Temple of Understanding celebrating our 62nd Anniversary in 2022
ECO JUSTICE FOR ALL interviews and dialogues are ongoing programs produced by the Temple of Understanding, incorporating our outreach in the area of environmental awareness and advocacy. We present a diverse range of perspectives, from scientific to spiritual views, on the climate emergency and offer a variety of solutions that we can all do easily and effectively in our everyday lives. World religious and spiritual visionaries, Indigenous leaders, scientists and social scientists, environmental activists, artists, musicians and writers, youth and elders, local and global people, all come together to address the urgency of the climate crisis through these ongoing interviews and dialogues.
Register for the event and join us each month for an informative talk and lively discussion. Each month we invite a speaker or small panel to go deeper on the issues of environmental justice.
Registered participants are able to engage with our speakers by asking questions relevant to the discussion topic.
Daniel Capper, Ph.D., is a recently-retired Professor from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he taught Asian religions, comparative religions, and research methods. Trained at the University of Chicago in the field of science and religion dialogue, his interdisciplinary studies explore environmental ethical interactions with the nonhuman natural world comparatively as well as among American Buddhists. Capper’s many publications include the books Learning Love from a Tiger: Religious Experiences with Nature, Roaming Free like a Deer: Buddhism and the Natural World, and Buddhist Ecological Protection of Space: A Guide for Sustainable Off-Earth Travel.
Rev. Susan Hendershot has served as president of Interfaith Power & Light since 2018. Rev. Hendershot went on to graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she received her Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology. After graduate school, she moved to Iowa, where she was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served as a pastor in local congregations, focusing on social justice. Rev. Hendershot also led faith-based nonprofit organizations and served as the first Heartland Field Organizer for the ONE Campaign on global poverty. Just prior to her current role, she served as the executive director at Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, one of the state affiliates in the Interfaith Power & Light network. Rev. Hendershot believes that climate change is a moral issue, disproportionately impacting those who are most vulnerable in our world. She gets her motivation and inspiration from her two sons. Rev. Hendershot is based in Washington, DC.
Ibrahim Ozdemir is a professor of philosophy at Uskudar University, Istanbul, Turkey. He is the Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and is the founding President of Hasan Kalyoncu University, Gaziantep. His PhD dissertation was entitled: The Ethical Dimension of Human Attitude Towards Nature, which was the first dissertation by a Muslim philosopher on environmental philosophy and ethics. His books include Rumî and Confucius on Meaning of Life, The Ethical Dimension of Human Attitude Towards Nature, and Globalization, Ethics and Islam. His diverse background as a researcher and teacher includes environmental philosophy and ethics, ecology and religion, practical ethics, philosophical counseling, critical thinking, and Islamic philosophy. Ibrahim Ozdemir was a member of the drafting team of the Islamic Declaration for Global Climate Change. Presently, he was assigned as a member of the core and draft team to write and finalize Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth to be presented to the UN.
"Wake Up America! North American Environmental Youth Activism"
Dialogue with Lydia M., Liv Schroeder, Mars Vazquez-Plyshevsky
Recorded July 14, 2022
Lydia M. is sixteen years old and is a plaintiff in Natalie R. v. State of Utah, in which she and six other young Utahns are suing their State government for promoting fossil fuels and causing and contributing to Utah's dangerous air quality and climate crises in violation of their constitutional rights. In the Salt Lake valley where Lydia lives, poor air quality, dangerous heatwaves, and drought, all worsened by the development of Utah's fossil fuels, threaten both Utah’s beautiful natural environment and the health and safety of Lydia and other members of her community. When she is not fighting for climate justice and breathable air, Lydia enjoys hiking in the diverse and unique landscapes throughout Utah.
Liv Schroeder is the Fridays for Future U.S. Co-Executive Director and Policy Director, and a core activist remobilizing the Fridays for Future movement in the United States. Additionally, Liv is the Co-Founder and Director of US Strike Coalition, a grassroots network of organizations fighting for climate and social justice across the United States uniting to strategize, collaborate & mobilize. Liv serves as the Zero Hour National Communications Director.
