Nuggets From Kim Morrow's Call
Posted by Alyssa Martin on Sep 15, 2019
Kim Morrow is a minister and environmental advocate who has worked at the intersection of sustainability, climate change and justice for many years. She was honored at the Obama White House in 2015 as a “Champion of Change” for efforts on climate change with faith communities. She is leading a climate resiliency planning process for the City of Lincoln, Nebraska (the first in the region). Kim is passionate about helping people and communities prepare and thrive in the face of climate change. Her holistic perspective drives her work at the intersection of hope and despair in the sustainability sector. She has found resilience in her own life as she faced a seemingly extreme "family weather" event, as her teenage son transitioned from female to male. She is writing a memoir about her experience from shock to love, including reflections of “my own experience as a straight woman sandwiched between two generations of queer family members.”
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...
- In speaking about what inspired her to go into ministry, Kim mentioned:
- Being aware of her "brief span on this planet" and wanting to make a meaningful contribution
- Being influenced by "The Good Society" by Robert Bellah
- Being moved by certain services that she witnessed (including those associated with the Swedenborgian church) and those communities' extravagant welcome of all people, the breadth and depth of their work, and their wholehearted embrace of what it means to be human (including the full range of the human experience)
- Being struck by the unique role that churches and faith communities play in society in terms of providing spiritual sustenance and non-capitalistic offerings
- Kim discussed the remarkable personal transformation she experienced as a result of the transition of her transgender son, which she recently described in an article for the Daily Good entitled "A New Son Begets A New Mother." While she was initially angry and skeptical about her child's transition from girl to boy, Kim ultimately accepted the transition and wholeheartedly embraced her son for who he was. She described the moment everything shifted for her -- the moment where she saw this person, her child, as a young man, who was kind and disciplined and whom anyone would be proud of. This person who was thriving by every measure of human health. It struck her: "I am his parent, and he is my son." As difficult as it was for Kim to share this personal story with the public, she felt that she had to "surrender to the story that demanded being written."
- In speaking about what inspired her to get involved in a sustainability ministry and climate action/resiliency planning, Kim mentioned:
- Being inspired by Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," which laid out the climate crisis in a deep and urgent way
- Being moved, as a minister, to help humanity and be an agent of hope and healing in the world, which for Kim meant grappling with the greatest threat to our civilization -- climate change
- Being challenged to "stand in the space between despair and hope"
- Kim said it is important to be able to communicate "across cultures" when communicating with those skeptical of climate change. In this regard, she has found it helpful to bring up foundational scriptural references to creation and stewardship of the earth. She also noted the foundational linkage between being pro-life and protecting the climate, and that the model Christian community "is a beautiful, radical experiment in hope and love."
- Kim offered the following pieces of advice to those seeking to be proactive and hopeful in the climate context:
- (1) Make sure you understand the climate hazards where you live and act accordingly
- (2) Be part of the solution, whether it's through policy advocacy or strikes or through local action (and you may be surprised by how much appetite there is for local action!)
- (3) Connect with others and be parts of spaces in which you can voice your despair about the climate and listen to others (like the retreats and events hosted by Joanna Macy, Kim Morrow, and others through the Work That Reconnects)
- (4) Spend time in nature (become a "student of nature," like Joel Sartore with his Photo Ark project, which documents species in nature before they disappear)
- (5) "See with new eyes" (to borrow the words of Joanna Macy) -- that is, do not be afraid to look at things differently and look for innovative solutions
- (6) Be mindful of how you take in the news, which can often fuel despair
- Kim encouraged people to connect with her via her professional Facebook page
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!