You can think of this blog post as your first dinner invitation of 2019.
That's because next year we are making food the focus for the VEJ community.
Why food? What does food have to do with "Earth justice?"
First, what we eat has the biggest impact on the health and sustainability of our planet. Global food production accounts for 83 percent of the human race's carbon footprint! It gets worse: We throw away one third of that food every year. Just global food waste alone is a bigger carbon footprint than all the nations on earth put together minus China and the U.S.
Second, what we eat has one of the biggest impacts on which communities struggle and which ones thrive. For example, our global food production system makes food chain workers the lowest paid of any sector. Many of the people who bring us our food struggle to afford food for themselves. And their food options are often the worst for their health, contributing to higher medical expenses and shorter life spans.
Finally, eating is at the center of almost every faith tradition in the world. As a mission organization that seeks to bring people of different faiths together for Earth justice, what could be more unifying than sharing our food?
Here's a bonus answer: Everyone eats. Every person makes dozens of food choices every day. That means every person can learn to make better choices that are better for their fellow human beings and better for the planet. We want VEJ to be part of helping people make those better choices.
So, in short, eating is Earth justice. In fact, eating may be the biggest part of Earth justice. It is certainly the biggest part of most people's lives.
That's why food is our focus at VEJ starting in 2019.
So, what will that look like?
Over the last few months, our team has been working hard to create a program that will help you learn how to "eat for Earth justice". You'll get more details about these programs in January 2019.
For now, here are the highlights for you:
Celebrations and community meals
Several times over the next year, VEJ and its partners will host celebrations and community meals to highlight Earth-friendly eating and interfaith fellowship. These gatherings will take place at both VEJ's Hope House & Gardens and perhaps in homes and houses of worship throughout southeast Michigan.
Classes and workshops
You'll learn the nitty-gritty of Earth-friendly food, from "seed to table to recycling."
Our first class series on winter wellness starts in December. Check it out here.
Metro Detroit is home to some of the most innovative Earth-friendly food businesses and organizations around. These behind-the-scenes tours will open your mind to new ways of thinking about food. Odds are, you'll get to eat some good food, too!
Sustainable Organic Gardening Club
Building on our neighborhood garden program, we are launching our first "garden club." Members will learn everything about sustainable organic gardening, from "seed to harvest to table to recycling." Four modules will take members through the four seasons of gardening: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Volunteering for discovery and hands-on learning
Our volunteers come to VEJ to do more than just help; they come to deepen their understanding and to learn. We are planning to host hundreds of adult and youth volunteers at Hope House & Gardens in 2019. Those volunteers will learn about the impact food makes on people and the planet. They will also get to know Earth-friendly food practices by "getting their hands dirty."
This is the one VEJ program that doesn't make food its focus in 2019. We believe the greatest gift we can give anyone is the gift of wonder. Nothing changes hearts and minds and fills them with kindness and love like a sense of awe. Monthly Wonder Walks will take you to some of southeast Michigan's most amazing natural places--some of them are not even open to the public! Both a nature expert and a spiritual director will guide the tours, making them one part learning and one part meditation.
Our first Wonder Walk is coming up on December 1. Check it out here.
VEJ Youth Club is an after school and summer program that is one part environmental education, one part leadership and personal development, and one part tutoring. Elementary school age children from the neighborhood come to Hope House & Gardens once each week to participate in a hands-on lesson on how to "eat for Earth justice."
So, now what?
Now that we "whetted your appetite," please stay tuned for more details to come in the next few weeks. We really hope to see you at one (or many) of these programs in 2019.
Meanwhile, as 2018 is ending, we are in the most important few weeks for fundraising at VEJ. More than half of our annual operating funds come from year-end gifts.
So, as you're going about your year-end giving for 2018, please make a gift to VEJ. You're going to make these programs possible for everyone they "feed."
I suggest you give via our Facebook page on #GivingTuesday (Tuesday, November 27). Gifts that we receive via Facebook on #GivingTuesday may be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Or, you can give anytime at our online gift page. Through the end of the year, PayPal will be matching 1 percent of every donation we receive on our website.
If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to Voices for Earth Justice and send it to 15894 Greydale Street, Detroit, Michigan 48223.
Thank you for being part of the VEJ community. We so look forward to seeing you and serving you at our table in 2019.
Grace and peace,
BT Irwin, executive director
Voices for Earth Justice