Monday, July 14, 2014

Free flowers for Worship Services

Back in the 1980s, when dinosaurs still ruled the world and I was a recent college graduate working in Washington, DC, I liked to grab some take-out at the local health food emporium and eat lunch on the lawn of the Library of Congress.  One day while munching on a piece of whole-grain, vegetarian sushi, I looked up and spied a funny little sign sticking out of the grass. It looked a lot like this one.
I didn't know what to think/feel/do. It was too late for me to keep off the grass--I was plopped in the middle of it, eating food. Should I leave? Had the damage been done? And what was going to happen after it rained? Did that make the pesticides go away? I knew there was no such thing as "away" with rain water--it ends up in our drinking water supply in most cases. So did it even make a difference whether I sat in it or not, if it was being sprayed all over the place?
This was my first experience with a funny little sign, but not my last. 
Some say the poison is harmless. If so, why does every package of poison come with one of these signs? And there is a lot of evidence that the poison is not so harmless.

  • Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system. 
  • Pregnant women, infants and children, the aged and the chronically ill are at greatest risk from pesticide exposure and chemically induced immune-suppression, which can increase susceptibility to cancer. 
  • Scientific studies find pesticide residues such as the weedkiller 2,4-D and the insecticide carbaryl inside homes, due to drift and track-in, where they contaminate air, dust, surfaces and carpets and expose children at levels ten times higher than preapplication levels. 
I have long since moved on from that first job. Now I have a lawn of my own, and I don't spray poison on it. I also don't water it, since that is a waste of precious drinking water supplies and is leading to a water crisis in many parts of our country. (And I'm looking into creating a permaculture yard, which is more environmentally friendly.) 

But I still see these signs, on private lawns and even in front of houses of worship. They bother me. I wanted to do something about it. So I'm doing something. I'm starting a grassroots campaign called "Consider the Lilies." 

Consider the Lilies is a campaign to raise awareness about environmental issues related to our landscapes.

Simply put, our landscaping is destroying our landscape.

And the weird part of it is, some of the most beautiful landscaping I see each summer happens accidentally.

I'm talking about wildflowers. 

I love wildflowers so much I have made them a major feature of my own yard.

As an adult I started picking them and over time, with the help of some how-to books, I learned to make formal flower arrangements composed of wildflowers.

I started bringing these arrangements to church with me to serve as the flowers for worship, and I got a lot of compliments. And then one day, while picking some wild blooms, it hit me: Why not use my flower arrangements to help people begin to rethink what constitutes attractive landscaping? 

So I decided to offer to provide free flower arrangements to churches in exchange for their disseminating information about how pesticides and watering lawns harms our children, our families and our world.

A lot of church members are movers and shakers in society. If they stop dumping chemicals on their lawns and wasting precious water resources on them (and if they explain to their neighbors why they are making the change), it might transform our values.

I'm starting really small, but everything that starts has to start somewhere.

This is literally a grassroots campaign. It can be easily adapted and re-created anywhere.

Plans are in the works to include information on how to create your own wildflower arrangements, similar ideas for people who live in arid climates, and links to downloadable flyers.

If you'd like a free arrangement for your house of worship, just shoot me an email.

Consider the Lilies is an ongoing mission of The Church of Yes and...
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