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

From pundits to precocious kids there is widespread agreement that our world is unraveling at every level—economically, environmentally, morally, etc. Commonplace metaphors include “the world is going to hell in a hand basket”, “we are about to go over the cliff”, “the world is a ticking time bomb.”

All this begs the question, “What can we do about it?” Some say, “Nothing.   It’s already too late. We’ve passed too many tipping points. We’ve lost control and the ‘powers that be’ are out of control.” Others say, “Don’t give up so fast. Things look bleak but there is still hope.”They point out that in the midst of all this unraveling some folks are reweaving local food systems, cutting their carbon footprint, marching for living wages, advocating for net neutrality, gardening for local food banks, and much more.

The Earth Charter is clear, “Everyone shares responsibility for the present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world.” This means that getting to a better place is less like living in hotel and ordering room service from the front desk and more like bringing your casserole to a pitch-in picnic in the park. No one can or is expected to bring the whole meal but everyone can and must bring something.

Need an idea? Read the Earth Charter, find a “buddy” who shares your passion for one of the 16 principles, join or create an organization that works to achieve your chosen goal(s), get started, expect setbacks, learn from them, keep going, collaborate with kindred spirits and celebrate victories large or small.

For our children’s children,
John Gibson

Once again it is the month of May and one tends to think of the Indianapolis 500. An often forgotten aspect of May is the Memorial Day events. I served in the U.S. Navy in 1975-1979 which was the era where anyone in uniform was either ignored or called names. I remember discussing with other sailors that it was not wise to wear your uniform when away from the ship. This attitude towards those of us in uniform was a result of the deeply divisive and unpopular Vietnam War. I have always remembered the stigma associated with serving one’s country in the 1970’s.

Today, despite our war weariness after Iraq and Afghanistan, current military personnel and veterans receive a much different reaction from the general public. When I go to a baseball game in Cincinnati, there is always recognition of someone at the game who has served or is still serving in the military. Part of the seventh inning ritual, in addition to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, is the singing of God Bless America. I am happy that people who have made the economic and family sacrifice to serve now receive recognition.

However, my growing concern is that 9/11 has led to a form of worshiping of those in the military, and a lack of appropriate debate before we enter into a military engagement. I am not one who can say no war under any circumstances. For those who feel differently I respect that point of view, but I do not hold that view. If one is running for public office, it is anathema to question whether or not the actions of those who serve in war zones such as Afghanistan have violated the rights of citizens of that country. Serving in the military does not make all of the actions of our men and women in uniform morally justifiable. I am not advocating we go back to the 1970’s, but would prefer to see those who serve be thanked, but not elevated to virtual sainthood status for their sacrifice. The Earth Charter addresses this concern in Principle IV: “Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.” Our current approach of virtually worshiping our men and women in uniform does not promote any of these values. I fear instead it unintentionally says war is the answer for all problems and not just one of the many choices. We should recognize those who sacrifice for us, but that does not mean holding them as an example of what is best about our country and values. Let us advocate for tolerance, nonviolence, and peace so that our men and women do not need to make the ultimate sacrifice.

For our children’s children,
John Drake

I’m a person who has always needed help.  My life is framed by the boundless charity of people I will never know, and never thank personally.  The picture in this week’s memo is me (age 5) with television entertainer Danny Thomas at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where I was a patient for 10 years.  From an early age, Danny Thomas was an inspiration to me and a noble example of humility.  He founded St. Jude’s with a unique, utterly altruistic mission to care for children with life threatening illnesses, regardless of a family’s ability to pay for it.  The enormity of the expert care I received there developed into my understanding of serial reciprocity; helping others as an expression of gratitude for the gift of life I received.

In my 20’s, my ideas about serving others and caring for Life beyond my own were profoundly enriched when I found a job working for a company organized by the Mennonite Church.  I was immediately drawn to the Mennonite traditions of stewardship and mutual aid – particularly mutual aid.  I came to realize more fully our grand interconnectedness and the obligations we have toward one another.

When I met Jerry King a few years ago and learned about the Earth Charter, I was fascinated.  In the Charter I discovered many of the rich, wide themes of my life and distinct core values expressed in comprehensive, digestible principles and guidelines.  For me, a person whose physical body has been wildly unpredictable and out-of-control, I find comfort in the consistency and dependability of written rules.  The Earth Charter helps me by providing stable validation of ideas first seeded at St. Jude’s and cultivated throughout my life.

The Monday Memo essays have challenged me to think carefully about practical applications of the Earth Charter principles.  I share these thoughts today, in my last scheduled Monday Memo, as brief explanation of the Earth Charter’s broader appeal to me.  Perhaps the best summary comes from the Charter’s statements on Universal Responsibility:  Reverence for the mystery of being. Gratitude for the gift of life. Humility regarding the human place in nature.

I’ve been honored to serve on the Board of our organization, Earth Charter Indiana, and assist in its governance.  Later this month, my husband and I will leave Indiana, my home for over 40 years.  Our resignations as Board members will be tendered at the Annual Meeting on May 19th.

We hope you will join us at the meeting as we revel in the exciting Earth Charter Indiana developments over the past year.  Dinner will be provided at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Krannert Room at the Indiana Interchurch Center.  Please follow this link to RSVP.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you in the Monday Memo.  Thank you for the kind and thoughtful feedback many of you have offered.  I hope you will always find enrichment, encouragement and inspiration in the Earth Charter.


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…

  • What We Do:

    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!
  • For Our Future:

    The Power of Our Kids!

  • Sustainable 2016

    Sustainable Indiana

  • Donate

    We need your help!
    Your donation goes directly to our projects. Donate now!

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when
humanity must choose its future

--from the Earth Charter

  • Sign The Petition!

    Climate Action Plan in Indiana

  • What is the Earth Charter?

    The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values.

    The Earth Charter is concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. However, the Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible.