From The Kentucky Standard

By STEPHANIE HORNBACK

The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth came along long before Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, but the two are linked by their desire to protect the Earth.

Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970, and SCN, which has caring for the Earth as part of its mission statement, has a joint Earth Day/Arbor Day celebration each year. The event begins with a prayer service at the church and ends with the planting and blessing of a tree. Earth Day is April 22 and Arbor Day is April 30.

According to Earth Day Network, which administers the annual international observance, Earth Day was founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment. Its mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment. Earth Day Network has a global reach with more than 20,000 partners and organizations in 190 countries, according to its Web site. More than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.

Closer to home, SCN has been one of the most vocal and active champions of being good stewards of the Earth. Nazareth is the largest purchaser of green electric energy of all Salt River Electric customers, according to Dana Hinton, SCN communications director for the Western Province. Other “green” acts on the SCN campus include using only UTZ-certified coffee beans, meaning it is produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner; partnering with the Nelson County Cooperative Extension Service to provide community garden plots; using geothermal heat; and “water harvesting” all water for trees and gardens from on-campus ponds.

Nazareth has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation for six years as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to urban forestry. Tree City USA communities must have a tree board or department, tree-care ordinance, comprehensive community forestry program and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The Sisters of Charity have also taken a stance on “corporate water.”

“We, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Family, affirm that water is a fundamental, inalienable human right. Earth’s freshwater is limited and essential for a just and sustainable world. Water, as a human right and a common good, cannot be bought, sold or traded as a commodity.

“Therefore, we will study and support actions and policies that:

  • ensure access to sufficient, safe and affordable water for all people, especially women and children, in regions suffering currently from scarcity of water; and
  • protect freshwater as a sustainable, renewable resource.

“We will study and oppose actions and policies that:

  • endanger/pollute the world’s supply of freshwater;
  • deprive humans and other species access to adequate, safe water essential for life; and
  • privatize and commodify global water resources.”
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