A Happy New Year to you all!
This coming year I have asked the members of the board of trustees of CFET to write something about themselves and their commitment to the work of environmental transformation for these monthly e-newsletters. I hope you will find them informative and inspirational. This month begins with me.
I have been with CFET since it was a mere intuition in the minds of many people at Sacred Heart Church(October 2005). If you had told me then that we would be where we are now, I would have thought you in need of a therapist! I’m amazed at what a small group of people, with a wonderful network of support, can accomplish if they focus their energies. I got involved in this for a simple reason: the environment, this beautiful earth that we inhabit, needs champions.
My friend Lori Braunstein, founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill, tells the story of her initiation in to environmental advocacy work as rooted in seeing the film “An Inconvenient Truth” and realizing that she didn’t want to be in the position of having to tell her children that she did nothing as the environment as we know it was destroyed. That resonated with me when I first hear it and it still does. I don’t want to be in the position of telling my grandchildren that I didn’t do my “bit” to address the deep environmental challenges that humanity confronts. However, I had also become committed to doing my “bit” in Camden, particularly in the Waterfront South neighborhood where my community of faith has deep roots.
In this neighborhood the children have very few places of beauty to play in or to explore. Parents keep their kids in the house because they are afraid of the violence that can impact any neighborhood of this struggling city. There was only one grocery store in this city, so there was very little fresh produce or fruits on the tables of the residents. The corner bodegas were their source of food, processed and not so healthy. The neighborhood was also home to several polluting industry, impacting the air, the soil and the water, impacting the children’s ability to breathe, another reason to keep them inside on a sunny day. There must be something we can do.
On top of this physical reality in Waterfront South, it remains the case that for too many people, of faith or no faith, the challenges facing our environment are not even on their radar. The earth and its resources are valued as just that: resources. The environment exists to meet human needs and wants, nothing more. To suggest that nature might have intrinsic value, or that we have to change our lifestyle in order to lessen our negative impact on the environment is still a foreign idea to so many people. This is what I thought in 2005, and was why I got involved in this project which aimed to be a resource for people to begin to think differently about nature, about the air/water/soil, about the sources of our food, about the beauty of God’s gift to us in the earth.
I joined the effort that became the Center for Environmental Transformation in order to do my “bit” to move human beings to become more caring for the earth, more attentive to their life styles, more committed to a world in which all human beings can drink clean water, breathe clean air and grow food in clean and healthy soil. Today, CFET engages in educational activities with young and not so young. It has one acre of land in Waterfront South that is producing nearly 2400 pounds of chemical free produce. It has two fruit tree orchards that we hope will provide hundreds of pounds of fruit for the tables of our neighbors. We engage Camden youth to learn everything there is about growing food sustainably, and we educate them to be educators of others on issues ranging from nutrition to sustainable food systems to environmental justice. We host visitors from outside Camden, engage them in our work, and educate them about the material and cultural systems of production that have so negatively impacted a city like Camden, and the environment as well.
It is amazing the “bit” that CFET does in Camden, NJ. I’m blessed to have been a small part of the growth of this organization. I invite you to do your “bit.” What we do cannot be accomplished without your financial support. Consider a $50 or $100 contribution. All contributions are completely tax-deductible and everything goes to support our programming. Visit our website to make a donation or send us a check. Join me in doing something to insure that your children or grandchildren can be proud that you didn’t just stand by and do nothing as our planet and its people suffered. Every “bit” counts.
Mark Doorley, Ph.D.
Chair, Board of Trustees
The Center for Environmental Transformation