I have spam on the mind.

Last week, I attended “Monty Python Live (mostly)” at a local movie theater. If you are familiar with Monty Python, I’m sure you can imagine it was quite the experience! It was a taped live show presented on the big screen, and it was to be experienced as if one was sitting in the live show. Attendees clapped along, sang along, and there was even an intermission!

The show attracted members of all generations, ranging in age from the very young to the not-so-very young. Everyone seemed to know the lumberjack song, the dead parrot sketch, and all were whistling along while we “looked at the brighter side of life.” But of course, what Monty Python show would be complete without a spam reference? (For those who haven’t had the privilege, here’s the Spam Skit.

As always, I’m amazed at anything with cross-generational appeal. And to think, Spam plays some role in that!

The other experience that I’m positive we share is the other type of spam: spam e-mail. (I hope you don’t consider my Monday Memo within that category!) It would be my strong presumption that we’ve all received an e-mail requesting that we forward money and/or be willing to accept money into our accounts from some member of some royal family of some African country. If that’s not your experience, maybe you’ve received a hacked e-mail from a friend or loved one who “just came over to London on holiday” and have had their wallet or purse stolen and need some money transferred.

Regardless of the story manufactured especially for you, we all know two things:

  1. What those things are = SPAM
  2. What those things mean = NOTHING

For me, and I don’t think I’m alone, oftentimes we know the answers to the big questions. We know we need to act peacefully and nonviolently. We know we have to care for creation and find ever-new ways to live sustainably. We know we have to work to transform our societal structures to provide equal access for all. But how do we convince others to work for the same things?

We look to SPAM: Everyone knows what it is, everyone knows what it means, and it appeals to all generations. We must continually craft our message to fit these criteria so that it’s not only a buzz word; so that it’s not a concept they’re vaguely familiar with; or so that it’s not a lifestyle that only appeals to college kids and retirees. It must be readily recognizable, easily consumed (an interesting request, given our mission), and widely acceptable.

I know that’s a tall order, and I don’t confess to have the answer. But I think framing goals is a great way to get to them.

…Now, if only I could figure out how to get the lid off the SPAM can!

Zac Karanovich

Greetings! I write to you from Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a charming place where the local paper – the sweetly dubbed Daily Planet – contains a front page article on yogis rallying beyond coal and where “hammock hooks” and “kombucha bars” are completely reasonable phrases that I’ve employed a few times in the past 24 hours.

I came to Asheville to present at SENCER’s (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) annual meeting. A motley crew of scientists and higher education administrators committed to science and civic engagement attends the SENCER conference. The SENCER community believes that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education too often leaves students inadequately equipped to tackle issues of critical local, national, and global importance. So, at this conference I meet educators who have designed remarkable courses such as “Pollinators: A Case Study in Systems Thinking and Sustainability” and “Chemistry and Ethnicity: Uranium and American Indians.”

This morning’s plenary speaker, Dr. Sherryl Broverman gave a talk that really shook me up, and I’m eager to tell some of her story. Dr. Broverman is on the faculty at Duke University, and she is a geneticist by training. A decade ago she forged a partnership with Egerton University in Kenya. The partnership was grounded in a desire for her undergraduate students to study HIV/AIDS from a global angle, and Dr. Broverman’s students began to correspond with Kenyan students who, although not to my knowledge infected with HIV/AIDS, had all been impacted by the virus in some way. The infection rate exceeds 30% in this rural region of the country.

One day Dr. Broverman’s Kenyan colleague disclosed that a top female pupil had been sold to an HIV-positive village elder in exchange for five cows. The student was devastated and terrified, and she would now have to drop out of school. She could only stay in school if $1,000 was raised in order to return the cows and thus annul the marriage. Dr. Broverman turned to her students at Duke, and together they devised ways to quickly raise $1,000. This student was spared from a dead-end life. But what, Dr. Broverman wondered, about all the other female students who have to drop out of school? Or who don’t attend school for fear of sexual predation by teachers, or for the lack of bathrooms?

