Eco-advocate Eric Traficante
In the summer of 2007, Eric Traficante wanted to be involved in something he felt passionate about: climate change and the environment. Fortunately, an internship with The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) allowed Traficante, then 19, to author an education and advocacy initiative that asked youth to take a 24-hour fast from electricity. It is called “Off The Grid.”
Today, thanks to Traficante, many young Anglicans across Canada have spent fun, informative weekends learning about the environment and what they can do to save it.
Now a fourth-year biomedical studies student at the University of Guelph, Ont., Traficante joins the ranks of Canadian Anglicans who are helping raise ecological awareness. Many of them are personally living their commitment to the cause every day.
“Faith communities have a responsibility to live out the principles and values prescribed in the Bible,” Traficante, who is a member of the parish of St. Luke’s in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (diocese of Algoma) told the Anglican Journal. “This includes being good stewards to our earth, and not wasting valuable natural resources. It is one thing to live by these principles on a personal level, but when the consequences are potentially global in scale, advocacy becomes much more important.”
For Off The Grid events, youth are challenged to live without power for one day as they learn about climate change prevention, policy and resource extraction. They calculate their carbon footprint-the amount of greenhouse gas produced by activities of daily living-and how it can be reduced. The event also leads them through an alternative way to live, by replacing activities such as computer games, iPods, cell phones and television with energy-saving ones like camping, cooking over a campfire, story-telling and singing.
The green wave is sweeping across many Anglican parishes in Canada. In the diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia, for instance, a green parish accreditation program recognizes churches demonstrating environmental stewardship. St. Hilda’s by the Sea Anglican Church in Sechelt was the first to receive this recognition when it implemented an energy audit, adopted a green procurement policy for supplies, stopped using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and encouraged parishioners to bike and walk to church. The parish also developed an environmental stewardship page on its website and worked on an interactive map that provides community environmental information.
“Make a Pledge,” a program that commits congregations and households to reducing greenhouse emissions, is also a popular option. Using Environment Canada’s online calculator (www.on.ec.gc.ca/community/ecoaction/greenhousecalcs-e.html). you can assess your energy use and identify simple but effective ways to reduce that consumption.
Advocacy also means seeking solutions, noted the Rev. Canon Maylanne Maybee, eco-justice co-ordinator for the partnerships department of the Anglican Church of Canada. In an interview, she called advocacy work “a transformative process” that creates deeper understanding and a collective sense of responsibility. “Solution-based advocacy” shows that “we are not just armchair righteous people who say, ‘You do this.’ We are in the trenches figuring it out.” Bishop Dennis Drainville of the diocese of Quebec, a former Ontario MPP and a strong social justice advocate, has seen first-hand how advocacy can effect government policy change. Ω