1

Sustainable Missoula: Climate and the spirit of sustainability

As a child, I remember sitting in the pink, scratchy pew on Sunday morning next to my grandma. On sunny days, jewel-toned colors came through the stained-glass windows. Each week, I sat with focused attention and listened to the pastor, trying to take in all his words so that I could apply them to my own spiritual life.

Most of those lessons are long forgotten, though, with that space in my memory taken up by my after-church activities. My grandma would take me back to her house for lunch and then we would spend the rest of the afternoon outside.

Sometimes, I found myself kneeling in the soft earth of the vegetable garden, pulling weeds while we chatted. On other days, we explored the wild grasses neighboring her property. No matter what we did, she reminded me that, as humans, our God has asked us to care for his creation.

“He made it beautiful and with purpose,” she would say. “Just like you.”

Now, years later, I find myself leaning on her words and using my faith as a lens to act on climate. For me, this means working with people of faith on climate advocacy and bringing the faith voice to the forefront of this conversation.

Faith and Climate Action Montana is an interfaith group formed nearly five years ago here in Missoula, in response to a growing sense of urgency around the climate crisis. As people of faith, we understand that climate change exacerbates all of the injustices that faith communities have traditionally worked to address – poverty, hunger, housing and so much more – and we are called to speak out and take action.

This spring, Faith and Climate Action Montana is sponsoring a speaker series called Climate Conversations: Monthly Gatherings on the Intersection of Faith and Spirituality. Through this series, we aim to strengthen the Missoula community and build relationships with one another, which is integral to developing our home into a resilient place to live while the consequences of climate change continue to make their appearance—whether in the form of smoky summer days or winters that feel too warm.

By deepening our spiritual grounding and community connections, we hope these conversations will provide fuel for continued public advocacy and organizing that is so desperately needed in this historical moment.

Join us on the fourth Tuesday of each month, starting this coming Tuesday, January 28. Each session will feature a talk and discussion on a topic our group thought important to add to the community climate discourse. We are lucky to have a fantastic lineup of facilitators who have deep experience with each topic.

These sessions will run from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and dinner will be provided. We can provide childcare if requested in advance. All are welcome.

We are so excited to spend these evenings with you over the next five months. Whether you can make it to just one or to all, I invite you to come to this space. These sessions will be a place where we can explore these topics further, learn from one another, and do some of the heart work that remains central to fostering creative and inclusive action on the climate crisis.

Find out more about each event below:

January 28
Love, Despair, and Hope: Working Through Climate Grief into Action for our World
Presented by Penelope Baquero at First United Methodist (300 East Main Street)

February 25
Deep Time: The Journey of the Universe and the Human Response
Presented by Dan Spencer at St. Paul’s Lutheran (202 Brooks Street)

March 24
An Ark for the Anthropocene: Retelling Biblical Narratives for Contemporary Concerns
Presented by Nancy Menning at Har Shalom (3035 South Russell Street)

April 28
Native Worldviews and Perspectives on Direct Action to Protect Our Planet
Presented by Rosalyn LaPier at Atonement Lutheran (2205 34th Street)

May 26
In Praise of Trees: Allies and Witnesses
Presented by Gary Hawk at United Church of Christ (405 University Avenue)

If you need more information, you can contact me at faithandclimateactionmt@gmail.com.

Sydney Bollinger is the coordinator of Faith and Climate Action Montana and a graduate student in the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana. This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events

Every Friday. Missoula Friday Climate Strike. Noon – 1pm. Join us at the Missoula County Courthouse as we stand in solidarity with climate strikers around the world. Watch this space for strikes in other locations as well! More here.

Now through January. Dear Tomorrow Missoula letter writing project, sponsored by Climate Smart Missoula and Families for a Livable Climate. Learn more here, read some of the letters submitted so far, then submit your own.

Now through January. 2020 Clear the Air Challenge runs all month. It’s not too late to sign up!

January 27. 350 Montana’s Annual Meeting. 5:30 p.m. at the Union Club upstairs. All welcome.

January 28.  Love, Despair, and Hope: Working Through Climate Change Grief into Action for our World. The first of a monthly spring series hosted by Faith & Climate Action. All are welcome. First United Methodist Church, 300 E. Main St, 6-8pm.

January 30. UM’s Seeking Sustainability Lecture Series continues. Meets Thursdays 7 – 8:30 pm through May 7 in Gallagher Business Building room 122. Open to the public. Learn how UM, local government, nonprofits and businesses are working together to create a more sustainable community and how you can help. See the weekly schedule here.

January 30. Earth Day Organizing Meeting, 4 – 5:30 pm. Missoula Public Library. Join Missoula-area youth and families to begin organizing for Earth Day 2020. Event info here. RSVPs appreciated via Facebook or email. Co-hosted by Sunrise Movement Missoula and Families for a Livable Climate.

February 4 – April 7. 10 Steps to Personal Resilience in a Chaotic Climate. 10-week facilitated program to build personal resilience and strengthen community ties in the face of the climate crisis. To learn more or sign up, email facilitator Jenny Mish.

February 19The Big Climate Change Event at the Wilma. 7pm. Presentation you won’t want to miss + climate commitments and what we can do. Save the date and learn more. FREE and open to all.

February 22Running Up for Air endurance event sponsored by the Runner’s Edge and in support of Climate Smart Missoula. 3, 6, or 12 hour up and down event on Mt Sentinel. Sign up to participate or pledge to support runners!