Emerging Leaders Multi-Faith Environmental Convergence

Climate Justice in New Orleans, Louisiana

June 20-24th, 2016

What’s a Convergence?     

It’s leadership training, and more.  It’s a coming together of many voices and many perspectives into a powerful and effective network. It’s a gathering of emerging leaders who want to put their beliefs into action for the environment in meaningful ways.

The US Convergence, to be heldat beautiful and historic Tulane University in New Orleans, will bring together leaders, ages 21 to 35, from diverse religious and spiritual traditions.  Participants will learn about climate justice, visiting communities in New Orleans and the Bayou that were devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and are continually threatened by rising sea levels.  Participants will hear stories of these communities’ resilience and responses, and receive training that will help develop the skills to become better religious-environmental leaders.   Additional training will be offered digitally before and after the Convergence to help participants refine their voice and their skills.

The New Orleans’ Convergence is one in a series of Convergences which GreenFaith is holding for religious-environmental leaders from the Millennial generation. It follows last June’s Convergence in Rome, where 110 people from 30 countries gathered, and will follow a similar training in Rio de Janeiro in early June, 2016, for leaders from Latin America.

GreenFaith Convergences create a diverse and engaged community, made up of religious-environmental leaders from many faiths and spiritualities, ethnicities, political affiliations, cultures, genders and sexual orientations. It’s a global community characterized by mutual respect, generosity of spirit, and commitment to action.

What Will We Learn and Do During Our Time Together?

In 2005, the world watched as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans and Louisiana with deadly force.  Only a month later, Hurricane Rita decimated many of Louisiana’s coastal communities. The images that surfaced in these storms’ aftermath introduced the realities of environmental racism and climate injustice to a larger audience than ever, as people saw clearly that those who suffered the worst of the storms’ impacts were persons of color, and the poor.

New Orleans and its surroundings will serve as our classroom during the Convergence, and its faith and community leaders will be our instructors and guides.

We will visit communities in New Orleans and the Bayou impacted by these storms, and will hear stories of response and resilience from local activists and leaders from indigenous communities in the region.  These stories and examples mirror patterns of environmental injustice that play out on a global scale, and offer us the opportunity to learn together about how to address these issues.

Through the Convergence training, participants will also develop adeep understanding of their own motivation and source of inspiration for religious-environmental leadership, and gain skills in public speaking, advocacy, and organizing.  Participants will learn through presentations by local and national religious-environmental leaders, peer teaching, discussion groups and open-space learning.  Each participant will write his/her own eco-theological statement, and create an action plan for future work.

Why is the Convergence Community Valuable?  

The Convergence community is a global network of hundreds of religious-environmental leaders.  It is unparalleled in its diversity, size and impact, offering a network focused specifically on the needs and interests of younger religious-environmental leaders.

Through the Convergence community, you will have the opportunity to meet, learn from, and build collegial relationships with your peers, as well as connect to global leaders of dynamic and effective religious-environmental organizations.   The experience is truly transformative, and one that results in lifelong collaborators and friends.

What is Expected of Participants?

In addition to participating in the Convergence itself, participants are expected to take part in webinars and other virtual engagements before and after the event, to lead the development and implementation of a religiously-based environmental action plan within their own communities.  Examples of the kinds of actions organized by past participants include eco-spirituality projects, religious-environmental education, community organizing, environmental advocacy or mobilizing, engagement in GreenFaith campaigns, and other kinds of faith or spiritually based environmental leadership. Each participant is expected to share updates on his/her work with GreenFaith and peers.

As a prerequisite for taking part in the Convergence, each participant is requiredto have an institutional sponsor – an organization such as a local faith community, denominational or judicatory office, academic institution, or religious NGO. While sponsoring organizations may pay for all or part of a participant’s travel costs, all sponsors provide moral support and encouragement for the participant’s environmental initiatives and overall growth.  Sponsoring organizations are also expected to provide an opportunity for Convergence participants to make a presentation about their work after the Convergence has taken place.

What is the Financial Cost?

GreenFaith will pay the costs of participants’ food and lodging while at the event. Participants are responsible for paying the costs of their own travel to and from New Orleans, or for raising the funds for that travel.

How Do I Apply?

The application must be submitted online, and can be found at:bit.ly/NOLA_Convergence

The sponsorship form can be found at:bit.ly/NOLA2016_Sponsorship

The application is open to residents of the United States and Canada, ages 21 to 35.  The deadline for submission is April 18th, 2016, and applicants will be notified of their acceptance on or before May 16th, 2016.

Questions: nola2016@greenfaith.org