Craig Schaub received a Pastor Study Grant from the Louisville Institute to explore the relationship between the daily life of congregations and the twelve principles of the ethic of Fair Share – People Care – Earth Care. This ethic is often attributed to the design philosophy of permaculture. Permaculture is a word created by mushing together “permanent” and “culture” or “agriculture.” It is an essential way of seeing spaces, landscapes, ecosystems, human community, energy, spirituality, leadership in a way more consistent with the best practices of ancient indigenous cultures set not only on sustainability but giving back and restoring relationships of life.
In the 1990s when Craig would visit permaculture workshops, mostly the teachers would stave off his desire to make connections with spirituality and faith community. It was seen as a design philosophy free of religious constraints. And, over these last years while more women and BIPOC teachers have entered into leadership, that kind of weaving has begun to happen. All while mostly European-descended permaculturalists have had to face a reckoning with what “decolonizing” this design system looks like. With humility, people of faith are encouraged to enter this challenging conversation. Certainly, not everything is tidy in the connections, but living at the edge of these various perspectives is, as one of the principles suggest, where not only there’s the most diversity, but the greatest amount of life energy and wisdom.
The original intent of Craig’s project was to visit faith communities wrestling at this edge. Some of that happened prior to the pandemic, including engagement in a 72-hour course at Garfield Community Farm in the heart of Pittsburgh to gain his Permaculture Design Certificate. There were also many conversations over Zoom, a trip to Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; Earthhaven in Black Mountain, NC ; and Blackburn Community Ministry in Todd, NC. But the project in this past year and one-half has turned more toward looking at the realities and possibilities at Parkway UCC. Therefore, the Field Guide for Congregations: Living an Ethic of Fair Share, People Care, Earth Care chronicles so much of the Parkway UCC story.
Living out the intent of these principles, this field guide is meant to be shared widely for free, so we encourage you to dip into the pages and to pass it on to anyone interested. It only is meant to create a community of conversation, wrestling with these hard questions together in this time of crisis in economics, climate, and democracy. The e-book sits on a WordPress blog including some other rituals we’ve used at Parkway. Here are the links: