Re-storying and re-membering at the Christian Feminism Today Conference

Last week I had the opportunity to present a paper at the Christian Feminism Today conference in Indianapolis, IN. This was my first time at this gathering, which has been meeting every other year since the 1970s. I found the community welcoming and so supportive of a newbie to the group! The group included many wise and fun individuals, many of whom have spent their careers dealing with sexism and attempting to enact and embody an egalitarian paradigm in the church and the academy. Many of the people there have been wounded by the church, but refuse to give up, and instead have found this group and found the Spirit present there.

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My great-grandparents, Glen & Fanny (Nutting) Beebe

I personally shared on the topic of: “Christian Feminism for the 21st Century: a prophetic eco-praxis mash-up of tradition and culture that would cause my homesteader great-grandmother and earlier feminists to roll over in their graves.” I think I won the longest title award! I enjoyed sharing about my mom’s “Granny” and what I wish had been passed down through the generations of the knowledge and wisdom she held, and also my recognition that her homesteader lifestyle came at the cost of the livelihood and lives of those who had previously lived on the land. It also came at the cost of the ecosystems that were destroyed by tearing out sagebrush for monocropping and damming the river. I shared that we’re not going to make progress on feminist issues unless we work to make progress on ecological and racial issues at the same time, because they’re all connected to a culture of domination. I had previously written somewhat on this topic for Christian Feminism Today in the article entitled: “Scarcity vs. Abundance: Moving Beyond Dualism to ‘Enough.’

Other presenters included Austin Channing, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and Diana Butler Bass. I loved having the chance to learn from and meet these excellent speakers and writers. Kristen Kobes Du Mez wrote up an excellent review of the conference, especially connecting the talks of these three women and myself, on her blog on Patheos: “History, Memory, and Relevance: Reflections on Christian Feminism Today.” Go there and read her thoughts!

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

I am honored to be included in such company, and I was grateful to the Spirit for giving me words that fit in with the themes also presented by these other speakers. It felt like we were definitely on the same wavelength. I reviewed Grace Ji-Sun Kim‘s book, Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love, back in January, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her virtually since then. She teaches at the other Quaker seminary, Earlham School of Religion, and her understanding of the Spirit shows a definite Quaker influence! Or, at least, her understanding of the Spirit fits right in in Quaker circles, and she’s listening to the same Spirit I know and connect with as a Friend.

Diana Butler Bass

Surprisingly (to me), Diana Butler Bass‘s talk was also heavily influenced by Quakers. She shared about her newest book, Grounded: Finding God in the World—A Spiritual Revolution. As she was doing research for that book, she learned about her Quaker ancestry. A Quaker myself, I was amazed by how much of an influence her Quaker heritage had on her self-identity, and how much it had impacted her upbringing even though she hadn’t previously known where that stream of her beliefs and being came from. I’m going to read Grounded soon and so I’ll return to this idea later, but I was really struck by the power of our tradition’s emphasis on contemplation and social justice action. We are a small denomination, but God’s Spirit has multiplied our efforts! Butler Bass reminded us that the Bible says a curse will last a few generations, but a blessing will last a thousand generations. May we as Friends continue to be a blessing!

Austin Channing

My own talk followed Austin Channing‘s prophetic message, and I appreciated how she spoke out of her context as an African American woman, both challenging and encouraging this mostly-white group of mostly-women to reach out to one another. She showed us the women in the pre-Exodus story: the midwives, the princess, Miriam, and the mother of Moses. They practiced civil disobedience at all levels of society. As Channing put it, Pharaoh was afraid of the men, but he miscalculated! She encouraged us to not let fear divide us, but to remember and tell the less presentable parts of our stories.

It’s my hope that my work to tell the story of Granny and my Quaker feminist ancestors did this idea justice, telling both the parts I’m proud of and the parts I’m not proud of, and attempting to live in a way that leads to justice for all the marginalized today.

Ecotheology of Critical Hope Poster on to Antioch University New England’s Student Research Symposium

I enjoyed last week’s Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture Conference at Harvard Divinity School! I got to present my poster and talk to interested conference-goers about my research, gaining valuable feedback and connections.

My poster is moving on to a second life at next week’s Antioch University New England 15th Annual Student Research Symposium on April 16, 2016. Click the link to read about everyone else’s amazing student research projects. A plethora of great work is happening in the masters and doctoral environmental studies programs at AUNE! I feel honored to be part of this wide-ranging conversation and collaboration of efforts to create a healthier world for ourselves and future generations.

Ecotheology of Critical Hope at Harvard Divinity’s Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture Conference

On Thursday, I’ll be in Boston for Harvard Divinity School‘s Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture Conference, and I’ll be sharing a poster presentation based on my work to develop an ecotheology of critical hope. I’m looking forward to chatting with people about this concept and finding out whether or not it connects with their experiences. Below is my poster, which gives you an overview of the way I’m currently conceptualizing this ecotheology of critical hope. I’m also looking forward to going to the great sessions throughout the day on Thursday, then I’ll be heading up to New Hampshire for my PhD weekend classes at Antioch University New England on Friday and Saturday. There are also great sessions on Friday, though I’ll unfortunately miss them. We can’t do everything in life, right? But I’m excited that this conference lines up with my PhD weekend so I can attend part of it, make connections, share about my research, and learn about the great work that others are doing.

CBock_Critical Hope Poster

Environmental History of a Community Garden:
 Getting to Know the Land that Sustains Us

3 generations + tree
Three generations standing in front of the house where my dad grew up, and next to his favorite climbing tree, September 2014, before both were removed to make space for a new dorm.

Tomorrow, February 23, 2016, I’ll be giving a talk based on environmental history research I did about the land on which the George Fox University Community Garden used to reside. I’ll be speaking to the Newberg Historical Society and any others who want to attend, and it will be held at the Chehalem Cultural Center at 7pm.

The land held special significance for me because right across a little street called E. North St. from the garden was the house my dad and grandparents lived in when they first moved to Oregon. In the last year, the house was demolished and a dorm is sitting there, and the garden space was paved over for a parking lot, but we got a beautiful new location for the community garden, so it wasn’t all bad. I don’t have personal family history on the land of the new space, but I do know that it was part of a donation land claim owned by one of the first Quakers in the area, William Hobson. That land may represent the location for a future research endeavor.

View of Newberg from the air
I’ll include historical photos and maps to show the changes in the land use over time, such as this aerial photo of Newberg, ca. 1939, which appeared in the Newberg Graphic’s Diamond Anniversary Edition, 1963.

For my talk tomorrow night, I’ll begin with a brief geological history of the Willamette Valley, then discuss the Kalapuya tribes that used to inhabit this valley, and narrow the geographical focus down to the Chehalem Valley, Newberg, the Deskins Donation Land Claim, and the specific land of the garden and my grandparents’ house as I go, focusing on land use. As I did this study, I found it interesting how difficult it was to trace a particular piece of land and its uses, as opposed to a person’s genealogy or history. I enjoyed learning about this piece of land that provided food and memories for generations of my family, especially right before it changed land use so drastically.