Welcome to Our Mother’s Keeper

I’ve sat on this project for a couple of months just waiting for a good time to début. Earth Day seemed like a pretty good day, doncha think? With a little inspiration and a lot of help from Brad, I’ve been able to bring aboard some of the bloggernacle’s best voices regarding environmental issues.

So here’ s a little bit about who we are from the ‘About‘ page:

Our Mother’s Keeper (OMK) is a LDS group blog dedicated to environmentalism, ecofeminism and environmental justice issues. We seek to gain a better understanding of what our responsibility as Latter Day Saints is to the beautiful blue pebble we call home.

We’ll avoid politics as much as we can.

If that sounds a little heavy, don’t worry. OMK will be a relaxed atmosphere where we can talk about feminism and environmentalism; gardening, soil, local and community involvement, ecology, natural resource depletion, conservation, energy efficiency (I could go on and on and on but you get the point) and anything under the sun (really, there’s no pun intended) . [Edit: And poetry!]

We want to inform you about the Earth’s natural processes and hope you’ll walk away with a greater love and respect for the only place in our solar system we can survive.

Why? Because every human that lives on this planet comes from the earth. We know from the scriptures that God created Adam from the “dust of the ground” and breathed life into his nostrils (Gen 2:7). If we’re all related to Adam, then I think that means we all have a little bit of that dust in our bones.

If you’re not inclined to literal interpretations of the creation story, let me share this with you:

The planet recycles its carbon atoms over and over (and over) again. Recycling takes place within the biosphere and between all living things and the environment. Because a constant supply of carbon is essential for all living things and is always being recycled, it’s possible that you’re composed of carbon atoms that once belonged to prehistoric plants, an ancient relative of the California redwood or even a dinosaur.

Everything that has ever lived is a part of who we (and all living things) are now. We really are eternal.

Enough of the science lesson…

My point? The laws of ecology and thermodynamics apply to the human animal just as they apply to every living and non living thing on the planet. We can’t escape the natural laws; birth, life, growth, death, decay. Nor can we forget that everything has limits. Including the rocks and mineral and trees.

As Latter Day Saints, we believe our Heavenly Father gave us a beautiful home with everything we need to survive (and then some). He even said as much in the scriptures:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so (Gen 1:29 &30)

and

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion (D&C 59:18-20)

In return, he asks of us to

1. Use his gift(s) with [good] judgement

2. Not be excessive or take more than we need

3. Not to take by extortion. That’s a mighty powerful word to use. He’s clearly asking us to not take by force.

In Gen. 1:28, He also commands us “to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
LDS often interpret that as makin’ babies. I’m sure there’s some truth to that interpretation, but I’ve always believed it meant that we are responsible to replenish and not over use the resources he gave us.

He knew we’d be wholly reliant upon natural processes for our survival. Our soil, air, water, are precious resources and without them we do not eat, breath, or drink. If we continue to abuse the land (our gift), it will not and can not provide for us.

Where much is given, much is required. (see Luke 12:48.)

You might ask, how do we change what’s already been set in motion?

My response is always: It starts with how you view the Earth and your responsibility towards it. You will have to alter your habits. Then, teach it to your family. And later your neighbors.

I believe changing the world starts at the local level (this includes home) first and moves outward. As communities (even LDS blog communities) become reliant on each other for their success, and less reliant on products and services across the world for their success, we will have an opportunity to reverse some of the damage we’ve caused to our home.

I never said it would be easy.

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43 responses to “Welcome to Our Mother’s Keeper

  1. ErinAnn April 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    “As LDS we often interpret that as makin’ babies.”

    I think that’s a fairly common interpretation — not exclusive to LDS folk. I have always felt that to “replenish” the earth had nothing to do with my feminine cycle, but rather the natural cycles of the earth. In fact, I would argue that to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” could very easily be three seperate commandments: Be (usefully) productive, have kids (and take care of them), and use and renew this beautiful home that you’ve been given.

    I’ve always loved the idea of being a steward over the earth. Being a steward is more than just keeping something alive, but helping it to flourish and be a stand-in for its parents.

  2. Tracy M April 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Congrats, you all! Some of my favorite people here! Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got up your sleeves and adding you to my rolls and feeds.

  3. Dan April 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    awesome Mel. We started gardening this spring. We’re looking forward to our own onions and other vegetables come summer. 🙂

  4. Idahospud April 23, 2011 at 12:22 am

    I love the new blog, and the lineup is superb. I’m very much looking forward to posts from all of you.

