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Ministry Marks Year of Awakening the Dreamer

April 17, 2012

By Sister Sally S.

Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, Inc. in Cincinnati has designated 2012 as the “Year of Awakening the Dreamer,” in response to the staff participating in the symposium in collaboration with the faculty of Purcell/Marian, a neighboring Catholic High School.

The executive director, Sue Kathman, charged me, as mission integration director, with the implementation of this initiative.  Although many aspects of Awakening the Dreamer could be followed, it was decided that the most workable aspect for the group would be to focus their concern for all creation on recycling and conservation of resources.

Some of the means used to support, educate and motivate the staff are:

  • Regular “mission moment” emails to the staff that educate and reinforce the Awakening the Dreamer themes of environmental sustainability, spiritual fulfillment and social justice
  • Discussion and further education during monthly staff meetings
  • Introduction over time into the agency space of additional means for recycling and conservation
  • Computing and reflecting upon our joint, average “carbon footprint”

Of course, our hope is that what we do together at work will spill over into our homes and especially to our clients and adult learners. As for the high school faculty, the hope is that if they can agree together that they value and are trying to live out of the experience, it would be a perfect next step to offer it to the students, at least juniors and seniors.

Reflecting on what has worked so far to make this project successful, these elements appear to be important:

  • We have a collaborative group (lay and religious from several congregations) who are committed to promoting and offering Awakening the Dreamer
  • The program needs to be embraced by and encouraged by the organizational leadership (our executive director is most enthusiastic)
  • Patience!  It takes a lot more time and effort to move an entire group—and, of course, not everyone is “on board,” at least not all the time
  • Consulting with community groups that have resources and similar interests, e.g., we have been working with the City of Cincinnati, which has a strong recycling focus, as well as Hamilton County (we received advice, recycling bins, signs, labels, etc.) and the organization Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.
  • Researching and utilizing other resources.  The wealth of materials and groups who are committed to a sustaining human presence on this planet is phenomenal.  Just start looking! We are not alone on this and we need each other.

On further reflection, here are some specifics:

Computing our common carbon footprint was a very interesting and challenging experience for our staff.  Individual “footprints” ranged from 1.94 (young male) to 9.36 (older female). Most ranged between 4 and 6, and our group average was 4.99.  It struck people forcefully when we discussed what it meant, that it would take 5 earths to sustain our current lifestyle if everyone lived as we do!

I requested observations/reflections from our staff on the experience.  Here are some samplings:

Your continual reminders and resources help me stay committed…

Awakening the Dreamer has made me more aware how each individual can make a difference in our environment.  It has also made our department more aware of the environment and we attempt to recycle items not used in the office and share with others…

I have to be honest. I am not totally compliant, yet, however I am making efforts.

…I do think about the images we saw and the information we received from Awakening the Dreamer, and managing the thermostat, turning off lights, not running water, composting are such small steps toward a more responsible and respectful utilization of resources.  There is so much more to do, but I am grateful for being “awakened” at least a little to this pressing contemporary issue and hope that I will continue to be open to a conversion of heart.

So, we ARE on a journey…together!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2012 10:24 pm

    Occupy Wall Street has made Awakening the Dreamer irrelevant. Moreover, since AWD relies on individuals with no supervision or accountability, workshops are vulnerable to predatory “leadership”. It’s more important that people connect horizontally and stop looking towards one answer.

    • Connect with Mercy Blog permalink
      April 30, 2012 9:46 am

      Certainly Awakening the Dreamer is just one of many means for people to explore ways of creating a more environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and social just world. It’s great that the symposium helped Mercy Neighborhood Ministries get more serious about recycling and other steps to reduce its carbon footprint. Our hope is that the program will connect people concerned about Earth in that kind of way and get them finding solutions together where they work, live, volunteer and worship.

      • May 1, 2012 11:16 am

        It sounds great that in 2012 MNM is getting more serious about recycling. Congratulations. My issue with Awakening the Dreamer is the structure is not effective these days. People are rejecting hierarchies and looking to each other for support. We are moving-and very quickly- away from structures in which an outside facilitator “leads”. People are rediscovering that most effective leadership is lateral. (The Starfish and the Spider). Moreover, when you have a hierarchical discernment model, there is no guarantee that the person leading/facilitating is a person of character, with integrity and ethics. I know of one person who facilitates AWD workshops who has a very sketchy private life. And if we are awakening to the fact that we are all connected-particularly with energy and intention-who would want to invite that into a community?

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