You find companions when you add a healthy dose of “love” to your local stream, forest, pond, boulevard, veranda, park, or favourite bug! Showing and sharing God’s love for Creation breeds deep friendships and we believe this has the power to transform the world.
This past July, I made a friend named Andrea because of our shared love of bees. Andrea was an A Rocha Intern. One morning, we were out in the fields picking snap peas off the vines with volunteers and staff. After some small talk, Andrea explained to me that she was a beekeeper and was caring for the local hive at our Centre. We very quickly began to swap beekeeping stories about how to check the hives, harvest honey and keep bees healthy. It didn’t take long for Andrea to invite me into the beekeeping work of checking her hive by holding the smoker and inspecting each frame.
Across the country, you made it possible for hundreds of these little moments of friendship to develop between people and the places they love. This love often leads to shared work and conversations that shift the way people treat God’s world. Through this brief stewardship update, you will experience a sweet taste of why companionship is the life-blood of creation care work.
Creation care is a team activity. Sometimes we walk alongside landowners and sometimes they walk alongside us. Sometimes it’s metaphorical and sometimes it’s quite literal – but in all cases, it is much more impactful than working alone! Here in BC, A Rocha engages with 20+ landowners throughout our watershed on an annual basis. They graciously allow us to access their properties in order for us to conduct species surveys and habitat restoration work. Many landowners gradually become more involved in doing their own species monitoring and participating in planting projects. We also connect with a significant number of neighbours while working on surveys in public areas such as the Campbell Valley Regional Park. They are excited to learn more about the kinds of species-at-risk in the area and they start thinking of them in relation to their own properties.
Our Conservation Science team recently surveyed toads on a public street when a neighbour approached the team for an enthusiastic chat. She expressed her gratitude for A Rocha’s practical care for the Western Toad and invited the team to visit her property for future surveys. She also wanted to know what she could do to limit her impact on the toads during the migration season. Whether near or far, you are our neighbour and partner that makes caring for places and people possible. Thanks to you, A Rocha can carry out research that is, in turn, shared with community partners and local governments. Our physical ecosystem best thrives when our social ecosystem invites these joy-filled collaborations!
This past June, A Rocha Manitoba hosted a Discovery Day at the Boreal Ecology Centre. The event gave people in the local community a chance to spend time in creation together. In the early morning they went on a hike with an experienced bird guide. A particularly joyful moment was when they spotted the elusive American Three-toed Woodpecker, a bird that even the guide had never seen before in this area!
After they shared lunch together, they participated in a native plant landscaping project around the lodge on-site. Together they learned about how to plant native plants and what they needed in order to thrive. As they worked to complete the project they felt a sense of purpose and companionship in caring for the place together. Each person took on a specific task such as digging holes, preparing the roots for planting, or watering the newly planted flowers, shrubs, ferns and berries. Friends and strangers, of all ages, came together to restore native plants around the lodge. This day of caring for creation was filled with joy because of the community that was formed.
This year A Rocha Ontario’s Operation Wild program welcomed nearly 500 participants to Cedar Haven Eco-Centre for weekly sessions that provide people living with disabilities a chance to encounter natural spaces while learning about environmental stewardship and place.
One of our summer staff described that his appreciation for the natural world and his own work was deepened through the interactions he had with participants. One participant he encountered brought a sense of joy and enthusiasm to each session with her exclamations of “no way!” and “super cool!” when learning about pond life, or ecosystems, or witnessing creatures both great and small. As they both shared a moment wondering at the intricacies of a dragonfly, he was reminded to be even more grateful for this place, as most people don’t often have the opportunity to see and experience creation in such a unique way.
At the end of every session, they gathered under a large sugar maple tree and shared their own stories of gratitude and transformation. Here both participants and staff are most honest and vulnerable with each other and as a result, appreciation deepens for one another and for their place. It is in these moments that we are reminded of the importance of caring for creation together and the support you give to make it all possible. Thank you!