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Interfaith One Earth Initiative

The Interfaith One Earth initiative will mobilize diverse religions to act against bigotry, hunger and environmental degradation.

Photo of Hank Millstein

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Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Faith congregations and hunger and environmental organizations are our target communities. Faith communities are becoming increasingly aware not only of overt bigotry setting one faith against another but also of implicit bias and overall white Christian supremacy still deeply embedded in society. At the same time, they also see poverty and environment as urgent because they see their effects in their communities. Hunger and environmental organizations want deeper reach in their communities by working with faith groups. Many faith communities are active in one or more of these issues. One Earth will enable both faith and social activist communities to link these issues and draw on one another’s resources, while building common action enabling people of different faiths and backgrounds to get to know one another as they work together, thus dispelling bigotry. The participants will draw on ING’s resources and experience in countering bigotry and building intercultural understanding.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

The current political atmosphere in the U.S. has not only empowered overt hate groups and actions but also reinforced implicit bias and existing structures of white and Christian supremacy. The Administration is also moving to enact severe cuts in programs serving human needs and rolling back measures protecting the environment and human health. Congregations find it all the more urgent to address this situation but have personnel and resource limitations that restrict their response to them.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

One Earth will counter bigotry and intolerance through grassroots interfaith collaborations that will enable people of diverse backgrounds to come together to get to know one another through education and service thereby directly countering racist assumptions. It will also enable congregations to pool resources to address hunger, environmental care, and other issues more effectively and build long lasting and enduring relationships that will continue the work started by One Earth.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Within a year, environmental and hunger organizations will have directly reached tens of thousands of new people in various regions, resulting in increased resources and greater impact. Congregations will develop inter-congregational networks that will leverage each other’s resources to promote social justice and counter bigotry more effectively. Within two years an organic base of support will develop that will enable the program’s reach to millions through our partners and social media.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Beneficiary feedback has confirmed the need for and the value and viability of One Earth. In particular, it has confirmed diverse faith communities’ interest in addressing social justice issues together and has made it clearer how One Earth will impact change in local and regional communities by building partnerships across sectors, promoting social cohesion and countering the current climate of polarization. Congregational leaders are looking for projects like this not only to build relationships across religions but also to tackle effectively the rise in hunger and poverty levels in their community and the degradation of the environment, which is particularly acute in poverty areas that often lack such resources as clean water and suffer unusually high levels of pollution from industries sited near them; economic distress often goes hand in hand with an unhealthy environment.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

First 5 months: Planning meetings between leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations in five regions to
o Identify anti-poverty and environmental organizations to work with and draw into planning meetings
o Plan events to challenge bigotry and racism, including pulpit exchanges, adult education classes, and interfaith panels
o Plan sermons and calls to action against hunger and environmental degradation, including interfaith service days and “greening” homes and houses of worship
o Develop content and marketing material, including flyers, posters, bumper stickers, etc.
o Develop evaluation processes
o Create a starter kit for scaling One Earth to other regions
Next 8 months: Launch One Earth in 5 regions with ING Affiliates: San Francisco Bay area, Michigan, Arizona, Tennessee, and Missouri
Next 11 months: Evaluate year’s work and impact and apply to planning for second year where we expand to 5 additional ING affiliates: Texas, Colorado, Alabama, Ohio, and Florida

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

Home office team: One Earth Coordinator, content managers, heads of 5-6 participating congregations, heads of 2-3 hunger and environment organizations. This team will create a starter kit for scaling One Earth that includes all plans and materials. They will also act as a regional team when launching One Earth at home. Regional teams: Coordinator, heads of participating congregations and organizations. This team will utilize the starter kit for launching One Earth in their region.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

National full-time One Earth Coordinator, regional part-time coordinators, consulting fees for creation of marketing materials, production of starter kits, printing of all flyers and posters, One Earth website, social media ads, meeting expenses such as food, event expenses such as food and other materials, expenses for culminating events, and operational expenses for two years.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Answers were integrated into this application.

