Interfaith Eco-Action Day
Christian Jewish Dialog Montreal Organization
The Interfaith Eco Action day is an annual initiative that brings together volunteers from diverse races and religious communities to work on a project of common concern. Working together, over one hundred volunteers from different backgrounds clean up and beautify parks, alleyways and school yards. It provides an opportunity to build positive relations among people from diverse backgrounds while working on a common action project.Itis based on the idea of putting one's 'faith into action'. Common values in all religions areservice to others and carefor the earth.
The Interfaith Eco Action day is an annual initiative that brings together volunteers from diverse races and religious communities to work on a project of common concern. Working together, over one hundred volunteers from different backgrounds clean up and beautify parks, alleyways and school yards. It provides an opportunity to build positive relations among people from diverse backgrounds while working on a common action project. It is based on the idea of putting one's 'faith into action'. Common values in all religions are service to others and care for the earth.
The starting point is the International Council of Christians and Jews call to action in a statement in 2007 called a "Time for Re-commitment to the 12 Points of Berlin". Point 10 is a call to promote interreligious friendship and cooperation as well as social justice in the global society. Point 12 is a call to network with all those whose work responds to the demands of environmental stewardship.
The project brings together people from different races and religious communities in Montreal to work on a common project. It targets underprivileged areas of the city, often where minority groups live, and usually where there is the greatest need for care of the local parks and/or school yards.
While Christians and Jews have worked hard to repair and strengthen their relations over the past few decades, other religious communities in Montreal are just beginning to connect. The CJDM (Christian Jewish Dialogue Montreal) became interested in outreach to the larger community in an effort to increase positive relations among different religious groups in Montreal. The idea of the Interfaith Eco Action Day came to fruition as a way to build bridges across lines of difference in the city, as well as to address the state of our environment.
Making a Difference:
Since its modest beginning in 2011, volunteer turn out has increased steadily each year, with approximately 200 volunteers on site this past May 2016. Not only is this important for the individuals having these interactions, but they are also serving as a model for peaceful interfaith relationships. The initiative has also gained momentum with the presence of several municipal political leaders. The recognition of our best practice by City Counsellors can help affect change at the political level.
One of the main challenges we have faced is working with the City of Montreal on a holiday (Victoria Day) as most parks/community spaces are closed on this day. So logistically it has been a bit difficult to get the equipment/tools we require from them. Also, the timing of the event is in the spring (May) and many of the parks water systems have not been activated yet. In the first two years of the event, outreach to communities beyond Judeo-Christians was difficult. However, since joining forces with Concordia University in 2013, we have been much more successful in involving Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim communities as well.
Vision for the Future:
Our vision for the future is to continue building this initiative by including as many communities as we can. Our intention is also to build agency among the individuals involved; to empower young leaders involved with this event to start their own initiatives using our framework. Involving students has been an important step in this process and we plan to reach out to more schools in the coming year(s).
The social impact of this event is the facilitation of positive and meaningful interactions among people of different backgrounds. By modelling positive meaningful relationships across differences and fostering appreciative knowledge of others’ traditions, improving attitudes, increasing knowledge, and more relationships can occur.
Established in 1971 in mutual understanding and support, the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal sets up and/or promotes activities to foster better relations between Christians and Jews. Our mission is to foster respect, and to strengthen mutual understanding and support between Christians and Jews through dialogue and activities in the larger community.