Rachel Crandell Sustainability 
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Opportunities to help ecosystems and communities become more sustainable have exploded in my experience. In the last dozen years I was asked to serve on the board of the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center and the board of the St. Louis Rainforest Advocates. I have gotten to study in tropical rainforests of Central and South America and Borneo, to work with conservation organizations in these forests, to support their efforts through contributions and grants, environmental education, delivering slide talks about the forests, leading eco-tourism trips, creating village libraries and sending mountains of school supplies, taking my sabbatical to live with Maya Indians, setting up a scholarship fund to send Maya kids to high school, getting a children's book published Hands of the Maya, that feeds the scholarship fund, setting up a non-profit sister organization in the US to help receive funds for conservation projects in Costa Rica to create corridors between native forest reserves, building a nature center inside the International Children's Rainforest, launching the Earthkeeper program at Principia Lower School in St. Louis and at the Quaker Friends School in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

John Muir, father of conservation in America, wrote "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." How true, and not just the plants and animals that John Muir was talking about, but the impact our actions and choices have on the rest of the planet.

Did you know that the average food item in America travels 1,300 miles to get to us. Barbara Kingsolver in her new book Small Wonder reports that: Mr. Average eats ten or more items per day or more. In one year his food will have traveled 5,000,000 miles by land, air or sea. Picture a truck loaded with apples and oranges and iceberg lettuce rumbling to the moon and back ten times a year just for you. Then she challenges her reader to picture a flotilla of 285,000,000 trucks on their way to the moon and back and then asks if we don't think its time to revise the scenario. Eat things grown locally and in season. Shop at farmer's market and reduce packaging and transportation costs. Food and transportation are the two biggest causes of global warming. Can we afford to keep doing it the same old way?

That brings me to one of my favorite definitions. The first time I looked up the word "afford" I was surprised not to find words like money, cash, bank, check, salary. The dictionary said - Afford: to bear without detriment Then I asked myself, "To whom?" Just because we might have the cash in our pocket to pay for a tank of gas or a basket of strawberries in January doesn't mean that the planet can afford it for long, sustainably. What about the jungles of the South America that have Amazon crude oil spilled and spewed through the forest and into the rivers and onto the gardens of indigenous people while Texaco didn't clean up because it would raise the cost of our gallon of gas? They wanted to remain competitive, but the Amerindians couldn't afford it, couldn't bear it without detriment. This sort of thing is repeated all over the world in thousands of ways that we are completely oblivious to.

The rate of extinction today matches 65,000,000 years ago when the dinosaurs went extinct. A comet crashed into the earth and changed everything. Kingsolver says, "It looks like Rome is burning. And plenty of people are fiddling as it burns." Let's resolve to say, "Not us! We won't fiddle, we'll pray today and every day to understand more clearly the spiritual nature of creation and our Father Mother God as the Source of all good. I would like to leave you with a statement by Mary Baker Eddy that was an inspiration to me. Speaking of God as Spirit with a capital "S", she writes, "Spirit diversifies, classifies, and individualizes all thoughts, which are as eternal as the Mind conceiving them; but the intelligence, existence and continuity of all individuality remain in God, who is the divinely creative Principle thereof." That is spiritual sustainability, "existence and continuity remain in God" and are therefore manifested in His creation.

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