CJT Randall’s Intro to Sky Sunday

Randall gave this glorious intro to Sky Sunday, part of our three-week Creation Justice Season at the DUCC. Enjoy:

Good morning. I’m Randall Braaksma, and I’m part of the Creation Justice group at Douglas UCC, and I’m here to talk to you about the sky. Perhaps you’ve worn one of these [face mask respirator] when you were doing some dirty, dusty work around the house or on job site. But many people wear these every day just to breathe a little easier.

I lived for several years in Beijing, China, and this was not a fashion accessory, it was often a necessity. I remember the day Beijing’s normally smoggy skies went clear blue on a crisp December day. We were all amazed until we remembered that the Olympic Committee was visiting to review Beijing’s bid to host the Games.

The city government of Beijing had the power and control to make its citizens stop polluting in order to make a good impression. But just for a while. The smog began descending almost as soon as the Olympic Committee’s plane took off.

Air pollution continues to be a big problem in places like Beijing, Dehli, and Manilla. And it’s causing damaging health effects for millions around the world. Today, about 235 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. And more than 80 percent of asthma deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries. Overall, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people die each year due to air pollution.

Statistics like that certainly make this a justice issue. So, what can we do about it?

Pastor Sal has often exhorted us to speak truth to power. And Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us to do that. Just a few weeks ago, the E.P.A. announced it’s looking at letting coal plants that are nearing retirement keep on working, or should I say polluting, with a refurbishment that DOES NOT include adding pollution controls. And just this week, the administration said it plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of potent greenhouse gas by energy companies. This while U.N. General Secretary António Guterres called climate change the defining issue of our time and said, (quote) “the time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”

Clean air is a basic human right. When it’s in danger, we must fight this injustice. We can take that fight to the national and international levels. We can take it to our individual lives, too. Last week, Pastor Sal talked about the need to become aware that Christ is in us and in everything, including, or should I say especially, the air we breathe. The challenge is to ask ourselves is, How can I be more aware so that the decisions I make every day do the sky good and not harm?

–Randall Braaksma

CJT Eric’s Planet Earth Sunday Introduction

Did you miss this? I hope not. Eric’s lovely introduction to Planet Earth Sunday at DUCC.

“Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

This all too familiar passage from Genesis is in some ways at the root of our modern-day environmental crisis.  In particular, the word “dominion” has become somewhat problematic. Webster’s dictionary defines dominion as “supreme authority” or “absolute control”.  At this point in our history and culture, we have taken this charge quite literally, plundering the earth for its resources as if we are the “supreme authority”, and as a result, we are putting our own existence in peril. Something about our approach is not right.

If we could somehow see our actions outside of our own culture and context, perhaps we might understand our responsibility differently. Indigenous cultures throughout the world, those who have held on to primal teachings, have something to teach us.  Native American cultures don’t share our story of dominion or even the language of stewardship – their story is of relationship with the Earth.  In language and in practice, these cultures model more closely our own biblical example that God set forth in Genesis – Creator in loving relationship with Creation.  Right stewardship flows from a loving relationship. And it is by remembering and rediscovering this love that we will find our way forward.

Today, on this first Sunday of Creation Season, we begin by celebrating “Planet Earth”.  We open ourselves to learn from lava and trees, soil and water, moths and ravens, and all that our planet has to show us.  We seek to learn the language of seasons and cycles, which makes us more attuned to the underlying rhythms of life, We hope to show the type of compassion that extends beyond all borders, beyond our species, to “all the ends of the earth” –  compassion from a “God’s-eye view”.  And we pray that this compassion results in action and justice for our common home, planet Earth. Please join me in our unison prayer.

–Eric LeJeune, Creation Justice Team, DUCC


Introduction to Lakes — an MSU Extension Course, Jan 22 online

Michigan is blessed with more than 11,000 inland lakes and each provides unique recreational, scenic and environmental benefits. These inland lakes are complex ecosystems and are often negatively impacted by both the people that live near them as well as the water that drains into them. Frequently, local communities struggle to protect and manage inland lakes in a way that incorporates the best available knowledge and resources. Concerned citizens, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals and lakefront property owners can learn about inland lake management and protection by enrolling in the MSU Extension Introduction to Lakes online course.

