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Getting Churches Involved

 
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I know that a lot of us have mixed feelings about churches. I’m gay and religious (a conversation for another time) and I’ve seen this kind of thing from a lot of different sides. But regardless of our feelings, the situation we are faced with with climate change, resource depletion, etc is pretty dire, so I think that we should be willing to cultivate alliances and friendships wherever we can find them.

Lately I’ve been working with a former pastor of mine to establish more food production in her area. She’s an active pastor to the north of me. I reached out to her a few months ago to see how she’s doing and to see if she’d be interested in adding permaculture to their ministry.

We’re starting with the parsonage she lives at. We’re adding garden space and fruit trees. I think we’re going to try to espalier some along the fenceline. We’re going to make it an educational space with informational placards and everything. A lot of members of the church are older people who have land (oftentimes acres of it), and they’ve shown an overwhelming amount of interest in planting fruit and nut trees on it for future generations. These are people with resources that are needed for this kind of thing (time, land, and money).

We’re involving the youth group too, and will likely start having field trips to my farm and possibly other permaculture sites. I’m probably going to hold classes at the church on things like grafting, fruit trees 101, gardening, etc. I’m hoping this will be a way to bring about some Rural Renewal, and maybe increase the church membership.  

As we progress I’ll try to take lots of pictures and keep you all updated. I just thought I’d make a post about it in case it inspires anyone to do this, too.
 
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Many churches are sitting on quite a bit of land, that is either meant for future building of churches or old folks homes or other things associated with their work. Much of this land could be used for Community plots and other things, provided people agree to move without a fuss, when they need the land for the designated purpose.

The Catholic church in particular controls vast amounts of land in some places. So I think it's just a matter of getting good contracts made so that they know they aren't risking the loss of that land by allowing someone to use it.
 
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First, I'd like to say that I'm more than ecstatic to see other LGBT members on this site.  I'm still new to the site, and to the whole permaculture/homestead/self reliance transition, so it is absolutely awesome to witness the visibility.

Second, I think opening up to the larger community is a great idea.  I find that opening up the conversation about a topic and exposing ideas to each other is a great way to reach that common/middle ground. It surely doesn't hurt to try.  Not sure if I added much at all, but I think your topic is a great idea!
 
James Landreth
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Many churches are sitting on quite a bit of land, that is either meant for future building of churches or old folks homes or other things associated with their work. Much of this land could be used for Community plots and other things, provided people agree to move without a fuss, when they need the land for the designated purpose.

The Catholic church in particular controls vast amounts of land in some places. So I think it's just a matter of getting good contracts made so that they know they aren't risking the loss of that land by allowing someone to use it.



Those are my thoughts exactly. And in many cases the funds for using that land for new churches or old folks homes hasn't materialized anyway. And, as I mentioned, a lot of the older generation who goes to church in rural America owns a fair amount of land, generally at least a couple of acres.
 
James Landreth
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John Kompa wrote:First, I'd like to say that I'm more than ecstatic to see other LGBT members on this site.  I'm still new to the site, and to the whole permaculture/homestead/self reliance transition, so it is absolutely awesome to witness the visibility.

Second, I think opening up to the larger community is a great idea.  I find that opening up the conversation about a topic and exposing ideas to each other is a great way to reach that common/middle ground. It surely doesn't hurt to try.  Not sure if I added much at all, but I think your topic is a great idea!



Welcome, John, and thanks for that note!
 
Dale Hodgins
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Both of you fellows may find that there are still some people who are so convinced that you will burn in hell for being Who You Are, that they don't want anything to do with it. I think if you just stick to the basics of teaching good permaculture skills, you will become accepted by a larger segment of the population. When people see good work being done, most won't be overly concerned with your personal situation. Even my dad, who was raised as a hardcore Pentecostal, didn't concern himself much in later life, with the idea that he needed to be against lots of things.

If instead, it became a platform for insisting that older members of churches  change their views on issues that have already been settled in the courts, I don't think that would help your cause.
 
James Landreth
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Both of you fellows may find that there are still some people who are so convinced that you will burn in hell for being Who You Are, that they don't want anything to do with it. I think if you just stick to the basics of teaching good permaculture skills, you will become accepted by a larger segment of the population. When people see good work being done, most won't be overly concerned with your personal situation. Even my dad, who was raised as a hardcore Pentecostal, didn't concern himself much in later life, with the idea that he needed to be against lots of things.

