Alison Faison

Young People and Earth Care

Children innately know earth care by their play. They climb trees, sift sand, mix mud pies, and run in the grass with butterflies. They want to savor what the earth gives them. What can we do each day to observe and appreciate nature? Adults, youth, and children now have to make appointments in nature or they will spend most of their time in a car or indoors. Soccer fields, swimming pools, and blacktop spaces evoke spaces in nature, but don’t quite offer the scents of an ecosystem. During the pandemic, parents, and their family members had some time to partner in conversations, take walks, and enjoy some moments of silence in nature together. During these days of April 2022, I see traffic increasing as people return to in-person activities and work. What can we learn from our time at home that will translate into earth care action? We can create mini gardens in spaces we might have, we can regrow cuttings from our veggies, we can compost, and join groups that are doing the larger conservation and advocacy work.

I remember the childhood smell of the school blacktop in 100-degree heat, the chlorine smell of the YMCA indoor pool, and the way my lungs burned when there was a smog alert in Southern California in the 70s and 80s. Thank goodness laws were passed to remediate much of the pollution.  Twice a year we went to the Eastern Sierras where I smelled the mix of pine and lake water and associated it with nature recreational activities. I learned most of my earth care values from Presbyterian camp counselors throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years. They taught me to recycle materials and think about how much grain and water it takes to sustain one animal that will be used as expensive food. My youth leaders at church continued to echo that the physical health of humans and the earth is valued just as much as our spiritual health. We take care of ourselves, our neighbors, and our planet. It is not as easy as it sounds.

Groups such as the Presbyterians for Earth Care have been working to unite people to speak up. In 2022, this group composed an overture to PCUSA General Assembly entitled The Time is Now to ‘Cherish Creation, Cut Carbon, and Speak Up. It calls for our denomination to look carefully at what we invest in and to divest from processes and industries that contribute to the production of the two major greenhouse gasses, CO2 and methane. They seek to become carbon neutral, net-zero or even climate positive by 2030. Rev. Talitha Amadeo Aho, a mother of a toddler, climate change activist, PCUSA pastor in the San Francisco Presbytery, recently published a book entitled In Deep Waters: Spiritual Care for Young People in a Climate Crisis. Rev. Abby Mohaupt, also a mother, climate change activist, artist, and PCUSA pastor, writes about Aho’s book, “Climate change has left and unjust burden on the youngest generations to organize and act in order to live. People of faith owe these youth and young adults bold spiritual support as we grapple with a bleak future. Aho’s writing spurs us into collective action that honors the work to be done and tends the spirits of those who must do it.”

“Climate justice is migrant justice!” Youth vs. the Apocalypse, a group made up of elementary, middle, and high school students of color from all over the Bay Area, marched on Market Street in San Francisco shouting this statement to highlight the facts that people of color or immigrants who tend to live in lower-income areas are exposed to environmental emergency. They will march again this Friday at 10 am for Earth Justice. In some way, that poses a threat to make them environmental refugees. The youth called on corporations to divest from fossil fuels and for ICE to treat immigrants with respect and dignity.

People living in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point District 10 have suffered chronic health problems as a direct result of blatant environmental racism as well as police brutality in a low-income neighborhood. The toxic waste dump was not cleaned up in the time-line and scope as promised. Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice is a Bayview-Hunters Point Mother’s and Father’s Committee fighting for this cleanup and for systemic change.  I remember hearing a KQED radio program on April 22, 2021 about Mama Dee, Appollonia Grey ‘Uhilamoelangi’ who lives in East Palo Alto with 30,000 other community members near the rising bay waters. During the rains, the water would flood their homes while homes in Palo Alto, San Carlos, and other nearby affluent areas were protected from this rising water level as they lived in the rising flatlands or hills. She said, “The last two floods over here, the question is, where was God? Don’t get me wrong. I believe in prayers. But I lived through so many disasters.” By 2050 projected sea level rise in the Bay Area will cover areas of the Embarcadero, the SFO airport, Foster City, some of San Mateo, Redwood Shores, East Palo Alto, and Union City. This will cause displacement of people and increase in the nearby cities’ populations. This is happening globally. We know that Kenya’s drought has left animals to starve as well as dried up farmers food production and livelihoods. How much more of an emergency could it be? We don’t want to put the burden on our growing children to solve these problems, but we want them to understand that they can do something when people get together and remember God’s will for us to love our neighbors and the creation.

