Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Life, My City: Ethics of Urban Living Speakers Series

TORONTO, December 29, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - On January 6th at 7pm, Lawrence Park Community Church will kick off a speaker series titled My Life, My City: Ethics of Urban Living with a riveting panel of prominent Torontonians tackling tough questions about "A Vision for Toronto: How Can Toronto become a Great City over the next 10-20 years?"

The debate will feature the following panelists: Paul Beeston, President and C.E.O., Toronto Blue Jays; Sara Diamond, President, Ontario College of Art and Design; Royson James, Columnist, The Toronto Star; and former MPP Frances Lankin, President and C.E.O., United Way.

"The discussion will focus on Toronto's potential to be a great cosmopolitan city," notes Ken Gallinger, Minister of Lawrence Park Community Church. Rev. Gallinger is the Toronto Star's Ethics Columnist and is moderating the discussion. "Each guest is a city leader with a specialized context to share."

After the Panel discussion on January 6th, the My Life, My City series continues each Sunday in January at 10:30am with a guest speaker discussing what it means to live ethically in an urban context. On Sunday, January 10th, Police Chief Bill Blair will discuss "Crime & Community" followed by MPP Cheri DiNovo addressing "Making Neighbourhoods Work" on Sunday January 17th. MP Rob Oliphant will discuss the integration and polarization of "New and Old Canadians" on January 24th and on January 31st John Tory will wrap up the series by considering what it means to be a "Corporate Urban Citizen."

The series continues with Toronto-themed documentaries running each Wednesday evening in January starting at 7pm.

With the municipal elections looming, Jaye Robinson, Chair of the Social Justice Committee, knows people in our city want to discuss what works and what needs to be changed.

"Toronto is a city of contradictions," says Robinson. "Forums like My Life, My City raise awareness of what our collective values really are and what we deem to be priorities in Toronto."

Lawrence Park Community Church is a congregation of the United Church of Canada. It is located at 2180 Bayview Avenue at Dawlish Road, just south of Lawrence Avenue in Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

KAIROS Responds to Accusations of Anti-Semitism and Renews Call for CIDA Funding to Be Restored

TORONTO, December 18, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives denies allegations by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney that it is anti-Semitic and decries the apparent politicization of aid that led to its funding being cut by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). It wants CIDA funding restored.

"Minister Kenney's charge against KAIROS is false," KAIROS says in a statement released today. "Two points need to be made: Criticism of Israel does not constitute anti-Semitism; and CIDA was developed to fund international aid and not to serve political agendas".

KAIROS' response goes on to say, "Minister Kenney's statement, in a highly charged environment, raises very disturbing questions about the integrity of Canadian development aid decisions. If aid decisions are based on political rumour rather than on due diligence, development criteria and CIDA's own evaluation process then this is a matter of grave concern for the entire international development sector -- and for the Canadian people who pay for this aid".

On November 30th, a senior CIDA official informed KAIROS that the agency would no longer fund KAIROS' human rights program, despite a 35-year collaboration. The only reason given was that KAIROS no longer "fit" CIDA program priorities. However, there has been widespread speculation that the real reason for the CIDA funding cut was to sanction KAIROS for its views on the environment and other controversial issues.

KAIROS, a church-based non-governmental organization that represents seven of Canada's largest church denominations, works on a range of social justice issues, including human rights in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. Since 1973, KAIROS and the church coalitions from which it was formed had received funding from CIDA to support partners in countries with the world's most egregious human rights violations including Sudan, the Philippines, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

KAIROS work is highly regarded in Canada and around the world. It supports 21 ecumenical and civil society groups overseas. Hundreds of thousands of people benefit from and depend on KAIROS' support.

Since news of the cuts broke a week ago, the government has been under increasing pressure to reverse its decision. Canadians from across the country, churches and non-governmental groups have written letters of support for KAIROS and called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister Bev Oda to reverse the decision. Questions have been raised in the House of Commons and all opposition parties and the Green Party have also issued media releases calling on the government to reverse its decision.

The full text of the KAIROS statement is available at:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Louis Braille: His Legacy and Influence

For thousands of years, the ability of blind people to participate fully in social, political, and cultural life was limited by the lack of access to written or printed forms of information. Although the work of many others contributed to his accomplishment, Louis Braille’s invention of a tactile six-dot reading and writing system revolutionized the way blind people perceived and contributed to the world. This compelling digital exhibit has been created by the Library of Congress.

Read more about Louis Braille: His Legacy and Influence...

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Guelph Lecture - On Being Canadian 2009 John Ralston Saul

Each year The Guelph Lecture - On Being Canadian inspires a community conversation on what it means to be Canadian and what role our country could and should play in a changing world. Through the arts, and film in particular, we share experiences with people all over the world, making possible the exploration of various perspectives, which revitalize us and awaken us to possibilities in our lives.

This year's keynote speaker is John Ralston Saul, whose most recent book -- A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada -- is certain to inspire debate about what it means to be Canadian.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at the River Run Centre, Guelph Ontario at 7pm

Tickets are on sale now. Don't miss out; last year's event sold out well in advance.

Regular admission: $25. Students are welcome at $15. (eyeGo tickets are available.)

Tickets are available on line at or by calling 519-763-3000 or toll free 1-877-520-2408.

The Guelph Lecture - On Being Canadian is an offering of the Eramosa Institute, a not-for-profit, Charitable Organization (86498 9207 RR0001) that exists to promote and foster public dialogue on, and greater understanding of, ideas and issues of concern to Canadians.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

UCC Moderator to speak at Queen's Park Rally for Climate Change

The International Day of Climate Action is this Saturday, October 24. It
is being marked in Toronto with a large exciting rally at Queen's Park
from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., organized by the Toronto Climate Campaign and Mardi Tindal, the United Church's new Moderator, is one of the speakers.

Toronto Climate Campaign is organizing a rally as part of a climate day of action. People across Canada and the world will be coming together as part of, building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis – the solutions that science and justice demand.

More information can be found at (although Mardi hasn't been added to the speakers list on that Web page).

Please pass this on to your friends and social networks and encourage those who are available to attend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maldives Holds Underwater Cabinet Meeting To Bring Attention to Climate Change

The president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and his ministers yesterday held an official cabinet meeting underwater as part of an international movement organized by to bring increased global attention to climate change. is organizing a global day of action on Oct. 24 and Maldives, a country of just 350,000, has organized an amazing 14 events.... Read the full story on TreeHugger

Friday, October 16, 2009

Interfaith Study Series

A series of three study sessions is offered this fall to everyone in the community who would like to join us. Each session will be an introduction to one of the United Church's interfaith dialogue documents. Please plan to join us for any or all of the sessions.

