Twenty-One Artists Vie for Honoring the Future® Sustainability Award at Smithsonian Craft Show

Prize Recognizes Artist’s Work on Climate Change

Twenty-one artists from 14 States applied for the “Honoring the Future® Sustainability Award,” which will be presented at preview night April 26, prior to the April 27 opening of the 2017 Smithsonian Craft Show. This is only the third time in the Show’s history such an award is being offered.

The award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, recognizes an artist whose work educates the public about climate change or inspires or models a sustainable response to climate change. Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, will serve as judge.

“This award recognizes pioneering artists,” says Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future. “They point the way to a more sustainable future by focusing attention on climate change and offering innovative solutions.”

See images below.

Amy Faust Green Peekaboo Pin 2017
Amy Faust Green Peekaboo Pin
Mary Ennes Davis Waters_Zapp 2017
Mary Ennes Davis – repurposed materials
Melissa Greene – threatened or endangered animals
Melissa Greene – threatened or endangered animals
Amy Nguyen – natural renewable fibers, zero waste production
Amy Nguyen – natural renewable fibers, zero waste production
Dianne Nordt – natural materials and dyes
Dianne Nordt – natural materials and dyes
Christina Goodman – jewelry about threatened or extinct animals
Christina Goodman – jewelry about threatened or extinct animals
Jennifer Ivory – humanity’s dependence on insects
Jennifer Ivory – humanity’s dependence on insects
Phil Feinberg & Linda Corbet, Rockin One Knives - repurposed wood
Phil Feinberg & Linda Corbet, Rockin One Knives – repurposed wood
Lucrezia Beerli theme: balance in nature
Lucrezia Bieler – theme: balance in nature
Paula Shalan – “slow pots” from local clay and recycled fuel
Paula Shalan – “slow pots” from local clay and recycled fuel
Wence & Sandra Martinez – natural & undyed fibers, sustainable production process
Wence & Sandra Martinez – natural & undyed fibers, sustainable production process
Yelena Synkova – scrap wood, theme: threatened urban areas
Yelena Synkova – scrap wood, theme: threatened urban areas
Christopher Wagner – reclaimed wood; theme: our relationship with animals
Christopher Wagner – reclaimed wood; theme: our relationship with animals
Marianne Hunter – endangered animals and ecosystems
Marianne Hunter – endangered animals and ecosystems
Jennifer Zurick - theme: vulnerability and beauty of willow trees
Jennifer Zurick – theme: vulnerability and beauty of willow trees
Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood – sustainable fibers, zero waste studio
Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood – sustainable fibers, zero waste studio
Marne Ryan – scrap and recycled metal
Marne Ryan – scrap and recycled metal
Myung Urso – jewelry about threatened coral reefs
Myung Urso – jewelry about threatened coral reefs
Mary Jackson – sustainable sweetgrass basketry
Mary Jackson – sustainable sweetgrass basketry
Bill Perkins – sustainable furniture production
Bill Perkins – sustainable furniture production
Janice Kissinger – repurposed silk, sustainable fibers & production process
Janice Kissinger – repurposed silk, sustainable fibers & production process

Media requests for permission to reprint these images can be obtained at

Collectively, the 21 artists address sustainability through choice of raw materials, production processes, and artistic themes.  Many begin with repurposed materials, sustainable fibers, nontoxic dyes, and responsibly sourced wood.  They value energy and water conservation and aim for zero waste. They draw attention to endangered species, struggling coral reefs, fragile parks, and battered coastlines. They highlight the interdependence of human, plant, and animal species. And significantly, they tackle emotions: what moves us? restores humanity’s  balance with nature? fosters optimism?

The Sustainability Award is the result of a partnership between Honoring the Future and the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. The Smithsonian Women’s Committee produces the Smithsonian Craft Show to generate funds for grants to support education, outreach and research at the Institution’s 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, 20 libraries, and the National Zoo.

Widely regarded as the most prestigious juried show and sale of American fine craft, the Smithsonian Craft Show is in its 35th year.  It will be held April 27˗30 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square metro station) in Washington, D.C.  The 2017 show will feature the work of 121 artists, chosen from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. All of the chosen artists were invited to apply for the Sustainability Award.