Fast forward to the present. Dr. Broverman is President of The Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research (WISER). WISER runs a school to which Kenyan girls receive full scholarships, but it’s far more than that. WISER’s programs target wicked problems in the arenas of education and public health, and its outcomes are astonishing. By all accounts, WISER is changing the way that communities in Muhuru Bay, Kenya value girls. I cannot conceive of work that upholds Principle 11 of the Earth Charter – to affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity – more purely than Dr. Broverman’s. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from her.

Thanks for reading. Back to the kombucha bar!

Ali O’Malley

We easily admire the courage of Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Rachel Corrie and Tim DeChristopher. Each of them took the “road less traveled.” Each of them challenged “the powers” at great personal risk. They were ridiculed, assassinated, jeered and imprisoned.


While most of us are not ready to make such dramatic sacrifices we do feel the tug to be more courageous in living out the values and principles of the Earth Charter. For example, challenging a racist or homophobic slur, standing up for and with low wage workers in their drive for fair compensation, attending rallies or hearings where public policies regarding voting rights, violence reduction, and quality-of-life for women, children and minorities are on the table. It takes courage to stand up and speak out where Earth Charter principles are being trampled.

Got courage? Sure you do. Want more? A new opportunity to show and grow courage is currently taking shape in Indiana. It’s called the Indiana Moral Mondays Coalition.

Moral Mondays refers to a burgeoning mass movement, led by the Rev. Dr. William Barber, that had its roots in efforts to defend voter rights in North Carolina. The initial civil disobedience protest by 17 faith leaders at the statehouse on moral grounds around voter rights took place on a Monday. After the 17 were arrested, more protesters came on Mondays, growing to the hundreds and thousands. On February 8, 2014, over 80,000 protesters marched in Raleigh, North Carolina! This was the largest such gathering since Selma in 1965.

Rev. Barber will be in Indianapolis September 19 and 20. For more information on the schedule and the evolving partners in this “fusion movement” will be coming soon. Stay tuned.

For our children’s children,
John Gibson

With all the news about Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria you might have forgotten that we have a child aged immigration crisis on our hands. Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, met with President Obama about securing the border. Apparently the fence that was built at great taxpayer expense is not sufficient to secure the border. What are we securing ourselves against? Is it hardened criminals or adults looking to live off our welfare system? No, it is defenseless children less than 18. Girls comprise the highest percentage, fifty-eight, of the child immigrants. What are we afraid of?

The United Nations High Commission interviewed 404 recent refugees in the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico in regards to why they fled to the U.S. The number one reason fifty-eight percent of those interviewed gave was violence or the fear of it. In 2006 the same survey arrived at thirteen percent who fled to the U.S. because of the fear of violence. Jose Arnulfo Ochoa of the World Vision International was quoted in the July 11th edition of the New York Times: The Children of the Drug Wars“By sending these children away, you are handing them a death sentence.” If that is not enough, the current administration policy is not just to send them back, but to do so before they can be united with any family. These children are refugees from violence not just illegal aliens. How does the Earth Charter address this humanitarian crisis? The Earth Charter in Principal 11 states as follows: “Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.” It seems that current policy treats these children with neither respect nor consideration.

I would suggest there is a better solution than detention centers and speedy deportation hearings. Let them reside with family members and then give them time to document the dangers faced. Judges hearing these proceedings need to be more familiar with the fact that these children are facing forced recruitment by gangs or life in the military. I would suggest to you that some politicians see political fodder that can be made from the lives of these defenseless children. The Earth Charter argues the opposite. It says that we should treat all living beings with respect and consideration.

For the refugees, their friends, and family,
John Drake

I am a real estate developer. Our company develops, builds & manages affordable rental housing apartment communities throughout the state. A large part of my work is interacting with local governments and residents in the planning, building and management stages of our developments. We are good at what we do, but this is not always an easy journey. Occasionally we are asked to present at public meetings to explain more about our business model, project design or feasibility studies. Often unpredictable, these meetings can trend in a number of different directions. And you know what? Part of me loves this.   Why? Because the people that take the time to be present have a serious passion about their communities. They want to ensure proper attention is given to their built environment and the decisions their leaders are making will benefit their communities both in the present and in the future for their children’s children.   This interaction only makes the end result better for all involved.