The evening dates (7-8:30 p.m.) are listed here. If you are interested in attending a daytime group, please let our church office know, and we will select a time to repeat the sessions.

October 20 Bearing Faithful Witness (United Church - Jewish relations)
October 27 That We May Know Each Other (United Church Muslim relations)
November 3 Circle and Cross (United Church - Native Spirituality)

All sessions will be held at Norfolk Street United Church, 75 Norfolk Street, Guelph Ontario (519) 822-6165

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Feeding Change, Feeding Hope on World Food Day

Food Banks Canada releases Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping
Canadians on World Food Day to tell the personal stories of Canadians in

TORONTO, Oct. 15 /Canada NewsWire/ - It is often difficult for individuals to understand the depth and breadth of the issue of hunger through hard facts alone. On October 16, World Food Day, Food Banks Canada is releasing Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping Canadians, providing a snapshot of the real life situations of Canadians who struggle with hunger and turn to food banks for assistance across the country.

One of the profiles is that of Monique* - a mother of four who unexpectedly lost her job during the economic recession and turned to the Mississauga Food Bank for assistance. The circumstances that brought Monique to the food bank also offered her a chance to develop a new career through an opportunity to join a subsidized job training program.

Monique's story is a frank and inspiring example of the challenges many Canadians face. It highlights the valuable services provided by food banks across the country. Food banks, work to distribute food and consumer products, and also offer employment training, language assistance and, for many, emotional support to help individuals get back on their feet.

"This past year has been an increasingly challenging time for individuals across the country and for food banks assisting them, given the current economic climate" says Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "It is our hope that these stories will reveal the real people behind the statistics and will inspire individuals to give generously to support food banks in their communities."

March 2009 data on food bank usage, in comparison with March 2008, revealed that there has been a 15 to 20 per cent increase in the number of Canadians accessing food banks each month. "While food bank usage is on the rise, we are also seeing a decrease in food and fund donations to food banks in some parts of the country", notes Katharine. "If Canadians are in a position to support others, we ask that they make that commitment today".

A more comprehensive report on food bank usage will be unveiled in November with the release of HungerCount, Food Banks Canada's annual report of food bank use in Canada.

With the Thanksgiving season just behind us, Food Banks Canada would like to thank individuals and corporations who donated to food banks during this time. Every donation makes a difference in the lives of individuals and families in need.

Read more about Monique and other individuals across Canada in Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping Canadians, by visiting:

* Name has been changed for privacy purposes.

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. Our members and their respective agencies serve approximately 85 per cent of people accessing emergency food programs nationwide. Our mission is to meet the short term need for food and find long-term solutions to reduce hunger. Visit for more information.

About World Food Day

Launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the goal of World Food Day is to raise awareness of those living with food insecurity around the world.

Friday, October 2, 2009

World Habitat Day is a Reminder that Everyone Deserves Decent Housing

The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day. This is the day to reaffirm that decent shelter is a basic human right and a time to join together to remind governments that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable. Monday, October 5 is World Habitat Day this year and the theme is "it all starts at home." Habitat for Humanity International is campaigning for security of tenure in the world and neighbourhood revitalization in the U.S.A. Read the full story on TreeHugger

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taking control of our life

Allow me to share with you a story about ripples.

One day a young man with a troubled look on his face approached the Master.

"On such a beautiful day, it must be difficult to stay so serious," the Master said.

"Is it? I hadn’t noticed," the young man abruptly replied.

"Please sit," the Master invited, patting the ground next to him. Looking carefully before sitting, the young man brushed the ground to clear a space for himself.

"Now, find a stone and throw it into the pond," said the Master.

The young man grabbed a pebble and threw it into the water.

"Tell me what you see," the Master instructed.

"I see ripples."

"From where did the ripples come?"

"From the pebble I threw into the pond, Master"

"Please reach your hand into the water and stop the ripples," the Master requested.

Not understanding, the young man stuck his hand into the water as a ripple neared, only to cause more ripples. The young man was completely baffled. Where was this going?

"Were you able to stop the ripples?" the Master asked.

"No, of course not, I only caused more ripples."

"What if you had stopped the pebble from entering the water to begin with?" the Master asked with such a beautiful smile the young man could not be upset. "Next time you are unhappy with your life, catch the stone before it enters the water. Don’t spend time trying to undo what you have done. Rather, change what you’re going to do before you do it."

The Master looked kindly upon the young man.

"But Master, how will I know what I’m going to do before I do it?"

"Take the responsibility for living your own life. If you’re working with a doctor to treat an illness, then ask the doctor to help you understand what caused the illness. This way you will be able to avoid a recurrence. Do not just treat the ripples. Keep asking questions."

The young man stopped, his mind reeling. "But I came to you to ask you for answers. Are you saying that I know the answers?"

"You may not know the answers right now, but if you ask the right questions, then you shall discover the answers."

"But what are the right questions, Master?"

"There are no wrong questions, only unasked ones. We must ask, for without asking we cannot receive answers. It is our responsibility to ask. No one else can do that for us."

Author Unknown

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cirque de Soleil Owner Heads to Moon in Support of Water

Image from the Toronto Star

by Bonnie Alter, London

The Canadian founder of the Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, having created a world-famous circus, is now heading for the moon. What else can you do when you have played every other stage in the world? He will be Canada's first space tourist, for $35 million, blasting off for 12 days aboard a Russian Soyuz.

He's calling the flight a " Poetic Social Mission, Moving Stars and Earth for Water." Linked up with this will be a series of performances in 14 cities in support of water conservation--tied in with his One Drop foundation. The link to space isn't that clear but why complain when Al Gore, David Suzuki, Shakira and U2 will be part of the show, opening in Montreal.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Water Fountains on Canadian Campuses: Where Have They Gone?

OTTAWA, Sept. 3 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Water fountains are disappearing on university and college campuses across Canada according to a new Polaris Institute report.

The report, "Campus Water Fountains: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," uncovers a series of trends related to public drinking water access at Canadian universities and colleges:

- The Good - assesses the kind of reinvestment in public tap water
infrastructure currently happening on campuses.

- The Bad - four Canadian Universities were found to have either no
fountains in new buildings or very limited access.

- The Ugly - buildings codes across Canada allow universities to
design and construct institutions without water fountains.

