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 #38: Concluding Creationtide What's next?!

September 30, 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
So here we are, concluding Creationtide this week, and I ask myself what’s next?!
Over these past five weeks, we took good time - in church and beyond - for prayers and reflections that celebrate God’s creation, and also for those that reflect our concerns and hopes. We appealed to our parishioners to exercise their rights as consumers and to shop and consume with environmental sense.  Some of us participated in practical action by supporting a Danube clean up event, and along with many other churches in Austria we sought to mobilize participation for last week’s Climate Strike march. 
Picture: The “Religions for Future in Austria” coalition of Austria-based churches had appealed to Christians to join the climate movement and demonstrate at the September 24 climate strike in Vienna. Christ Church is not a formal member (perhaps: yet), but we keep in mind their appeals and actions. Foto from the Religions-for-Future-in-Austria site.
And yet, I feel I am not “done”.  Of course, in my work as Environmental Officer, the coming 48 weeks will bring many other moments to “do” things.  We will start with a Contemplative Creation Walk in the Botanical Garden, planned for Saturday, October 8th, at 9:30 am (it’s “registration only”, so if you want to join, please send a note to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  In November, we will work with the Bazaar team to help for ChristChurch’s Bazaar to have a light environmental footprint: Incidentally, do make sure its in your calendar - it's December 12 at the Sofiensaele. Throughout December, we will research and share formats for our community to celebrate Christmas with God’s Creation in mind. And then, in 2022, will bring many new opportunities for action and reflection, including lent and Easter, and our plans to formally join the group of eco-church qualified communities.
Personally, I will look for inspiration and strength in prayers and reflections. How otherwise to find motivation and fight moments of despair and waning hope?  There are great resources around. The Anglican Church’s Creationtide website has a specific space for collecting and sharing faith-based resources; these include things such as Daily Reflections, Prayers, and   Going through the Daily Reflections, I was particularly struck that the text reserved for the last day of the last week (week 5, day 7), points the reader to John 1:1,14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….and the Word became flesh and lived among us.”  The suggestion there is to draw inspiration from Jesus and his life as directly as possible. Some such scope can be found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1:18:20) where he wrote that through Jesus, “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Similarly, also the Episcopal Church’s CreationCare commitment charts the path ahead as anchored in Jesus: We follow Jesus, so we love the world God loves. And they describe the commitment as one to form and restore loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with all of Creation. The faith-centred resources offered there are grouped in  Loving Formation, Liberating Advocacy, and Life-Giving Conservation.  Lots of inspiration there.
In scanning through what is out there, I remain impressed by the richness of thought and the energy in action visible online. I am inspired by the many many people across our church worldwide engaged in the work we have cut out for ourselves as we seek to protect and be in peace with God’s creation. And I go back to St Francis’ prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. 
Picture: A St Francis Statute in Lombardy. On October 4, the day we also are reminded of St Francis’ life, the Season of Creation concludes this year.  Source: Free from Pixabay
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 #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..