At our August 11 gathering we heard three more compelling presentations. As I announced a couple of weeks ago at the end of the blog post about our upcoming workshops, all three were judged certifiable by the jury.

Suzanne Laird Dartez lead off the presentations with “Fungi: More than Just Mushrooms.” Her Power Point was full of information and interesting photographs, most of which she herself had taken.

The roles of fungi in the environment are diverse and critical to environmental health. These roles range from the somewhat obvious one of helping decompose dead vegetation to the mysterious process of plant communication through mycorrhizal networks provided by fungi. In addition, many mushrooms are medicinal and/or nutritious–but knowing which ones are safe to eat is not easy!

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Before Suzanne’s presentation, I might not have noticed this tiny trio of mushrooms growing out of a single leaf, doing the all-important work of decomposition. And who knows what else they might be up to!

Kalem Dartez presented second. His Power Point was entitled “Urban Ecology and Its Effect on Water Run-off.” Here’s one shocking fact I learned: 95% of land area is rural but 80% of the people live in cities. Not surprisingly, those concentrations of people and the hard-surface cityscapes they build to live in contribute to the problem and negative consequences of storm water run-off.

Fortunately, smart people have put their minds to this and “green infrastructure options” are increasingly available. These include “bioswales,” rain gardens, permeable pavement and more. My fave was planter boxes! Yes, putting a planter box outside a window helps, and the city of Pittsburgh has embraced the strategy. Good on them!

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Kalem told us that one of our local gems–Restoration Park–qualifies as a “giant green infrastructure project” because it drains water from a large surrounding area, much of which features roads, parking lots and buildings that contribute to the run-off problem.

For our third presentation, Susan Hoover invited us to indulge in refreshments and socialize while a delightful video montage of images from our year of workshops and meetings played on the screen–as if we were participants in a weekend conference gathering for our first plenary session.

When we were ready to take our seats and focus, she presented us with an agenda for an “Ecotheology Forum,” and proceeded to give an introductory talk that would set the stage for our mission: To discuss the possibility of agreeing on a standardized ecotheological ethic and call to action to take back to our religious and social organizations.

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Not the Garden of Eden, but perhaps this Tiger Swallowtail will put you in mind of it!

My overwhelming thought at the end of Susan’s presentation was, “I want to do the entire weekend conference!” Alas, that will have to wait. But my surprise and favorite thing she explained is that in one of the Genesis accounts of creation, the word “radah” is used, and is interpreted by some people as “dominion” and as permission for humans to dominate and exploit the natural world. But the other account of creation uses the word “‘abad,” which means to serve, to cultivate or to take care of. I can’t wait to teach that to my Middle School Old Testament class!

I am now working on plans for a graduation ceremony on a Sunday afternoon in October. Stay tuned!

One thought on “Three More to Graduate

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