Mennonite Creation Care Network awarded four Green Mustard Seed grants of up to $1,000 each to two congregations and two Anabaptist-related non-profits following the first of two 2020 deadlines.
The grants are made possible by the Stoesz Family Foundation and will assist Anabaptist-related organizations undertaking a wide variety of creation care projects.
The Radical Living Youth Program serves youth living below the poverty line in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The youth learn about urban gardening, healthy life choices, justice work and community building. In the summer, they visit local community gardens and a 65-acre organic farm. They also spend a week working on a farm. In other seasons, they make foods such as jam, pickles and homemade pasta; learn to read food labels and discuss healthy food choices.
“People of color in Bedford-Stuyvesant are disproportionately impacted by economic, health, and environmental disparities. By equipping youth, we also impact the broader community through creating green spaces and developing sustainability projects,” said Radical Living’s Vonetta Storbakken. The MCCN grant will provide general support as this program enters its fourth year.
Radical Living is an affiliate ministry of both Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship, New York, N.Y., and the Atlantic Coast Conference of the Mennonite Church USA. The non-profit is also a founding partner with the Brooklyn Peace Center, a new hub of Mennonite activities in New York City.
Shalom Mennonite Fellowship, Tucson, Ariz., aims to make the church property an oasis through native landscaping and water conservation.
“This desert city steals water from Mexico via the Colorado River Project and from the future by pumping from the aquifer. Native tree canopy is essential for local mitigation of climate change as the temperature increases,” observed Carol Rose, co-pastor of Shalom.
The MCCN grant will go toward drip lines to connect Shalom’s rainwater cistern to its community garden. The church will also offer a workshop on water conservation. Since members of the congregation are employed in the landscaping industry, this education may have a ripple effect beyond the church itself. Several new trees and water filters to address a contamination problem are also part of the project.
Shalom serves a mix of people from Latinx, Congolese and European backgrounds and is known for its multi-lingual worship. The congregation’s ministries include immigration justice, indigenous solidarity and other work that dismantles poverty.
Nueva Vida Norristown New Life Mennonite Church, Norristown, Pa., is an intercultural urban congregation that provides many services to its surrounding community, from childcare to translation and restorative justice services. An article on the congregation in the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online commends its members for their vision for racial reconciliation and justice both locally and within the regional and national Mennonite Church.
The congregation’s five buildings need a variety of repairs, and a capital campaign is in progress. MCCN’s grant will be used to replace leaky windows with energy-efficient ones. A matching grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places will boost MCCN’s investment from $1,000 to $1,500.
“Our building is used seven days a week by the childcare center and the congregation. Addressing the needed repairs will make it a safer place and mitigate further damage,” said Sharon Williams, administrator of the capital campaign team.
Taos Initiative for Life Together (TiLT) is an incubator for personal and systemic change in Taos County, N.M. The non-profit is led by Todd Wynward, a minister for watershed discipleship with the Mountain States Conference of the Mennonite Church USA. TiLT relates to about 500 people in a rural county where many people’s jobs depend on healthy land, water and environment.
Recently, Taos County ended glass and plastic recycling. TiLT has responded by joining a citizen action group, Plastic Free Taos (PFT) to educate community members and empower them to reduce single-use plastic consumed through local businesses.
The original proposal involved raising awareness of alternatives to single use plastics at an Earth Day event. COVID-19 restrictions may revise this, but MCCN will support TiLT’s work on plastic waste in Taos County as the effort evolves.
How to apply
MCCN’s Green Mustard Seed Grants are made possible by the Stoesz Family Foundation. Application instructions are available here or upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The next deadline is September 1, 2020. Those in underserved or minority areas are particularly encouraged to apply.