The full report is available online at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mankind Aims for World Peace Through One Minute of Silence

Global Campaign Wants to Attract Millions of People

NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands, Aug. 25, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - Millions, if not billions, of people throughout the world will hold still for one minute on Saturday November 28th, at exactly 15:00 hours GMT, for world peace.

This is the goal of the Dutch organisation Minute-of-World-Peace, which launches a campaign in
133 countries today to ask for people's attention for world peace.

It must set-off a chain reaction, persuading as many people in as many countries as possible to participate. Its first aim is to create awareness.

"If world peace is to be created in the future, it is important that people think about it. If this minute can catch people's thoughts, it will have its effect in the future," initiator Hans Brugeman explains.

Another goal is to actually create a minute of world peace. "The strength lies in the simplicity, because it is easy to participate. Suppose everybody knows about it and holds still for one minute, if even soldiers remove their finger from the trigger for one minute. Then there actually would be world peace, for almost the entire population of earth for the first time," Brugeman

Despite all armed conflicts in the past decades, people still aim for world peace, a survey among 1100 visitors of the website shows. 96% of people place world peace in their top ten greatest wishes.

The first press release is distributed to 250,000 journalists and 4,000 news websites in 133 countries. Furthermore, all the people who receive the message are asked to send it through to their family and friends. The organisation seeks ambassadors who want to coordinate and stimulate the campaign in their own countries. Also, people are asked to organise events in
their own countries, like placing stones with a message of peace. These piles could be monuments of peace for people to gather at on Saturday November 28th.

This date is chosen on purpose. It is shortly after the world commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall. The organisation hopes to give all participants the same feeling of freedom and peace that was aroused by that moment.

More information:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary


This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation that the storm wrought on the Gulf Coast. There's a clamor underway among poverty activists to get President Obama to mark this anniversary with a renewed pledge to fight for equitable recovery of the Gulf Coast. It's too bad, according to Poverty in America blogger Leigh Graham, that these calls are falling on deaf ears at the White House. If we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, it's that we need an inclusive framework for fighting poverty and inequality. (Read more)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tracking the progress of H1N1 swine flu

FluTracker - H1N1 Swine Flu and Influenza Outbreak

Provides a world map showing reported cases, compiled using data from official sources, news reports and user-contributions. These maps and the data behind them were compiled by Dr. Henry Niman, a biomedical researcher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, using technology provided by Rhiza Labs and Google. The maps are compiled using data from official sources, news reports and user-contributions and updated multiple times per day.

Visit FluTracker

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bag Pools: Couldn't We All Just Share?

by Sami Grover,

I went to the co-op the other day, and once again forgot my reusable bags. It's one of my bad eco-habits - along with dragging my feet over putting up a clothes line. But as I filled my plastic bag in shame (I REALLY don't need any more reusable bags at home!), I was reminded of a comment on a previous post, where someone (whose comment I can no longer find) informed us that their grocery store has a "bag pool" - where you can bring in your old bags, and exchange them for new ones - free of charge. Read the full story on TreeHugger

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Can Social Networking Save the Bees?

Häagen-Dazs has long made saving endangered bees a mission. And that’s no small feat, considering that nearly one third of the world’s food supply is dependant on an extremely vulnerable bee population.

Now Haagen-Dazs and are working together to save these bees through a number of social networking projects....Read the full story on TreeHugger

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Churches and Synagogues Worship Green Building

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation synagogue in Evanston, Ill., is one of ten LEED certified houses of worship in the United States. Photo by Steve Hall/Hedrich Blessing (courtesy of Ross Barney Architects).


Homes and offices are going green across the country, and an an entire city is even being rebuilt green. But there's a new space embracing the eco-revolution. It seems churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are listening to their eco-friendly parishioners—and apparently their religion.

A report from the Associated Press published yesterday on featured the growing trend of houses of worship seeking LEED certification. So far ten U.S. congregations are LEED-certified, and another 54 have applied for approval.

So why are congregations making this move to greener spaces?

The AP article reveals the changes have as much to do with changing views among parishioners as it does with the view that people are "stewards of the earth." Rabbi Brant Rosen from the recently re-gutted green Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois said,
It was about making a sacred statement. If we were going to talk the talk, we needed to walk the walk. The whole process forced us to look at our values in a deeper way.

The synagogue used reclaimed wood from barns for exterior cladding, recycled the cinderblocks from the old building, and made the new building's cabinets out of sunflower husks. By the time the doors opened in February 2008, the project cost $9 million, of which about $750,000 was associated with going green.

Last September the congregation learned they were the first—and so far only—religious building in the country to achieve the highest LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

According to the article, the 54 buildings seeking the LEED stamp of eco-approval include all sorts of houses of worship, including seminaries, chapels and student centers from eight religions—Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and Wesleyan.

Of course sustainability and religious beliefs aside, the switch to green building has financial benefits. The article reveals congregations can reduce energy costs by 30 percent. The most stunning example: The Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Tx. was able to cut their yearly gas and water bill in half—saving them $1 million annually.

With such a huge reduction in resource use, who can't be excited by this trend?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Masai Warriors and their Search for Water: One Year Later

by Bonnie Alter, London

The heart warming story at last year's London Marathon was the group of six Masai warriors who came to London to raise awareness and money to bring clean water to their village in Tanzania. The press and the public were fascinated to hear about these men who wore tires for shoes, carried swords and had never been on an airplane, or sipped tea.

They raised more than £100,000 ($147,000) and then the real challenges began. The villagers welcomed them back as heroes and expected that they would find water overnight.

Clean water was crucial to the village's health. More than one third of the children were dying from diseases. Women and children had to walk 10 k. to find clean water and children were too exhausted to go to school. Grazing cattle had to travel great distances to drink at watering holes and risked dehydration and predators along the way.

Working with Greenforce, an NGO from the UK, local contractors and foreign experts were hired to find water but this was not so easy. The villagers assumed that finding water was simply a matter of drilling for it. They saw vast amounts of money being spent and couldn't understand why no water was being found. From the Times: "Initial drilling based on the Masai’s own methods of procuring water, which included sacrificing a goat on the site, found only rock. Deeper drilling was conducted, even though there was evidence that the area was arid from drought, because of the Masai’s belief that it had water reserves. None was found."

Tensions developed between Greenforce, which was being accused of dishonesty, and the villagers. Contractors raised their prices when they heard how much money had been raised. Other non-profits claimed that they could do it cheaper and faster. The Masai warriors were being put the in the uncomfortable position of mediating and not having all the answers to the difficult questions.

