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Celebrating World Environment Day

Note: World Environment Day this year lands on Saturday, June 5. In anticipation of this day, our garden manager, John-Michael Elmore’s blog celebrates our world and how we can make it better.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Rob Siltanen.

It was a humid, mid-May afternoon. I found myself standing in the center of the While Violet Center’s certified organic farm. I was explaining to seven new interns, who’d just arrived from all across the country, what it means to grow organically. Why does it matter? How do we do it? And most importantly, what do we need to do better?

Answering the questions

This is one of my favorite things to do. People who are here for the first time see everything through new eyes. They pepper me with questions. Some queries are the same season after season. But many are the result of a fresh perspective that can only come from someone who has a completely different collection of experiences from my own. They ask questions that force me to face some harsh realities.

And they often inspire me to plan future improvements. They hold me accountable, often accidentally, through their sheer curiosity and thirst for knowledge. They remind me that we can always do things better, more mindfully, and in better balance with nature. Standing there with seven new faces staring back at me, I know that what I tell them can impact how they live with the land while here at the Woods, but also, how they treat the earth as they move on from these few crop-filled acres, nestled in western Indiana.

How we treat the earth is changing, but not nearly fast enough. For millennia, humans considered it to be full of unlimited resources. The planet seemed vast. Most of it was unreachable and unexplored. We now know just how small our little spinning rock is. We know that we don’t have unlimited use of every tree, stone, mineral, and drop of water. Now, how we treat the earth is how we treat each other. What we do impacts everything around us. It’s not some theoretical butterfly effect. It’s real and it’s traceable. And, it’s our responsibility to consider everything we do to it and take from it. Climate change is real. It’s no longer debatable. Anyone arguing otherwise is either lying, willfully ignorant, or they’ve been tragically manipulated. We must change how we live or we’ll have a planet that is damaged beyond repair.

Bettering the world

But what does that mean? How do we change how we live? How do we do better?

Well, maybe we can start by talking to those who view it with different eyes and experiences than our own. Ask them what they think needs to improve. Talk to them about what both they and you can do to be more mindful. Implement actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant, that can make our planet better. Don’t discount their ideas, no matter how crazy. Find those who still think they can change the world. Be inspired by them.

The Sisters of Providence have made ecological justice a key tenet of their ministries. From their Providence Climate Agreement to their continued investment and involvement in the White Violet Center, consideration of how we live in balance with nature, and what we can do to improve are all at the heart of their decision-making process. Some see this community as full of rebels. Steadfastly committed to social and environmental justice. Willing to stand up for what’s right, even if it means getting into trouble. An inspiring collection of people who still think they can change the world.

Learning from the wisdom

Enter our interns who come to sweat, strain, and sometimes even bleed to better themselves, and learn about bettering the very land and dirt that surrounds them. They see things differently, which is what brings them to participate in such an unusual internship. The Sisters of Providence community recognizes the importance of, and input from, the invaluable interns, volunteers, and students who come to campus and share their time, efforts, love, and ideas, no matter how crazy.

It’s said that with age and experience comes wisdom. With youth and inexperience comes vision, idealism, rebellion and energy. I can think of no better recipe for improvement than to combine all these attributes.

We owe one another a better world. We should listen to each other to find out how we can do that.

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John-Michael Elmore

John-Michael Elmore is the garden manager at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. He is no stranger to the WVC farm as he completed a year-long internship back in 2015. Prior to his internship, he worked for Indiana State University Credit Union for eight years. He returned to the WVC farm in the spring of 2020 after spending five years traveling, blogging, volunteering and working on organic farms around the country with his wife, Tara. John-Michael has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Indiana State University. He is from Terre Haute, Indiana.

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4 Comments

  1. Donna Butler on June 4, 2021 at 10:35 am

    John Michael,
    Thank you for an excellent blog about seeing wisdom through new eyes. We are so blessed to have you and Tara with your commitment to Earth interact with our WVC staff and interns. As Sisters of Providence, we look forward to getting to know these interns and forming a mutual relationship to make this world a better place.

  2. Rebecca Keller on June 4, 2021 at 11:12 am

    I always look forward to reading what you write, John Michael. I know it will be interesting, informative, and challenging. You did NOT let me down with this blog. Thanks.

  3. Mary Montgomery on June 4, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    JM, thanks for your wonderful, encouraging and challenging blog! I find it sprinkled with wisdom and enjoy the mention of new interns.

  4. Jenny Howard on June 4, 2021 at 4:59 pm

    Really an inspiring blog….thanks so much! So grateful for the way you included our interns.

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