  5. Corktree April 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    What a fabulous idea. Can’t wait for more posts!

  6. nat kelly April 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    LOVE your interpretation of “be fruitful and multiply and replenish.”

    I gotta tell you, Mel, I’m finding this stuff more and more compelling. I’ve always sworn I was not an environmentalist. But the more I study issues of international oppression, the more I’m just struck with how important the earth is in all this. The earth does so much “work” that creates all the life we have and enjoy. And the easiest way to oppress people is to restrict their access to it.

    I totally agree that we all have to alter our habits. I never know how far to go. I hate the balance of trying to live life fully, and being weighed down by guilt about the damage my consumption is causing. I look forward to hearing your much more advanced thoughts expound on this.

  7. nat kelly April 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Also, maybe you’re planning on clarifying this, but – Our Mother refers primarily to the earth, as in Mother Nature?

  8. missy. April 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    nat, you are driving at a lot of the issues that this blog will be tackling. Stick around because I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these big, big questions!

  9. April April 22, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Erinann, I love your interpretation as well! Never thought about it that way 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more!

  10. reader Rachel April 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I’m so glad to see this blog come up. It’s wonderful to have a thoughtful forum to assist in my attempts to practice responsible stewardship and teach my children to love and respect this earth.

  11. ShellSea5 April 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Really looking forward to some interesting and challenging dialogue! 

    I love that you jumped right into D&C and pointed out that we are told:  “Not to take by extortion….” I also love that you clarify: “He’s clearly asking us to not take by force”.
    How many things do we rely upon or use every. single. day. that were taken by force? It’s hard to justify, in today’s world, almost any animal product not raised in our own back yard to be anything but taken by force. You’ve already got me thinking!

  12. mfranti April 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Nat, double meaning.

    ErinAnn, Excellent thought.

    Chelsea, great comment.

    Everyone else, thank you for taking the time to drop us a line.

  13. mfranti April 22, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I need to clarify something.
    I ripped through the first few lines of the OP so fast, I didn’t properly state how much Brad Kramer helped make this possible.

    I just built the blog. He’s the brains.

  14. Brad April 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    [blush]
    The site is lovely, Mel. And this is a helluva post for an opener. So looking forward to this!

  15. Cynthia L. April 23, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Yay for this blog! Love the topic, love the contributors, love the post.

  16. Elisabeth April 23, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Great post, Mel! Looking forward to reading more from you and the others here.

  17. Derek Staffanson April 23, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I anticipate great things from this!

  18. EAH April 23, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I’m excited to see where this new blog goes – there’s a huge opportunity here, and it’s a fantastic step to recognize feminism in relation to the earth in a formal way. I’d love to send in ideas for topics!

    Yes, great interpretation…the opposite of replenish is deplete. A huge question, how to live as replenishers and not depleters. Is this even possible? How?!!?!! I hope we can figure it out here, with the direction of the Lord.

  19. Stephanie April 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

    What a great blog! What a perfect fit for you and your talents, mel. I am excited to see what you come up with.

  20. thelibraryinequality April 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I am so excited about this blog! This is just what I need. Thank you so much for starting it.

  21. Fran April 23, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I’m really excited about this blog!!!!

  22. RobF April 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Glad to see this. I’m a long time bird blogger and Ph.D. geographer, ornithologist, and urban ecologist. Let me know if I can help out 🙂

  23. TopHat April 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I’m really excited for this blog! I think it will do great things and become the home of some great discussion and action!

  24. winnie April 23, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I would love to eventually see some good tutorials on organic gardening. Please? With some advice on dealing with the challenging Northern Utah soil would be awesome!

  25. Marcus Shepherd April 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I think these important topics – environmentalism, ecofeminism and environmental justice – are things that can truly take Mormonism to its next level. Without a strong desire to ponder and meditate on life, Creation, and doctrine, we’ll remain more concerned about our personal righteousness than spreading light and truth across the world.

    I’m just thrilled to see this blog, and I can’t wait to do my little part to help this important community develop.

  26. ErinAnn April 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Ooh! I second Winnie’s request. It would be great to have an ongoing series like “What you should be doing in your garden this month” or something. I’m hoping to escape our condo this year and am dreaming of turning over soil and mixing in manure come September.

