be held at Heldenplatz. You can find more information about the demonstration on the Fridays For Future Wien page, with the information in German.
 Of course, not everyone feels able or comfortable to join demonstrations in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still play your part!
   
Foto: Locations of Fridays for Future activities tomorrow all across Austria.  www.FridaysforFuture.at. 

Unable to attend the climate strike on Friday? Luckily, there are other things that you can do to get involved! Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Strike indoors: making your own sign and putting up a post on social media still counts! The Fridays For Future Website even suggests  writing and performing a climate strike song from the comfort of your own home! So get creative, and don’t forget to use the hashtags if you can! #FridaysForFuture; #Climatestrikeonline, #Digitalstrike
  2. Learn more about the climate crisis: this seems like a simple thing to do, but understanding more about the climate crisis will help you to spread the word. A simple google for information will yield many resources and sources of information. Some that I find particularly helpful are: WWF - 10 Myths about Climate Change, and Christian Aid’s Climate Justice information.
  3. Find other events/activities: there might be other events or activities that you do feel able to take part in. One current campaign I have been part of recently is Christian Aid’s campaign against climate change. There are lots of exciting ways to participate. I have also found their climate justice prayer resources particularly helpful, and I hope you will too! 

So however you feel you can help, I hope you will join in with the many people around the world wanting to do our bit to care for God’s creation. 

Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Blog #36: Why clean up the Danube

September 16, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
The mighty river Danube, defining so much of Vienna’s history and presence, is in need of “clean up”? Really? Aren’t we in the middle of Europe, where rivers and waterways fall under strict European water regulations? Aren’t many of us here in Vienna going for occasional swims in that river - and see other people swim there regularly? What’s there to clean up?
 
Foto: A shot of plastic pollution along the river Danube, courtesy of the EU funded project “Plastic Free Danube”.
As part of our commitment to Creationtide, ChristChurch’s CreationKeepers - the group of parish members seeking to mobilize us for more environmental awareness and action - invites all of us, this Saturday, September 18th, to participate in a Danube Clean-Up organized by the Austrian Green Heroes, a local NGO (if you want to go: register directly on their website!). We are not the only ones invited:  Between September 17 and 19, millions of people around the world will join hands in contributing to the World (River) Clean-Up Day, a shared initiative by the NGOs River Clean Up and World-Clean-Up Day.
 
Locations with World River Clean Up Day activities around the globe. From: https://www.river-cleanup.org/en/world-cleanup-day
Most of us will know that our waterways and oceans are in dire need of action: Some 8 billion kilogrammes of plastic pollution ends up in the ocean every year - 80% of which arrive there courtesy of our rivers.  Initiatives like the River Clean Up Day aim at removing the plastic before it even gets to the Oceans. In fact, a Clean-Up day is a great way to bring people together, to raise awareness and to mobilize consumers to demand products and waste management approaches that will prevent us from flooding our rivers with plastic.
And where is the Danube in all of this? Yes, in terms of water quality, this mighty stream is a fairly clean river; water quality is monitored regularly, and data are made public and are accessible to everyone.  But not all elements are monitored, nor are they monitored as regularly as one may want.  Specifically downriver from Austria, plastics and other pollutants are a growing burden on the river and the plants and animals that it feeds.  Here, in Austria, some 40 tons of plastic end up in the river annually, much of it in the form of micro-plastics but also quite a bit through PET bottles, packaging materials of all sorts, and so on.  Not the largest part of the total plastic pollution that ends up in the Black Sea, true. But if you ask me: 40 tons of plastic are 40 tons too many.
  
From the EU project “plastic free danube” - the red lines show plastic accumulation in spring/summer, the blue lines show the same in the autumn/winter. https://www.viadonau.org/fileadmin/content/viadonau/06Unternehmen/Bilder/Projektdatenbank/2018/PlasticFreeDanube/Newsletter/PFD_Newsletter_2019_DE.pdf
The educational and motivational impact of participating in a river clean up is unparalleled. Having participated a few times myself - both here along the Danube and along the Potomac that flows through Washington DC - I can attest to this:  I have never looked at plastic pens, bottles and cans, but also at styrofoam, straws and cotton swabs with the same eyes as I did before.
Would it be better if the plastic were to never enter the rivers?  If less single-use plastic were produced and put in consumers hands?  Yes, of course.  And there are plenty of ways for you to tell your political representatives and the firms where you shop that they should work on changing the laws to make this happen. In the meantime: Let’s make sure we clean up the mess where we can!
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Blog #35: A sweet start into Creationtide

September 9, 2021
Miya Komori & Monika Weber-Fahr

It's September - summer is nearly over, and Creationtide has started on September 1st. Originally an Eastern Orthodox initiative, and by now widely observed also among Anglican and Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations, the Season of Creation is for us a time of restoration and hope, a jubilee for our Earth, and a time to discover radically new ways of living with creation. Over the coming weeks - through October 4 - the LivingLight Blog will introduce you to different things you can do, practically, as a way to appreciate the season. This will include steps we can each take to lessen our environmental footprint, but it also includes active steps to contribute to cleaning up our environment and ways to engage politically.

One of the most important things that we can do to lessen our environmental footprint through our personal choices is to eat "in season" and to choose produce that is not resource intensive.  This blog introduces you to some ideas!  Other choices will be featured on an ongoing basis throughout the LivingLight Blog series. 

 

Watermelon - is there any other fruit more evocative of summer?  The hot-weather-relative of the pumpkin family, it grows best in sunny climes and is enjoyed nicely on a sweltering day when its chilled juices crush in your mouth and run in little rivers of cool sweetness down your chin.  It's probably most sustainable to buy the little round watermelons from Austria's sunshine region, Burgenland, but for maximum flavor and crushing juices look for the gigantic Mediterranean melons at your local market or Turkish supermarket.  Pick one with dark red (but not mushY flesh, or if you're buying the whole fruit, pick one that sounds hollow when you tap it and look for a slightly faded skin and a yellow spot that indicates it has ripened slowly in the sun.  

As they are not resource-intensive to produce, watermelons largely have a low environmental impact - though you must of course consider the transport miles for the big Mediterranean melons. At the same time, watermelon from anywhere usually have little packaging - buy it as whole as possible to avoide single-use plastic or polystyrene trays.  And, despite what many people may think, the rind is edible and full of nutrients, making it a healthy, waste-free product. 

Despite its sweetness, watermelon is actually surprisingly healthy, with 7g of sugar and 46 calories only per 100 gramm! Throw it in a smoothie or turn it into pickles!  You can put all the different parts of the melon in a salad for a delicious, refreshing summer meal - add some mint or basil, some cucumber and sliced red onion, some feta and a drizzle of fresh, green olive oil.  But perhaps the best way to enjoy it is simply in big, messy slices, juices dirbbeling down your chin, telling stories about your family that might or might not be tall tales, eyes twinkling, laughing.

 
Suika - my father/
Loves watermelon, laughing/
As we dribble juice.
 
Inspired? Thoughts or reactions? Or ideas for forthcoming blogs?  We look forward to hearing from you - best via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..