Finally in March a surveyor confirmed that water had been found and a drilling rig was sent for; this was a six day off-road journey to the village. The next day water trickled to the ground, amidst great joy and jubilation. The water is expected to supply two remote communities; each will have a 50,000 litre reservoir constructed and a pipeline is being laid to deliver the water to where it is needed most.

The success of the project was tempered with the realisation that "Greenforce has helped us a lot and are our friends. But we are Masai and want to do things for outselves."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Plastic Bags are a Distraction" - Monbiot

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA

Reusable bags give feel-good factor without real change

George Monbiot is at it again. Not content with shooting down the great green hopes for biochar, or taking on environmentalists' affinity to alternative medicines, the always thought-provoking Mr Monbiot is now challenging that most ubiquitous of treehugging obsessions - the plastic bag. For many greenies, getting a reusable bag may be one of the first steps we take toward a lighter footprint but, argues Mr Monbiot, the current focus on this issue is not only ineffective, it may be downright counterproductive. Read on to find out why.

In his regular column over at The Guardian, Monbiot argues that for many the reusable bag has become nothing more than a fashion accessory - an opportunity to tout your green credentials without really having to make any significant changes to your lifestyle:
As Oscar Wilde said: "Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly." These bags for life were discarded with all the other eco-bling as soon as something newer came along. But they served their purpose: they permitted the rich and famous to telegraph their green credentials while still running the Aga, the Range Rover, the yacht and the second and third homes in far-flung parts of the world. By buying the bag, they could tick another box: now, among their other attributes, they were environmentally conscious.

I was reminded of this when I saw the British government's new green initiative, the "Get a bag habit" campaign to encourage reuse of bags, which it launched yesterday with the British Retail Consortium. Not just because the slogan almost rivals Hindmarch's for naffness, but also because it highlights our fetishisation of the plastic bag as the root of all environmental evil.

I should be clear - Monbiot is not arguing that we should return to plastic bags - they are indeed an environmental scourge, and a ridiculous waste of resources. But given the amount of trash we create in general, and given that trash is only one of the environmental challenges we face, there is a danger that we get lost in promoting high-profile, feel-good cosmetic changes while the world around us burns. I must say I couldn't agree more.

So by all means, let's keep reusing our reusable bags - but let's not kid ourselves that this is anywhere near enough to halt the converging crises of resource depletion and climate change that are threatening to throw a very real spanner in our collective works. And next time we want to spend political capital and personal energy on a campaign - let's think long and hard about a plastic bag ban is the most important thing on our agenda.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lenten Thoughts 4

What We Don’t Want to Hear

“Let these words sink into your ears.” Luke 9:44

We’ve become pretty quick at hitting the mute button. And most of us can mute things even without a remote. We have the ability to turn off when we’re about to hear something we don’t want to hear.

“Let these words sink into your ears.”

The disciples shut down their hearing whenever Jesus talked of his coming betrayal, suffering, death and resurrection. And even though he pleaded with them to pay attention, they didn’t listen. As soon as they heard the word “betrayal,” they muted Jesus. And why wouldn’t they?

Betrayal meant someone close to him someone who knew him, someone he trusted was going to turn on him. And that meant one of them.

Jesus knew that doing the right thing, doing God’s thing, would always make the powerful angry. Jesus knew that fear of those with power would make even his closest friends do things that did not reflect who they truly were. Jesus knew that fear of those with the power to hurt them, even kill them, would make his disciples do things that could kill their spirits.

Jesus also knew what is beyond fear and betrayal: grace and hope. But you have to listen hard for that.

And what about us? Which parts of the gospel do we embrace? Which parts do we mute?

You can learn a lot about yourself and your faith when you try to listen to those parts of scripture that you don’t want to hear. Are there some words of the prophets or some teachings of Jesus that make you uncomfortable or nervous?
“Let these words sink into your ears....Glenna Beauchamp

Our practice in the United Church when we study the scriptures is to remain open to questions and varying interpretations. We want to listen carefully for the Word of God to us. We don’t practice blind obedience. We ask why, and how one saying fits with another, and what did it mean, before it was meant for us.

I hope that these Lenten studies have given you an opportunity to give some thought to some of the scriptures and to the themes of the Lenten season. I appreciate the responses I’ve had from you. They have been thoughtful and insightful.

I look forward to seeing all of you at the services on Easter weekend.

Rev. Arty Miller

Thursday: 7:30 in the auditorium
Friday: 10:30 in the sanctuary.
Sunday: 9:00 in the gym for breakfast
Sunday: 10:30 in the sanctuary for Easter celebration

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Family-friendly fund-raisers help developing nations get safe water

Samaritan's Purse and partners host walkathons to celebrate World Water

CALGARY, March 19 /CNW/ - Join Samaritan's Purse Canada and its partners across the country as we celebrate World Water Day by walking four kilometers and raising money to help families in the developing world get safe water.

The Turn on the Tap Safe Water Challenge takes place Sunday, March 22
(World Water Day) in Calgary and Welland, ON, and March 28 in Vernon, BC.

All funds raised will support Turn on the Tap, a campaign by Samaritan's Purse Canada to help break the cycle of poverty in the developing world by helping families get safe water.

In the developing world, someone - usually a child - dies every 20
seconds from diseases related to drinking filthy, contaminated water. Every $100 raised translates into drinkable water for up to 10 people through the construction and installation of BioSand Water Filters, plus health and hygiene training.

Besides reducing the mortality rate, improving water quality means
children miss less school due to illness and parents spend more time working and less of their precious few dollars on medicine.

Since 2007, generous Canadians have donated more than $4 million to Turn on the Tap, which means Samaritan's Purse Canada and its partners in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America have helped up to 400,000 people.

"This is an international effort," said Fred Weiss, Samaritan's Purse
Canada's Executive Director. "Samaritan's Purse offices in the United Kingdom and Australia are coordinating with us to celebrate World Water Day through walkathons in each country.

"It's a great event for entire families. And it's just one more way to
show God's love to people who desperately need help."

Samaritan's Purse is an international Christian relief and development
organization working to provide aid to victims of war, disease, natural
disaster, poverty, famine, and persecution. Along with Operation Christmas Child, the Calgary-based charity also operates the Turn on the Tap initiative that raises funds for life-saving BioSand Water Filters and the newly introduced IF campaign which raises funds to support women's projects in the developing world. Go to for more information.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lenten Thoughts 3

Why Would Jesus Say That?

Let it be done for you according to your faith. Matthew 8:13

Jesus sends away the centurion, who trusted Jesus’ ability to heal his servant, with the words “Let it be done for you according to your faith” In this case, the centurion’s trust was rewarded with a happy outcome. But it doesn’t always happen that way, does it?

