Monthly Archives: May 2013

Use a Clothesline… It’s Free!

We used to think that caring for our Father’s world was a matter of a few big choices.  We’d drive a smarter car; install solar panels; re-insulate the house — you know: big things.  Over time, however, we’ve come to appreciate how many little choices go into developing a sustainable life – and how many more we’re discovering every day or week.  They range from collecting acorns for sprouting new oaks, to reading the paper electronically, to purchasing groceries with the least packaging waste, to leaving the dishwasher out of our kitchen regimen, and enjoying vacation time closer to home.

Winter weather doesn't need to frustrate sustainable laundry

Winter weather doesn’t need to frustrate sustainable laundry

Little choices, yes.  But hundreds of them.

For the most part, however, it all began with the backyard clothesline. Years ago, we learned the pleasure of leaving the power-hungry clothes dryer shut down cold: summer or winter, our laundry dried out on the line.  Sub-freezing temperatures?  No problem.  They dry just the same.  Continue reading

Write to Congress!

teaser_get-involved_write-congressYou’re concerned about abuse of the creation. You want to protect it for its Maker, for your children, and for all people. But what, specifically should you tell your Senators and Congressperson? As much as you’d like to write your original thoughts, let me suggest you start with something from our pen. Copy and paste it, shorten it, add to it, personalize it as you wish. But at least this will give you a start. Continue reading

The Privilege of Skepticism

Written by: Kyle Schaap

If you are reading this and are from North America (and perhaps even if you aren’t), you are no doubt aware of just how divisive the issue of climate change is in the US and Canada. Experts from both sides of the issue are regular installments on the 24-hour news networks, presenting the latest data in favor of or disputing the warming of the planet. Policy experts offer the pros and cons of legislation aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Law makers debate possible action steps. Facebook posts supporting or refuting climate change turn into hotbeds of political (and sometimes a little bit of personal) attacks. Friends bicker; family relationships are strained.

Kyle Schaap (2)

Kyle Schaap led a group of Christians to witness impact of climate change in Kenya

This is simply the reality of the political climate in North America, but the existence of such rigorous debate is no coincidence. If warming trends continue the way that scientists are currently projecting (4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century), things in North America won’t look all that different. We’ll probably experience more droughts, our growing zones will shift, and Michigan will have the climate of Tennessee.  Even if things do get bad in North America, we have the money and technology necessary to adapt fairly well to any changes in weather patterns or growing seasons that we might experience. In short: North America can afford not to worry about climate change—at least for a while.  Continue reading

Cooking Without Fire

About ten days ago, a massive mudslide swept away three little Kenyan girls in the small town of Kijabe. We arrived in Kijabe only a few days after the flood, to find scores of local people cutting up fallen trees, carting away mud and clearing roadways.


Kijabe forests couldn’t keep mud from swamping the town

We reported on the Kijabe mudslide a few days ago. Recall that in one month alone, Kijabe has received more rain than its annual average over the last three decades. On the night of the disaster, 5.5 inches more fell in less than two hours. The saturated soils simply could not absorb the torrent, and they gave way in a lethal wall of clay-red African mud.

It happens that Kijabe is home to one of the best medical centers in East Africa, the AIC Kijabe Hospital. The hospital treats more than 150,000 patients every year, who wind their way up or down the Rift Valley escarpment to Kijabe, perched midway between the clouds and the valley floor. But the narrow roads were rendered impassable by the mudslide, and the hospital’s water source was also cut, its collection tanks now sitting idle and empty.  Continue reading

Give Us This Day Our Daily Toilet

Kibera.The biggest slum in Kenya. Second biggest in all of Africa. From all over Kenya, they pour into this place, a sprawling community in southeast Nairobi, home to as many as one million living souls. They come to Kibera from all over Kenya: many leaving family farm plots that have become too small from subdivision; others driven off by failing rains, extreme floods and erratic seasonal patterns; some, the victims of soil depletion from unsustainable farming practices. Whatever the reason, they are here looking for a better life.

Kibera: Last stop in Kenya's urban migration

Kibera: Last stop in Kenya’s urban migration

A better life? It’s hard for me to imagine what a worse life might look like. An uncountable throng in a continuous stream up and down muddy alleys, paths and narrow clay-red streets; unbroken ranks of tin and mud shacks crowding against each other and squeezing into serpentine pathways; vendors selling plastic sandals, maize, charcoal or other essentials at virtually every hut; open cooking fires everywhere; trash mixed with mud and sewage underfoot; and the air above choked with acrid smoke.  Continue reading