Photographer Showcases An Endangered Landscape: the U.S. Chesapeake Bay

Landscape photographer Lee Goodwin’s solo photography exhibition, Chesapeake Bay – Endangered Landscapes, will be on view at Quiet Waters Park (in the Visitors Center’s Garden Gallery) in Annapolis, Maryland from April 5 through May 21, 2017.

The exhibition focuses on the places where land and water meet along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States. Home to more than 17 million people and 3,600 species of plants and animals, the Chesapeake stretches across 6 states (Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York) and Washington, DC.

Low-lying land and proximity to water make the Chesapeake region attractive – and vulnerable.  Goodwin warns: “The Chesapeake Bay is on the front line of climate change. The combination of rising sea levels and subsiding land means that the landscape we see today may not be there for our children, or even for ourselves in the coming decades.”

Goodwin explains: “Scientists predict that sea levels will rise one to three feet by 2060, and flooding will worsen in the interim. At the same time, many national leaders deny the existence of the problem, and refuse to take the difficult steps to mitigate its effects. This exhibition is an effort to show what we have to lose if we do not work harder to address climate change.”

An earlier photograph from this series appeared in Honoring the Future’s Climate Art & Action exhibition at George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia; other photographs from the exhibition are on permanent display in the Maryland House of Delegates Environment and Transportation Committee Hearing Room in Annapolis.

Gallery hours at Quite Waters Park are: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  There will be an opening reception on Sunday, April 9, 2017 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. (The usual fee to enter Quiet Waters Park is waived during the opening).

Honoring the Future Selected to Receive Net Impact NYC Support

Honoring the Future was one of 20 nonprofit organizations chosen through a competitive application process to receive support from Net Impact, NYC in spring 2017.

Net Impact is an international network dedicated to connecting professional volunteers with deserving nonprofit clients and social enterprises to share knowledge and achieve sustainable social and environmental change. The network hosts 308 chapters, spanning every continent except Antarctica.  The New York City (NYC) chapter alone has 2,300 professional members.  Net Impact NYC operates a Service Corps through which teams of passionate, skilled professionals complete actionable 12-week pro bono consulting projects to address specific business or organizational needs of selected clients.

“NYC’s Service Corps witnessed a record number of applicants for this round of Service Corps projects, so we were delighted to be selected,” said Honoring the Future Director Fran Dubrowski.  “Their help will enable us to maximize the number of people we reach through new climate education projects we are now developing.” The new projects include a short, 360° virtual reality film showcasing climate science exploration, a program to encourage urban preschoolers and lower elementary school students to re-connect with nature, and a blog highlighting the human impacts of climate change.

The multi-disciplinary team assigned to Honoring the Future includes energy engineer Andrea Mengual, environmental engineer Alyssa Watt, communications expert Jacqui Allen, educator Joseida Rosario, and sustainability management and business operations expert Matthew Kalick.  They are scheduled to complete their work in May, 2017.

Churches Take Action on Pope Francis’ Environmental Message

Eleven churches, straddling the East Coast from Maine to North Carolina, recently shared ideas with Honoring the Future for successful parish initiatives to implement Pope Francis’ environmental message, Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home. The churches’ ideas were compiled in an online report for ready sharing with other faith-based communities.

Collectively, the churches are a microcosm of America, encompassing inner cities, suburbs, and college campuses. They range in size from St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, which serves 500 families in Woodstock, MD, to Holy Trinity, serving 3,500 families throughout metropolitan Washington, DC. Some churches date to America’s earliest days – Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia, founded in 1733, was colonial America’s first urban Catholic church. Holy Trinity was requisitioned for use as a Civil War military hospital.

Many of the churches witnessed transportation, immigration, and social change transform their communities. St. Aedans formed to meet the needs of Jersey City trolley workers. Sts. Mary and Joseph’s Salem, NH farming community exploded in size with the 1950s growth of the interstate highway system. Old St. Joseph’s saw suburban flight decimate Philadelphia – and urban renewal rebirth a vibrant, growing, diverse community. St. Therese in Mooresville, NC now finds 10% of its parishioners speak Spanish as their primary language. St. Ignatius in downtown Baltimore counts itself enriched by African-American, Filipino, Korean, Chinese, African, and Latino members. Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier in New York City represent a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, members of the LGBT community and a growing number of young families. St. Peters welcomes both the native and newly settled in burgeoning Charlotte, NC.

