The following is a letter from our Creative Director, Philippe Lazaro, on what happens when a global pandemic runs into Easter- a day where we celebrate resurrection.
What a month it’s been. To echo a Tweet by Andy Crouch I read, “Honestly, I hadn’t planned on giving up this much
A divisive social climate contributes to an unsustainable global climate
It’s a presidential election year in the United States, and unsurprisingly political tensions and anxieties run high. There has been no shortage of words about the way our world is extremely polarized and divided. Spend more than a small amount
“The faithful have a long tradition of ministering to and seeking justice for the most vulnerable and providing the action we need to achieve a just and healthy world. As such, the faithful are leading on climate solutions today.”
–Kara Ball, Blessed Tomorrow
Plant With Purpose is a Christian environmental
“Do you want to know the most exciting thing about regenerative agriculture? It’s the word “regenerative.” It means we actually have the ability to bring seemingly dead, practically infertile soil back to life!”
–Sheryl Karas, Center for Regenerative Agriculture Systems at CSU Chico
Excitement around regenerative agriculture, sometimes called regenerative
We often overlook the way nature teaches us about God
It’s not uncommon to hear people explain how a little time in nature helps people feel closer to God. But the idea of spending time in nature as a spiritual discipline can still be startling for many people.
Environmental storytelling has often failed to focus on the communities that are most impacted
The people most vulnerable to climate change are those living in the poorest areas.
This has been a consistent area of focus for Plant With Purpose. It is the reason why we work in the places
The most important command about how we treat each other is clear: Love
“This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two.”
Christians widely recognize that Love is central
What moves people to actually care for the environment at a local level?
Duang Dee lives in Thailand, though he himself is Karen. The Karen are an ethinic group in Southeast Asia that do not have their own formal country. Instead, they live between Thailand and Myanmar. Historically, the areas
Dirty water is one of the biggest hazards to humans around the world
Every year, about 3.5 million people around the world will die from unclean water. About two thirds of them will be children. This is the equivalent of a large commercial airplane crashing every single hour.
So why does it often feel like family values are a different set of interests than environmental values?
More likely than not, this is based only on outward appearances. The thought of family values might make one think of a warm home, and the thought of environmental values might make
Their past was riddled with conflict. Their future is about security and abundance.
Nobody would consider Kakumba an easy place to live. Simply getting to it takes extensive climbing up steep hills and mountain sides, on trails that are often inaccessible due to rain… or worse.
It wasn’t long ago
Environmental concern is urgent. It is also timeless.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, wow, this sustainability trend sure is taking off, isn’t it?
You’d have good reason for thinking that. Fidelity, the investment giant declared last year as the year “sustainability went mainstream” declaring that “professional and private investors
We hear a lot about the importance of preserving the Earth’s major rainforests. What about forested areas that aren’t as vast?
The Amazon. The Australian brush. The Indonesian palm rainforests. The Congo Rainforest and Basin. A lot of these major rainforests are familiar names to people concerned about the fight
Perhaps you’re familiar with the Enneagram? If not, then the rest of this article might not make much sense, and it might be worth getting familiar with the personality profile system that has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. With origins that go back to the
First Nations communities lose the most during climate change but often have the most insight on how to respond.
“These fires have obliterated entire forests, and, with it, they’re obliterating the cultural memory of our Aboriginal groups,” declared Bhiamie Eckford-Williamson, a Euahlayi indigenous research associate in Australia. “The burning of
Is that even the right question to ask?
“The world was just issued a 12 year ultimatum on climate change”
“A terrifying look at the consequences of climate change”
“Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’”
The above headlines ran on The Smithsonian, The Economist, and The Guardian, respectively.
Recent reports outline the extreme vulnerability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to climate change.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) can be one of the hardest places to live. Widespread hunger, the outbreak of epidemics, and political instability have led the UNDP to rank the central African
Our work over the past year is a testament to your contribution.
Plant With Purpose has just unveiled the fiscal year 2019 edition of its Annual Report. The report is a summary of program results, successes, and outputs over the past fiscal year. As a publication, it serves as a
A group of people 800 million strong are critical to solving our environmental crisis.