In honor of our children who are learning to love nature and their planet, we planted a rainbow of flowers in the Children’s Garden space in the Calvary garden area. Swing by and rest in the garden during your next visit to Calvary. If you want to have a conversation with other Calvary parents and families about ways we can make small differences contact me and we can go from there.

More to Explore

Wear Orange: When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

Isaiah 2:4 says, “He will settle arguments between nations. They will pound their swords and their spears into rakes and shovels; they will never make war or attack one another.” I read Sandy Hook Promise posts on Instagram and cannot escape thinking of the horror a parent experiences after their child or teen is shot. This is not sensationalism or fake news. On August 27, 2019, I took my middle school daughter to Lincoln High School for a Town Hall on gun sense, directly relating to the shooting of 15-year-old Day’von Hann, a student who lived in the Mission District. Then Speaker Nanci Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Founder of Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts, CA Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, and 17-year-old Phillip and Sala Burton High School student and member of United Playaz, AJ Santiago led the meeting. After these change-maker women shared personal experiences, data, and gun sense bill proposals, I was sure we would have gun violence reform. I was wrong. The CDC says that firearm incidents are the second-leading cause of death among American children and teens. One out of ten gun deaths involve age 19 or younger. Everytown Research relays that “there were more school shootings in 2022 (46 shootings) than in any other year since Columbine.” One would think that this statistic would be enough to take immediate action to make common gun sense bills into law and enforce them in court. Money talks, so many of the proposed bills continue to be blocked by gun supporter groups. How do we empower our children and teens to use their power to urge legislative, judicial, and executive branches to make change now? We need to continue telling stories of the pain and grief that parents and adults continue to experience after a child dies because of gun violence. Speaking the truth that advocates protection of all people follows Jesus' non-violent civil disobedience against the empire. Christians are obligated to love their neighbor and care for the vulnerable. If they do not want to prevent gun violence against innocent civilians, their beliefs are not based in Jesus' life-affirming truth.

Life After Foster Care

During a Faith in Action Bay Area meeting yesterday we were working on pin-pointing false narratives about unhoused people. Our goal was to find true stories that dispel those untrue statements. What are the false narratives about what happens after a youth becomes an adult and leaves the foster care system? In general, a youth has aged out of the system at 18 years old, but some states are extending it to 24 years in order to provide more support. People who do not want to pay for the foster care system might say, “The foster care/government system has supported children until they became adults. They should have the tools to become independent. They are on their own at 18.” Unfortunately, according to the group, A Sense of Home, we know that 50% of people experiencing homelessness are former foster youth. ( The foster care system does not have the capacity to fully serve resources to the average of 566 children who enter the foster care system every day in the U.S. According to the June 2022 AFCARS Report (, that's 1 youth every 2.5 minutes. There is a disproportionate amount of houseless teens who identify as LGBTQ2SIA+. True Colors United says that they are 120% more likely to experience homelessness and are at risk for gender dysphoria and suicide. ( The nation-wide worker shortage or rather workers’ unwillingness to work in unsupportive environments has also brought an uptick in workers striking in order to get their demands met. Working in the foster care system takes training, dedication to learning on-the-job, as well as compassion and problem-solving skills. If workers are not properly trained and supported, they get emotional burn-out. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to help change this system?

Feeding Our Grief

“Cynecism is ungrieved grief.” I thought about this quote a lot after reading Traci Smith’s free Treasure Box Tuesday email. She, a children’s minister and author, quotes pastor and author, Rob Bell, who probably officiated many memorials and heard countless stories of grief from congregation members. In the past two months, I have attended three memorials for parents of my peers. All of the services were culturally different, but the grief was the same. We got together to breathe in stillness, hear music, observe the grieving family, eat a meal together, and connect with our own mortality. Ashes to ashes. I experienced three Ash Wednesdays after Easter. Civilian and urban folks world-wide have endured multiple brutal and unplanned Ash Wednesdays since Easter. San Francisco, Texas, Ukraine, Sudan.