Will Teenagers Save the World?

Science in Action Winner for 2013: Elif Bilgin

While sitting in the dentist’s office yesterday I read this wonderful article about a young teen in Istanbul who has developed plastic from banana peels. As a result she won the Scientific American 2013 Science in Action Award

Bilgin spent two years developing a robust bioplastic from discarded banana peels, enduring 10 failed trials along the way. As she noted in her project description: “Even Thomas Edison said, ‘I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’” Bilgin hopes that her material will someday supplant some petroleum-based plastics. Read the entire article.

The winning project in 2012 was the Unique Simplified Hydroponic Method, developed by 14-year-old Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Malalela of Swaziland.

For more inspiration, check out last year’s amazing 13 finalists for the Science in Action award and this year’s fifteen finalists. I particularly loved:

Simultaneous Biopesticide Wastewater Treatment and Bioelectricity Generation in Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) – by a 13 year old in India and  Electricity From Traffic by a 16 year old also in India. These ideas really could save the world.

The amazing creativity and out of the box thinking that has gone into these inventions really impressed me. While so much of the world is saying “We can’t live without petroleum products” or “we can’t feed the world without GMO crops” young people are going ahead and inventing new options. Maybe its because they expect to live in a petroleum free world, maybe it is because they are encouraged to be creative, maybe it is just God stirring new possibilities in minds that are open to change. I don’t know but I do praise God for it.

I would love to hear from others who have seen creative and inventive

Scratch Liturgy

Creativity here we come

No this is not about getting rid of liturgy – this a very creative idea from my friends Chrissie and Gerard Kelly at Bless in France is about a collaborative effort in creating liturgy

scratch a collaborative liturgy with your friends or small group…

1. Write a communal refrain to speak out together. For example,

‘this is our story. this is our song. praising our Saviour. all the day long’

2. Come up with a one-line framework for people to ‘scratch’ around. For example,

‘Because He is (something), I am (something)’

3. On a flip chart or live projection write out numbers 1 to 5 followed by the communal refrain. Followed by numbers 6 to 10 and the refrain again and so on.

4. Invite participants to take it in turn ‘scratching’ a one-line prayer using your framework

5. Read the scratch liturgy aloud together

Example scratch liturgies can be found here and here.

Imaginative Learning or Contemplative Action.

imagination first

Tom and I have just returned from vacation, and as per usual, I took a stack of books with me, some of which I will share with you over the next few days. One is Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility by Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon. I was particularly struck by Capacities for Imaginative Learning they share. Originally designed for arts and education, the authors feel however that they are guides for life.

It is an inspirational and thought provoking book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to increase their creativity.

What struck me is how closely these “capacities for learning” parallel contemplative practices and the spiritual discernment process we have used for many years in MSA. They open our eyes and ears to new ways of interacting with the world. They help us become creative, imaginative, able to solve problems in out of the box ways. From a faith perspective they open us up to the presence of God in all things and increase our awareness of God’s involvement in all the creative processes we engage in to shape our work and daily life.  I thought you would find them interesting:

Noticing deeply: identifying and articulating layers of detail through continuous interaction with an object of study

Embodying: experiencing a work through your senses and emotions, and physically representing that experience.

Questioning: asking “Why” and “What if” throughout your explorations

Identifying patterns:  finding relationships among the details you notice, and grouping them into patterns

Making connections: linking patterns you notice to prior knowledge and experience (both your own and others)

Exhibiting empathy: understanding and respecting the experience of others

Creating meaning: creating interpretations of what you encounter, and synthesizing them with the perspectives of others.

Taking action:  acting on the synthesis through a project or an action that expresses your learning

Reflecting and assessing: looking back on your learning to identify what challenges remain and to begin learning anew.

We are Raising the Roof.

Garden seminar Port Townsend

Garden seminar Port Townsend

This last weekend was one of the busiest I can remember for a long time. On Saturday we were in Port Townsend where I conducted a garden seminar in the morning followed by an evening with my husband Tom on Port Townsend 2018. Tom has done this type of creativity workshop for many years and I am always impressed with the results. Participants came up with some wonderfully creative ideas on how their community can respond to the changing times and changing ways of where they live.

