Todd Wynward is a public school founder, wilderness educator and small-scale farmer who lives with his family in Taos, NM. Recently he was licensed by Albuquerque Mennonite for special ministry to be an educator and organizer of watershed discipleship in the Mountain States region. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo shows the Kaw River in Kansas City, Missouri.
Is your community ready to walk the Watershed Way?
Join us as we start a ten-year adventure, exploring together.
Will your community walk into a new future with ours, walking the Watershed Way? We are a small but mighty network of covenanted faith communities seeking to re-invent the good life in America, starting with our own. Though we are far from perfect, we seek to cease our earth-destroying lifeways and instead transition into a better future together by altering habits, innovating systems, and living lighter on the earth. To this end, we are initiating in 2015 a decade-long period of shared exploration, initiating and observing significant change in our own lives and in our communities. Where will this adventure lead us? We’ll find out in 2025.
What might it look like for a people to walk the Watershed Way?
The specifics will be different for each community, but here’s one example. Albuquerque Mennonite Church did something unusual in 2014: they became the focus of their own mission. Our own North American lifestyles are what need changing, AMC realized. We’re the ones who need to be converted. As we continue to be faithful to God, they asked, how do we live in right relationship with water, land, creatures and one another? After living so long as dis-placed consumers with global appetites and little local awareness, how do we learn to re-place ourselves and become watershed disciples rooted in our region–the high desert of northern New Mexico?
As a church body, taking small but concrete steps, AMC responded to these questions. In early 2014, they began with a three-part educational series on “Becoming a People of Place,” gaining a scriptural and theological background for earth justice and reconciliation. Then, in April, they hosted a capacity-building teach-in event they called “Re-Placing Ourselves,” aimed at increasing their own ability to be watershed disciples. For the event, which attracted more than seventy-five people, they enlisted the aid of Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, and hosted other faith communities hailing from up and down the Rio Grande watershed, from near the river’s headwaters in Alamosa, CO, to my community in Taos, down to where the river flows into the gulf near Brownsville, Texas.
In addition to learning, praying, and connecting, the church was doing. Members started changing their shopping habits and taste buds, engaging more with local and community supported agriculture. Others built hoop houses and are looking to establish their own CSA. A “pilgrimage” group explored their own community to learn about what place-based initiatives and organizations were already established in the area. A “Zero Waste” group—with a goal to attain what their title suggests—took a first step by sorting and weighing a week’s worth of trash they found the church dumpster, which provided insightful feedback to the daycare as well as the congregation. A few other intrepid souls organized fact-finding field trips to a nearby recycling plant, a commercial composting facility, and a local water reclamation plant. Three veteran practitioners hosted a Composting and Vermiculture class at the church, and another member continues to lead a series of “urban homesteader” how-to courses under a business she calls “Old School.” The Zero Waste team debated two courses of action: to concentrate on reducing the church’s material waste-stream, or to broaden their agenda to include reducing the church’s use of energy, water and toxins.
At the end of an active year, the church took a moment to compose an annual report, reflecting upon the changes, questions, triumphs and struggles that arose. New questions were raised, new opportunities proposed, new goals suggested. Using their first year as a basis, annual report in hand, inspired by the examples of other communities, Albuquerque Mennonite is prepared for its next steps as they continue to walk the Watershed Way into 2015.
This is what walking the Watershed Way can look like. Are you in?