If instead, it became a platform for insisting that older members of churches  change their views on issues that have already been settled in the courts, I don't think that would help your cause.



I'm not really bringing the gay thing into the projects. Besides, this church is pretty progressive and doesn't have a theology that is anti LGBT. In this, I am just a person who wants to do good works, and they are also people who want to do good works. If it succeeds and I have time and energy I'll be working with other, similar churches, I think
 
John Kompa
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Both of you fellows may find that there are still some people who are so convinced that you will burn in hell for being Who You Are, that they don't want anything to do with it. I think if you just stick to the basics of teaching good permaculture skills, you will become accepted by a larger segment of the population. When people see good work being done, most won't be overly concerned with your personal situation. Even my dad, who was raised as a hardcore Pentecostal, didn't concern himself much in later life, with the idea that he needed to be against lots of things.

If instead, it became a platform for insisting that older members of churches  change their views on issues that have already been settled in the courts, I don't think that would help your cause.



Perhaps it is naive hopefulness, but I believe exposure is the best course of action unless it would negatively impact one's personal safety.  You're right in that there will be those that will not see reason or accept change, but if even if one person's perspective can be changed it would be worth it.  I also agree that overt, unnecessary pressure may not lend itself well to an integrated community.
 
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John Kompa wrote:Perhaps it is naive hopefulness, but I believe exposure is the best course of action unless it would negatively impact one's personal safety.



My guess is that most people who are so against gay people think they don't know any gay people.  If they can get to know some gay people, hopefully they'll realise that gay people are the same as straight people.  More importantly, their kids will see that, even if the parents don't, and the kids will hopefully become more inclusive.  I've known gay guys for almost 40 years and they haven't used their wiles to turn me gay yet, lol.

I have asked most of the religious gay people I know how they reconcile their reality with the bible.  I think that the United Church around here has gay ministers, male and female but I'm pretty sure the Dutch Christian Reform church still rails against homosexuality along with dancing and drinking and pretty much everything but the after-church tea and cookies.  I don't miss those services.

I'm not religious, but when I'm looking at properties on google maps I can't help but think that many churches could put in a very nice garden.  The are institutions, so a permaculture garden is a great fit and they could probably get all the labour they need from 1 church picnic.  I can't wait to see where this goes, James.
 
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John Kompa wrote:
Perhaps it is naive hopefulness, but I believe exposure is the best course of action unless it would negatively impact one's personal safety.  



I'm curious why you think that?  I've never felt the need to tell anyone I'm hetero, because it doesn't have anything to do with the task at hand, which, in this case, is helping a community establish better food production.  I don't believe anyone should need to hide who they are, but I don't see that a person's sexual identity is a very big percentage of who they are as a person, so why make it a focal point?  I feel the same way about sharing my views on religion, politics, or any number of things in that type of scenario.  My views and preferences work together to make me the person I am, but none of them individually are all that important.
 
Timothy Markus
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Trace Oswald wrote:
I'm curious why you think that?  I've never felt the need to tell anyone I'm hetero, because it doesn't have anything to do with the task at hand, which, in this case, is helping a community establish better food production.  



First of all, you're hetero, like most people, so you're the same.  Preachers aren't vilifying you.  When you do something, it's always about whatever that thing is, but if you're gay, it can quickly become about that.  I think that, for most people, if you get to know someone as a good person, hard worker, nice, whatever, you don't care so much when you find out they're gay (if you feel that matters).  
 
James Landreth
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Trace Oswald wrote:

John Kompa wrote:
Perhaps it is naive hopefulness, but I believe exposure is the best course of action unless it would negatively impact one's personal safety.  



I'm curious why you think that?  I've never felt the need to tell anyone I'm hetero, because it doesn't have anything to do with the task at hand, which, in this case, is helping a community establish better food production.  I don't believe anyone should need to hide who they are, but I don't see that a person's sexual identity is a very big percentage of who they are as a person, so why make it a focal point?  I feel the same way about sharing my views on religion, politics, or any number of things in that type of scenario.  My views and preferences work together to make me the person I am, but none of them individually are all that important.