  27. CRW April 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Very much looking forward to the blog as it evolves, especially ideas for becoming more responsible and earth-friendly on a personal and family level. We’ve got peas, radishes, and spinach coming up, and although the apricot blossoms froze, it looks like we’ll have peaches. Every year, spring is such a miracle.

  28. JamesM April 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Congrats on the new blog! Looking forward to reading and participating in some fantastic discussions here.

  29. Nicole April 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This is so very exciting! Yesterday was the first real spring day here (Pacific NW), and thought I was in heaven because I had spent 2 full days in the yard. Then I saw the announcement over at FMH and found myself practically jumping up and down.

    The actualization of where environmental stewardship, social justice, and family life meet is were my professional (PhD Candidate in Urban Studies) and personal (well, I was raised to be a housewife) intersect. It is so strange to feel so far out on the edge in many LDS circles when it is my faith driven respect for the earth that drew me to my lifestyle anyways.

    It looks like you all have a great line up. I can’t wait to see topics explored.
    I third (or more) ‘how to’ and ‘what you should be doing in the garden right now’ posts. Maybe you could make it an interactive feature by putting up a ‘what did you work on around the house/garden’ post each Saturday?

  30. Nicole April 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    PS – I’d be honored to help out too. I’m in the beginning stages of transforming a city lot with a garden, fruit trees, chickens, etc. My professional life also means I am aware of a lot of environmental trends including water conservation techniques pioneered in the rainy Pacific Northwest to protect watersheds.

  31. Th. April 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    .

    Don’t miss complementary blog Wilderness Interface Zone.

  32. mfranti April 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    How did I know know about that forum? I would have been reading it long ago.

    Woot!

  33. mfranti April 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Nicole, and other’s who are interested in helping out, submit a guest post to
    ourmotherskeeper at gmail dot com

  34. henry April 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Although I’m not really sure I understand what ecofeminism is, I am also excited to read all the new threads over my wife’s shoulder. Alas, this has been my first comment on any of these bloggernacle blogs (FMH, OMK, MMM, etc..) Henry is my real name by the way. (I get tired of all the anonymity going around the web).
    Anyway, I would like to suggest topics I think are worthy of the site.
    – Limiting meat consumption: the effects our endless burgers and steaks have on the world.
    – Cloth diapering: saving the world, one poo at a time.
    – Solar power: is it as awesome as I think it is. (Same for wind power/thermal power).
    – Are electric cars as environmentally friendly as they sound (or are they just guzzling power in a different form?)
    – Moderation in consumption (not just food, but disposable products, household products, packaging, etc…
    – Will I be in good company when I finally move to the Pacific NW? (6 months to go).

    *kindly edited by Fran (my wife)

  35. The English Teacher April 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    This looks great. I’ll have to check back often.

  36. Debra April 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

    “Everything that has ever lived is a part of who we (and all living things) are now. I think it’s fantastic. We really are eternal.”- I love this.

  37. mfranti April 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

    EAH: Yes, great interpretation…the opposite of replenish is deplete. A huge question, how to live as replenishers and not depleters. Is this even possible? How?!!?!! I hope we can figure it out here, with the direction of the Lord.

    I love this! I wish I had thought to put it in the OP. Depleters are not good. They take without regard. They are selfish. Seems to me that that runs contrary to what the gospel teaches about love, charity, humility, etc.

  38. Kenie April 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I’m incredibly excited to follow this blog–it’s great to have a place to discuss these issues. I’m the president of BYU’s environmental club, and I’m excited to share this blog with people as we try to inform BYU/Provo about the importance of caring for the environment.

    I’d love to see a book list be part of this blog–I know of several good books about these topics, and I’d love to see what other people are reading.

  39. Janet April 25, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Congratulations on your debut! I love the name, love the general topic, love the beautiful photgraph you’ve chosen as your banner, love the little quilt markers for the comments (well, you knew I’d love those of course!) and love that you are back to writing. I look forward to reading and chirping in when I can! Good cast of writers too, touche!

  40. Alliegator April 25, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Yea!

    (this is my comment of support for a great new blog that I can’t wait to read more on!)

  41. jenica April 25, 2011 at 11:13 am

    excited to see where this goes! got a fb page yet?

    and that first comment is spot on, thank you ErinAnn

  42. IdahoG-ma April 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Looking forward to this more than you know!

  43. Pingback: New Blog « excelling at mediocrity

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