Sharing creative ideas Port Townsend 2018

Sharing creative ideas Port Townsend 2018

And as I walked around the beautiful garden our hosts Coe and Janet Hutchison have carved out of the overgrown mess they inherited I could not help but think of my current blog theme “Creating Sacred Space” . This is indeed a sacred space that they have created – a place of joy, serenity and closeness to God for them and for those who visit. And special for us to get together with friends we have not seen for a while. Check out more photos on facebook 

The team from Bainbridge arrives

The team from Bainbridge arrives

That evening we dashed back to Seattle so that we could drive up to Camano Island early to help with the raising of the beams for the roof of the our first Mustard Seed Village building. This too is a sacred space for me what the Celts would have called a thin space where heaven and earth seem to meet. I love to wander the land soaking its beauty and rejoicing in its serenity. I also loved being there for this next step in the development of the Mustard Seed Village. 

Huge bolts to hold it all together

Huge bolts to hold it all together

Working hard to get the beams up

Working hard to get the beams up

It is slow but awe inspiring progress and each step overwhelms me with the generosity and faithfulness of God. A dream that was lodged in Tom’s heart over 20 years ago is slowly coming to fruition. The dream has grown, changed and been shaped by the hands of God over the years and we are excited about its future. And the community that is forming around this dream as new volunteers come to help, is both encouraging and astounding. It seems that God brings exactly the people we need at the right time – experts who can get the job done properly. We appreciate your prayers as we work to complete this first structure. And hope you can join us for the 22nd Annual Celtic Retreat when we will dedicate the building. Lots more photos on Facebook

Beams are up and ready for the roof

Beams are up and ready for the roof

Stations for Praying in Response to Boston marathon – Lilly Lewin

I don’t usually blog on Sundays but was chatting to Lilly Lewin at Inhabit this weekend where I learned about this wonderfully creative Stations that she produced in response to the Boston marathon. I wanted to share it for those who might like to use it for their Sunday observances. Check out the entire post and her blog: Praying in Response to Boston marathon and Global Violence

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shoe-station-300x225

PRAYING IN RESPONSE TO BOSTON MARATHON and GLOBAL VIOLENCE

Stations created April 16, 2013 in response to the bombings at the Boston Marathon and as a prayerful way to responds to violence in our everyday world.

Use all of these stations created and set up together as a prayer experience for your small group, youth group or your whole church, or just pick one or two to do as a corporate prayer response during worship. Or just use the run/walk prayer yourself this week as a part of your personal prayer /devotion time.

Feel free to use these stations to inspire you to create your own prayer stations. I would love to hear about how you used them in your community.

Praying for peace and healing for us all!

Lilly

Read the entire post: Praying in Response to Boston marathon and Global Violence

Every Garden Needs A Sacred Space

Celtic cross in the garden

What is sacred space and how do we create it?

As many of you know I love to ask the question What makes you feel close to God? Interaction with nature is the commonest response I get. I believe there is a craving deep within all of us to connect to God in the midst of the created world. Gardening, hiking, bird watching, photographing nature and even petting the dog are all activities that can draw us into the presence of God with a sense of reverence and awe. These sacred spaces need to be recognized and nurtured as much as possible. 

It is the garden that most often draws me into the presence of God in this way and I delight in creating the spaces that nurture these encounters. There are many forms of sacred space within a garden and many ways to enhance it. Here are a few to consider, some of which I will expand on in the next couple of weeks.

1. A place to reflect: What invites you to sit, reflect and meditate? Perhaps it is a garden seat in a secluded corner of the garden or a water feature in which you can see your own reflection, or a collection of your favourite flowers. Consider ways that you could include these elements in your garden.

2. A place to pray. What stirs you to prayer when you go into your garden? Is it the sound of chimes blowing in the wind or that same reflective corner in which you sit to reflect? Is it a cross or garden statue, a plaque with a simple prayer or bible verse or a labyrinth, even an altar can be incorporated into a garden as invitation to prayer.

3. A place to rest. God invites us to slow down and rest in the divine presence. What in your garden already offers this special invitation? What else could you incorporate to further extend this invitation?