Our planet is undoubtedly at a critical moment right now. Various reports show that close to a million species are at risk of extinction. Meanwhile, 2030 has been projected as the date by which changes to
How can we prevent a mass extinction event? Can we remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to avoid irreversible climate change? Can we protect and restore the forests we have left?
It can be so easy to get overwhelmed by the daunting nature of protecting our planet. Maybe it isn’t
The rains aren’t coming when they should
Weeks go by and Thailand moves further into what is supposed to be its rainy season. Except it hasn’t rained. The people still wait. Especially the farmers, for whom the arrival of rain is needed to feed their families and to bring in
It’s a new year and a new decade at that. The beginning of the 2020s puts us at a crucial spot in trying to address some of our planet’s biggest environmental issues.
The decisions that we make over the next decade will have an impact on our planet. This impact
At the very beginning of the decade, Plant With Purpose was in the process of a major rebrand. While our team was contemplating our identity as an organization moving forward, world events reminded us of the urgency of our work. One of the strongest natural disasters of the decade struck
It’s been a great year for adventurers seeking to restore the planet while challenging themselves. From paddle boards to bikes to running trails, we saw so many of you in the Plant With Purpose family embark on creative fundraising adventures. All funds raised went towards supporting our mission of restoration.
How do you move forward when the worst has happened?
At some point in our lives, we’ll all experience something not going to plan. For some of us, these disruptions may be especially devastating. And unfortunately, in certain parts of the world, these are unfortunately more commonplace.
In many parts
Wilner’s community used to be extremely barren
It seems like not long ago when Fonds-Verrettes was a very barren place. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago. About ten years before many community members joined Plant With Purpose groups and learned the value of reforestation, they lived on unproductive soil.
There’s a surprisingly strong link between these two major issues
There are more slaves living right now than at any other point in human history. Around 30 million people are caught up by exploitation that values profit over human life. Human trafficking and exploitation comprise a multi-billion dollar industry.
Glacial retreat represents a variety of ecological concerns
Glacial retreat is a term that describes what happens when a glacier’s furthest point doesn’t reach as far down valley as it used to at the same time of year. It can be used as a shorthand to describe the shrinking of
Do trees matter as much in an urban setting?
Our planet’s villages need more trees! This simple realization, decades ago, led to Plant With Purpose’s existence and work since. Eight countries and 30 million trees later, we believe in that statement even more. We’ve seen what trees can do!
We believe in looking at root causes- including spiritual roots
As an organization, we’ve long held the belief that in order to solve big problems, you need to look at root causes. A lot of energy is spent treating the symptoms of problems rather than the actual problems themselves. If
Paying attention to God’s involvement in the environment gives us a more encouraging way forward.
“Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” explained Phileena Heurtz. “When I consider the state of our world and the concern of the future for our planet, it feels very heavy.
This Giving Tuesday, we’re loving God by loving Creation
One thing we hold in high value at Plant With Purpose is our identity as a Christian environmental organization. We believe that our environmental care truly is an act of worship. By being caretakers of creation, we are brought back to
Imagine what gratitude looks like at its most intense level
There’s no real way to measure who the most grateful person in the world must be, but can you imagine what life must look like for that person? A deep appreciation for practically everything and an overflow of joy towards
Empowerment groups help both people and the planet
Wherever Plant With Purpose works, participants join empowerment groups. These groups support environmental restoration efforts with economic development through loans and savings. As community members save their extra income in shares and lend money to each other to generate further income, poverty
Children are the most affected by our environmental choices
People widely recognize the fact that children have the most to gain or lose based on how we treat our environment. In fact, providing a better life for children and grandchildren was the most frequently cited answer in a survey of
What motivates Christians to care about climate?
This is a question many have asked, from both within and outside the faith. While people in general may have all kinds of reasons for concern- from uncertainty towards the future to concern for the poor, how this is influenced by people’s spiritual
Our survival depends on a new story
When it comes to the environment, it appears more and more obvious that we need new ways of doing familiar things. The behaviors and habits that have gotten us to where we are will not sustain us for where we want to be.