No amount of faith will protect you against your own death or the death of loved ones. No amount of faith protects anyone fro the effects of war, violence, natural disaster, or accident. So, when I pray for or with those who are ill, I reflect our hopes and desires but try not to pray as if we can make things turn out the way we want.

Still, prayer matters. But how? We need to find new ways of speaking of God, prayer, and faith. We need to tell real stories of how healing and grace touch our lives, of how divine presence has touched us through hour prayers or the prayers of others.

Faith is not false certainty or the expectation of special guarantees. I believe that faith is an openness of the heart. Like flowers opening to the sun, we can let divine mystery, compassion, and wisdom infuse us, enliven us, transform us. In a difficult time I remember mystery and compassion reaching me through music, nature, and human kindness. I let go of my agenda, of my desire to control things, and cast myself on a divine mercy I sought, even without understanding.

No matter what your circumstances, you can find inner healing as you live more fully in the light—in the Spirit of abundant life, love and joy. Trust to the deeper healing, rather than seeking quick fixes.

Who knows how Holy Mystery and Wholly Love might work in us and through us to heal and renew broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken places? You cannot control or manipulate outcomes. At the same time, you cannot set limits on what is possible, or on the flow of healing energy that gives breath to your prayer.

The above comes from the United Church of Canada Lenten study... by Jane Doull

Please send your comments, your own experiences and ideas about prayer.

Take a few moments daily to quietly remember those whose needs and difficulties you know. Rather than praying for a specific outcome, trust these persons or situations to the compassion and wisdom of God. Let yourself sit or stand quietly, opening yourself to that compassion and wisdom.

Send your answers or other thoughts to me by email or the comment area below where they will be available to everyone. There are no wrong answers.

Peace, Rev. Arty Miller

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why Would Jesus Say That?

Lenten Thoughts 2009

"The kingdom of God has come near." Mark 1:15

The northern lights are explainable, or so we're told. The solar winds create magnetic energy, which becomes visible at the poles on planet earth. The northern hemisphere experiences the aurora borealis; the southern hemisphere, the aurora australis. This is the abbreviated scientific description.

To actually experience the northern lights is a different story. You step outside on a crackling cold winter night or look skyward on a late summer canoe trip. Above you is a cosmic dance, mystical and unforgettable. it leaves you with a goofy grin that has little to do with textbook explanations of what you’ve witnessed. You’ll remember it for a lifetime.

Is Jesus such a unique moment of spiritual energy for the planet? It sounds a little simplistic to put it this way, yet everything about Jesus confirms that it is so. At the beginning of Mark's gospel, Jesus says: "The kingdom of God has come near." He is not speaking of any conventional form of monarchy or of a God made in our own image.

Jesus uses every trick in the book to pique people's desire to see and hear good news about God. Parables, healings, a wine-tasting, even a temple tantrum. Still, in the gospels, it is clear that this is only part of what his presence represents. It isn't just his exhortations or actions that matter. Jesus himself is both earthly and heavenly. Jesus embodies God's realm in ways that defy conventional understanding. He is in the line of the prophets, yet he is more than just a prophetic voice.

When Jesus stands before you, nothing can be the same again. Jesus is the aurora if you'll allow him to be—and even if you won't. He is our salvation. In Jesus the Christ, time if fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near.

Meditation by David Mundy

Where have you seen the Kingdom of God coming near?

What changed for you after that experience?

Send your answers or other thoughts to me by email or the comment area below where they will be available to everyone. There are no wrong answers.

Peace, Rev. Arty Miller

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bottled Water Ban

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities encourages reduced bottled water use at municipal facilities. Resolution urging tap water over bottled water where appropriate at municipal facilities passed at FCM's national board meeting

VICTORIA, March 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's national municipal organization is encouraging local governments to reduce the use of bottled water in their own facilities where other options are available.

Meeting today in Victoria, B.C., the National Board of Directors of the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) passed a resolution encouraging municipalities to "phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water at their own facilities where appropriate and where potable water is available."

"Today's action is another illustration of how municipalities are leading by example to encourage environmentally sustainable water choices," said FCM president Jean Perrault, mayor of Sherbrooke, Que.

The resolution does not call for a ban on the sale of bottled water to
consumers. "Regulating bottled water for public consumption falls under
provincial and federal jurisdiction," said Perrault. "All orders of government must work together to reduce reliance on a product that produces more waste, costs more and uses more energy than simple, dependable municipal tap water."

"This cooperation among governments must extend to investments in local
water systems. The most economical and reliable source of drinking water is a first-rate municipal water system. Where these systems are lacking, all orders of government must help fund the necessary infrastructure."

FCM's resolution also calls on municipalities to develop awareness
campaigns about the positive benefits and quality of municipal water supplies.

Municipalities will determine their local course of action.

The resolution was put forward by the cities of Toronto and London, Ont., over growing concerns for environmental impacts related to the production of bottled water, the energy requirements for the production and transport of bottled water, as well as the disposal and/or recycling of water bottles.

Bottled water containers may be recyclable but they still have to be
manufactured and transported, which uses significant energy. Between 40 and 80 per cent end up in the local landfill. That is a burden on the environment and a cost for municipal taxpayers.



WHEREAS bottled water consumes significant amounts of non-renewable
fossil fuels to extract, package and transport water creating unnecessary
air quality and climate change impacts;

WHEREAS it takes about three litres of water to manufacture a one litre
plastic bottle of water;

WHEREAS bottled water companies use municipal water and groundwater
sources when a growing percentage of Canadian municipalities have faced
water shortages in recent years;

WHEREAS although bottled water creates a container that can be recycled,
between 40% and 80% of empty bottles end up as litter and/or are placed
directly into the garbage and take up unnecessary space in landfills;

WHEREAS tap water is safe, healthy, highly regulated and accessible to
residents, employers, employees and visitors to Canadian municipalities
and substantially more sustainable than bottled water; and

WHEREAS some municipalities have enacted by-laws to restrict the sale and
purchase of water bottles within their own operations;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities urge all
municipalities to phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water at
their own facilities where appropriate and where potable water is
available; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that municipalities be urged to develop awareness
campaigns about the positive benefits and quality of municipal water

City of London and City of Toronto, Ontario

graphic by CowGummy Designs - Steven Meyer-Rassow, an Oxford UK based graphic designer and photographer


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Organic vs Local? Who Cares. Neither is Sustainable.
by Kristin Underwood, San Diego, CA March 6

While last year we were debating whether its better to buy organic or local (or both), an article in Mother Jones now reports that we have even bigger fish to fry when it comes to our food production. While dreams of our future food system may rely on the romantic image of local farmers, the reality is: this model can't do what we need it to do, that is, feed billions of people.