Mars Vazquez-Plyshevsky is a rising junior at Hunter College High School. They are a social justice advocate with a focus on climate justice, and economic reform. Mars Vazquez-Plyshevsky is a core member of Friday’s For Future NYC where they facilitate onboarding and external relations working groups, as well as organize city-wide walkouts on global strike days. In May of 2022, they spoke at a Heart17 event at the UN event on the topic of youth activism in the climate sphere. They are also affiliated with the organizations Treeage, Kids Fight Climate Change, and do volunteer work for other community focused organizations in their free time, such as their local chapter of Food Not Bombs.
"ACTION NOW! International Environmental Youth Activism"
Dialogue with Anisa Bek Derna, Ahmed Elhadj Taieb, Mitzi Jonelle Tan.
Recorded June 23, 2022
Anisa Bek Derna AKA Nissa Bek is a media personality and a climate activist and the founder of Project Mulan, a youth-led project that aims to spread and achieve the UN Development Programme’s sustainable development goals in Libya. Bek Derna was Libya’s representative at @connect4climate’s Youth Driving Ambition (2021 PreCOP26 in Milan). In addition to her personal projects she is the national leader of Let’s Do it and Fridays for Future in Libya.
Ahmed Elhadj Taieb, an environmental blogger, is a 23-year-old Environmental Science student with a major in waste management, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. Taieb is General Secretary of the Youth for Climate Tunisia Movement and is also a Youth Ambassador with the international movement Break Free from Plastic. Ahmed Elhadj Taieb is one of the youngest Tunisians to participate in COP as part of the official delegation and recently was named one of the 10 African youth climate activists that are changing the face of the planet.
Mitzi Jonelle Tan is a full-time climate justice activist based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She is the convenor and international spokesperson for Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines YACAP, the Fridays For Future of the Philippines. She is also an organizer with FFF International and FFF MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) making sure that especially voices from the Global South are heard, amplified, and given space.
"Let’s Go Organic: Empowering Local Food Systems"
Dialogue with Dave Chapman, Spencer Fenniman, Ango Sara Tashker.
Recorded April 22, 2022
Dave Chapman runs Long Wind Farm in Vermont and is the Executive Director of the Real Organic Project. He is a founding member of the Vermont Organic Farmers. He has been active in the movement to Keep The Soil In Organic. He is proud to be a current member of the Policy Committee of the Organic Farmers Association. He served on the USDA Hydroponic Task Force. Dave serves in a Farmer position.
Spencer Fenniman is the Director of Farming Operations at Hawthorne Valley Farm, a 900 acre multi-functional organic and biodynamic farm in Ghent, NY. The non-profit Hawthorne Valley Association has for 50 years worked to renew soil, society and the self through education, agriculture and the arts. Spencer has managed fields and fertility since arriving in 2012, and took over the management of the farming operations in 2017. Spencer loves the daily challenges of working with the land. Farming takes deep knowledge, listening, creativity, dedication and great teachers. He lives in sight of the farm with his wife and 2 children.
Ango Sara Tashker has been an organic farmer and residential practitioner at San Francisco Zen Center since 2002. From 2007 she has helped lead Green Gulch Farm’s six-month Organic Farm and Garden Apprenticeship for people interested in integrating residential Zen Buddhist practice and hands-on training in organic farming and gardening. She loves that her every activity is the fertile ground of Zen practice: growing food, relating to community, being a mother, appreciating the breath and body. In fall 2011 she served as Shuso (Head Student) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center with Abbots Myogen Steve Stücky and Sojun Mel Weitsman. She currently serves as Director of Green Gulch Farm.