All of the churches are served by Jesuits – members, like Pope Francis, of the Catholic Church’s largest male religious order. The order is widely known for its role as educators – administering well-regarded colleges, universities and high schools – and its commitment to social justice.

Each of the churches viewed Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical as a call to action. They shared tangible examples of how they had integrated the Pope’s environmental message into ministry to provide inspiration and a starting point for other faith communities.

Their ideas attest to their resourcefulness. Beside homilies and prayers, churches used lectures, bulletins, websites, social media, discussion groups, book clubs, and workshops to educate parishioners. Topics included eco-spirituality, environmental justice, energy efficiency, and carbon footprint reduction.

Arts initiatives abounded. At St. Ignatius, Boston, students wrote commitments to protect the environment on colorful strips of paper; the gathered strips formed a beautiful “earth ball” prominently displayed near the altar. Then-pastor, Fr. Bob VerEecke, SJ, and Assistant Paul Melley composed a song (“Laudato Si’, Praise Be”).

Holy Trinity sponsored a film on the impact of climate change and an Honoring the Future panel, Climate SmART: Honoring Our Children’s Future Through Faith, Art & Action. The program featured dialog and a reception with artists whose work addresses climate change. Sts. Mary and Joseph’s banner called attention to a homily series on “acquisitiveness.”

Churches greened their own operations with energy efficient renovations, recycling programs, reusable water bottle fountains, and fair trade/sustainable coffee. They reconnected urbanites to nature with gardening programs, including support for a garden, managed by the homeless, to feed 60-70 needy individuals.

Churches also called attention to food waste with a “simple supper,” sponsored “No Meat Fridays,” cleaned a local stream, and advocated climate action to government leaders.  They collaborated with neighboring parishes, interfaith organizations, and nonprofit organizations. They identified useful online resources and, through their regional province, created a series of 10 online “Reflections” on the encyclical.

Honoring the Future produced the parish survey report in partnership with Kate Tromble, Holy Trinity Pastoral Associate for Social Justice. Fr. Edward Quinnan, SJ, and Nicholas Napolitano – Assistants, respectively, for Pastoral and Social Ministries in the Maryland and USA Northeast Jesuit Provinces – convened the group of participating parishes and provided guidance and support in preparing the report.

Clima 2016 Art Exhibition Opens in Hialeah, Florida

Includes Honoring the Future’s Alaskan Journey exhibition

Artwork by two Philadelphia artists, Peter Handler and Karen Singer, who traveled to Alaska to meet with scientists, examine impacts of climate change, and paint and photograph what they saw, is featured in an Honoring the Future exhibition opening Nov. 28, 2016 at the Milander Center for Arts in Hialeah, FL.  The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display through Jan. 13, 2017.

Peter Handler
Peter Handler, Aerial View of Drunken Forest on the Tanana Flats (2015).  Photograph. © Handler Studio 2015.  Alaska’s thawing soil causes trees to tilt or fall.

The exhibition is part of the larger Clima art celebration inspired by Miami artist Xavier Cortada to serve as the City of Hialeah’s contribution to Miami Arts Week.  Honoring the Future partnered with Cortada and the City to launch the inaugural Clima in December, 2015.  Clima aimed to provide Hialeah, a city facing the prospect of significant sea level rise, with a visual and storytelling platform for reflecting upon, and expressing, the community’s experience as climate change challenges and remakes the city. Following widespread press and public acclaim, the three founding partners sought to make Clima an annual event.

Clima 2016’s theme, Art, Science, and Insight, focuses on artist-scientist collaborations to understand and communicate the likely impact of climate change on the livelihood and well-being of humans everywhere.  It also seeks to transport Floridians to corners of the globe they may never have the opportunity to visit on their own – to empower them to “see for themselves” the early manifestations of climate change elsewhere.

The exhibition contains three interrelated segments.

Honoring the Future’s Alaskan Journey exhibition puts Hialeah’s experience in a national context.  “Alaska is warming faster than any other state,” said Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future, “so the impacts of climate change are more readily seen there.  These two artists are expert storytellers: they deliver a powerful visual image of what is at stake in a rapidly warming Alaska, foreshadowing the enormity of the challenges Florida faces as rising temperatures reshape its landscape too. Their portrayals of a raging Alaskan wildfire are especially poignant when so much of the Southeastern U.S. is battling drought-induced wildfires.”

