Earth Keepers’ goals are steps in right direction

An organization that for many years has been in the forefront of promoting environmentally friendly initiatives in the Upper Peninsula rededicated itself and took on an ambitious agenda last week.

The Earth Keepers organization announced sweeping plans at a press conference in Marquette Friday. The group wants to:

  • build approximately 30 community gardens across the Upper Peninsula.
  • complete energy conservation audits at 40 U.P. churches and temples.
  • promote dorm room window gardens on Northern Michigan University’s campus.
  • work with NMU students to write and record public service messages with energy conservation tips.

The group – made up of 10 U.P. faith groups and an NMU student group – seeks to reconnect with the earth and inspire people to be more responsible stewards of the land, according to organizer Jon Magnuson, executive director of the Cedar Tree Institute.

Magnuson said the group is grounded in a guiding theology of environmental stewardship.

It’s a philosophy that’s served them well as they’ve organized successful initiatives in the past.

In 2006, the group collaborated with other environmental organizations on a wildly successful one-day electronics recycling event which collected 320 tons of electronic waste. The event’s been repeated since with positive results.

The group has fostered the Manoomin Project, which puts at-risk teens to work with American Indian guides planting wild rice at various U.P. locations during the summer.

Earth Keepers also held annual Earth Day “clean sweep” drives that have collected upward of 300 tons of household poisons and other hazardous waste from U.P. residents at dozens of collection sites.

This new group, dubbed EarthKeepers II, seeks to continue the work of its predecessor – joining many different faith groups together to help conserve the local environment.

With funding from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the coalition will take the next two years to perform energy audits at 40 U.P. churches and temples, then award grants to help make energy saving repairs or upgrades.

The project also includes building roughly 30 community gardens, which will grow native plants and vegetables for community distribution to food pantries.

The Earth Keepers have tallied an impressive list of projects over the years, and we’re sure the new Earth Keepers II group will continue their tradition of turning a broad environmental vision into practical, effective programs for conservation and preservation.

We applaud the group for continuing their quest to bring faith and environmental groups together on projects that can benefit the entire peninsula.