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Catholic Schools Eco Newsletter No.8

February 2, 2009 :

A recent WWF report confirms that faith schools and colleges tend to be the first in the development of sustainable activities and practices.

Happy New Chinese Year of the Ox and welcome to our eighth Catholic Schools eco-newsletter.

And we would like to tell you about our own New Year Resolution which is to expand the distribution list beyond the southwest of England, which is where we have started. For ARC to continue to write and distribute it we need to have extended our active network of schools to at least two hundred by the end of this school year.

So please, if you would like us to continue, then distribute it to your friends and educational partners, ask them to join, and also please get in touch with us yourself with ideas of expanding its outreach – and of course with your own content and ideas.

This edition includes:

A. Faith Schools are top in the Sustainability League – WWF says.

B. News from Europe’s first state-funded Hindu eco school.

C. Clifton Cathedral wins an award for its eco-podcast on Sound of Many Waters…. Which is where this eco newsletter and network started.

D. Ideas for Lenten calendars.

A. Faith Schools are top in the Sustainability League – WWF says.

It is no surprise to us at ARC, but a new report from WWF-UK confirms that faith schools and colleges tend to be the first, and most active, in the development of sustainable activities and practices.

Liz Jackson, the Head of Education at WWF-UK wrote a report last year on “Leading Sustainable Schools”. Contributors included representatives from the Institute of Education London, Education Direct and Reading University.

It found that: “it is evident that leaders who develop sustainability within their school do so with passion and conviction, underpinned by personal values. There is a philosophical and for many, a spiritual dimension to why these leaders engage sustainably”.

The report notes that schools’ strategy for sustainability tended to be focussed on eight access points or “doorways”:

- food and drink;

- energy and water;

- travel and traffic;

- purchasing and waste;

- building and grounds;

- inclusion and participation;

- local wellbeing;

- the global dimension.

This fits with ARC’s current project working with faiths (including schools) to spend the next few years developing long term strategies towards sustainability, in all of the above areas, as well as incorporating environmental awareness into partnerships, pastoral care, prayer and celebration.

The report concluded that over the next 10 years, the challenge will be to ensure environmental sustainability becomes embedded in schools, rather than presently “having only partial status”, and that there should be a whole curriculum dedicated to this. There is considerable grassroots support for sustainability in schools. But, WWF concludes, it needs to be capitalised upon. If you would like to read this report in full, please link to: “Leading Sustainable Schools".

B. Hindu eco-school opens

We have exciting news about the very first state-funded Hindu school in Europe. In September 2008 an eco primary school for Hindus opened in Harrow. There are over 40,000 Hindus based in Harrow – the highest concentration of Hindus in any borough of the UK. By 2014 it is estimated there will be places for 236 pupils at the new eco-school and a nursery. The Krishna-Avanti Primary School is temporarily based until September 2009 – when the 30 current pupils, and the new first year pupils, will move to their new building.

When we talked to Ben Rich, an Associate Governor of Krishna-Avanti, he explained how Hinduism has ecology at the heart of its ethos. He added that the school will have its own Temple and that the curriculum will allow time for meditation and contemplation. As the school is vegetarian, vegetable gardens will be built in order that children can study where their food comes from. A grass roof, solar panels, rainwater recycling and a ground pump are just some of the eco features of the school build. “Having an eco-friendly school was a priority for parents”, said Ben. Reflecting the spirit of schools in India, the teachers will be encouraged to teach outside in the school grounds.

The school was unable to acquire a site where they could have a farm with cows (the cow is revered in Hinduism as the source of food. A symbol of life it is protected from being killed. Generally rural Indian families tend to have at least one dairy cow, a gentle spirit which is often treated as a member of the family). Ben envisages that the design of the new building will be a model for eco schools elsewhere in the UK.

If you would like to read more about the school, please link here to the School's website. Once it is up and running, it might be a link that your own school might like to make.

C. Silver Podcasting Award for Clifton Cathedral

Congratulations to Clifton Diocese which won a silver award at the Christian Broadcasting Council Awards. “Journey – The Sound of Many Waters Podcast” was a year-long reflection of how to respond to the environmental crisis. The podcast was presented by the BBC West’s Trevor Fry and was produced by ARC’s Catholic Programme Advisor, Mary Colwell.

The year-long project, which was supported by ARC and Clifton Cathedral focussed on aspects of our spiritual relationship with the planet. Inspiring events included Dawn Choruses and talks about Saints and Sustainability. And indeed the idea for our eco-newsletters stemmed from The Sound of Many Waters project. "Sound of Many Waters was an important start to defining a better future that is more in balance with the world around us,” commented Mary Colwell.

To read more about the background to The Sound of Many Waters initiative, link here . And link here for the Sound of Many Waters website and podcast.

D. Lenten ideas.

Would you like to submit ideas to celebrate Lent in keeping with faith and ecology? St Teresa’s Lenten calendar was a wonderful example last year – if you would like some inspiration link here to download the calendar. If you do have any suggestions, please send them to us by Monday, 16 February.

If you would like to share any news, experiences or ideas with us do please get in touch. We are really very keen to expand our readership, so if you have any thoughts on reaching a wider audience, we would love to hear from you.

With best wishes,



Link here to read other Catholic Schools Eco Newsletters.

Link here to download ARC's leaflet focussing on Catholic Schools and the environment.

Other Links

Link here for a BBC link to the Hindu eco School.

Link here for The Sound of Many Waters environmental initiative by Clifton Cathedral.

Link to the Catholic Earthcare website.

Link here for a BBC news story about The Sound of Many Waters.

Link to the BBC's "World on the Move".

Link here for an edited version of: THE CALL OF CREATION: GOD'S INVITATION AND THE HUMAN RESPONSE which was first published in 2002 by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, adding its voice to the many calling for urgent action to protect our earthly home from further destruction.

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