We’ve made significant amounts of progress against poverty in recent times
When we look at things going wrong in the world, things like poverty and injustice, we must remember that it doesn’t have to be this way. God did not create the world intending for poverty and human suffering, and
Part of living a more sustainable lifestyle includes rethinking our relationship with the physical world. Sometimes that means reconsidering the importance of the forests in Ethiopia, or the trees in our own neighborhood. Other times, it means reconsidering the physical objects in front of us- our drinkware, the clothes on
It can be easy to only notice the bad things going on in the world, especially when it comes to environmental issues. While it’s important to stay concerned and connected to the planet’s challenges, it’s equally important to stay tuned in to the stories of hope. These stories remind us
Haiti has faced challenges year after year.
Haiti is no stranger to the hopelessness that comes from generations of government changes and promises, with little to show for it. Even when big changes are made to better the country, small farmers like Messoyel often are the last people to be
Empowerment often takes the form of learning
When it comes to community development, you can give away food. You can give clothing. You can give scholarships, or water, or trees. These are all things that are all deeply needed in many parts of the world, and there are many times
Attention to our environmental condition often fades in and out. Things like news coverage or public concern may come and go, which sometimes makes it easy to forget that our ecological story is constantly unfolding. Here are some things that are happening right now.
Families are feeling the burden of
22 miles on a paddleboard is no easy feat!
Will Allen and Emily Bark will be paddling 22 miles from Catalina to Palos Verdes to support Plant With Purpose this month! They have chosen to raise money to plant trees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of Plant With
The two go hand-in-hand
“I’m so happy I discovered your organization. I’m a Christian and I’ve been wondering where my love for the environment fits in with my faith!”
This isn’t an unusual comment for us to hear sometimes. There are many people with a deep Christian faith who hold
For over 30 years, Plant With Purpose has advocated for planting trees as a simple but powerful response to the environmental challenges that our planet faces.
Swiss researcher Tom Crowther speaks about planting trees urgently. As far as climate solutions go, “it is available now,” he says. “It is the
An investment in the environment is a promise to future generations
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
You might see that quote attributed to Les Brown or to Warren Buffett. While the author of the phrase is unclear, its significance is
What happens when the line gets blurry between sustainability and marketing?
Over the past decade, clothing giant H&M has received much criticism for the company’s environmental impact and the working conditions of its manufacturers. After the fatal collapse of a factory in Bangladesh killed 1138 workers in 2013, H&M became
How hopeful do you feel when it comes to the environment
“I’ll be honest, sometimes it can feel like there are many reasons why finding hope is difficult,” explained Plant With Purpose executive director Scott Sabin.
Scott’s assessment feels very relatable. Between the rampant threats to places like the
Displacement affects about 10.7 Million people in Africa
Displacement refers to somebody who has left their home due to force or a lack of safety, in most cases, conflict. This term differs from refugee status, since refugees are technically defined by crossing a national border.
When regional conflicts came to
Terence Lester says that “to really understand something, we often need to experience it for ourselves or at least hear the story of someone who has experienced it.”
This captures the importance of empathy when it comes to problem solving.
And when it comes to understanding our environment and
Perhaps you’ve been with us on the journey of environmental restoration for some time. You care deeply. You often look at the big picture of what environmental challenges look like across the globe. But for those wanting to get more involved, the big picture can sometimes look too broad.
Following Jesus and taking care of the planet go hand-in-hand. While today’s churches might easily overlook our role as stewards and caretakers of the planet, this hasn’t always been the case. Throughout church and Biblical history, our relationship with the natural world has often been seen as a reflection of
In many ways, the effects that the environment has on human health seem a little obvious. Still, there is a variety of different ways to think about their relationship that all underscore its importance. Here are some of those ways.
Biodiversity helps support resilience and nutrition.
A lack of biodiversity
Horseshoe Bend. Havasupai Falls. The Happy Boulders in Bishop, California. It seems like not long ago, these places were under-the-radar beauties for outdoor adventurers. A visit would’ve been a chance to escape into solitude while admiring these natural spectacles.
Actually, it wasn’t that long ago. A decade, give-or-take. Today, however,
There are times when it’s hard to feel strong.
Think of a time in your life when it seems like one challenge after another kept rising up, and it started to take an emotional toll. Sometimes, it’s not just a calamity that can leave you discouraged, but a constant stream
You reap what you sow, right?
You’ve heard the expression, I’m sure. It comes right out of Scripture– several times.
Galatians 6:7 reads, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
2 Corinthians explains that the point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also
Haiti’s challenges are deep and complex.
