"Do unto the Earth as you would have it do unto you."
Our religions and spiritual philosophies teach us to care for the earth.
Join us in living out this Green Rule by greening our communities, helping our neighbours and healing our planet together.
M. Tracey Whiteye and companion. Photo credit: Matt Martin
It Takes a Village: Planning, Planting, Blessings and Blooms at Metropolitan United Church’s Entry Gardens.
Guest post by Dorcas Beaton, Chair of the Outreach Pillar at Metropolitan United Church.
During the fall of 2021, in the midst of the fourth wave of the COVID pandemic, tiny bellflowers in our newly planted entry beds bloomed. The product of planning, planting and blessings, this was the first sign of our garden settling into its new home.
Planning the Garden
The planning for the garden began back in 2019 with a nudge from our arts leader, Lisa Hems and Rev. Karen Bowles, to reach out to the Garden Club of Toronto and see if they could help us on a project to renew and refresh our garden beds. The Garden Club agreed. They set up a project group led by Sayeh Beheshti and her talented team, to liaise with us. Many months of planning followed. We helped the Garden Club understand what we are as a church, and our hope to see these gardens as a statement of our values. They would be welcoming to all, affirming, and embrace living with respect for creation. The result? The Garden Club presented a plan to have a pollinator garden, all native species (pre-settler plants needed by our local pollinators and suited to living in this place), and features that supported the pollinators themselves – seats that served as bee houses for gentle solitary native bees, and water reservoirs (bee baths).
The PRIDE garden, a banner across the front of the west garden, would bloom in the colour of the rainbow during the PRIDE month of June and would sing out a statement of our commitment to be an affirming church. The Garden Club jumped into action with regular posts to our church newsletter and website, and the running of a seed planting workshop.
The other part of the planning was funding. We were successful, thanks to a grant from TD Friends of the Environment via Faith & the Common Good, and rich organic soil donated by Scott’s Canada. The Rotary Club Toronto and Pollinate TO also provided grants, which helped us purchase native pollinator plants. Planning involved improving the earth as well and Met members and Rainscape TO tended to the soil in 2020, weeding and enriching it with organic worm castings and letting it rest under inches of cedar mulch and leaves from our own park canopy.
Launched in 2020, GCM empowers mosque management teams, as well as mosque-goers, with the tools they need to understand environmental issues and take appropriate action.
Greening Canadian Mosques: Climate Conversations is phase three of the GCM program.
It will build upon the communications package and toolkit developed in the previous phase of the project specifically for Canadian mosques to help guide them in improving sustainable practices, reducing carbon emissions, and reducing costs.
“The first program of its kind in Canada, Climate Conversations will continue engaging a broad range of community partners and stakeholders that include both Imams and management teams, as well as youth leaders from Canadian universities and colleges who will share inspiration and best practices,” says Michelle Singh, FCG’s Executive Director.
“Climate Conversations will not only give Imams an opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer learning sessions and trainings, it will offer a platform to a generation of diverse Muslim youth to share their concerns but also, solutions to challenges their local mosques are facing when it comes to implementing sustainability programs and engaging with their local communities,” says Saba Khan, Co-Founder and Director of Community Outreach at EnviroMuslims.
Ten GCM Community Ambassadors (Muslim Canadians) from across the country will be selected through an online hiring process and trained to recruit mosques in their provinces to sign up for the program. They will help facilitate webinars for Muslim leaders and community members that align with the content of the toolkit, as well as encourage participation in workshops and trainings related to taking climate action and learning about environmental sustainability.