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.