One of the most famous images of Haiti contrasts its lack of vegetation with a neighboring National Park in the Dominican Republic. The difference is so stark that nature follows the political border.
A flight into Haiti might provide another example of its environmental
One principle of sustainability is doing things with benefits that go beyond your lifetime.
In one of his most famous poems, “Manifesto”, Wendell Berry suggests doing things that we will not live to see the benefit of:
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the
Whether we realize it or not, water plays a major role in our lives. Think about your personal morning routine. Maybe it includes taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or preparing an omelet for breakfast. All of these activities revolve around water. We use water constantly. But are we using
Wherever you live, water is vital
March 22 is World Water Day, and it’s a great opportunity to take a deeper look at the importance of clean water to people all around the world.
If you’ve never had to struggle to access clean water, it can be all too easy
In order to help people, Plant With Purpose plants trees!
That’s the short version of why we exist. The longer version of that is, well, much more nuanced. The way we plant trees is just as important as the fact that we plant them. We encourage and empower locals to
If you’re a Purpose Partner, if you’ve started a fundraiser for Plant With Purpose, or if you’ve ever donated towards our mission of reversing poverty and deforestation, you should know that your donations weren’t a hand-out. It’s more accurate to think of your gift as an investment. The financial growth
Trying to make an impact on the world isn’t an easy task. While change is possible, the process isn’t linear. There are ups and downs, setbacks, and moments of discouragement that every person who tries to make an impact faces.
That’s why a key trait of people who make a
The communities where Plant With Purpose works are some of the most difficult places on the Earth to live.
As much as our stories focus on change and how a better world is possible, they are also incomplete without a reminder that our group members live very difficult lives.
Where is the most difficult place on the planet to survive?
You could certainly make a case for a few of the countries where Plant With Purpose works.
Experts frequently mention the Democratic Republic of the Congo among the most difficult countries for someone to live. Frequent episodes of
A typical decision made by rural families:
Imagine this scenario: You are a parent living in rural Burundi. For years you’ve struggled to earn an income of about 80 cents a day. With five children to feed, things have never been easy.
Lately, however, things have started to look a
Plant With Purpose exists to respond to three of the biggest threats that face our planet right now.
Environmental degradation. Poverty. Spiritual despair. These three crises aren’t just concepts, but active threats to the lives and well-being of people all around the world.
These three issues are so deeply connected.
The environmental threats to our Earth demand that we do something and take action!
Every year, the Earth loses enough forest to cover land the same size as the country of Panama. At this rate, it will be less than a century before its forests are gone completely.
Environmental conversations aren’t only about major players.
In most ongoing conversations about the planet’s environmental issues, you’ll frequently hear the names of major actors: The United States Government, the Vatican, the oil industry, and the United Nations. These usually-controversial entities often stir up the debate of what should be given
One of the things that sets apart Plant With Purpose’s work is a commitment to building and developing leaders among locals. Visit any of our international offices and you won’t find any expat staff members. Instead each partnering country has its own autonomous office staffed by nationals.
These offices work
There is no shortage of causes around the world to care about. Every year, thousands of new nonprofit organizations file paperwork to start programs. For people wanting to make an impact, often the problem isn’t finding opportunities to make a difference but choosing one!
The Plant With Purpose team has
When we see people strictly in terms of us-and-them, it becomes extremely easy to turn people into projects. Thinking in terms of “the needy” versus “the rich” is a very common tendency among charitable organizations.
We must not think in terms of haves and have-nots.
Some communities have been recipients
In order to truly help the vulnerable, we must know and understand what their situation is like. These beliefs have led us right into rural locations in developing countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
These are the places where poverty overwhelmingly exists.
85 percent of the world’s poor live
Sometimes people go to war. But in some cases, war comes for people.
Africa’s Great Lakes Region is no stranger to conflict. Its past few decades have seen attempts at ethnic cleansing, the conscription of child soldiers, and tribes turning against tribes. The natural beauty of the area contrasts alarmingly
Understanding poverty can be complex
Plant With Purpose strives for a world without poverty, where all people have the opportunity to thrive. That requires understanding the obstacles people face. We are constantly improving our own understanding of poverty to empower individuals and communities.
Thanks to your support, we’ve