4. A place to celebrate. A the centre of gospel message is the invitation to enter the kingdom of God and join in the banquet feast of God. Incorporating places for hospitality in the garden can open your sacred space to friends and strangers near and far.

5. A place to remember. Memorial gardens are important in many cultures often reminding us of loved ones who have gone before. But gardens can stir memories in other ways too. Plants take on a special and often sacred significance when they are given to us by family and friends.

6. A Biblical garden. The practice of planting herbs, flowers and trees mentioned in the Bible is a longstanding tradition. I was delighted when discovered this website on biblical gardens.

7. A healing garden. A growing trend in hospitals, prisons and other institutions is the development of a garden that invites patients and inmates to wander, reduce their stress and relax. In the process many find and unexpected healing and wholeness.

So what makes a garden (wild or cultivated) sacred for you? What draws you into the presence of God in a special way? I would love to know. 

This post is the second in a series on creating sacred spaces. As I mentioned yesterday, I will focus on the creation of sacred space in gardens and other natural environments, but I look forward to contributions from others who create sacred space in other environments too.

 

Creating Sacred Spaces – Do We Really Need Churches?

I am starting a series on Creating Sacred Space and decided to begin by reposting this very popular post from last year which is adapted from my book Return to Our Senses. What is sacred space for you? Where do you you feel closest to God? How can nurture such spaces? If you would like to contribute a post for this series please let me know.

Godspace

Our annual Celtic retreat is coming. We hold it in August on a beautiful parcel of undeveloped land on Camano Island north of Seattle. There are no buildings. Our sanctuary is a cathedral of trees – cedar and maple and alder that rise above is in a breathtaking green canopy. I particularly love to sit in the early mornings before anyone else is awake, drinking in the beauty of God’s awe inspiring creation. This is a sacred space for me, what is often called a thin space where the veil between heaven and earth seems to be translucent and the glory of God shines through in a special way.

Special places where we feel almost physically embraced by the love of God are important places of prayer for all of us. Be they a comfortable old armchair we return to day by day, a special place to walk or a…

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Practicing Resurrection – Get Out into God’s Creation

Spring has come

Spring has come

Spring is here – at least in the Northern Hemisphere and it makes me realize how important it is to connect the rhythm of our faith to the rhythm of God’s world. It was only when I sent Easter in the Northern Hemisphere for the first time that the wonder of the resurrection burst upon me. And even now I am awed by the blossoming of God’s world in a way that assures me resurrection really has happened and God’s new world has begun.

At lunch today I will once again be speaking on Spirituality and Gardening. The increasing popularity of this topic makes me realize how much others crave the same kind of connections between their faith and the world around them. As I always say in these seminars: In the Bible I read about the death and resurrection of Christ, in the garden I experience it. In the Bible I read about the abundance of God’s provision, in the garden I experience. The story of God is constantly being lived out God’s world, affirming who God is and who God intends us to be. 

Like me many urban dwellers have discovered the joys of vegetable gardening in the last few years and in the process have grown in their intimacy with God. Hopefully, they start small and then as their taste buds explode with the delight of vegetables straight from the garden something strange happens and they become obsessive about converting their lawn into edible vegetation.  There is nothing quite like the wonderful sweet flavour of tomatoes picked straight from the vine or of corn that has gone straight from plant to the pot.  And to experience the delight of leeks and carrots that have been dragged out of the frosty ground is out of this world.

Why has it taken us so long to discover what people in most other parts of the world have always known – store bought food just doesn’t taste real even when it is organic and “picked from the vine”.   Even a friend of ours who is a well known celebrity chef has just discovered in his 70s that food grown in your own backyard is better than any restaurant gourmet meal.

There are many other benefits to growing your own food too. Working in the garden gets us outside into God’s good creation.  As I mentioned in a previous post on nature deficit disorder, I don’t think that we realize the consequences to our health – both physical and spiritual of lives that are spent inside under artificial light.  Insomina, depression, and of course obesity are all linked to sedentary indoor lives.   A growing number of people are talking about nature deficit disorder. Kids in particular suffer from nature deficit disorder and as I talk about in this post: attention deficit disorder can be alleviated by encouraging kids to spend more time outdoors.

