It is the time of year when giving thanks and remembering are central activities. We give thanks for the abundance with which we have been blessed, whether it is our finances, our family, our friends or our earth. And we also remember those who have gone before us, those who have been examples of goodness and blessing. It is a time to take stock, to consider the “bit” that we have done this year, and what we might have not done. We all have our “bit” to do, and I am deeply grateful to all of you for the “bit” you have done in support of environmental justice, in support of CFET. Your partnership and collaboration is the key to the efforts we make on behalf of earth, the city of Camden and her people. We count on you to continue to invest in our efforts; it is vital to us that you do!
Stories are so important to our work. Whenever we have people spend time with us, we solicit their stories and reflections on their time with us. There are so many, such variety, such range of emotions and insights. Here is a smattering of what we heard: (Remember, these are young adults)
Something as small as getting to know your neighbors goes a long way, hearing their stories, getting to know them.
Purpose is so important. Whatever you do, be clear on what your purpose is. I felt this at all the sites we went. The people running these sites all have a purpose; it was clear to me, they radiated it. I’ve been journaling this morning, wondering what my purpose is, and realizing that it is important to answer that question.
I came to Camden with the idea that social change must be on a grander scale, with the goal of rupturing current systems. But now I understand that small things can be just as revolutionary, like gardens, spending time with a second grader, visiting a prison.
I realized that we need to take responsibility for systems that are in place, even if we are not responsible for putting them in place, but we are responsible for fixing them.
I’ve come to realize that caring for the environment is not something one can do alone; it takes a community of engaged individuals.
We’ve heard the stories of the people of Camden this week; we cannot UNHEAR them!
Each of these could be unpacked significantly, and sometimes that happens during their time with us, but often it happens some time later. However, the seed was planted, a seed of insight into the need for each of us to do our “bit” to make justice and peace more likely on this lovely planet of ours.
I particularly love the insight about hearing stories, and the fact that we cannot unhear them. That is so true! When the students from Loyola High School in Manhattan were here a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to go to a spoken word festival on the corner of 5th and Erie in North Camden. This lot has been cleaned up and beautified, and it was the site of a music and spoken word concert. It was an amazing experience, of stories being told and heard! Some young people, about 12 years old, got up to talk, in rhyme about two of their peers involved in a shooting recently. An adult got up and spoke to the way we irresponsibly treat the planet in the face of her immense generosity to us living beings. The gathering clicked their fingers in response to the truth being spoken, and we all connected to each other via music, truth telling and the power of hope.
What we heard at that festival cannot be unheard. It was a call to action, to do our “bit,” to not give up hope in the face of struggle and setbacks. The city of Camden, its people, is a story that is yet to be written; it is far from being finished, in fact its best days are ahead of it.
The same is true of CFET. We celebrate our 12th year of existence this year. There have been so many amazing things happen in our gardens and in our building, on the streets around our space, and in the hearts of all those who have gathered in CFET’s name. We will continue hearing and telling stories. We will continue offering employment to Camden’s young adults, to welcome visitors who leave champions of Camden city and Mother Earth, to advocate for our neighbors in the ongoing fight for clean air, water, safe streets, fresh fruit and vegetables, and opportunity.
We cannot do any of this without you, our partners and collaborators in this “great work!” #GivingTuesday is coming up on December 2nd. The end of the year is fast approaching, and perhaps you are thinking about your philanthropic giving. Every penny given to CFET is used to support our programming! It is completely tax deductible. Consider a gift to CFET as a gift to a family member or friend! Invite people to join our community, sign up for this newsletter and become a CFET partner. We need you! Camden needs you! The youth need you! The Earth needs you!
Be in touch with us. Come with your energy! Become a partner in this Great Work! We all have to do our “bit,” may your “bit” be in this corner of Camden, NJ, Waterfront South, at CFET!
Peace, and a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends,
Mark Doorley, Ph.D.