Signing “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” is a good start. But we can’t stop there. We must turn our compassion into action. Here are some ideas for realizing the ideals expressed in the Statement. These are just some suggestions. You may disagree with some of them. Find one or more that work for you. Add your own suggestions in the comments below.
- Support the movement to divest from fossil fuels.
- Resist the Tar Sands.
- Find out about fossil fuel projects being built or proposed in your region, most of which can be found in the records of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency, and mobilize your community against them.
- Organize or join in direct action. The “Organizing Cools the Planet” booklet is a good resource. Also check out the resources from The Ruckus Society. Support organizations like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and EarthFirst that engage in direct action.
- Become an ecological voice in your community: organize meet-ups to plan actions, write letters to the editor in local papers, build an internet presence to spread information (use social media, blog, create a website).
- Petition your elected representatives. Start by finding out who your federal and state representatives are at CommonCause.org.
- Get corporate money out of politics. Support an amendment to reverse Citizens United. Find out who your representatives’ top donors are and out them.
- Find out if your local politicians have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Call out any politician that participates in or is a member of groups designed to give corporations the power to write the law.
- Help reorganize the modes of production so that surplus and capital is distributed more equally throughout society and workers have decision-making power over their labor. Visit Democracy at Work for more information.
- Find ways to fight the Sixth Great Extinction and preserve biodiversity. Find out what species are endangered in your state. Create habitat for Monarchs by planting Milkweed. Oppose the use of neonicotinoid pesticides which cause Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees. Here’s 10 things you can do to help save the bees.
- Look in the mirror. How are you privileged? Do you see someone with job security? Someone who is in a position of privilege within your society? Think about how you can use this privilege to effect change.
- Do an ecological audit.
- Source all of the products you consume to reduce your alienation from the material origins of your life. Find out what each product is made of, where each ingredient comes from, how it is created, how it got to where you are, and what happens to it when you are done with it. Determine what the environmental impacts are at each stage of this process, and then ask whether you really need the product. When choosing what products to consume, chose those that are created locally and that are reusable or can be recycled or composted.
- Grow your own food and buy locally at farmer’s markets or direct from the farm. Find a farmer’s market near you. Reduce food waste in your home.
- Consider greener dietary choices, like going vegetarian or vegan. Production of meat in a factory farming settings is a massive source of pollution and contributing factor to climate change. These articles by David Salisbury and Jason Morrow are a great place to learn more about the environmental costs of meat. If you’re an omnivore, cut down on your meat consumption and buy only free-range meat.
- Stop drinking bottled water. Just stop.
- Go ahead and make changes to your consumption habits. But also remember that no slave was ever freed by individuals choosing to purchase products that are free from slave labor. The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible, but to help dismantle those systems.
- Beware of marketing ploys that have co-opted words like “green” and “sustainable”. We cannot shop our way out of this situation. We need responsible citizens, not responsible consumers.
- Act collectively, not individually, whenever possible. Help build community. Without community, we have to rely on the unsustainable economies for our needs. People who trust each other are more likely to cooperate with each other, to help each other through alternative economic means, and to collectively resist developers and polluters. Communities like this don’t spring up overnight. They take years to cultivate, but they are less likely to be bought out by Big Business.
- Resist alienation and make common cause. Resist fear at every opportunity, and build trust. Competition and fear help maintain the status quo. Their opposites are connection and joy. Make connections across cultural, racial, ethnic, religious, and political boundaries. Find ways to support similar struggles in other neighborhoods, in other countries, and on indigenous peoples’ land. Look for ways to connect your community to other communities, especially if those people don’t look or act like you.
- While climate change affects us all, there are some populations who are more vulnerable than others, including low-income communities, communities of color, coastal communities, and communities on the front lines of fossil fuel extraction. Find a front line organization near you and offer to support their work. Ask them what kind of help they need and take direction from them. Check out States of Change for stories, research, and data about climate change on a local level.
- Help build communities that are local, sustainable, and resilient. Resilient communities are those that can better withstand the shock of environmental change and economic collapse. Too many people fear that the status quo is the only one way to live. Help create alternative ways of doing what we need done, like gift economies, polyculture food systems, alternative education, alternative birthing, community governance, co-operative child-care networks, sewing circles, group meals, community gardens, barn raisings, festivals, craft fairs, and skill trades. For more information check out the resources at Resilience.org, TransitionNetwork.org, and Transition United States.
- One part of building resilience is re-skilling. We need to relearn many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted and have been lost in the last 40 years, like recycling grey water, cooking, bicycle maintenance, natural building, herbal medicines, basic home energy efficiency, practical food growing, harvesting rainwater, and composting waste. Learn to create what you consume rather than buying it. But remember that we don’t need to provide everything ourselves individually — and we can’t — which is why humans have always lived in cities, towns, villages, tribes, and families.
- Learn about the science of climate change. Here are some links to reliable sources about climate change: NASA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), National Academy of Sciences, and the Government Office for Science (UK). And learn about how scientists feel about climate change.