Indy Rezone is offering a similar opportunity for people to participate on a much larger scale to ensure that growth and development in Indianapolis is done the right way from the beginning.

Indy Rezone is a diverse collection of local leaders looking to bring our city zoning to modern standards and beyond with public input. A part of their mission: “An important element of Indy Rezone is to improve the capacity of local organizations to understand sustainability and livability issues, to incorporate those principles into local development regulations and to understand the consequences and trade-offs of decisions”.

Let that awesomeness sink in for a moment!

The zoning was last changed in the early 1970’s in an antiquated “one size fits all” expectation reflective of the times. However, this is a new time to inspire and advance sustainable living in Indiana and we’re long overdue for this proposed overhaul.

Again in their words: “New Urbanism, Smart Growth, Sustainable Design, Green Buildings, Inclusionary Zoning, LEED, Transit-oriented Development – these phrases and more are making their way into the vocabulary of design and urban planning professionals, as well as developers and contractors, elected officials and citizens. Concerns about urban sprawl, over-reliance on fossil fuels, traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, and global warming are changing the way we think about cities, how we plan for neighborhood revitalization, and how we design new buildings.”

I hear some Earth Charter friendly concepts in there, don’t you?

You can review the proposed Indy Rezone ordinance public draft and some of the background/topics HERE.

If Indianapolis isn’t your home, I encourage you to still review the draft and help create change at your local level.

Public comment is open until July 18th. ECI supports the efforts/concepts of Indy Rezone and hopes you will contribute your personal support, because after all, in the words of Mr. Woody Guthrie…

“This land is your land, this land is my land….This land was made for you and me.”

Long time proponent, first time author,
Brian R. Pozen

I have a beautiful 6-year-old bulldog, Izzy. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I love smushed faces!) A couple days ago, a neighbor’s normally-out-of-town daughter came knocking on the door to see if Izzy could visit her bulldog, Max. Izzy and Max were nice to each other, though in typical Izzy fashion, she was much more interested in Max’s mom and dad than Max.

I’ve been amazed over these years at the role Izzy has played in breaking down barriers with strangers; folks who would otherwise keep their eyes to the sidewalk as they walked by. Izzy has been a tool not only for getting a hello out of someone, but even developing a friendship with complete strangers.

Of course, bulldogs can be intimidating too. Sadly, the bully breeds in the world often get a bad reputation for aggression. Let me assure you, bulldogs are wonderful animals! But isn’t that how all tools work? Saws are amazing, even though they can be responsible for the loss of a finger or two. Hammers and drills are known for their fair share of work ease and injuries too.

What other tools for peacemaking are there? Cups of coffee? Flowers? A clever slogan on a t-shirt? A bicycle? The options are limitless! We never know what we can use as a tool of peacemaking, but we should definitely be open! An insight might be what we perceive as tools of peacemaking. What connects us to other people, breaks down the nonexistent wall we still perceive between our neighbors? Use those to connect!

With a bit more consciousness, we can turn our surprisingly unexpected tools for peacemaking into purposeful acts of community building. We can build bridges to make relationships and cultivate a method of communication to eventually plant the issues that are important to us.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, kind of, “Speak softly, and . . . walk your dog.”

Zac Karanovich

MRF. My mouth twists into a frown as I utter the acronym (try it: “murf”), which stands for Materials Recovery Facility. Given recent developments to the Indianapolis waste management scene, it seems that there is reason to frown beyond MRF morphology.

On June 18, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced Covanta’s plan to construct a $45 million Advanced Recycling Center that will recover recyclables from mixed municipal solid waste. Ballard maintained that the new facility “will take Indy from a 10% recycling participation rate to 100 percent without any new government mandates, fees or tax increases.  It is a win-win-win for the city, its residents and the environment”. The full press release is available here, and more detailed information from Covanta is available here.

