Third Annual “Our Children, Climate, Faith” Symposium

Saturday and Sunday, August 8 & 9, 2015

at the Town House in Strafford Vermont

Young Adult Summit, August 6 & 7, 2015

Celebrate the Earth Camp for Children and Youth

Paralleling the Symposium – Saturday and Sunday, August 8 & 9

Making and Being the Change We Need.
Faith-driven climate leadership from the boats, the banks, and the grassroots

This year we bring together institutions and activists to demonstrate how we can bridge the divisions in order to create positive changes needed to solve the climate crisis.

 Register now for the Symposium!

Keynote Speakers:

Jay and Tim Quaker Jay O’Hara (pictured here with Tim DeChristopher, one of last year’s Keynote Speakers) was one of two participants in the Lobsterboat Blockade of a coal freighter at Brayton Point power station in Massachusetts. He was arrested and in the weeks before the highly publicized trial, they convinced the prosecuting attorney of the sincerity of their convictions and the rightness of their actions. Their story is powerful and inspirational to all ages.

Jay and Ken Ward are the two climate activists who were arrested last year after they used their lobster boat to block a delivery of some 40,000 tons of coal to the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts. When the ship carrying the coal, named the Energy Enterprise, attempted to unload its cargo, it found a boat, named the Henry David T., in the way. Their boat was kept in place by a 200-pound anchor and displayed a banner with the hashtag #CoalIsStupid. Soon after Ward and O’Hara arrived, they called the police to report their direct action. They were arrested, but on the eve of their trial, in a surprise move, the District Attorney, Sam Sutter, dropped the criminal charges and reduced three other charges to civil offenses, calling climate change one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. The decision of DA Sutter’s office to not prosecute, based on the necessity of their action, reverberated around the world.


In a Huffington Post interview, Jay was asked how he arrived at the choices he’s made. He told the interviewer there’s something we all need to figure out. “When I sit by myself,” he said, “on a mountaintop, or next to the ocean, or in my living room, and I know that the world is such a way, and I know that the world needs to be such another way, am I able to live with myself and get up in the morning and act according to what I know is true? Have I done what needs to be done?”


Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Jensen writes for popular media, both alternative and mainstream. His opinion and analytic pieces on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and web sites all over the world. He contributes to local organizing in Austin, TX, through his work with the Third Coast Activist Resource Center, which offers educational resources and organizes community events about U.S. policy around the world; and 5604 Manor, a progressive community center that brings people together to make positive social change.

His most recent books are Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (CreateSpace, 2013) and Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, forthcoming fall 2015). In his 2009 book All My Bones ShakeSeeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, he states that at the root of the current political, economic, cultural, and ecological chaos is a national spiritual unrest, a fragmentation that has inhibited society’s self-awareness and slowed theological progress to a glacial crawl. Jensen suggests a new communion: a way to use theology to create a sustainable society and meet the uncertainty of our lives with confidence.  As we explore the faith foundations of the relationships between Our Children, the Climate, and our Faith, Jensen’s own explorations of faith and his insights into how we communicate can help us bridge the gaps among us and enable us to work more effectively for change.

Panel discussions

There will be two panel discussions: One will re-explore the fundamental connectedness between all children and climate, faith and social justice. Then, building on our individual spiritualties and shared faiths, we will collectively discern and develop approaches and methods for moral and ethical institutions and people inside and outside “the system” to link common cause and take action. Alliances are both possible and essential; the more interaction the greater the resonance and the less societal blindness.

New this year: Young Adult Summit — August 6 & 7

In addition to the symposium, we will gather a young adult summit – for youth ages 18 to 30

for a teach-in two days prior to the symposiumThursday and Friday, August 6 & 7.

Register now for the Young Adult Summit!

“I am thankful for the upcoming ‘Children, Climate, Faith Symposium’ in Strafford, Vermont. The gathered voices/efforts of those compelled by their faith, who love God’s creation and our children, who need it to be healthy, promises to be a prophetic event that will make a significant difference.”

Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor
Northland – A Church Distributed

Highlights from the Second Annual “Our Children, Climate, Faith” Symposium

Strafford Town House

The Second Annual Symposium featured 2 Keynote Speakers, and 15 unique workshops that focused on training for action!

Saturday evening we had a showing of the film, “Bidder 70″ free and open to the public, 6:30 p.m. at the United Church of Strafford.

Videos of keynote speeches and interview

If you missed the Symposium, or want to share or review what our speakers said, you can watch videos of the 2 Keynote Speeches (Tim DeChristopher’s Saturday morning talk and Starhawk’s Sunday afternoon talk) and the Interview of Hannah Morgan and Tim DeChristopher. Also available is Rev. Gregory Wilson’s talk at the opening of the Symposium. Additional videos will be posted soon.

 One attendee (Ron Kearns) shared his experience of the Symposium and the People’s Climate March:

You are likely to be aware of the “Climate March” which took place in NYC yesterday, yet I would like to offer a brief personal perspective in having the privilege of being a part of it.

With estimates of between 300 to 400000 people attending I saw only good will, acceptance, and unity amongst the multitudes. It was comprised mostly of small groups of people ranging from families to friends, to youth, church, community,environmental, food, anti-corporate, peace & justice, science or political groups. I heard of only a few big name people there including Al Gore, but mostly it was people speaking out.

People voiced their views on what is not working for the planet or its inhabitants with homemade signs both elaborate and simple, singing songs, chanting slogans as they marched, …. but mostly by walking their talk alongside one another. Truly it was a coming together around an issue almost universally agreed upon yet seldomly discussed.

I had been asleep to climate change, or more accurately I felt powerless and overwhelmed and responded towards it more like our leaders do …. with an inertia. Then a month or two ago I went to a small symposium in a tiny town in Vermont and found people living in the splendor of the green mountains living with more fervor for a sustainable future than I had been. The symposium was [on]” Faith, Climate Change, and our children”. Something there woke me up.

SO I went to NYC this weekend and found hundreds of thousands of regular people ilike you and I, coming together in small groups, and saying “no more” to social and planetary injustices ….. It was heartwarming and enlivening!
SO, I want to say two things:
the threats of climate change are real and so are the voices calling for a better more fair world.
What do you say?

Thanks for listening,

OCCF Symposium 2014 Keynote Speakers – Tim DeChristopher and Starhawk

timsmall“In December 2008, during the closing weeks of the Bush White House, 27-year-old environmental activist Tim DeChristopher went to protest the auction of gas and oil drilling rights to more than 150,000 acres of publicly-owned Utah wilderness. But instead of yelling slogans or waving a sign, DeChristopher disrupted the proceedings by starting to bid. Given an auction paddle designating him “Bidder 70”, DeChristopher won a dozen land leases worth nearly two million dollars. He was arrested for criminal fraud, found guilty, and sentenced to two years in federal prison — even though the new Obama Administration had since declared the oil and gas auction null and void.” — – watch the full interview.


Starhakwsmall“Amory Lovins says the primary design criteria he uses is the question “How do we love all the children?” Not just our children, not just the ones who look like us or who have resources, not just the human children but the young of birds and salmon and redwood trees. When we love all the children, when that love is truly sacred to us in the sense of being most important, then we have to take action in the world to enact that love. We are called to make the earth a place where all the children can thrive.” ― Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religions of the Great Goddess. Read about Starhawk’s latest book, The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups on her website.

A popular feature of the symposium was Jane Dwinell’s Tiny House