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Environmental Partnerships


Abstract Funded by donations, grants, and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts’ Urban/Suburban Linkages Program, Environmental Partnerships (EP) is a small non-profit organization that works with religious congregations on environmental issues at local, regional, and national levels. Its overarching goals are to foster regional alliances between urban and suburban congregations around ecological concerns; to connect environmental groups with congregations in such a way that the unique identity of each congregation is maintained; and to provide people with the information and skills necessary to effectively participate in discussions and decision-making about environmental and eco-justice issues. EP brings together environmental groups and congregations through collaborative projects such as church gardens and environmental education and service learning programs. Since its inception, EP has supported church and community gardens and has worked closely with Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Dorchester, whose vegetable garden has provided its food pantry with fresh produce for thirty years. Since 2000, EP and the Episcopal Boston Chinese Ministry have run community service learning programs for Chinese high school students who are recent immigrants. The City Ambassadors Volunteer Program involved students in taking tours of Boston neighborhoods and designing and offering their own tour. In the first year of the Roots Program students had a garden plot in a large urban community garden where they interviewed elderly Chinese gardeners. In its second year, a University of Massachusetts professor is teaching the students to map a variety of neighborhood characteristics using GIS technology. EP has also begun working with GIS maps to demonstrate land-use related justice issues to congregations. Finally, another EP program area emphasizes the ways in which dialogue is conducted that can affect lay peoples’ inclusion and exclusion from debate about ethically and technically complex issues. The current program focuses on genetic modification of plants used for food, and is carried out through discussions, educational programs, and conferences. At present EP primarily works with various Christian denominations, but it ultimately aims to expand its scope to include non-Christian religious communities as well.
Religion Christianity
Geographic Location United States of America
(Eastern Massachusetts)
Duration of Project 1998–Present
History

Environmental Partnerships received its first grant when Susan Youmans, Founder and Executive Director, began collaborating with Bishop Nellie C. Yarborough, pastor of Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Roxbury. EP’s first project was to support the upkeep of the garden at Mt. Calvary Church, which had long provided vegetables for the congregation’s food programs, and to facilitate dialogue at the church about environmental health. In 2000 the community service learning program for bilingual Chinese high school students began. That year, EP also launched a pilot program linking suburban churches and urban food pantries as part of an urban/suburban community supported agriculture team providing fresh, organic, and locally-grown vegetables to for urban residents. In 2002, EP began an inventory project of land management of churchyards in two towns within the Mystic River watershed and organized a number of smaller community garden projects. Current projects include: updating the “inventory” in which churches were mapped in relation to land uses in their towns, conducting outreach about pesticides reduction to Episcopal churches in the region, and planning a project to increase participation of Boston faith groups in food security issues.

Mission Statement “Environmental Partnerships’ mission is to help bring about environmental justice by linking faith-secular and urban-suburban resources. Its goals are to provide programs, tools, and knowledge for people of faith to undertake action beneficial to their own community and to provide opportunities for collaboration and interaction on related issues.”
Partner Organizations Asian Community Development Corporation
Boston Episcopal Chinese Ministry
Catholic Relief Services’ and National Council of Christian Churches’ dialogs on Bio-Technology and Agriculture
Clean Water Action Safe Foods Campaign
Community Food System Coalition Religion Task Force
Ecumenical Roundtable on Science, Technology, and the Church
Episcopal Church Committee on Science, Technology, and Faith Subcommittee on Genetically Modified (GM) Food
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Committee on Faith and the Environment
Garden Futures/Boston Natural Areas Network
Greenleaf Composting (Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts)
Ground Works Somerville
Massachusetts Interfaith Environmental Network
Mount Calvary Holy Church of America (Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Mystic River Watershed Association
Solid Waste Action Team (Lexington, Massachusetts)
Tufts River Institute
WAITT House of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (Dorchester, Massachusetts)
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Environmental Partnerships
Susan Youmans, Executive Director
1 Taft Drive, Winchester, MA 01890
138 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02111
Ph:       781.729.4021
Fax:     781.729.4992
Email: (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)