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Spirituality, justice, love of fresh food fuel Providence Associate’s sustainable lifestyle.

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Providence Associate Janice Lilly, with her husband, Cary, deliver fresh, local food to Bloomington, Indiana, charities. Through the Healthy Food for All Fund she created, Janice helps provide healthy, fresh foods to low-income area residents.

Living a sustainable lifestyle has been a key part of Providence Associate Janice Lilly’s life for 20 years.

Janice was drawn to nature since childhood. Spirituality, social justice and love for fresh food were a part of her family heritage. Originally from Alabama, Janice and her husband Cary have lived in Bloomington, Indiana, since 1993. Janice left a career in finance and economics to stay with her sons (now 24 and 22) when they were born.

What has a commitment to sustainability looked like in Janice’s family?

In the day to day

“I hang my clothes out to dry (but haven’t quite disciplined myself to hang them inside in the winter). I used cloth diapers for both my boys. We keep our house cool in the winter and warm in the summer. We drive a Prius, but try to walk and ride bikes often. We are very careful about our travel, and limit discretionary travel a lot. And we are very focused on eating sustainably.”

That effort to eat sustainably includes buying 90 percent of their food at local farmer’s markets, eating seasonally (aside from what she has frozen in-season for later) and eating only limited sustainably raised meat and dairy. Recently, she also began farming with a group of other women.

“Having a background in economics, I have been very aware of how much we are taught to think about whether or not what we are buying is ‘a good deal,’ usually in terms of price but not in terms of cost (to the environment and to social welfare). I have tried to train myself to ask ‘Is this a sustainable and just way to spend my money?’ I am getting better at it,” Janice said.

Finding meaning

“Living sustainably has always been a way for me to live out my spiritual life. I feel it has helped me connect the way I live day in and day out, hour to hour to the meaning of my life,” said this daughter of an Episcopal priest.

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Providence Associate Janice Lilly.

Being part of a community who talks openly about making changes has helped. Janice belongs to a non-violent study group and has a spiritual companion. She also volunteers heavily in areas of sustainability, having served on boards for local farmers’ markets, the local food co-op, the area Food Policy Council, the Commission on Sustainability and more.

Sharing healthful food

Much of her efforts currently are around the Healthful Food for All Fund, a program she helped found that purchases foods left after the farmer’s market for half price and donates them to local charities. This year the Sisters of Providence Peace with Justice Fund helped support the effort.

“I was drawn to the Sisters of Providence because of their commitment to caring for Earth. I always feel enriched by the beauty of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods when I am there — although I don’t get there often because I try to limit my driving a lot! Being a Providence Associate has given me the opportunity to reflect on and articulate my commitment to my work with food and to the way I live,” she said.

“I once heard someone quote Thich Nhat Hanh as saying that our only true possessions are our acts. For me there is no way to live out caring for Earth other than the way I live day-to-day. If I am moved by the beauty of nature and am concerned about what is happening, it has little meaning if I do not turn that into changing the way I live my life every day.”

(This article originally appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

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