Future food must also pack a greater amount of calories using fewer resources (water and energy), as well as be affordable, "ecologically benign" and also not abuse laborers and farmers in the process. Most of what we consider "sustainable" today is not - according to the article, only 2% of the food purchased in the US qualifies as sustainable (i.e. adheres to the values listed above). Growing food organically but underpaying workers, or using small-scale local farms really only gets at one part of the equation and won't work to feed the billions of people on the planet long-term.

In that case, is it better to purchase your food from a farmers market, where dozens of farmers truck in their produce each on individual trucks from all over, or purchase your food from a chain store where they ship it "en mass, via large trucks." Considering the transport only accounts for 10% of the emissions from food production, maybe we should turn our focus over to how the food is produced (resource usage). A recent report from Carnegie-Mellon University said, "going meat- and dairyless one day a week is more environmentally beneficial than eating locally every single day." the complete article at

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to Go Green: Spring Cleaning

For most of the country, it doesn’t quite feel like spring just yet—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start thinking about your spring cleaning routine. This is the perfect time to start de-cluttering, organizing, and scrubbing down your home from top to bottom, so that when the weather does finally warm up you can spend your time outside in the sun instead of inside with a bottle of cleanser—because even if you’re not a through-and-through neat freak, a solid deep clean can make your home greener, more efficient, healthier, and safer.

Reduce your trash

Start your cleaning process by weeding out stuff you aren’t using (and never will), but don’t just throw it away; it might not be junk to someone else. If you’re the patient type, try selling it on eBay or Craigslist, or planning a yard sale for the spring. If you’re more of the get-it-out-of-the-house-immediately type, post it on Freecycle, donate it to your local Goodwill, or see if anyone in your family could use it. Even better: see if there’s a use for it that you hadn’t thought of before: could that old frame work around a mirror? Maybe you could stack those books into a side table? Get creative.

Clean your cleaners

Spraying and scrubbing is an unavoidable part of any spring cleaning project, but that doesn’t mean you need to invest in a case of antibacterial spray. Most places in your home don’t need disinfectant, and even those that do can be taken care of with a few simple products you likely already have in your home, like baking soda, hot water, vinegar, lemon, and salt. Making your own natural cleaners keeps your home safer, improves indoor air quality (since you won’t have those unlisted toxins floating around)—and it costs a lot less.

Plan ahead

Taking a little extra time this year can save you a ton of time during next year’s spring cleaning—especially when it comes to reducing your paper intake. Check sites like greendimes and 41 pounds to stop the flow of junk mail into your home, and sign up for paperless billing to save time on filing. Both these steps take just a few minutes, but will keep your entryway and office neater for months.

Get more tips, tricks, and advice with Planet Green’s How to Go Green: Spring Cleaning guide.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


The shivaree, or charivari (a French word meaning “a noisy mock serenade for newlyweds” and probably deriving in turn from a Late Latin word meaning “headache”), dates at least as far back as the middle ages in Western Europe and has a long history in many parts of North America including the Midwest, Ontario, Quebec, New England and the Maritimes.

Young men of the community mark a marriage - especially a marriage considered suspect or unsuitable - by creating an improvised ruckus on pots and pans under the window of the bridal chamber. In the true spirit of a shivaree, our old hero is kept awake all night with noisy pots and pans by those who disapprove of his quest to marry the young girl.

My only encounter with this phenomenom was while I was in high school and a neighbour's daughter was getting married. The newlyweds home was not ready for a month, so after the wedding they planned to live with the in-laws. The local young folk got wind and a Shivaree was planned for a summer Friday evening, the plan being to keep the couple awake all night during their arrival home from the wedding festivities.

While I lived in the country, we did not own a farm, so I stood at the end of our driveway after dark with a tire iron and a metal lid from our garbage can, waiting for my best buddy to pick me up.

Soon I could hear him coming down the sideroad with no muffler on their oldest tractor and towing a hay wagon for all the folks to ride on to the event. I hopped on the tractor with him and enjoyed the ride, bumpy and noisey that it was. We picked up about 10 people with various forms of noisemakers including a trumpet, disc and wrenches, firecrackers, shotguns, cowbells etc.

The evening turned out to be much fun and a great community gathering on the neighbours laneway and lawn. The most fun coming when we took the four straw bales on the wagon and stuffed the straw into the grooms unlocked cab of his truck.

Did I mention that most attendees seem to have brought along liquid fortification in case it got cold and someone brought the coffee urn from the town hall with a large plate of ham sandwiches.

Some folks did actually stay all night...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to Avoid Uncomfortable Conversations About Religion

There is a time and place for everything under the sun, including discussions about religion. Whether you are religious or not, if someone is trying to draw you into a conversation, or perhaps an argument, regarding religion or morality but the timing and situation is awkward and uncomfortable, this article will help you find a way to avoid a heated debate as politely as possible.


  1. Resist the urge to argue. It's difficult to overlook a statement that seems completely ignorant and ungrounded, and you'll likely have the urge to correct the person. Instead, smile and say "Interesting..."
  2. Meet it head on with honesty. Be true to yourself and your own feelings. Say "I'm not comfortable talking about that and I'm just not willing to have this conversation..."
  3. Redirect the conversation.
    • Ask about their children, significant other, health, or job.
    • Make an absurd joke to deflect the seriousness of the situation. For example, try: "Religion? No, I haven't seen that movie." Or: "Religion?! What . . . do you get that at, like, Wal-Mart or Starbucks or something?" Or: "No thanks. I haven't been able to talk about religion since the last time the Cubs won the World Series."
    • Dead pan, "I am sorry. I have a firm rule to not discuss politics or religion with anyone I've not seen naked." That usually ends the discussion rather abruptly, and on a light-hearted note.
    • For people who are insistent on discussing religion, however, they're likely to return to that topic quickly, so keep the conversation flowing at the level of small talk until you can do something else.