- Stay informed. Check out the Pagans Defending the Earth and Environmentally Engaged Paganism Facebook pages for up-to-date information on environmental issues.
- Learn how to respond to climate change deniers.
- But don’t fall into the trap of feeling contempt for your fellow human beings. These feelings are guaranteed to undercut your work. If you encounter resistance, consider carefully where that resistance comes from and build on the values people already have. Radical empathy is not only good for the soul, it will actually make you a more effective activist.
- As you learn about the climate crisis, let yourself feel grief. Don’t ignore your feelings, either through resignation or through forced optimism. Feel what you feel.
- Talk with your family and friends. Talk about your feelings. Talk about what matters to you. Talk about what in your life is threatened by the climate crisis. And when they are ready, talk with them about taking action. You will learn things that you didn’t know about your loved ones, and you will discover allies in unexpected places.
- Have a well-prepared soundbite. The best statement is short, personal, and explains why what you are doing is important. Don’t rant.
- Go outside. Connect with your local ecosystem. No matter what type of Pagan you are, you need the land around you. Even if you live in a city, there are still plants and animals all around. “Saving the earth” can seem remote if you have no experience of the land around you. Pick up some trash. Identify the plants and non-human animals around you. Find out where you are at. Take Chas Clifton’s “Where Are You” quiz or the Ehoah bioregional quiz (with helpful hints).
- Educate yourself about the connection between climate change and capitalism. Read This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. Also check out “A Pagan Anti-Capitalism Primer” by Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth.
- Find ways to keep our human population below the carrying capacity of the planet that do not unfairly burden the poor and underprivileged, like supporting programs that provide easy access to voluntary birth control, and equal access to education and work for women. Support organizations like Planned Parenthood, Girl Rising, and The Greenbelt Movement.
- But don’t blame the poor. How many shantytown dwellers and subsistence farmers do you have to add up to equal the ecological impact of a single high-powered executive? Remember that it is the ruling class that controls the options available to poor people, and whose policies, consumption habits and ideology responsible for the climate crisis.
- Unlearn capitalist ways of thinking. Capitalism infects all of our relationships: with other people, with other-than-human beings, and with the Earth. Consider the way you “value” other people. Do you sometimes calculate whether what you get from them is more than what you give in return? Think about your relationship to the place you live. Is it a place you “use”, or is it a world you inhabit, cherish, and care for? We learned these ways of thinking, and we can unlearn them.
- Face your death. We engage in myriad strategies, both individually and collectively, to distract ourselves from the reality of our mortality, including conspicuous consumption. Ironically, this consumption only hastens our deaths. Take seriously the fact that we will some day die and plan for it. Write letters to loved ones, to be delivered upon your death. Prepare instructions for your funeral services and the handling of your body. Consider green burials options.
- Foster a new relationship between humanity, other species, and Earth as a whole, through crafting or leading rituals that really connect us to these others.
- Help reground our public Pagan rituals. Do these rituals help us experience the natural world or do they cut us off from it? Do our circles connect us to others or cut us off from the rest of the world? Are we standing with our backs to the world, literally and figuratively? Is our Paganism too inwardly-focused? Is our connection to the “elements” just in our heads? Is our magic just another attempt to achieve mastery over the natural world?
- Ask yourself how “earth-centered” our Paganism really is. Do our Pagan practices reflect our values? Are our events eco-friendly? Is the “ale” were are drinking with your “cakes” in styrofoam and paper cups? Are the offerings we are leaving in nature healthy for plants and animals that live there? Are we leaving the sites of Pagan festivals in the same or better condition than when we found them? Are we consumeristic with regard to “Pagan” merchandise? Here are some ideas for “greening your magics”.
- Create art, music, chants, poetry, and fiction to help us imagine a new kind of society which has only barely begun to be dreamed of.
- Question the myths which underlie the status quo: the myth of a human-centered universe, the myth that humans are separate from nature, the myth of an inanimate nature, the myth of perpetual economic growth, the myth of progress. Remember that magic is the art of changing consciousness.
- Find a place to start. Find a cause you are passionate about, something that fuels your spirit. Here’s a Pagan Activist Starter Kit to get you going.
- Build on your strengths. Not all activism happens in the streets. Making real change needs all kinds of citizens: investigators, communicators, builders, resisters, nurturers, networkers. Find out what kind of changemaker you are. Take the quiz at “The Story of Stuff”.
- Find your focus. Not every cause must be your cause. Think globally, but act locally.
- Pray. Keep coming back to that which sustains you, whether you call it “the Gods”, “God”, “the Goddess”, “the Ancestors”, “the Spirits of the Land”, or just “Spirit”.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t forget to breathe. Take time for your self. Beware of burnout. Drink lots of water.
- Walk by yourself at night under the dark sky. Recognize that you only have one life, that you have more power than you realize, and that there is a grace and a joy that comes from using that power for something bigger than yourself. But also recognize that the climate crisis is complicated — no one person is going to solve it by themselves.