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Learning from expert feedback that people need to hear something up to 20 times before taking it in, we plan to produce flyers and posters that beneficiaries will see every time they enter their house of worship over the 8-month launch period and to create an incentive program to draw still more attention. In response to feedback on influencers, we plan sermons by clergy and adult education by speakers established in their communities; the incentive program will also, by recognizing the most enthusiastic participants, make them into influencers. To identify participants in regions new to ING, we will partner with organizations in our Know Your Neighbor network who have relationships in those areas. We have created, in response to comments, several journey maps (attached) to clarify the timeline, the process between ING and its partners, and the identity of the beneficiaries. We are confident that One Earth will attract Sikh and other new participants, as one comment suggested.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Implementation of One Earth in its first year will include:
1. Planning meetings involving leaders from ING, ING affiliates, and clergy from participating Jewish, Christian, and Muslim congregations and from anti-poverty and environmental organizations
2. Development of content to aid in the preparation of sermons on poverty, environmental care, getting to know Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and confronting and overcoming implicit bias
3. Development of content for and design of flyers on One Earth generally, on steps toward “greening” homes and houses of worship, on actions to combat poverty and hunger, and on racism and the reality of white supremacy
4. Design and production of recruiting/marketing materials, including posters, bumper stickers, wristbands, mugs, t-shirts, etc
5. At least two pulpit exchanges in each participating congregation, so that all participants hear from the other two religions on the One Earth themes
6. At least two sessions of adult education classes in each congregation led by representatives of the other two religions, discussing their religion’s view of the One Earth themes
7. At least two interfaith panel presentations in each congregation, educating about values (including social justice) shared by the different religious traditions and about the different religions’ views on environmental care. These will be provided by ING’s Interfaith Speaker’s Bureau (IFSB), which provides panels of trained speakers from five world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) delivering educational presentations on their religions and on contemporary issues concerning them, using content developed in cooperation with recognized scholars
8. Two interfaith service days, in which the participating congregations will join in volunteering at a local organization working on aiding the poor or on environmental issues and cleanup. These days will include a shared meal during which participants will be invited to reflect on their experiences of getting to know those of other faiths participating in One Earth and the communities served by the organizations they are working with
9. Develop evaluation forms to be filled out by participants in events and for the overall program at the end of each year. ING will collate and analyze evaluations and report to the participating organizations and congregations for guidance in planning the following year
10. A culminating event where participants from the different congregations involved will gather to share stories and reflections on their experience and the issues raised by One Earth and plan the future of this movement for interfaith action for peace, prosperity, and planet
The beneficiary congregants in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim houses of worship will have the following opportunities to be exposed to and to participate in One Earth over the course of a year:
1. At least 3 sermons, touching on taking action for peace (against discrimination and bigotry), prosperity (against hunger and poverty), and planet (for environmental care)
2. At least 2 sermons touching on these themes by guest preachers from other religious traditions
3. At least 2 speakers from other religious traditions discussing these themes in adult education classes and groups at their house of worship
4. At least two educational interfaith panels discussing the values shared by different religious traditions, religion and the environment, the role of women in religion, among possible topics
5. Flyers and posters containing calls to action, to be developed by ING together with anti-poverty and environmental organizations, on specific actions congregants can take to alleviate poverty, protect the environment, and counter racism and bigotry
6. Lawn signs, bumper stickers, social media filters, wristbands, mugs, and t-shirts to show support and spread the word in their neighborhood
7. At least 2 interfaith service days in which Jewish, Christian, and Muslim participants together will work at one organization providing services to the poor and one organization devoted to care of the environment
8. A culminating event, described above
As incentive and recognition, congregant beneficiaries will be able to gain certificates for various levels of participation:
Fan: participation in 3 events, response to 2 calls to action, display of 1 visible show of support (lawn sign, t-shirt, etc.)
Advocate: participation in 6 events, response to 5 calls to action, display of 3 visible shows of support
Hero: participation in 10 events, response to 8 calls to action, display of 4 visible shows of support
Superhero: participation in all 10 events in a year, response to all 10 calls to action, and display of all available shows of support
Anti-poverty and environmental organizations will gain new volunteers and build relationships that will deepen their reach into the community. They will be recognized at the culminating events each year.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

