The EarthKeepers II Initiative is sponsored by 10 U.P. Faith Communities With Assistance From Students at Northern Michigan University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, native garden technical assistance from the U.S. Forest Service Midwest Botanist Jan Schultz and the Native American (Anishinaabe/Ojibwa) Communities of Northern Michigan including the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
(Marquette, MI) – An Interfaith Energy Conservation and Community Garden Initiative across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan will see the creation of 30 native plants gardens and free energy audits for 40 churches/temple plus grants to help make repair to reduce airborne mercury from entering Lakes Michigan and Superior in an effort named EarthKeepers II and made possible by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
A January 18 press conference announcing the plans Marquette, MI was hosted by the Northern Michigan University EarthKeepers II Student Team: Katelin Bingner, Tom Merkel and Adam Magnuson.
The NMU students are planning to write and record public service messages with energy conservation tips, information on protecting the Great Lakes and about the importance of native plants restoration – with assistance from U.P. radio stations, newspapers and television stations.
The EarthKeepers II Initiative is sponsored by the churches/temples of 10 faith traditions that were involved in the original Earth Keeper Initiative (2004-2009): Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Bahá’í, Unitarian Universalist, Zen Buddhist.
Speaking at the press conference will be the Bishops and other denominational leaders from these 10 faith communities plus U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Regional Botanist Jan Schultz, Delta Green Ex. Dir. Doug Russell and Cedar Tree Institute Ex. Dir. Rev. Jon Magnuson.
Over the next two years, the EarthKeepers II projects include energy conservation audits at 40 U.P. churches/temples plus grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 for each site to assist in changes/repairs.
These faith communities are demonstrating the importance of energy conservation to lower utility bills and reduce and prevent toxins/pollution including airborne mercury from entering Lake Superior as part of the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Congregations will be given information on energy conservation kits and utility company rebates to lower household bills.
Among the energy conservation costs/analysis involved in the audits are insulation (walls/roof), lighting fixtures, ventilation, and heating systems like boilers/furnaces including whether they units can be updated with new controls, repaired or replaced.
The project includes 30 community gardens (approx. two per county/more possible). These gardens will grow native (indigenous) plants and vegetables for community distribution and food pantries.
The nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette has been extensively involved in U.P. native plant restoration to fight invasive species that are vital to the health of all wildlife. For example, the U.P. is on a flight path for migrating Monarch butterflies who depend on milkweed for food and reproduction.
Project participants include the nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute, EPA, USFS Eastern Region 9 technical assistance, nonprofit Delta Green and U.P. Ojibwa (Anishinaabe) communities.
Religious community leaders signed the northern Michigan Earth Keeper Covenant in 2004 pledging to actively participate in environment projects, build bridges with other faiths and reach out to Native American communities.
EarthKeepers II is the next phase of the Earth Keeper Initiative that held three Earth Day Clean Sweeps involving 150 churches/temples plus planted 12,000 trees during a summer that saw several severe forest fires across the U.P.
The U.P. Earth Keepers Clean Sweep events (2005-2007) involved free Earth Day collection sites across a 400-mile area of northern Michigan.
Over 15,000 residents turned in 320 tons of e-waste (old computers/cell phones), 45 tons of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) including car batteries, oil-based paint, pesticides, liquid mercury, and other common poisons; and over one ton of pharmaceuticals including $500,000 in narcotics.
The hazardous waste was either recycled or properly disposed.
Official EarthKeepers II website
Nonprofit Cedar Tree Institute in Marquette, MI
EarthKeepers II social sites:
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (GLBTS)
US Environmental Protection Agency
Great Lakes National Program Office
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
“If someone shows you who they are, believe them” – Maya Angelou
Those appearing at the EarthKeepers II kick-off press conference in January 2013:
We thank Bishop Alexander K. Sample for all his support over the years.
Sample is now the Archbishop of Portland, Oregon
Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette
Appointed in 2005 as 12th Bishop of Marquette by Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes
Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Elected in 1999 as the third NGLS Bishop
ELCA Lutherans support apologies for past injustices and reach out to Native peoples/Native Americans:
Dr. Michael Grossman, representing Jewish Temple Beth Sholom in Ishpeming, MI
Helen Grossman, representing Jewish Temple Beth Sholom in Ishpeming, MI
Episcopal EarthKeeper team member and Michigan Tech University Biology Professor Nancy Auer, representing the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan
Bishop Rayford Ray is the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan
The Rt. Rev. Rayford Jeffrey Ray was consecrated the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan during a May 21, 2011 celebration of baptismal ministry held on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.
Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan has supported Earth Keeper projects from the start in 2004.
A founding member of the first Earth Keeper Initiative is late Episcopal Bishop James Kelsey, the Earth Bishop
Kelsey served as bishop from 1999-2007 – until his death in June 2007
Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan
131 East Ridge Street
Rev. Tesshin Paul Lehmberg
Lake Superior Zendo Zen Buddhist temple
Longtime Earth Keeper Team Member
Delta Green Ex. Dir.
KBIC Natural Resources Committee chair
Evelyn Ravindran, KBIC NRC