This we know. The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth... All things are connected like the blood which unites one family... Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth... Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. — attributed to Chief Noah Sealth, Reading 550 in Singing the Living Tradition
We name ourselves after the land we live with. Because, not only are we breathing in, we are also drinking from the water that is flavored by that very land. Whatever is deposited in the soil is in that water is in us. So we are all one thing, and we name ourselves after the place that is our nurturing. That sustains our life. — Ramona Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag artist
IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... We considered human ownership and just distribution of natural resources, especially water. We imagined places with different rules about ownership and sharing, and we saw how nature often ignores human boundaries. We discussed how water is a common resource that should belong to all because all life needs water, clean and in sufficient quantity, for its very existence. This workshop affirmed the Unitarian Universalist Principles that promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relationships; and the interdependent web of existence.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about... the ownership of water in your area. Do you pay for water? Who do you pay? Does the cost of water make you conserve water more?
What do you know about the quality of your water? Do you receive reports about your municipality's water quality? Do you read them? Have you ever taken any action—written a letter, bought a filter—to improve your water's quality?
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try...
Brainstorm ways to reduce your water use. Select at least one method to implement. Find ideas on the Green Venture website. Try to measure how much water you save with the method you choose.
FAMILY SCAVENGER HUNT
Does your water come from a well? Where does it come from? Try to trace it back to its natural source. As water travels underground to your home, how many boundaries do you think it crosses? Look at a map to find out.
Inspiration to keep the environment clean can come from nature itself. Take time to enjoy a beautiful outdoor setting near you, whether that might mean canoeing a river or lake, hiking a mountain, forest, or desert trail, going on a walk to appreciate the lovely gardens city-dwellers create, or just lying in a patch of grass or a hammock to gaze up at the clouds, tree canopies or stars in the sky.
A FAMILY INVESTIGATION
Clean "green." Research the chemicals in the cleaning products you use, and what happens after you rinse them down the drain. The EPA has gathered information to help janitorial purchases at federal agencies. View the American Cleaning Institute's Sustainability Central web page for detailed, industry and product updates.
FAMILY VIDEO NIGHT
Watch the movie "Erin Brockovich" together. Erin Brockovich is a real person. While working in a law office filing papers, she became curious why medical reports belonged in a utility company's file. She engaged in an extensive search for truth about the utility's dumping of chromium which was entering the community's groundwater. It is an empowering story. Brockovich didn't need scientific degrees or impressive credentials to do something important. She needed to notice and care.
The movie can also give your family a chance to talk about work/family balance. How did her employer help her? Could they have been more helpful? Do you know other businesses that work pro bono? Were her efforts worth the time she spent away from her family?