Green Spirit's goal to demonstrate how we can protect water (and have fun, too)

When you think of the Sisters of St. Joseph what do you think of? Environmental stewardship would be one of the right answers to that question.

A three-day exploration of Michigan’s fresh-water resources that combines fun activities and informational opportunities gets underway July 28.

Michigan is home to the largest freshwater system on the planet and 20  percent of the Earth’s fresh water so Green Spirit was organized to educate and empower those who want to learn what they can do to preserve these bodies of water for many years to come.

“We can all do something and there’s no better place to start than in our own backyard,” the Sisters say.

The three days of festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. at Transformations on Gull Road with information from Jerry Dennis, author of “The Living Great Lakes.” He will speak on what he sees as the top issues threatening the Great Lakes. (Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for youth when purchased in advance and $2 more at the door.)

The evening continues at the Brews and Views event, “Water Conservation and Craft Brewing,” at Arcadia Ales, 701 E. Michigan Ave. 

On Friday, Green Spirit participants can choose between movies inside or a bike ride outside. Four documentaries will be offered as part of Movie Night at Transformations, 3427 Gull Road. The short films that begin at 4:40 p.m. are “Liquidity”, “Managing a Menace: Asian Carp”, “Oil and Water Don’t Mix”, and “Thirst”, on the privatization of water around the globe. There will be a discussion between the third and fourth film.

Bicyclists will leave from the Kalamazoo River Valley trail head at D Avenue at 5 p.m. The riders will travel south until 6 p.m. and then turn around and ride back to their cars. The return trip is uphill. 

Green Spirit organizers hope the bike riders will join others at Transformations to see the short film “Thirst.”

A full day of events are planned Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m. with a naturalist leading a hike for adults at Bow in the Clouds Nature Preserve on Nazareth Road between Parchmount and the Nazareth campus. 

From 11 a.m. to noon there will be a storybook hike based on “Water Walkers” by Carol Trembath, aimed for children up to age 12 and their guests.

There will be a bike ride along the Kalamazoo River beginning at 11 a.m. (12 miles round trip) and a ride on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail at the same time (14 miles round trip). 

At noon Dann Sytsma from Improv Effects and Crawlspace Eviction introduces the day at the stage at Riverview Launch. Joe Reilly, known for his kid-friendly songs that encourage environmental awareness, performs three sets. Christine Parks of the Sisters of St. Joseph will talk about the concept of Greening your Spirit. Other talks will be given by Rep. John Hoadley and Beth Wallace of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Various faith communities come together for a Water Ritual at 2:15 p.m. and at 2:45 singer, songwriter, and activist David LaMotte will give his Worlchanging 101 workshop, which challenges the myth of powerlessness that many people have accepted as truth. He explores ideas we have about how large societal changes happen and what our own roles in those changes can and should be.

Information and demonstrations will take place all afternoon at Riverview Launch. Rain gardens, how to reduce invasives through washing boats, Plein Air painting, and water filtration devices are a sampling of 13 different presentations that will be offered. For the kids, there will be Otter World. 

?Organizers even have refreshments covered with a food truck from Boogie BBQ and water at four hydration stations by Gordon Water Systems.

Saturday's finale is a concert by David LaMotte at 5 p.m. in Holy Family Chapel. LaMotte has spoken and sung with well-known world-changers such as Desmond Tutu and civil rights hero John Lewis. His peacemaking work has taken him from Bosnia to Belfast and from Berlin to Bethlehem. Touring full-time for nearly two decades, LaMotte developed a large and loyal following around the world. His music has been honored with numerous awards and grants as well as artist sponsorships. LaMotte’s music has been featured on dozens of artist compilations. 

After releasing 10 CDs and performing 2,000 concerts on four continents, LaMotte suspended his 18-year music career at its peak in 2008 to accept a Rotary World Peace Fellowship to study International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution. As part of that study, he spent three months in rural Andhra Pradesh, India working with a Gandhian development organization. 
Now based in Black Mountain, North Carolina, LaMotte has returned to national and international appearances to speak and sing.

MaryLynn Klemett, of marketing and fund development for Transformations Spirituality Center says Green Spirit is aligned with one of the key beliefs of the Sisters of St. Joseph. An important part of their work is to care for the Earth.

Work pulling the program together began last fall and people from across the community have helped with it. Their hope is that the day will start a conversation about how people can take care of the region’s water. 

“We want to inform, inspire and to have fun,” Klemett says.

Source: Transformation Spirituality Center