Introduction to Lakes is a six-week online course specially designed for lake users, lakefront property owners, and lake managers interested in learning about inland lakes. From the comfort of home or office, participants have 24/7 access to six online units complete with closed captioned video lectures, interactive activities, additional resources, discussion forums, quizzes and live chat sessions with classmates and Michigan State University Extension experts. Through this convenient format, participants increase their knowledge and understanding of the following topics:

  1. Lake ecology
  2. Lakes and their watersheds
  3. Shorelines
  4. Michigan water law
  5. Aquatic plant management
  6. Community involvement in lake stewardship

The course is taught on a week-by-week basis, allowing for online communication between classmates and instructors through topical discussion forums. The course also includes three pre-scheduled ask-an-expert webinar sessions with instructors and outside experts. MSU Extension course instructors include Bindu Bhakta, Erick Elgin, Dr. Jo Latimore, Dr. Lois Wolfson and Brad Neumann. Sign up for the electronic MSU Extension newsletter and select “lakes, streams, and watersheds” to stay informed about future offerings.


D2L Header Intro to Lakes

2019 Introduction to Lakes Course Information

Start date: January 22, 2019. The course will open to registrants on January 15 to allow time to get acquainted with the online classroom.

Registration: Registration is now open. An Early Bird rate of $95 is available through December 12, and regular registration ($115) will be available through January 8. Register now for Introduction to Lakes Online

Course Details

Available Benefits and Continuing Education Credits:  Those completing the course can receive the following.

Cancellation Policy: Course access will begin January 15, 2019, for a “Getting Acquainted” week. If you need to withdraw from the course, you can request a partial refund of $50 until January 21, 2019. Once your request is received, you will no longer be able to access the course. No requests for refunds will be considered after January 21, 2019.



Bindu Bhakta
Natural Resources Educator
Michigan State University Extension

National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp


Contact: Drew YoungeDyke, Senior Communications Coordinator, youngedyked@nwf.org, 734-887-7119

Statement: National Wildlife Federation Supports Updated Plan to Stop Asian Carp


(November 21, 2018 – Ann Arbor, MI) — Yesterday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final draft plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The draft chief’s report of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam includes both structural and nonstructural measures including an engineered lock fitted with an electric barrier, a bubble barrier, an acoustic barrier, and a flushing lock to stop aquatic invasive species like Asian carp, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is located just south of Chicago and is a critical chokepoint to help stop Asian carp from continuing to swim closer to Lake Michigan.  The estimated cost of the project is $777.8 million, up from an earlier estimate of $275 million. A previous draft of the plan included water jets in place of the bubble barrier. 

A summary of the final plan is available here: https://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental-Protection-and-Restoration/GLMRIS-BrandonRoad/.

Asian carp include species of bighead, silver, black, and grass carp. After escaping from southern United States aquaculture facilities, they have spread rapidly and have reduced native fish populations in waters connected to the Mississippi River watershed, which connects to the Great Lakes watershed through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Asian carp pose a significant threat to our economy, outdoor heritage, and way of life.  In addition, the invasive species is a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes sport-fishery, which is estimated to generate at least $7 billion each year in economic activity.

Marc Smith, director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center, issued the following statement in response to the release of the updated plan:

“Across the country, Asian carp are undermining our nation’s fisheries and threaten the Great Lakes $7 billion annual sport-fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers plan to rebuild the Brandon Road Lock and Dam south of Chicago is our opportunity to put stronger measures in place to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The plan includes a gauntlet of technologies to prevent Asian carp from moving past the lock, while maintaining navigation for shipping. The investment in this project pales in comparison to the economic risk if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes. We intend to review the updates to the plan in detail and offer official public comment later, but at first glance this looks like the plan we need to protect our waters, our fisheries, our sport-fishing economy and our way of life.”

Thank you, Community Readers!

What a night! What a conversation! Here is hoping this conversation, once started, never ends.

Many people to thank. Of course, our speaker Steve Pothoven, from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Muskegon. Here are his Invasive talk slides for your further study. Brittany Goode spoke on behalf of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, where you can involve yourself and your friends in many efforts to care for our Lakes and watershed. Tori Harris from the Allegan Conservation District, invited us to act locally to protect the lands and waters we live aboard every day. And then all the help provided by local Water protectors to find our way to acting with the seven generations ahead of us in mind. You will find our list of local land and water and climate protectors running along the right-hand side of our blog. We are constantly working to keep it updated, so please, when you see we have missed an organization, let us know, and we will add it.

We talked about a couple of books you may wish to explore. There is the newly released update of Peter Annin’s The Great Lakes Water Wars, a book highly acclaimed for its reporting. And for a completely different point of view of the world and our place in it, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass. Professor Kimmerer is a Botanist, a poet, and a descendant of the Potowatomie people from the Great Lakes region.

