NCP's work in Harrisonburg, VA puts our organization's principles into practice. The Sustainable Living Center combines sustainable agriculture with ground-breaking backyard environmental projects and outreach to the community. Our bicycle advocacy program is focused on making bicycling not only safe and culturally acceptable but a viable alternative to the car culture. The Undoing Global Warming program helps congregations and other institutions assess their energy use—and greenhouse gas emissions—and offers concrete suggestions for saving energy, emissions and money. All these efforts are coordinated by NCP's Tom Benevento, who is joined by an able crew of co-workers and a steady stream of volunteers.
Sustainable Living Homestead
Along with its on-site innovations related to farming, water use, waste disposal and more, the Sustainable Living Homestead serves as a model for other groups in the community seeking ways to mitigate the impacts of global warming. For instance, the Central Valley Habitat for Humanity board has invited NCP to collaborate in making the solar hot water system Tom has developed a main feature of all future building projects. NCP staff also work with local church groups and others to create neighborhood garden spaces for locally produced organic food. Good news travels fast!
In addition, the market garden seeks to collaborate with people in "difficult life circumstances" (our most marginalized in Harrisonburg , generally people who are homeless or unemployable). These folks are Creation Care Apprentices within our sustainable living center program. In this capacity they have a chance to gain job reference and experience, make a small amount of income (from sales at the farmers market along with a small initial amount of funds from one of our grants), and gain a healing experience with the earth. The market garden is local, organic, and the produce transported by bicycle trailers. Our goal is to create healing and meaningful work for people in need, chemical/pollution free food, and zero emissions food production.
NCP also offers Permaculture Design Courses to area residents. Based on patterns and processes of ecological systems, permaculture is the art and science of creating healthy and resilient human environments abundant in food, water, shelter, energy, and community. These courses focus specifically on exploring sustainability strategies for the Shenandoah Valley, and participants emerge as a thriving practitioner network, each with the ability to design and build gardens, homes, and communities modeled on living ecosystems.
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Undoing Global Warming campaign
Tom also gives leadership to our Undoing Global Warming campaign, bringing the expertise of a degree in Sustainable Systems, along with years of practical experience in the US and Central America.
The focus of Undoing Global Warming is to reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings in which we live and worship. Even more so than car use, heating and cooling homes and other structures is a leading consumer of energy in the United States . And, of course, with energy consumption comes a whole host of other outcomes, including:
That's where the Undoing Global Warming project comes in! NCP offers congregations the opportunity to examine energy usage in their church facilities and homes, as well as to assess the environmental costs of lawn care practices. Plans for a weekend workshop are made in consultation with a congregation, depending on their needs and interests (see sample schedule below).
A modest honorarium is requested to offset NCP's expenses for this program. Groups are also invited to contribute a portion of the money they save from greater efficiencies toward helping heal God's creation and enhance human well-being in Central America, Africa and the US .
Contact information for Tom Benevento:
Here's how a weekend might go:
In many ways our earth is sending out an emergency cry as humans continue to use it beyond its capacity. Christians can play a leading role in responding to the call for help by making simple yet important changes in their homes and church facilities. Plan for an SOS weekend in your church community soon!