Holy Creation

The snap peas in our garden are reaching toward the sky–a constant reminder of the miracle of life. Every morning as I pass our backyard garden, I am reminded of the few days I spent at the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) with the St. Joseph Worker Program.

Seven of us packed the green mini-van to full capacity and headed to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. We knew we would see Alpacas, we heard there were two rocking CSJs there, but beyond that we were left to wonder and wait. A few naps and several car games later, we arrived in Indiana and were greeted by Sister Mo and a loaf of pumpkin bread from Sister P.B.

The next morning, Alyssa and I had the task of weeding the potato field and covering the seedlings in hay to reduce the amount of weeds over the season. It frosted the evening before, and we witnessed resiliency and strength from the tiniest of sprouts. Some had lost their fight with the frost, but an overwhelming number had survived and were showing a healthy green stem under a brown-spotted leaf. A miracle. Awe-inspiring still were the rutabaga roots that had populated the same plot last year and survived the winter. These little plants had not been fostered by the gardeners, yet they grew–with support from the soil, rain, themselves and God they were actively growing. I couldn’t help being continually amazed as we worked.

Throughout the weekend, all seven of us had the chance to garden and to work with the Alpacas. Observing the great reverence the WVC staff has for the land, plants and animals under their care is incredible. Sister P.B. told me of illnesses that have befallen the Alpacas, and the compassion and empathy for the animals was palpable. Sister Mo when showing us the compost had great pride and admiration for the created dirt–the beautiful, black pile of dirt that would foster the growth of many more plants.

This is the beauty of the White Violet Center, and the lesson I have brought back with me–the created world is to be revered, loved, and protected, after all…this too is our dear neighbor.

To learn more about the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, visit their website.

–Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Food Justice at St. Catherine University

In September, the Justice Commission agreed to co-sponsor the first St. Kate’s Food Week. This quickly planned collaboration resulted in over 30 events in one week all focusing on the injustices that surround food. That week spurred into a Food Justice movement on campus and has now been formalized into the Food Justice Coalition.

Two student organizers have led the charge at St. Catherine University in hopes of creating a greater sense of community on campus, engaging community members in action for justice, and producing a more socially just campus.  Cirien Saadeh and Liesl Wolf have poured time and energy into this effort, along with being busy students as well! On May 8th they had the chance to celebrate the progress of this year and publicly announce the Food Justice Coalition.

The Food Justice Coalition will serve as an organizing force of the Food Justice Movement. Individuals and groups will work in committees focused on key issues (currently they are Awareness & Outreach, Dining Services: Relations & Contract and a Community Garden). A Leadership Board will hold the big picture of the movement and coordinate the efforts of the task groups. The Food Justice Coalition is opened to “anyone and everyone committed to food justice at St. Catherine University.” I am impressed with the commitment to fostering student leadership within the Food Justice Coalition and the commitment to the values of St. Kate’s and the CSJ community. I am very excited to see how this will move forward.

If you are interested in learning more about the Food Justice Coalition at St. Catherine University, please contact Liesl Wolf at lwolf@stkate.edu or me at emfairbairn@gmail.com.

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Program Assistant

Go Beyond Your Plate

October 24th was Food Day–a day to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, human way. Movies, food expos, and forums occurred in the Twin Cities on Monday in conjunction with Food Day.

Though this day has passed, the goals of sustainability, affordability and health continue. We have a few opportunities for you to be involved in food justice into November, but encourage you to create an awareness in your own life surrounding food in the year to come.

St. Catherine University students have put together a Food Week for October 31st – November 4th, which is being co-sponsored by the Justice Commission. Close to 20 events will occur in 5 days to raise awareness, educate and create action surrounding issues of food justice. Our very own Earth Partners are involved with 3 events centering on community gardening and food toxicity. Click here for the full schedule.

Another option is being provided through NETWORK. They have posted a Food Stamp Challenge from Fighting Poverty with Faith–attempt to live on a food stamp budget for a week ($31.75 per person/week). Being a St. Joseph Worker this is not out of the realm of normalcy, but from experience can attest to the change in thinking that occurs with such a budget shift. Senators and Representatives have signed onto participate, and you can too. Check out this link to register and find more information.

Food is in a web of many different social justice issues and the saying goes, “You Are What You Eat”
-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker and Justice Office Intern