One Earth will have slightly different timelines for ING (in the San Francisco Bay area) and its local interfaith partners and for the four regional Affiliates and their local interfaith partners. For the former, One Earth will begin in Nov. 2018; for the latter, One Earth will begin in Jan. 2019. This will enable ING and its partners to do some initial planning that they can pass on to the other participating regions
Timeline for ING and its San Francisco Bay area interfaith partners:
Nov. 2018: recruit and identify participating congregations and anti-poverty and environmental organizations in 5 initial regions
Dec. 2018-Feb. 2019: planning meetings with participating congregations and organizations
Apr.-Nov. 2019: launch activities: sermons, adult education classes, distribution of flyers and marketing/publicity materials, pulpit and speaker exchanges, interfaith panels, interfaith service days
Oct.-Dec. 2019: evaluation: collating and analysis of evaluation forms from participants in events, report to participant organizations and congregations and apply to planning for following year
Nov. 2019: year 1 culminating event with reflection on experiences, sharing of stories, and recognition of participants
Jan. 2020: recruit and identify participating congregations and anti-poverty and environmental organizations in 5 additional regions
Feb.-Mar. 2020: planning meetings with participating congregations and organizations in all 10 regions
Apr.-Oct. 2020: launch activities

Timeline for other regions:
Jan. 2019: recruit and identify participating congregations and anti-poverty and environmental organizations in their regions
Feb.-Mar. 2019: planning meetings with participating congregations and organizations
Apr.-Nov. 2019: launch activities: sermons, adult education classes, distribution of flyers and marketing/publicity materials, pulpit and speaker exchanges, interfaith panels, interfaith service days
Oct.-Dec. 2019: evaluation: collating and analysis of evaluation forms from participants in events, report to participant organizations and congregations and apply to planning for following year
Nov. 2019: year 1 culminating event with reflection on experiences, sharing of stories, and recognition of participants
Jan. 2020: recruit and identify participating congregations and anti-poverty and environmental organizations in 5 additional regions
Feb.-Mar. 2020: planning meetings with participating congregations and organizations in all 10 regions
Apr.-Oct. 2020: launch activities

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

We will mobilize multi-faith action to meet the threefold challenge of peace, prosperity, and planet by organizing diverse faith congregations to respond to hunger and the need for environmental responsibility in their communities, in cooperation with local organizations working on these issues, and through these efforts bringing people of different religions and cultures together to dispel prejudice and promote interfaith and intercultural understanding and harmony.

ING in this effort will
• Work locally and with affiliates in 4 other states to recruit congregations and organizations to participate
• Provide resources for sermons on hunger and environmental care that builds upon existing ING interfaith content, and flyers and posters on ways to alleviate hunger, avoid food waste, and “green” houses of worship and households. These will include the perspectives of the religious communities participating and so develop understanding across religious and cultural differences.
• Organize interfaith service projects, educational interfaith panels, pulpit and speaker exchanges, and other events bringing participants in the program together to get to know one another, thus educating about diverse religions and cultures and developing relations across religious and cultural difference while working on issues of common concern.
• Create and distribute starter kit to guide other regions in project implementation
• Create marketing materials and incentive program to recruit participants
• Design evaluation forms and process to gather feedback from participants

This two-year One Earth initiative is the first step in a longer-range effort that will spread nationally to other houses of worship in the country to counter bigotry while addressing economic and environmental justice in their local and regional communities

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of this program are, first, members of participating Jewish, Christian, and Muslim congregations who will be empowered to put their faith into action individually and collectively to promote social justice and environmental care and to become effective allies of organizations working directly on poverty and environmental degradation. They will be educated on the perspectives of faith traditions on hunger (prosperity) and environment (planet) and on how to work effectively on these issues; through pulpit and speaker exchanges, interfaith service projects, adult education classes and other programs, they will get to know people of other religious traditions and communities, which in turn will dispel prejudice against and stereotyping of religious and cultural minorities (peace). Second, local anti-poverty and environmental organizations will benefit by building and deepening relationship with local faith communities, receiving new resources in donations and volunteers.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