One hundred percent recycling participation is mighty impressive, no? The rhetoric certainly implies a lot of winning. But let’s look a bit more closely at how MRFs work. MRFs rely on a single-stream one bin for all approach wherein discarded household items are comingled curbside. All items – from cat food containers to kitty litter, diapers to dish soap bottles – are then sorted at the MRF. In MRF parlance, the proposed Indianapolis facility is a “dirty MRF” because garbage and recyclable materials are stored and transported together. Renee Sweany has written several detailed pieces on MRFs and the future of curbside recycling in Indy; I encourage you to read them. For now, I will merely offer that a significant amount of the incoming recyclable material, in particular all glass, cannot be recovered by dirty MRFs. Thus, I encourage readers to revisit that “100% recycling participation” promise.

Devoted Monday Memo readers who live, work, and play outside of Indianapolis, I fear you may be turned off by my city-centric approach. Forgive me, and may we come together in contemplation of the interconnectedness of people and planet and the life cycles of our products. The Earth Charter affirms the responsibility to promote the common good and calls for the burden of proof to be on “those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.” Principle 6 continues by calling for decision making that “addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.” Regardless of our ZIP codes, I hope that we behave in ways that hold decision makers accountable to these principles.

So what can we do when faced with proposed change that doesn’t sit well? We respectfully ask decision makers to listen to us. We make our voice heard. We express our concern that the MRF will overshadow attempts at source reduction and encourage consumers, comforted by impressions that “it all gets recycled,” to mindlessly toss more. We sift past happiness-inducing statistics about green job creation and ask where will the “remaining resides” go, and is the proposed MRF flexible enough to be integrated with clean energy production? We communicate with the Board of Public Works members in advance of the July 9 meeting when they will vote on the Covanta proposal.

We act. And we turn that MRF frown upside down.

Ali O’Malley

On June 11, 2014  Youth Power Indiana launched a formal legal process known as a Petition for Rulemaking. In a push for an Indiana Climate Action Plan, YPI and Earth Charter Indiana presented the Petition at a hearing before the Environmental Rules Board (ERB) at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis.

Youth Power Indiana had well over 200 signatures of support from teachers, doctors, climate scientists, clergy and ordinary Hoosiers.

YPI believes the ERB is in a unique position to move Indiana into a more prosperous and secure position by creating the process to establish a climate action plan. Thirty-four states have climate action plans, including Indiana neighbors Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky.

While YPI and ECI awaits the ERB’s determination of merit for our Petition, they plan to work to raise awareness regarding climate change’s impact on Indiana, while providing examples of sustainability, hope and youth empowerment.

The Petition:
Given global climate change threatens all Hoosiers, we believe our government must take the necessary actions to ensure that our youth and future generations of Hoosiers will inherit a healthy environment. We support the adoption of a rule in Indiana that establishes a state-wide Climate Action Plan that will: (1) aggressively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which accelerate the climate change crisis, (2) pursue long-term solutions, such as energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy resources, to prevent further degradation of our atmosphere while creating quality local jobs and a thriving economy, and (3) help Hoosiers adapt to current impacts of climate change, as well as prepare for future impacts that may be inevitable.

Help build a movement, sign the petition now.

On Memorial Day weekend, I attended the “greatest spectacle in racing”—our beloved Indy 500. It was my third or fourth year biking to the race. [A great organization in Indianapolis called Pedal and Park provides bike parking at events in the city, frequently with all-day supervision requiring no bike locks. Okay, enough with the green organization plugging…]

There was a wreck somewhere around Lap 185 and the red flag waved, pitting all the cars. There was a long break in the racing as workers cleared the debris from the track. During that time, across the track from where my friend and I stood, we watched as a small group of folks started the wave. Of course, our conversation led us to wonder who the first person was to say to their friend, “Let’s get the whole lot of us to stand at once in a chain effect to make a wave of people.” We assumed there were likely some pretty impressive waves in the Coliseum.

But there is something inspiring about that act. It’s people working together.

Of course, it didn’t work in the beginning. At first, the wave made it only to the next stairway. But the leaders didn’t stop. Following the rally cry, it made it a little farther and a little farther each time. After a few times, it went the whole route. When the wave, in its strongest force, reached the end of that large section, the crowd roared! They rejoiced in their communal success!