Xavier Cortada, “Diatom” (2015). Archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 18″, 2014 (edition of 5). © Xavier Cortada 2015. Diatoms are single-celled algae which harness the power of the sun to create much of the oxygen we breathe.
Xavier Cortada, “Diatom” (2015). Archival ink on aluminum, 36″ x 18″, 2014 (edition of 5). © Xavier Cortada 2015. Diatoms are single-celled algae which harness the power of the sun to create much of the oxygen we breathe.

Xavier Cortada’s art-science exhibits focus on Florida’s unique climate challenges.  They include:

  • Do Not Open,” a participatory work aimed at connecting present-day South Florida residents and political refugees with future climate refugees.
  • Eco-art restoration projects for Florida wildflowers and mangroves.
  • Ceramics depicting diatoms, single-celled algae scientists examine to assess water quality and sea level rise.
  • Artwork created at three ecologically different long-term research sites in the Florida Everglades, New Hampshire and Oregon.

Rounding out Clima 2016, featured local guest artist Michael Gray presents Phylum Floridian, a series of drawings, paintings and monotype prints fusing Floridian species of animals with local human characters.  Gray intended to “illustrate people as being not so different from the creatures we share this earth with.” He framed the artworks in discarded wood or thrift store frames: “These frames at one point held someone’s family photos and now were given away for cheap resale. The frames themselves became a metaphor for how the everglades are currently being treated by our local and state governments.”

The exhibition includes an opening night reception on Dec. 2, 2016 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Milander Center for Arts.

Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show Features Artists Who Repurpose Materials

What can you do with a broken zipper? To artist Kate Cusack, the answer seems simple: create beautiful art! The Brooklyn-born artist refashions zippers discarded by fashion designers into elegant, sculptural jewelry.

Cusack is one of several artists working with repurposed material who will be featured at the Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show, October 6 – 8, 2016, in Washington, DC. Others include textile artists Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood.

Cusack aims to awaken our sense of wonder: “I give a discarded zipper new life by creating innovative jewelry that celebrates the power of imagination and promotes recycling.”

Kate Cusack - repurposed zipper jewelry
Kate Cusack – repurposed zipper jewelry

Her creativity stems, in part, from her background in art and theatrical design: she earned her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her MFA in costume design from the Yale School of Drama. While most designers would see a zipper as merely functional – and a broken zipper as utterly useless, Cusack sees aesthetic potential in its varying tensions: “I enjoy the contrast between the zipper’s harsh metal teeth and the fluid, whimsical shapes that I can create with its flexible fabric.”

Her craft is so transformative viewers often don’t realize her jewelry began life as a zipper. She delights in seeing them discover its origins: “There is an exciting ‘a-ha’ moment when someone realizes that there is more to my creation than they initially expected.”

The element of surprise is central to her message: “My artwork encourages the wearer to think twice about the world and to see beauty and potential in everything,” she says.

Frittelli and Lockwood weave contemporary clothing and accessories from natural fibers – silk, merino, and alpaca – and eco-friendly fibers such as bamboo, hemp, and soy. The artists strive for a zero-waste studio, upcycling leftover fabrics into pieced and patchworked clothing.

Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood - poncho
Cecilia Frittelli and Richard Lockwood – poncho

Their business extols community and sustainability. Fibers are sourced nationally, or even locally when possible. Their Saratoga Springs studio – located in a building they repurposed to acclaim from the local preservation society – is both a production and an education center, inviting customers to stop by and witness weaving in action.

“We’re providing a beautiful product, at a reasonable price, that’s made with love in a small factory or craft shop. People respond to that,” Frittelli explains. “It’s the opposite of the impersonal, consumer kind of process that so many of us go through in many other aspects of life,” Lockwood adds.

Both artists find reward in bringing ideas from concept to fruition: “There are very few times in our lives these days where you have connection with something, completely, all the way through,” says Lockwood. “Our lives are fragmented in so many different ways that the thought of coming up with an idea, seeing it through to completion and then passing it on to somebody else is quite wonderful.”


The Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show, now in its 10th year, features handcrafted, limited edition clothing, jewelry, and artful accessories from 80 designers. It will be held at the National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW (Judiciary Square metro station) in Washington, DC. The show opens with a Preview Night Party from 6 – 9 pm on Thursday, October 6 (reservations by advance purchase only). The show continues Friday, October 7, 10 am – 8 pm and Saturday, October 8, 10 am – 5:30 pm. For tickets and other information, see Smithsonian Craft2Wear Show.

Climate Art & Action Exhibition Comes to George Mason University, Manassas, VA

An Honoring the Future Climate Art & Action program took place at the Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason University, Mansassas, VA on Sept. 8, 2016.  The program complemented a similarly titled exhibition, which opened at the Center on Aug. 28, 2016 and will remain on display until October 2, 2016.

The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, showcases sculptural objects and photographs of the work of 13 pioneering artists whose work addresses climate change.  Photographs include images of Maya Lin’s Silver Hudson sculpture and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s innovative, energy efficient Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach.  Sculptural objects include Peter Handler’s Canaries in the Coal Mine, a series of works depicting impacts of climate change, from melting Arctic ice to thawing permafrost, vanishing species, dying coral reefs, and raging forest fires.

Climate Art & Action exhibition at the Hylton Performing Arts Center
Climate Art & Action exhibition at the Hylton Performing Arts Center

The panel program featured two speakers:

  • Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future, and
  • Changwoo Ahn, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy and Founding Director of George Mason University’s EcoScience + Art initiative.

Dubrowski put the exhibition in context by discussing the many ways contemporary artists address climate change in their work.  She challenged universities to address climate change too, in part by setting appropriate environmental education goals “for all students, not just those in environmental studies programs.”

Drunken Forest by Peter Handler depicts the effect of melting permafrost on Alaskan forests. © Handler Studio 2015.
Drunken Forest by Peter Handler depicts the effect of melting permafrost on Alaskan forests. © Handler Studio 2015.

Ahn described the interdisciplinary EcoScience + Art initiative, which brings together individuals from science, engineering, art, and design to solve ecosystem challenges. Lamenting the paucity of undergraduate interdisciplinary courses, Ahn stressed the “transformative value of sharing knowledge, problem-solving approaches, and research tools across disciplines.” He illustrated by reporting on his “Rain Project,” a year-long initiative which enabled students from different majors to co-design and build a floating wetlands on campus.  The project created a unifying community service opportunity on a heavily commuter-oriented campus, raised awareness of stormwater management options, and gathered data on how wetlands can improve water quality while providing biologically diverse habitats.

The panel program and exhibition were made possible by generous support from Lifelong Learning Institute-Manassas, a non-profit organization of adults age 50 and over who pursue enriching cultural and educational experiences through courses, travel, discussions, and social interaction with peers.

The Hylton Performing Arts Center is located at 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, VA 20110.  For more information, see:

Honoring the Future Launches Student Climate Art Mosaic

Honoring the Future® today launched the first installment of a national digital Climate Art Mosaic of student art expressing concerns, hopes, and ideas about climate change.

Students from Philadelphia’s Mishkan Shalom Synagogue School, the Hialeah, FL Educational Academy, and Martha’s Table School in Washington, DC each created a tile for the mosaic answering the question, “What do you want to tell the world about climate change?”

Martha's table City of Hialeah Educational Academy Student Art on Climate Change | Mishkan Shalom Synagogue School
Courtesy of students in Philadelphia, Hialeah, FL, and Washington, DC.


Many students also wrote an artist’s statement explaining their thinking. Statements ranged from the emphatic – “We. Need. Trees.” – to the determined: “We need to take care of this and once and for all end this so our animals won’t suffer because of our actions.”  They reflected modern culture: “Saving the planet is more important than posting selfies.” They exuded hope: “My tile is what I want the world to be: Peace. Peace for everyone and everything.  Help make that peace.  Together.”  And they radiated enthusiasm: “This project was one of the most fun projects EVER.”

Honoring the Future published photographs of each student’s work, along with their artist’s statement, in an online digital mosaic, which will expand with contributions from students in other communities.