A lot of people (fewer and fewer all the time luckily) think of LGBT people as being only that. They think in stereotypes, and think that that aspect of our lives is most of who we are. By exposing ourselves to people in day to day work and life we give them new contexts to see us in. It's different from heterosexuals because heterosexual people are the norm/majority. Every person knows so many heterosexual people that they don't immediately jump to any one stereotype in their mind upon hearing you're straight, if that makes sense
 
John Kompa
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Trace Oswald wrote:

John Kompa wrote:
Perhaps it is naive hopefulness, but I believe exposure is the best course of action unless it would negatively impact one's personal safety.  



I'm curious why you think that?  I've never felt the need to tell anyone I'm hetero, because it doesn't have anything to do with the task at hand, which, in this case, is helping a community establish better food production.  I don't believe anyone should need to hide who they are, but I don't see that a person's sexual identity is a very big percentage of who they are as a person, so why make it a focal point?  I feel the same way about sharing my views on religion, politics, or any number of things in that type of scenario.  My views and preferences work together to make me the person I am, but none of them individually are all that important.



So to answer your question, no, one sexuality does not inhibit one’s ability to complete a task that is inherently unrelated to sexuality. However, my point is that there is a history of narrow minded thinking from both communities.  To end that negativity, I feel opening the conversation is the easiest way to meet in the middle ground. I’m not saying I would suggest saying “Hey, I’m Gay, let’s work on this project together.” Simple presence and inquiry is enough to open that conversation.  We have a different viewpoint because for one of us we are the expectation of the community, the other is the odd one out looking for acceptance.  

My initial post however, is reflecting upon a nuance aspect of the original poster’s topic.  I did not intend to derail the topic, however, because I am writing this, my point is being proved. Questions are being asked and a conversation is happening.
 
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It's a valid thought, James.

I counsel taking the path of least resistance, as you seem to already be doing.

I am an advocate for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, or as much as possible without abrogating anyone's individual freedoms. So sue me, I'm a hardcore Star Trek fan. Not just the shows, but the philosophy. But that necessarily means leaving some to live with their feathers unruffled, again, so long as the way in which they're living isn't abrogating anyone's individual freedom.

It's a delicate balance. I believe that everyone should have the right to be whoever they want to be. But to what extent does one person living in as outrageously flamboyant a manner as they wish abrogate the freedom of members of a community who share a different view?

And if that small community that doesn't encourage flamboyance within its membership is otherwise supportive and encouraging, and keeps in contact with, perhaps, a larger community where many more flamboyant people live and it is more easily accomodated?

I am not taking a position here, just pointing out that it's tricky. I am not saying that tradition and personal whim trumps individual freedom, or that tradition and cultural identity should accept and embrace homophobia and other discrimination.

But if a community has a strict building code to retain a certain historical feel, not uncommon in some places, is it right to demand that they allow a modern industrial or some other style building that clashes with that convention to be built in their midst? Or that the whole code be abolished because it won't allow but a single form or period of architecture?

So getting churches involved will be a bit like this. Each parish, each congregation, will have different flavours, let alone difference in sect or religion. Each situation might necessitate a new permacultural "teacher," and might require a different approach.

I would look as little as possible to scripture, but the part I would use is that of Genesis where people are designated as Stewards over all creation. It is nothing new to cherry-pick scripture for the meaning you wish to convey, but the right verse at the right place might really speak to some.

And making that connection is what we're looking for. As soon as the active religious start to believe that embracing permaculture is the religious duty of a proper Steward of Creation, well you've just nudged that boulder to rolling downhill, haven't you?

-CK
 
James Landreth
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Sorry, I'm writing on my phone and hope that didn't come across as abrupt/hostile. I'm glad the questions are being asked.

On another note, other members of the church have reached out to ask for advice on planting their personal properties!
 
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Timothy Markus wrote:
First of all, you're hetero, like most people, so you're the same.  Preachers aren't vilifying you.  When you do something, it's always about whatever that thing is, but if you're gay, it can quickly become about that.  I think that, for most people, if you get to know someone as a good person, hard worker, nice, whatever, you don't care so much when you find out they're gay (if you feel that matters).  



I understand, but isn't that all the more reason not to make being gay a focal point?  I'm not trying to debate this with you because I obviously don't know what kind of struggles you have had, and so I can only try to empathize.  It just seems to me that if you work on a project like this, and at some time in the future, people involved do find out you're gay, they may be more apt to think "Hey, that's the guy that helped us build that great perma-garden", rather than "oh, that guy is gay".

