That’s right, I’ve been Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana for one year!  Labor Day is a perfect opportunity for me to acknowledge that one-year anniversary. There are no holidays, no days off, but I am not complaining.

Today, for example, I’m at WARMfest, a music festival in Indianapolis honoring the White River. We have a table where numerous graduates of our Climate Camp are interacting with festival-goers, talking with them about carbon and water footprint. We’re collecting signatures for our Climate Action Plan Petition. Check it out HERE!

And, as always, we’re making new friends.

This has been the most joyful year of my entire life. In the course of this year I’ve met innumerable great folks who all recognize, as the Earth Charter says, that we “stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.”

In my role as a presenter, I have connected in person with nearly 6,000 people, nearly half of who were youth. Everywhere I go people want to make their communities more just, peaceful and sustainable. They don’t want to deny the reality of climate change any longer. They want to connect the social justice dots and fashion an existence that is slower, more neighborly, more beautiful.

This next year looks to be even more extraordinary. My calendar is already filling up with schools that want me to visit – not just to present and exit stage left, but to visit multiple times and help them solve a problem. I look forward to those challenges.

We’ll be developing our three youth programs, the Eco Summit (mostly college students with some high school students, this year held at Ball State University on Nov. 1), the Eco Science Fair (elementary-high school, March 20 & 21 at the Indiana State Museum), and Climate Camp (elementary-high school, mini-camps between now and next summer’s weeklong experience are now in the planning phase).

If that isn’t enough, we have our effort to get a Climate Action Plan for Indiana, the exciting, citizen-justice action that will unfold over the next number of months.

John Gibson’s Sustainable Indiana 2016 program keeps growing stronger as more and more acts of sustainability are recorded for the web site. SI2016 is expanding, with its Hands On Indiana project to be rolled out ambitiously this coming year.

Earth Charter Indiana has joined with a number of other groups to strengthen mutual interests and coalitions, like Indiana Moral Mondays and Beyond Coal. Recently, we’ve made contact with the mothership, Earth Charter International, based in Costa Rica.

Please consider making a donation to us at Youth Power Indiana.

This is a particularly urgent moment.

We need your help, specifically, to fund our statewide Climate Action Plan strategy - and your donation, no matter how small, will make a difference.

That donation is tax deductible.

Happy Labor Day! May all your labors be fruitful, peaceful and loving.


One of the most treasured myths we Americans hold is that if you work hard you can make it economically. Last Sunday’s New York Times Sunday Business Section, August 17th, features the story of a woman who might appear at first glance, to be an example of someone who is becoming a role model for going the extra mile. She might seem to exemplify the myth that only the lack of hard work keeps one from prosperity.

The lead article talks about a young woman with a partner and three children who left an accounting job when she gave birth to her third child. Her decision was not what she wanted to do. The company she worked for expected her to work more hours than before the child. She quit so as to not put her job above her child. One might expect that her company would understand her desire to spend time with children, but they did not.   She was expected to put in the more hours and sacrifice time with her family.  The Earth Charter reads as follows in the Principles on Social and Economic Justice: “Affirm gender equality … and ensure universal access to education, health, and economic opportunity.”  She has no access to economic opportunity if she wishes to practice what she feels is good mothering.

This Monday Memo is a reflection on how she is now earning a living to help support her family versus how she would fare in a co-operative. When she starts her day, she checks her applications such as TaskRabbit and looks for other short term work such as ferrying people around New York City in her own car. She is an example of a modern day microearner. Microearners are competing against other workers in similar situations in a labor elimination match.   Whoever can provide the required service or skills at the lowest price will normally get the job. The consumer of the service or skill benefits, but no one can quantify whether it is a good deal for the actual microearner. Stories such as this one in the New York Times would create sufficient doubt about the benefit to this modern form of rugged individualism. An alternative more in line with the Earth Charter Social Principle cited above is a cooperative. If she were a member of a cooperative of people earning an income off a series of different kind of short term engagements, she could share the jobs she is not skilled or willing to do with others in the co-op. Cooperatives have been proven to be a better source of a higher income for individuals than the highly competitive market approach. Let us hope that the Mayor of New York, who is highly supportive of the benefits of cooperatives, will see this as an area worthy of investment of the city funds.

For our children’s children,
John Drake

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.

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!
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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

    • Happy Anniversary to Me!

      Happy Anniversary to Me!

      That's right, I've been Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana for one year!  Labor Day is a perfect opportunity for me to acknowledge that one-year anniversary. There are no holidays,… Read More »
    • Cooperation or Individualism

      Cooperation or Individualism

      One of the most treasured myths we Americans hold is that if you work hard you can make it economically. Last Sunday’s New York Times Sunday Business Section, August 17th,… Read More »