  4. Suggest a better time. If you would like to discuss religion at a better time and location, invite the person to meet you. This will allow you to control the environment, length of discussion, involved parties and other factors. Simply saying "This is definitely something I'd love to discuss with you, but can we do it at another time?" will do the trick, as long as you mean it. If you do not care to ever discuss religion with this person at all, skip this step.
  5. Excuse yourself. Remove yourself from the situation by taking a bathroom break, or by greeting someone you know who just arrived, or even by lying and saying that your cell phone is ringing silently. Look at the phone and pretend that it's someone close to you and that you must briefly take the call. However, remember to return to the conversation, because bailing out suddenly and not returning will be considered rude, and may only add further motivation for the person to "enlighten" you.
  6. Bring in another conversationalist. When you can't avoid a person who wants to talk about religion, look for a another person in the situation who you know has strong opinions about religion and enjoys a good debate. Introduce the two, and leave them to split theological hairs together.
  7. Be straightforward. Tell the conversationalist that this is the wrong time for this discussion.
    • If you are at work, explain that it is not proper to discuss controversial subjects in the workplace because there's a line to be drawn between personal views and professional pursuits, and you would like to focus on maintaining professionalism.
    • If you are at a social event such as a dinner party or a wedding, remind the conversationalist that this was intended to be a happy, lighthearted celebration, and that you would rather not weigh down the evening (or the morning or afternoon) with discussions about more serious things in life.
    • Politely tell the truth. "I do not want to talk about religion right now." If a person rudely continues to discuss their views on religion, politely ask them to stop being disrespectful to you and your request. Tell them that you intend to walk away if they continue.


  • Recognize the reasons you believe what you believe, or why you do not believe in anything in particular. Understanding your own beliefs, or lack thereof, will strengthen your resolve. You do not need to argue your reasons and, in fact, you are better off not arguing.
  • As long as you are diplomatic and kind when you positively say you do not want to discuss religion, you will be respected.
  • Conversations about religion shouldn't be uncomfortable unless you are unsure about your own beliefs. It is completely proper to tell them you have your own beliefs, or lack of them, and are not interested in discussing the topic.
  • Religion should be discussed openly and objectively without fear of hurting someone's feelings.
  • It is rude for a person to refuse to leave you alone when you have asked them to.


  • Leading a persistent conversationalist to believe that you are agreeing with their views just so you can quiet them will most likely encourage them to follow up more frequently with you. If you let them think you agree with them, they will may to check in from time to time to see if you are still on the same page.
  • Seeming flippant or like a cynic may challenge your friend too find more ways to reach you; so reassure your friend, "I have my beliefs; let's just talk about other things." Keep the friend and keep on the right path.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Avoid Uncomfortable Conversations About Religion. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stop worrying about ad campaigns & enjoy the yummy bean casserole


The Freethought Association of Canada is looking to expand its "There's Probably No God" bus ad campaign from Calgary and Southern Ontario to Ottawa.

But in doing so, the humanists threaten one of the most time-honoured, venerable, yet bilious of Canadian traditions.

God? No!

I'm talking about the great creator's second favourite meal, the potluck supper.

I have a sneaking suspicion that God is not at all worried about this latest, breathless attack on her/his existence. But organizers of the church potluck should worry, and so should those of us who arrive at the church door clutching a rapidly cooling pan of meat loaf. It's bad enough regional health authorities have attacked the potluck's food preparation techniques; now the actual founder of the feast is under attack. (read more)

by David Henderson, The Province - Vancouver
Published: Monday, February 16, 2009


7 Ways to Live Large Below the Poverty Line

How one family happily lives off the land, making $6,500 a year, and how you can too.

Kevin and Donna Phillip-Johnson were an ordinary, middle class American family making around $42,000 dollars a year. After years of working hard to make ends meet, they decided to realize a longtime dream of living a better life. And they did.

Now, they make $6,500 a year. And they're happier than ever. (read more)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Too Many Cars

A car built in 2009 belches out 90 percent less tailpipe pollution as one built in the 1960s. But the net benefits to the atmosphere have not materialized, because the average "vehicle miles" driven per person has tripled. So making cars more environmentally friendly isn't enough: we also need to transform the way cities are built. From (Read more)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine's Day Gifts: Green Love for Everyone

Valentine’s Day might just be the most polarizing holiday out there: either you think it’s a can’t-miss opportunity to show your love for your spouse, friends, and family, or you think it’s a lame excuse to sell more greeting cards. Of course, if you and your partner don’t agree, that’s when the problems pop up. You might be perfectly happy with nothing more than an extra kiss in the morning—but if she (or he) wants an extravagant dinner, memorable jewelry, and a sentimental card, then you’d better get shopping. Luckily, stores and websites are full of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional chocolates, flowers, gems, and wines, so you can satisfy your partner’s Valentine’s Day requirements without investing in a bunch of environmentally harsh consumer products.

...more Valentine's Day tips at

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith on the side of a bus

United Church advertisement turns London slogan on its head in bid to provoke debate

31st January 2009

A provocative and highly controversial religious ad set to debut today is being welcomed by church groups who say it encourages open discussion about the validity of God.

In response to a popular British billboard that will appear soon on the TTC, the United Church of Canada has launched the ad in today's Globe and Mail.

The original ad, featured on buses in the U.K., declared: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

The United Church plays off the London campaign, with a key change: "There's probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."


"The United Church is always interested in talking about these things," said Dr. Keith Howard. "We hope we can posture some debate between folks that say there is a God and folks that say there isn't. We want to get a conversation going."

Howard said motivation for paying homage to the British ad came from a lack of connection with Canadians between age 30 and 45.

"We realized we don't have a relationship with a lot of people in that demographic," he said. "That group sees religion as kind of being arrogant and unwilling to listen. We want to tell them we're here to listen."

Other church leaders have not responded to the much-hyped ad, but they encouraged religious debate.

"We don't necessarily agree with the content of the message," said Neil MacCarthy, director of communications for the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.

"But if we can invoke a respectful discussion and reflection of people's beliefs, we support that."

Waiting to see how the newspaper ad will play, Howard said he hasn't yet decided if he will go the way of the original slogan and pursue ad space on the TTC.

The London ad has been approved by the transit system, TTC spokesman Brad Ross said, and is likely to be on display in vehicles and subway stations in the next few weeks.

"I think it's a good idea," commuter Brandon Aarsma told the Sun yesterday when asked outside the Dundas subway station. "If somebody sees the ad and says, 'Oh, that's nuts' and I overhear them, I'm going to talk to them about it."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The ember

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the preacher decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The preacher found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.
Guessing the reason for his preachers visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The preacher made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.
After some minutes, the preacher took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.
The preacher glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.
As the preacher reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, 'Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.'

“From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet ‘e-zine’ for Christians with a sense of humor."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ten Ways to Green Your Home for Under Ten Bucks

Free. Nothing. Nada.
Things you can do that will make a real difference for no money at all.

Lower water heater temperature to 120°F
Decrease Thermostat temperature by 3°F
Wash clothes in cold water
Air dry clothes during summer
Turn off unneeded lights

Under Ten Bucks

1...Save Heat
Seal your windows with strippable caulk
This is the clear stuff that is designed to peel off when it is time to open the windows again, and seals the gaps that occur at any moving part of a window. This is particularly important if you have old windows where the seals have loosened up a bit.

2...Shrink-wrap your windows Get the plastic films that tape around your windows and then shrink tight under the heat from a hair dryer. They cut heat loss and are almost invisible. Not suitable for houses with cats, as we found out the hard way.

3...Weatherstrip your doors
A surprising amount of air leaks around them. Just be sure that the door will still close properly; I have added weatherstrip and then had to remove it again as the door just wouldn't close properly with the added foam.

4...Get a snake
Or make your own—a door snake stops draughts from under a door where it is hard to weatherstrip.

5...Get some cheap slippers
Or a hoodie. The easiest way to feel warmer and save energy is to wear more clothing. It also keeps your house cleaner and warmer.

6...Change your furnace filter
The furnace has to work harder to push through all the schmutz that gets caught in your filter if it is doing its job.

7...Lose the drips
A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day. A leaking toilet can use 90,000 gallons of water in a month. Get out the wrench and change the washers on your sinks and showers, or get new washerless faucets. Keeping your existing equipment well maintained is probably the easiest and cheapest way to start saving water.

8...Add a faucet aerator
Mixing in the air reduces the water consumed. Some aerators have an on/off lever so that you can stop most of the water flow without affecting the temperature, saving even more water.

9...Get a switched power bar
Plug all your wall-warts into the power strip so that it is easy to turn things off when you are not using them.

You can't get them for ten bucks, but there are some very slick power bars out there now.

10...Change a light bulb
Still have any incandescent bulbs lighting your home? Time to change them; they have better color, faster starts and less mercury than ever.

Just be sure to recycle them properly!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Water awareness tour comes to Guelph

Topics include world water shortage, unsafe water and water bottles

"We're on this tour to defend public water. We're here because we don't have all the water in the world, and there is a global water crisis, and it is the most fundamental and unjust reality in the world" Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians

If Maude Barlow is even remotely accurate in her claims, then we have a serious problem on our hands.

On Jan. 14, Barlow was speaking at the Norfolk United Church in downtown Guelph as part of the Unbottle It! tour. The tour has been traveling Ontario for the past month in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of water as a human right, as well as to help build the case for a provincial bottled water ban.

More in the article from the Ontarion

Green Recycled Shopping Bag

...Crochet this green shopping bag using old recycled plastic bags. The plastic bags are cut into strips to create Plarn (plastic bag yarn.)

This is a true green crafting idea in every sense of the word. It is crocheted from recycled plastic grocery bags into plarn, then of course it’s green in color, and lastly it is eco-friendly as it saves the use of plastic bags as you can reuse this roomy bag over and over again.

This crocheted shopping bag is created in three pieces and then assembled as shown in the photos below...

Here is the free pattern link at Green Shopping Bag

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to Go Green: Work from Home

Working from home sounds like a sweet deal: trade work clothes for sweats, skip rainy and crowded commutes, and set a schedule that fits you best—whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. And while there are some obvious environmental pluses to giving up commutes, take-out lunches, and weekly printer paper deliveries, setting up a home office comes with its own opportunities to cut back on energy use, trim waste production, and condense your carbon footprint.

Planet Green’s How to Go Green: Working from Home guide gives you all the information you need to green your daily grind, from where to look for comfortable chairs made from recycled materials to how to arrange your workspace for maximum productivity. Find more suggestions after the jump.

...more info at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yes We Can!

Millions of people around the world are embracing the Web 2.0 phenomenon of
"Social Networking", creating profiles on popular sites like Facebook,
LinkedIn, and MySpace. Change.Org is a cool website that represents a bold
new step in online community-building, combining the exciting format of
virtual networking with the a higher purpose of charity and social activism.

The only important question to ask yourself while creating your personal
profile on Change.Org is "What Do You Want to Change in the
World?" Members of this pro-active website can meet people all over the
world who are working to protect Nature, prevent and fight diseases,
promote peace, change politics, and address other local and global
issues. Make a Difference!

Visit the website here

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quotations .....

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." - Isaac Asimov

"Someday I want to be rich. Some people get so rich they lose all respect for humanity. That's how rich I want to be." - Rita Rudner

"I never know how much of what I say is true." - Bette Midler

"A man can't make a place for himself in the sun if he keeps
taking refuge under the family tree." - Helen Keller

"You were born an original. Don't die a copy." - John Mason

"We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that
we don't take time to enjoy where we are." - From Calvin & Hobbes

"Never spend your money before you have earned it." - Thomas Jefferson

"Through humour, you can soften some of the worst blows that
life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how
painful your situation might be, you can survive it." - Bill Cosby

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Breakfast for a Winter Morning

There is nothing better than a leisurely, home-cooked breakfast to start a winter day. This weekend, plan to invite friends over to do just that.

Light a fire, put on a pot of coffee, and cook up some apple cinnamon pancakes.

Or, try these wonderful baked apples filled with sausage.
Later, after you’ve had your fill and the kitchen’s cleaned up, get out in the fresh air and take a brisk walk.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nine Ways To Get Your Vegetables


I'm wondering how many of you made resolutions to eat a healthier diet this year. And how many of you are actually doing it, one week into the new year? For those of you who are taking your first steps toward becoming vegetarian, you may have resolved to eat less meat. Well, how about resolving to eat more vegetables as a corollary.

When my son became a vegetarian a number of years ago, I was a bit concerned because he was never a big vegetable eater. He still doesn't like common vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli or eggplant, but now he'll eat things like celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes and lots of asian greens. Now that he can no longer rely on eating meat, he has become a much more adventurous eater. ... more

Camp Ganadaoweh Information

There is some new information regarding Camp Ganadaoweh.
A task force has been formed to look at all options for the camp: this includes re-opening year round, being a summer only camp or closing for good. If they make the decision to re-open for the summer of 2009 I am sure that brochures will be sent out sometime in the New Year. As we are not sure about the outcome at this point, I have agreed to send you information on the three other Hamilton Conference United Church Camps. Please also note that the website will remain active and new information will be posted periodically. The email address will also remain active.
If you are looking for other United Church camps, possibly closer to your cottage or trailer, you can visit this website
If you are looking for other Christian or private camps, check out More information is on our bulletin board.

posted from the Mount Carmel-Zion United Church Newsletter