What project or initiative are you working on that excites you? What are its goals? Who/ what does it impact?
Currently, Wisconsin Green Muslims has two interfaith initiatives: “Wisconsin Faith and Solar” and “Faithful Rainwater Harvesting,” or FaRaH, which means joy
in Arabic. These initiatives connect faith communities with the unifying powers of sunlight and rainwater as sacred trusts and gifts, while providing valuable peer-learning and education, assessments and collaborative benefits to advance equitable solar energy and to provide solutions to flooding.
What’s been successful about the project so far and where do you see challenges?
The Wisconsin Faith, Environmental Justice and Solar Initiative is an interfaith program built on the foundation of trust in the unifying power of solar energy to bring people of faith and good will together to care for Earth, save money to reinvest in their missions, and move forward toward an equitable 100% renewable energy future. It received high approval ratings from people from diverse geographical, age, gender and political backgrounds, providing solar education, assessments and consultations to over 4,000 people of at least 18 different religions and spiritualities in Wisconsin.
The initiative has three components. The first involves a social and educational component consisting of a peer learning, connecting those who have built solar or green infrastructure and those who are aspiring to do so. The second is the financial component, where we provide free and/or discounted remote and on-site solar assessments and consultations. We love spreading the good news, telling people, “This is a solar-promising site!” The third component is spiritual. We see sunlight and water as “the commons.” No one owns them, and everyone should have responsible access to them. Both sunlight and water are sacred gifts and sacred trusts. We need to appreciate them and welcome them with care into our homes, congregations, and lives.
What projects do you work on now that gives you the most hope?
Faith Communities for Equitable Solar
Through over 100 one-on-one and small group conversations, listening sessions and presentations, Wisconsin Green Muslims reached more than 4,000 people of different backgrounds in Wisconsin to generate Just Solar guiding principles from the people, by the people, for the people, rooted in our collective values of justice, equity and inclusion. Two pathways came up from these listening sessions and conversations: Energy Efficiency to Solar and Solar Trainings to Living Wage Jobs. All this work is moving us toward equitable 100% efficient and renewable energy in Wisconsin and centering women and disadvantaged communities.
Climate Justice Healing Conversation Circles
The purpose of this project is to foster collaborative approaches to overcoming shared barriers. Currently, we are exploring how to heal our personal wounds in the climate justice movement. How to be healers for our wounds and the wounds of others in the climate justice movement? How as “wounded healers” can we learn from the healers of the world and be ourselves effective healers of the world?
Open Circle of Diverse Monthly Environmental Justice Themes
The model that works for us is to designate a theme for each month, focus on it with participants from different Islamic Centers, quantify the results and celebrate the outcomes, then move to a new theme in the next month. This diverse approach enables us to connect with a variety of constituents who join our open circle at the point of entry that matches their interest.
Our work culminates in Green Ramadan, which is one of our successful campaigns, where we celebrate it with daily actions to reduce our ecological footprints and consumption impacts. Our Green Ramadan daily calendar is posted on our website WisconsinGreenMuslims.org/green-ramadan/
. The Greening Ramadan campaign, where the emphasis is on Greening as a continuous process, began in Wisconsin and is practiced now in over 20 states with over sixty Mosques participating nationwide, reaching thousands of people.
If you had a megaphone that could reach everyone on Earth, what would be your message and why?
Climate grief and climate related stress and anxiety is experienced more often within our community of climate activists. Understanding the healing process is important. Many of us have wounds that stem from the labors of our environmental and climate justice work that are in desperate need of healing. We must ask each other, “how are you healing?” and then listen to and learn from each other on those methods through guided listening and learning sessions within the climate justice community and beyond. In 2020, Wisconsin Green Muslims and a few partner climate justice organizations are working on a pilot project to form a safe space and a welcoming open circle that can be virtual and perhaps in-person, with a curriculum and toolkit that moves us together on the path of healing, rooted in our traditions, cultures, spiritualities and philosophies.
What issue is top of mind for you at the moment? What is something practical we all can do to help?
In 2020, Wisconsin Green Muslims is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Since we are a small group with limited resources and capacity, we are not known to the public. We need to launch a robust communications campaign that presents our work in a variety of ways to reach a diverse audience.
Connect with us and our work by emailing email@example.com
, visiting our website
or following us on Facebook, Twitter and Skype at @WIgreenMuslims.
I also have a chapter in a newly-released book, Rooted and Rising
. Rooted and Rising
is for everyone who worries about the climate crisis and seeks spiritual practices and perspectives to renew their capacity for compassionate, purposeful and joyful action.