- Beware of lists — including this one, but especially those premised on an individualistic value system and those that sound suspiciously like advertising.
The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the drafters or signatories of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment”.
Many of the ideas and language above were borrowed from Patrick Robbins’ article “Twenty Things You Can Do to Address the Climate Crisis!” , “A Pagan Anti-Capitalism Primer” by Alley Valkyrie and Rhyd Wildermuth, the writers at the Pagan Activist blog, and other sources. Thanks to all of them.
11 thoughts on “Take Action”
I hope you will print out the letter and signatures and send them to every Senator and House member. Add a note that we are Pagan and we VOTE. That should get their attention.
I wish you hadn’t included going vegan in this list. I have a masters degree in nutrition and there are a number of reasons why going vegan is a bad idea. However, eating pastured animal products will support carbon sequestration. Properly grazed pastures sequester more carbon than forests and more quickly. It is industrially farmed meat that is damaging for the environment. What we need is correct pasture rotation and integrated farming methods. By this logic we should be draining swamps because they produce methane. From long experience, I know I’ll get screamed at by any vegans who happen to read this, so I’ll just put a list of links here for those who are interested and go away quietly.
On carbon sequestration and habitat restoration
A Google search for “carbon grazing” leads to many more links
When the vast majority of animal products come from factory farmed animals, then yes, going vegan is exactly what we need to do. I’m sorry but most nutrition courses (even the ones taken by MD’s) are incredibly biased towards the animal agriculture industry and should not be trusted when it’s designed by professionals who refuse to acknowledge the harm that animal foods cause in our bodies and the planet. No amount of pasture rotation is going to rid us of the incredibly damaging affects of the massive amounts of land needed to graze animals, that could otherwise be used for food. This not only leads to environmental degradation, but also to the extreme food shortages we are experiencing around the world. We need to stop being selfish with figuring out some kind of “eco” or “humane” way to raise animals for food (impossible) and just do something that is easy, safe, healthy, sustainable, and truly effective, which is ditching animal products altogether.
I’m adding one to your list: http://www.regenerateland.com/evidence-supporting-holistic-management
Because it’s not about going vegan – that can be done badly too.
Integrated farming and pasture rotation is not a solution if we are to continue producing flesh for consumption at the rate we do. The amount of land, water and plant food needed to raise the lives we eat is NOT sustainable. Optimal nutrition can indeed be gained from a plant based diet…..a supplemented one if you aren’t very careful about how you eat will do just as well. There is also the issue of changing attitudes……this planet and the lives on it are not here for us…..they are here with us. At some point we need to see ourselves as the caretakers of that and not just the takers from it x.
http://wh.gov/iKkdp This is a petition with the Whitehouse.gov site seeking the President to phase out fossil fuels for alternative paths. It would give him a Kennedy-esque style of 1961 Moon Shot Mission Program power to implement this strategy for the nation. Would it be possible to sign and share and support?
John Patrick Hill
Chicano-Earth Medicine Artist
A note: I have shared this in various pagan communities, organizations and groups of which I am a part – and while I have seen signers from those groups, I have also received feedback that required email leaves some uncomfortable and unwilling to sign, for fear their contact info will be harvested and misused.
Numbers here may also be naturally underreported due to self out-selection by pagans who are fearful to identify themselves as such publicly, due to shame or outright danger (of lost jobs, family rift, or outright assault) if their religion were identified openly.
jl, thank you for sharing the statement and for letting us know about the responses. Please advise peopme that many signatories use craft names or other pseudonyms. Also, it is easy to create an separate email account for Pagan-related matters like this, so their identity will be protected.
Dear members of the pagan community,
I possess a small farm in Hungary (near the austrian border) and I am looking for co-investors and humans, who like to live on that small spot (1 ha land) with a grove, a pond and meadow as well as a horse stable and so on in a constructive, loving way.
I would like to found a small community of likeminded persons.
Production of herbs, healing mushrooms, fruit-products (juice, wine; spirits), cheese;
a mercy refuge for animals is thought of; timber tree houses for the kids; health workshops/seminars for guests etc.
I would love to receive some messages to my letter and could send then pictures of my small farm. Details to the possible work on my project then in a Mail exchange or via Skype. Blessings of tender new beginnings –
I’d like to invite people who read this far to check out http://www.MountainsandWatersAlliance.org. In southern Minnesota, we’re calling on the spiritual powers of the other conscious beings in nature, to protect and restore the earth. And we have a place to live together, grow food, care for the natural world, all of that. Don’t be put off by the Zen part, we’re compatible with pagans.
This is worth looking into everyone: Extinction Rebellion
Meeting in NYC if you can make it this Sat, Jan. 12 2019 YES NOW!
Google it or google “Daniel Pinchbeck” for more info. This is something any one who is human needs to act. Going extinct again may not be something that has to bother us deeply, but if we have kids who will have to experience great unpleasantness and suffering….it may be worth our time to take some compassion and energy pills and get to work.