Where do climate change and justice issues intersect with the beliefs, practices, and teachings of your faith or spiritual tradition? United students are finding their way and having an impact. Over the past several months, a core group of committed students has collaborated with staff from Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) to prepare a statement encouraging state representatives to take a bold stance on climate action. In this emerging reality of climate change, healing the separation between each other, the land and water, our histories, and likewise between environmental, social and economic justice represent the most important existential and ethical challenges to the material and spiritual security and wellbeing of all beings.
Specifically, campaigns to stop construction of the Tar Sands Line 3 Pipeline are at the forefront of local activism. Advocacy for creative solutions includes support for the Rondo Land Bridge project that impacts environmental restoration while also advancing racial reparations and economic vitality to the historically African American district of The Twin Cities.
This Thursday, MNIPL will be leading a conversation with the United community as part of their Winter Connect and Act Series. In addition to learning more about the pipeline and what communities can do to help, students will be challenged to reflect on the intersection of climate change with justice issues, and how the beliefs, practices, and teachings of your faith or spiritual tradition inform your response.
United Social Transformation student, Doe Hoyer, is channeling their passion for defending the sacredness of the environment, ecosystems, and Indigenous sovereignty through an organizing tool and ritual they call Soup Singing. The idea was first hatched in spring 2020, but it was construction beginning on Line 3 in December 2020 that inspired Doe to make Soup Singing a reality. The online events page describes Soup Singing as connecting people joyfully in their home kitchens (and currently through Zoom) as a grounding practice for conversations about justice, land and wealth redistribution, and social change. A Soup Singing invitation is offered with specific calls to take action for justice, whether that’s donating money, putting pressure on elected officials, or staying connected to asks from movement leaders. Events are often co-hosted with other climate justice activists and community leaders with the goal of weaving cultural and spiritual practices into activism. Soup Singing invites participants to examine why they feel called to show up for justice and the ways in which they can live more deeply in community.
And then there is singing! Short, teachable songs that honor water and the land written by Doe and other area song leaders, as well as the Nibi Song, a song in Ojibwe that we are all invited to sing to water, are central to connecting participants to the land and one another. And in the end, they have soup; to nourish and enjoy. In support of frontlines water protectors and per camp requests, some participants choose to freeze and send their offering directly to the frontlines.
Keeping climate justice at the forefront, United is rolling out a new course in Environmental Ethics this summer and is looking ahead to possibilities for expansion. Exciting developments are on the horizon!