With a document like the Earth Charter guiding us to advocacy and action, it is easy to feel defeated when our wave doesn’t get very far. Those little failures add up and can get us down. But much like those fearless, shirtless race fans, we have to keep the rally cry strong. After a few tries, we might be surprised at how far our message is carried. We must keep standing, hoping that our neighbor stands next, then their neighbor after them.

The Earth Charter’s Preamble states, “We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future . . . . We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.” If that’s what we stand for, that sounds like a beautiful wave.

Let’s stand and see how far we get.

Zac Karanovich

Every day brings again new stories of gun violence – the drumbeat of shootings by young men on the street, angry ex-partners and, as happened again last week, mass shootings, this time in California. The relentless rhythm of violence could become numbing if we let it. In fact, that is the challenge – for us to not become dulled to the cost of violence. Heartbroken before the media this weekend, the father of one California victim made sure that we learned something about his son. Even if we haven’t experienced a loss like his, we naturally identify in some measure with his anguish and that of other parents whose grief pours out before cameras. Surely we must know that those countless stories of victims and shooters are about real lives – must not let the constant repetition of incidents gradually erode our certainty.

But that’s where we are; our moral clarity about the sanctity of life becomes less and less sure. What we see in violence among youth is a reflection – maybe the result of a more general devaluing of life which permeates daily existence. We agonize over mass shootings but develop ever-more effective military weaponry. We are pained to learn of domestic shootings but condone capital punishment. We decry gang killings, but honor the Clint Eastwood myth. The very notion that gratuitous violence should be a source of entertainment and video games should stop us cold.

If we are experiencing wide-spread loss of reverence for life, does the Earth Charter have anything to offer? To start the Charter’s overarching framework tells us that peace and non-violence are inextricably interwoven with social and economic justice, accessible government and respect for the environment. Many very good people dedicate themselves fully to trying to help stop youth violence. Our friends at the Peace Learning Center have it exactly right by teaching conflict resolution alongside respect for the natural world. Those who connect violence to lack of economic opportunity are surely right. And Mayor Ballard’s recent meeting with gang members was a modest step in the right direction by government to engage alienated youth.

But I think there is something else – which is the devaluing of life that seems to make it easy to kill and to risk being killed. So we should ask, if belief in sanctity of life is eroding, where does reverence come from? Putting aside psychopaths for the moment is it possible to instill reverence where it is not present? For many of us, whether or not explicitly “religious,” reverence is a spiritual reflection of our integration with the whole of creation. Some might embrace the sanctity of life because God calls us to love each other while for others it might be intuitive but compelling recognition that we are all of one life. Monday Memo readers know that the Earth Charter speaks eloquently about knowing that we are one human and global family. But whatever the perspective, I believe that the foundation of reverence is not in dogma but in relationships where we learn about caring, giving, empathy and self-respect. Where we learn to have confidence in our own lives and recognize dignity in the other.

Solutions to violence lie in healthy families, sustaining communities and our ability to change the messages we give about sacred life. In thought, word and action, we can adopt that Eastern gesture: with palms together, bow, greet and honor the divinity that resides within each other.

For our children’s children,
Jerry King

Welcome To Earth Charter Indiana

 Indiana Youth Demand Climate Action Plan! 

On June 11, 2014  Youth Power Indiana launched a formal legal process known as a Petition for Rulemaking. In a push for an Indiana Climate Action Plan, YPI and Earth Charter Indiana presented the Petition at a hearing before the Environmental Rules Board (ERB) at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis. Youth Power Indiana had well over 200 signatures of support from teachers, doctors, climate scientists, clergy and ordinary Hoosiers. Read the full story HERE…

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    Earth Charter Indiana actively inspires and advances a sustainable, just and peaceful lifestyle for all Hoosiers through our statewide initiatives. Check out our current projects!
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We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when
humanity must choose its future

--from the Earth Charter

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  • The Monday Memo



      I have spam on the mind. Last week, I attended “Monty Python Live (mostly)” at a local movie theater. If you are familiar with Monty Python, I’m sure you can… Read More »
    • A SENCER Sensation

      A SENCER Sensation

      Greetings! I write to you from Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a charming place where the local paper - the sweetly dubbed Daily Planet - contains a front page article on… Read More »