James Landreth wrote:
A lot of people (fewer and fewer all the time luckily) think of LGBT people as being only that. They think in stereotypes, and think that that aspect of our lives is most of who we are. By exposing ourselves to people in day to day work and life we give them new contexts to see us in. It's different from heterosexuals because heterosexual people are the norm/majority. Every person knows so many heterosexual people that they don't immediately jump to any one stereotype in their mind upon hearing you're straight, if that makes sense



James, it does make sense.  As I said, my opinion is just that, and it's the opinion of someone who hasn't personally had to deal with the issue, so I could be entirely wrong.
 
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I'm with Timothy on this stuff. It sounds like we had very similar early experiences with religion, as a means of control and trying to turn one group against another. But most churches aren't like that now.

I think we should put this part of the topic to bed before it heads to The Cider Press, and talk about all the ways to make good use of church land, people and resources to further the cause of the original poster. Let's just assume that everyone, gay or straight, purple or green would be welcome to participate.
 
Trace Oswald
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James Landreth wrote:

On another note, other members of the church have reached out to ask for advice on planting their personal properties!



Excellent, you're already making a difference.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I'm with Timothy on this stuff. It sounds like we had very similar early experiences with religion, as a means of control and trying to turn one group against another. But most churches aren't like that now.

I think we should put this part of the topic to bed before it heads to The Cider Press, and talk about all the ways to make good use of church land, people and resources to further the cause of the original poster. Let's just assume that everyone, gay or straight, purple or green would be welcome to participate.



Agreed!
 
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Glad to hear this is going well.

One idea would be have the church host a movje night. Play "back to eden" film and facilitate discussion afterwards.

Then figure out how to accommodate all the interest!
 
James Landreth
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That's a great idea. Does anybody have any other (relatively short and digestible) movie or YouTube suggestions?
 
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I run a group on MeWe for Christians ( of the Protestant Evangelical flavor )

https://mewe.com/join/christian_agrarians

I have come to the conclusion that you will not keep everyone happy, there are too many belief systems out there for that.  

You get along with those you can, and then, move on when  you can't.

As a Christian, I want to be a good steward of what God has  given us, so using renewable, non toxic means to grow food is from my perspective a great way to go.

I do believe we need to cut down on pollution and use limited resources better.

Life is short, the gospel of Jesus is more important to me than growing food, but staying alive means I need to grow healthy food that is not full of toxic gick, hard to do these days.

Heaven bound and want to take as many as i can with me :-)    

Cheers.

 
Trace Oswald
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James Landreth wrote:That's a great idea. Does anybody have any other (relatively short and digestible) movie or YouTube suggestions?



Anything by Edible Acres.  I love that guy and the stuff he is doing.  His manner makes the videos even better.
 
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Check out these two great ministries in terms of Christian/Permaculture intersection:

Redeeming the Dirt
Blog and book about how Christians can honor God and practice organic, sustainable farming(Permaculture) practices at the same time.

Planting with Purpose
International organization teaching low-income farmers all over the world how to farm the permaculture way to cut costs, increase production, protect the land/soil, and share the Good News.


Maybe these would be low-risk baby steps for churches to get involved in permaculture, if they're resistant to go all-in at first: they learn a bit, do some good, and then want to do more - now they're hooked for good :)
 
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David the Good is a Christian permaculturist, and quite amusing:  

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC208478ECji1rdkDDbB0vHQ

http://www.thesurvivalgardener.com/

Information is of most use to those in the South.
 
Mart Hale
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:Check out these two great ministries in terms of Christian/Permaculture intersection:

Redeeming the Dirt
Blog and book about how Christians can honor God and practice organic, sustainable farming(Permaculture) practices at the same time.

Planting with Purpose
International organization teaching low-income farmers all over the world how to farm the permaculture way to cut costs, increase production, protect the land/soil, and share the Good News.


Maybe these would be low-risk baby steps for churches to get involved in permaculture, if they're resistant to go all-in at first: they learn a bit, do some good, and then want to do more - now they're hooked for good :)



Thanks for posting this, I have read "Redeeming the Dirt",  but I did not know about the other organization of Plant with Purpose.