"Mining in the Congo"
Dialogue with Audrey E. Kitagawa, J.D., Dr. Mindje Kolomba Bertin, Father Ferdinand Muhigirwa, Professor Mutombo Nkulu-N'Sengha, Ph.D.
Recorded February 25, 2022
Audrey E. Kitagawa, J.D. (Moderator) is President and Founder of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation, a platform for ushering in a purposeful and hopeful vision for humanity. She is President of the Light of Awareness International Spiritual Family and former Advisor to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the UN. Kitagawa is a UN Representative for the United Religions Initiative, Chair Emerita of the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns and an Ambassador for Religions for Peace. Kitagawa has been enstooled into the royal family as the Nekoso Hemaa, (i.e. Queen Mother of Development), of Ajiyamanti in Ghana, West Africa, and has a school which she helped to build named after her, the Nana Ode Anyankobea Junior Secondary School. She is the recipient of the Spirit of the UN Award and was conferred an Honorary Interfaith Minister degree by the New Seminary.
Dr. Mindje Kolomba Bertin teaches Pediatric Medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Kamina in the DR Congo. After his studies in Medicine at the University of Kamina (2015), he obtained a certificate in the “Fundamentals of Epidemiology” (University of Washington, 2021). In 2008 he received specialized training in Aircraft, Fire-fighter and Rescue Procedures" organized by the MONUC (The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Dr. Prof. Muhigirwa Rusembuka Ferdinand S.J. is a Jesuit Father and President and Rector of Loyola University of Congo where he is also a Professor of Social Philosophy. He received his training in the Congo, Kenya, Italy, Canada, and the USA. After research at Boston College, he obtained his PhD in Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome with a thesis on Human Development. Dr. Prof. Muhigirwa has written extensively on issues of Development in Central Africa. Dr. Prof. Muhigirwa is a Board Member of CERN (Episcopal Commission for Natural Resources) of the Observatory National Episcopal Conference of Bishops of Congo (CENCO). As an expert in Development and Mining governance in the Congo, he has spoken at the US Senate, at the European Parliament, at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), at the Heads of State Summit.
Dr. Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha was born in the DR Congo and is a Professor at California State University, Northridge, Religious Studies Department, where he created the Global Village Forum. He teaches courses in African Religions, American's Religious Diversity, and comparative religions. He is a member of the Global Dialogue Institute, and of the Center for Global Ethics. After a Masters in Philosophy (in Africa) and a Masters in Theology (Rome), he pursued graduate studies in the USA where he prepared a Doctorate in Religion and Human Rights at Temple University (Philadelphia) and a Masters in African American Studies. He is presently working on two projects: on just war theory and the African response to war on terror; and African religion and violence against women. He is also working on two books: one on African theology of human rights, and the other on African contributions to world religions and world peace.
Presented by the Temple of Understanding in collaboration with the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation
“The Urgency of the Ecological Crisis – A Buddhist and Hindu Perspective”
Dialogue with David Loy, Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, Colorado and Rajesh Purohit, Hindu Climate Action, Oxford.
Recorded Jan 28, 2022
David R. Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, a prolific writer, and a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. His books include Money Sex War Karma, A New Buddhist Path, and most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. In addition to offering workshops and meditation retreats, he is one of the founders of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado. In June 2014, David received an honorary degree from Carleton College, his alma mater, during its 2014 Commencement. In April 2016 David returned his honorary degree, to protest the decision of the Board of Trustees not to divest from fossil fuel investments.
Rajesh Purohit, of Hindu Climate Action, Oxford, UK, is currently working within the Analytics and Automation. Outside of work, he has a passion for teaching and learning about Sanātana Vedic Dharma (Hinduism) and how we can practically implement the divine thoughts of our Ṛṣi’s (Spiritual Scientists). His understanding of these teachings has led to an interest in driving environmental changes. The unity and message of Hinduism – Vasudhaiv Kutumbakum – to see the ‘World as One Family’ is the drive force and life breath of all our actions and activities
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