And we ended on an important note. The DUCC and its creation justice team is here for our community. If you wish to see us address another topic or dive more fully into a piece of this one, please write to us at ducccjt@gmail.com. Tell us what you are thinking. To stay informed about what we are up to and when, be sure to subscribe to our notices here. We always announce our programs well in advance. They include education events, film screenings, local road and waterway cleanup actions, sharing harvests, recycling events, green gardening events, green energy awareness, and services focused on environmental justice. Browse this blog to see what we’ve been up to. And that’s just what we’ve imagined so far. With your help, we can imagine so much more.

Tuesday, November 13, our Last Gathering for Death and Life of the Great Lakes Community Read

And now for something completely different!

Here we are in The Future, part III of Dan Egan’s Death and Life of the Great Lakes. For this gathering, we will open the doors to the whole community, to make room for guest speakers and representation from local water action groups. Please feel free to bring along your friends and family members who love and care for the Great Lakes.

First up, we will catch up with the latest research findings with our speaker, Steve Pothoven, biologist with NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab field station for more than 20 years. Steve has worked on all the Great Lakes as well as east coast estuaries, and he will catch us up with the science of invasive species discovery.

We will also learn more about local water protecting organizations, and meet one or two or three (still waiting on confirmation) representatives of these organizations, who will be happy to share with you ways you can support their work, get involved with local activities to help promote and protect the Great Lakes.

And of course we will discuss Dan Egan’s text, Part III, The Future. We want to hear how this section sat with our Great Lakes Czars and Czarinas.

Looking forward to gathering again with a fascinating, informative, and action-oriented session.

Thank you all, from the depths of our hearts, for joining us in this adventure, held in memory of our friend and former State Senator, Patty Birkholz. Patty is smiling.

Doors open at 6:30. Talk begins at 7. DUCC Friendship Hall, 56 Wall Street, Douglas, MI

Psst! You may wish to bring along a notebook and pen!

See You Tuesday for Part II of Death and Life of the Great Lakes Community Read

On Tuesday night, November 13, at 6:30, we will continue our Community Read discussion of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.

For this evening’s discussion, we will focus on Part II: The Back Door. If you haven’t had a chance to read it now, there is still plenty of time before we meet. This section of the book travels quickly from the southern tip of Lake Michigan through the Mississippi River Basin and beyond, beginning with the undividing of the continental divide between the two great water systems. A historic whodunit!

Tuesday evening’s format will be much like our last session. We will break into groups, talk about the section of the book, share our perspectives, share with the whole group, and then wave our new scepters as Czars and Czarinas of the Great Lakes to decide how we will fix things.

Our last session in November will be a different sort of evening. We have a 20-year NOAA biologist joining us along with representation for various water action groups with our focus on Part III: The Future.

Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday. Snacks to share are welcome. Bring your own beverage if you’re not into Coffee, Tea, or water.

Update for Community Read participants

Hey folks!

The DUCC Creation Justice Team met last night, and discussed our next two meetings for the Community Read, what we heard from you as we were discussing the book, and what’s ahead.

For this next section of the book, Part II, the Back Door, we’ll be learning about invasive species coming from the other direction, The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. We’ve been in touch with the eDNA researchers who worked on the original project, and find that at least one of them is working closely with the Nature Conservancy. Here’s more about their work in Michigan. We recommend checking out those animations watching the spread of these species as the years progress (Pro-tip: if you hit the settings key while watching a YouTube video, you can slow the progress down. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that for the lakes?). And the link at the bottom of the page has a nice little video clip featuring some of the folks Egan interviewed for the book.

And here is a little update on the progress of eDNA use to detect species where they are hard to see and find. Progress! Yay, science!

We discuss Part II at 6:30pm on October 23. And we’ll make better use of the space to make chatting a bit less noisy!

For this next section, fair warning, there isn’t much reprieve in our new awareness, but there is hope. Because there is always hope. Anywhere there is action, there is hope, right?

With this email we are drawing you to our website where we post about the events and programs offered by our little team. If you look at the links on the right-hand side of the page, you’ll find lots and lots of groups whose work you can explore.

Scroll waaaay down to find the groups with special focus on water. For our last evening together, on November 13, we will be talking about these groups and the kinds of action you can take and encourage your friends and neighbors to take on behalf of the Great Lakes.

As long as we are doing something, we aren’t doing nothing. Or something.

Namaste, friends. Looking forward to our next meeting!