I also like ->

https://www.echonet.org

Org that specializes in edible plants,   David the Good has done a tour there.



https://heartvillage.org











 
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Great topic!  Dialog between groups can and does amazing things, whether religious or not.  I spoke with my PDC instructors about this topic often (during the course and afterwards).  We are all guilty of placing people in boxes at some point.  Some fewer than others, but reaching out to your fellow community is always positive!  Even if you meet with some negativity along the way.  It can be tough within your own family, much less the surrounding community;)  Thanks for reaching out!  I love ECHO http://echonet.org and Im pretty sure that is where Eric Toensmeier penned his book Perennial Vegetables.  In closing http://schoolofpermaculture.com is also a Christian based Permaculture organization.

Blessings...Hugh

 
Timothy Markus
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Hugh Holland wrote:We are all guilty of placing people in boxes at some point.  



Around here they call that forcible confinement.  Don't ask me how I know.

Also, I pleaded 'no contest', so I'm not guilty...
 
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i know of one church in eureka california that opens up their land around the church for community gardening plots. i have several friends that have plots there, none of them are churchgoers or even very religous at all.....its been going on for quite a long time so they have an awesome row of very mature and prolific blueberries...lots of long term perennials in one area, all donated, and anyone is welcome to pick the berries and fruit...
 
leila hamaya
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love when google helps me find something i cant quite remember the name of -- so yeah found it... for an example -->

The Garden of Eatin'  Community Garden   (cute punny name!)


--->  https://www.calvaryeureka.com/index.php/garden-of-eatin/

edit * the site is glitchy as evidenced by their "site is experiencing technical difficulties" ! so wayback machine link here --> https://www.calvaryeureka.com/index.php/garden-of-eatin/

and on facebook-->

https://www.facebook.com/GardenOfEatinInEurekaCa/





 
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Yay for you. I wish I could get my congregation to do this!
 
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I don't know where the church-gay thing stems from, but it is not an issue at our church.

Our Pastor practiced gay actions before he became a Christian, and after opening up about his history, has really enlightened our congregation. We have several former gay people in our church membership, and now have two transgender people who became Christians after their conversion. His history, and understanding really paved the way for them to feel like they can be part of the church.

As for reaching out to the Permicultural Community, we are trying a few things to facilitate that.

Our pastor's good friend (and mine) is a pastor who has a (5) homeless shelters, (2) in Maine, and (3) in Florida, with a Food Pantry that not only grows its own food from their own farm, but from help from the Homeless at the Homeless Shelter, who not only grow and give out food, but in this rural community, drive the much needed food to shut-in's who are poor. This is Maine, the poorest in the country, as well as the oldest population, so the need for food in Maine is huge.

As a church we are doing a benefit concert for that Homeless Shelter/Food Pantry this year, but also never lock our church doors should a homeless person ever need a place to stay for the night. The local police know this and are willing to transport the homeless to our church if the need arises (we are a ways out from the nearest city).

We are trying to be glocal...Gloabal and Local, and I think we are doing good. Are we perfect...NO! But we really are trying.


 
Timothy Markus
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I think that's great, Travis, both your congregation and your friend with the Food Pantry.
 
James Landreth
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Travis Johnson wrote:I don't know where the church-gay thing stems from, but it is not an issue at our church.

Our Pastor practiced gay actions before he became a Christian, and after opening up about his history, has really enlightened our congregation. We have several former gay people in our church membership, and now have two transgender people who became Christians after their conversion. His history, and understanding really paved the way for them to feel like they can be part of the church.





I don't want the conversation to become focused around this, but I will say that there are many gay and transgender Christian people (and gay and transgender people of other religions too)

I made this post because I think community and religious organizations are a good opportunity to educate people about permaculture and get more perennial food going in our communities. My hope is that if we get enough of these places doing food forests more people will start to grow home orchards, and that these community food forests will provide seeds and scionwood for the area around them, where applicable and legal (considering the patents on some trees)
 
Timothy Markus
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Once I get to my new place I'm going to hit up the local churches to see if they'd be interested in this.  

Thanks for the inspiration, James.
 
James Landreth
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I just wanted to update you:

I'm going to be working with Methodist churches to do community food forests in Morton, Shelton, Longview/Kelso, and probably Cams/Fern Prairie (all of these are in Washington State). I'm doing this also with Preservation Beekeeping Council, which is a really excellent organization that support pollinator insects. We're going to reach out to other community organizations too in the future, including the synagogues. We're going to hold free classes on growing food. It's already generating a lot of interest
 
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