There is also evidence that exposure to soil bacteria could improve our health by boosting our immune system.  And believe it or not even Sniffing Compost Makes You Happy – Literally

Other studies suggest that just looking at nature can improve our health and reduce the time it takes us to recover from surgery.  So imagine what a difference a whole afternoon outside can do.

Getting our kids involved in the garden can have even more benefits. In her article Go Outside and Play: Four Reasons Why Exposure to Nature is Essential To a Child’s WellbeingSuzy DeYoung talks about the amazing health benefits of getting kids outside.   According to the EPA indoor air pollution is the US’s number one environmental health concern.  They encourage kids to get outside and play but I think that working in the garden can be even more beneficial.

There is also evidence that spending time outside in nature stimulates our creativity and imagination.  And gardening certainly adds to that creativity – because once we have produced all that food we need to work out what to do with it which means that we become more creative in our cooking and our preserving of food too.  At least that has been my experience.

 

MacGyver Magic by Cindy Todd

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent is written by Cindy Todd social entrepreneur, Mustard Seed Village co-ordinator and facilitator for our upcoming workshop Igniting the Divine Spark

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MacGyver Paperclip

MacGyver…now there was a creative guy! Not sure how many of you recall the show, way back in the late 80’s early 90’s.

MacGyver was some kind of secret government agent guy who was incredibly creative at problem solving.

He could make a sound barrier to ward off the bad guys and in the video I’m including today, stops a bomb in the nick of time with a paper clip.

 

The phrase “doing a MacGyver” has become synonymous with innovative problem solving.

I hate to brag, but I did my own MacGyver thing a few years ago. Back in the day, I drove a big tall conversion van. I was at Miami airport with the Operation Mary team getting ready to head to Ukraine. Unfortunately, I took the wrong parking garage entrance and while I was okay height wise to get in, I wasn’t okay to navigate through. Almost, but not quite.

You know the horseshoes and hand grenades story, close wasn’t going to cut it. Departure time was coming close, there was a line of cars behind me…honking, tapping, being generally impatient and so, I put my best MacGyver thinking cap on and figured out a solution…I hopped out of the van and let about 25% of the air out of each tire. It worked! Wasn’t I proud…

And while I’ve never gotten into that type of situation precisely before, when I found myself unemployed and my family sinking financially a few years ago, I had to get creative again. First for us, and now for other struggling families. As Snohomish Soap Company grows, we can work and partner with a whole lot more women. Now I’m working on scaling…developing the model…and stepping out and making it happen.

This type of model, this idea of doing well by doing good isn’t new, although its definitely emerging as a respected, powerful business philosophy.

Creativity is at the heart of it and a much more cohesive business/life/community model is the result.

For the first time, our friends over at the Inhabit Conference will be hosting the Inhabit Enterprise Challenge, a forum and competition for a few of these new types of businesses to present to the attendees.

Get inspired! Get Creative! Get connected to other Parish changemakers in your community…

A good place to get those creative thoughts bubbling might be at our “Igniting the Divine Spark” workshop.


Igniting the Divine Spark

Igniting the Divine Spark

VR.spark.glowMarch 16th in Seattle

Igniting the Divine Spark

Cindy Todd at Fledge welcome

Cindy Todd at Fledge welcome

Last night Tom and I attended the welcome for the new cohort of Fledge: A conscious company incubator. Up there on the stage was MSA’s own Cindy Todd.  We are so proud of Cindy and all she is doing.

“You are my hero” Tom told Cindy at our last MSA team training day. The launch of the Snohomish Soap Company, inspires us with a unique business model that is exciting the attention of many who like us think Cindy’s entrepreneurial approach is brilliant.  She has been featured in TED talks(fast forward to 1hour-4min. for Cindy’s part) and PCC’s promotional flyerand now the Fledge conscious company incubator. Her dedication to helping those at the margins by empowering them to develop small businesses, incentivizes all of us to apply our God given creativity to new entrepreneurial models that will sustain us in our volatile world.

The next event on the MSA calendar is Cindy Todd’s workshop, Igniting the Divine Spark. We are all looking forward to hearing more about what has ignited her divine spark and inspired the creativity that lay dormant for many years of her life.