“Our energy and lifestyle choices will have a huge impact on our young, so it is important that decision-makers hear from students,” said Fran Dubrowski, Director of Honoring the Future.  “The mosaic empowers students to add their voices – through visual and language art – to our national conversation on climate change.”

The mosaic teaches students to be good citizens.  “Honoring the Future exposed our students to the art form of ceramics, as well as the concept of social activism, teaching children how to speak out about causes that matter to them most and make a difference in their communities,” said John Cahill, a Lead Teacher at Martha’s Table School.

The mosaic also demonstrates the value of collaboration and shows how individuals can contribute to climate solutions. “As the mosaic grows with contributions from across the nation, it can inspire hope that we will come together to address climate change and make daily lifestyle choices which advance climate solutions,” Dubrowski added.

Teachers who would like their students to participate in the mosaic can contact Honoring the Future at

Teachers Tackle Climate Change

Teachers from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC convened at the idyllic Fox Haven Organic Farm and Learning Center in Jefferson, MD on June 27, 2016 for Honoring the Future’s day-long multidisciplinary workshop on teaching climate change. Entitled “PUT SOME STEAM IN YOUR STEM,” the workshop featured leading national experts from science, art, law and policy to present the latest information on climate change, answer teachers’ questions, and spark curriculum planning on integrating the teaching of climate change into middle and high school science, math, language arts, and art classes.

Honoring the Future Director Fran Dubrowski and Arts Advisor Peter Handler opened the program, discussing art as a means of understanding and addressing climate change.

Dr. Perry Sheffield, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, outlined the potential human health impacts of unchecked climate change.

Hydroclimatologist Dr. Kirsten Findell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory presented the science of global climate modeling, with particular attention to questions frequently asked by the public.



The program concluded with a field trip to explore biodiversity in the nearby creek. Led by Dr. Christopher Meyer, Research Zoologist & Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, this portion of the program introduced teachers to the Biocube, an exciting (and inexpensive) new teaching tool that guides students to identify and appreciate biodiversity. Students may also use the tool to be “citizen scientists,” entering findings in a global database. Dr. Meyer showed how the students’ scientific findings lend themselves easily to presentation as art, using the current “Life in One Cubic Foot” exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as one of several models. More information about the project can be found at the Smithsonian’s Q?rius website:

Honoring the Future convened the workshop because a major national study shows teachers are hungry for more information about this subject. Increased interest stems, in part, from the new Next Generation Science Standards, which require middle and high school students to demonstrate an understanding of climate change and its impacts. The Next Generation Science standards – a multistate effort to improve science education, stimulate student interest in science, and give students an up-to-date science education that prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship – have been adopted by 16 states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, and broadly examined nationwide.

Third Grader Wins Garden Challenge

A third grader won the inaugural “Garden Challenge” sponsored by Holy Trinity parish in Washington, DC with support from Honoring the Future. The student’s award for “Best Garden by an Elementary or Middle School Student” was announced at the annual parish picnic on June 12, 2016 along with awards for “Best Fruit, Vegetable or Herb Garden” and “Best Flower Garden,” both won by adults.

John Healey garden overview

The Garden Challenge was a response to Pope Francis’ exhortation in his recent environmental encyclical: “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.” To encourage urban parishioners to restore and deepen their connection to nature, the parish invited its members to start or re-start a garden – “to work the earth, get to know it better, appreciate it” – and to share photos of the results.

Kate Tromble, the parish’s Pastoral Associate for Social Justice, observed: “Despite our rain (or maybe because of it), we had some beautiful submissions. Parishioners are composting, utilizing rain barrels, growing herbs, vegetables, and flowers. People have created spaces for meditation. We saw gardens crafted with creativity and love as well as a commitment to care for creation.”

The challenge was part of a partnership between Holy Trinity Church and Honoring the Future to create a year of climate education programming for this 7,000 member parish – both for its own value and as a model for faith-based institutions. The collaboration yielded 13 programs, from artists’ talks to lectures, social service trips, book club discussions, an energy efficiency workshop, and a gardening information session, reaching every age group from the very young to seniors. As the year draws to an end, Holy Trinity and Honoring the Future are working to spread “lessons learned” to other parishes.

Mags Harries and Lajos Héder,
SunFlowers – An Electric Garden (detail)
Courtesy of the artists. More

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