No one else is working across religious lines to leverage the concern of many faith communities on poverty, environment, and racism and bigotry to promote action on these issues that is non-partisan and will not provoke division in congregations; One Earth is educational, enabling congregations to translate their concerns into concrete action. ING is uniquely positioned to implement One Earth as it builds on ING’s 25-year history of interfaith education and engagement, through which it has built relationships with leaders and congregations of diverse faiths throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Twenty ING Affiliates and 100+ partner organizations in ING’s Know Your Neighbor network across the country have taken those relationships nationwide. ING’s approach to combating Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry is unique in focusing on changing the beliefs and attitudes that underlie bigoted behavior through education and intercultural engagement such as is proposed here.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a non-profit organization with affiliates around the country that are pursuing peace, and countering all forms of bigotry, through education and interfaith engagement, while working within the framework of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom and pluralism. Please see http://www.ing.org.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

One Earth emerged from our experience working with PICO to move mosques to take up poverty and hunger during Ramadan through sermons and calls to action serving anti-poverty organizations, as a first step to mobilizing faith communities to action for social justice. Mosques that joined are continuing this effort through the year A one-month Muslim project with its own webpage (https://ing.org/ramadan-2018/) blossomed to an ongoing interfaith effort that we plan to grow further.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace: racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of bigotry have surged over the past two years; to give just a few examples, the number of anti-Muslim bias incidents increased 183% in 2017 over 2015, and 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents were perpetrated in the US in 2017, an increase of 111% over 2015. Beyond these overt acts, there is growing realization of the power of implicit bias and of deep-rooted structures of white supremacy.
Prosperity: the percentage of households in the US suffering food insecurity is higher (12.3%) than the world average (11%).
Planet: the reality and danger of environmental degradation is well known, but many people are unaware of simple concrete steps they can take to “green” their household and community practices.
Members of faith communities are often aware of and concerned about these issues but do not know of concrete, non-controversial steps congregations and their members can take to meet them. One Earth supplies that need.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

ING will partner with organizations with which it has established relationships, including
- its regional affiliates around the country
- regional hunger and environmental organizations
- regional houses of worship representing Jewish, Christian and Muslim congregations
- regional community relations organizations representing Jewish, Christian, and other faith communities, including Interfaith councils, Jewish Community Relations Councils, Christian dioceses and other Christian regional organizations that will help publicize One Earth and encourage other congregations to join.
-national interfaith allies, such as the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Interfaith Youth Core, the National Council of Churches, and the United Religions Initiative, from among the 100+ organizations in ING’s Know Your Neighbor network whose organizations will join in publicizing the program, recruiting congregations to participate, and contributing to its design as it develops.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The community we’re serving comprises both faith congregations and the organizations we identify as effectively addressing poverty and environmental degradation. Faith communities are powerful motivators for action, as we witnessed in the civil rights movement; their appeal to universally accepted values moves many people even outside their membership. And the organizations working on poverty and environment bring professional expertise and organizing skills to the issues we’re addressing.

Geographic Focus

San Francisco area, Michigan, Arizona, Missouri, TN, Texas, Colorado, Alabama, Ohio and Florida

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months
• 1-3: identify participating organizations and congregations in first 5 regions
• 2-5: planning meetings
• 3-5: create content: sermon aids, flyers, posters, etc.
• 6-13: launch activities: sermons, pulpit and speaker exchanges, interfaith panels, service days
• 12-14: evaluation: collate evaluations from events, report to participants, apply to planning
• 15: identify participating organizations and congregations in 5 new regions
• 16-17: planning meetings
• 18-24: launch

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

One Earth Logos.pdf

A document detailing some of the logos we’re considering for One Earth.

23 comments

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Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi Hank.

All the way from Nairobi, Kenya I would say it feels like the USA needs exactly this type of intervention in every State, city and town. I grew up in rural Iowa, and while not a bastion of multiculturalism, we were talk that religious expression was as American as pie. So it is shocking for me to see where the US has head in the last two years.

I would also suggest including Sikhs, who are frequently confused with Muslims and often wind up absorbing the backlash against Islam.

Also has a peacebuilding practitioner I would also suggest you may wish to think about how to use the collective experiences working on hunger and the environment, as a way to start a process around social healing.

Good luck with this amazing initiative.

Angi.

Photo of Hank Millstein
Team

Thank you. We've updated the proposal to do just that by engaging our Sikh partners who will hopefully find this useful. We're starting with the three Abrahamic traditions but creating a Starter Kit that will scale this project to other communities that we think will adopt our ideas nationally and add new partners! Happy to share our Starter Kit of course. Stay in touch with us.

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