Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Join our first community service project!!

Come celebrate the warm weather this weekend by helping clean up Marvin Gaye Park (Watts Branch), DC Green Muslims' first community service project!

The park is the the District's longest park and creek; a preserved public space for over 75 years. It is a true part of Washington DC history, but unfortunately, despite repeated attempts to complete the park, it remains unfinished and neglected. Watts Branch has long been a centerpiece for the local community, and that community deserves a clean, well maintained, and positive gathering place. With our help, that goal will become one step closer.

We will be helping with activities such as debris removal, invasive plant removal, removal of fallen trees, garden beds preparation, stream cleaning, and possible general maintenance tasks at the park center.

Meet at the park at 9am. Bring water and a bagged lunch. We'll be there from 9am to 1pm (or longer, if you want).

More information below. Please let us know if you have any questions.

RSVP to info@dcgreenmuslims.org and include the following information:
1. Carpool and from where?
2. How long would you like to volunteer? (minimum is 9am-1pm)

We hope to see you there!


Riverside Center/Marvin Gaye Park
5200 Foote Street N.E. (Corner of Division Ave and Foote St)
Washington, D.C. 20019
Metro: Capitol Heights (Blue Line)

Dress for the weather, wear clothes that you don't mind getting a bit dirty. Wear closed toe shoes, long sleeve shirts and long pants are recommended, bring drinking water (bottled) because we are away from our park center when you are working (you can bring water bottles that can be filled at our park center). Bring lunch, that can be stored at our park center.

The service day will begin with a short orientation, followed by a warm up activity, tool and equipment distribution, work tasks, lunch, work task conclusion (depending on total time of groups volunteer day), return and put away tools, clean up and debrief, and departure. We provide gloves and all tools.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I am a green muslim, part 2

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

"Do good works, engage politically, and get involved: can’t change anything sitting on the sidelines." - Keith Ellison

I wanted to share two recent interviews with two people I admire greatly, one as a religious scholar, the other political, but both for their efforts in articulating an authentic American Muslim voice and serving their community. Not particularly "green-related" but they answer perfectly the "why I do this" question.

The first is an interview with Imam Zaid Shakir by Asma Nemati, from Southern California InFocus:
InFocus: Do you have any specific advice to American Muslim and Muslims around the world?

ImamZaid: My advice to American Muslims would be to really think deeply on the opportunities that we have here and to take advantage of them, not to squander them with ignorance or short-sighted thinking; to really realize that we have tremendous opportunities in that our community is very wealthy, talented and highly educated. We should take advantage of those realities to try to organize ourselves and galvanize our energy and the potential we have to do something significant for the Muslim and non-Muslim people of the world.

In terms of advice for Muslims of the world, I would just say to look at the fullness of the religion and never lose touch with the heart of the religion, which is purification of the heart. If we have a deep relationship with Allah, it becomes very easy to keep all of the trials and tribulations of the world in perspective, and not to be overwhelmed by them.
(Via In the Land of Sand and Time.)

The second is an interview with Keith Ellison, by Wajahat Ali, from altmuslim. Along with questions on race and politics, the 2008 presidential campaigns, and Muslim political participation, Ali asks Rep. Ellison about the inspiration (or the 'niyyah') behind his work:
altmuslim: It sounds like you’re very passionate, Congressman...So, what inspired you to run, to take this leap, to be a trailblazer knowing you’re a Black man and a Muslim running for Congress?

KE: Well, you know, part of my involvement in politics is really rooted in my desire to try to promote unity among people, trying to promote unity with the Earth and creation, and trying to promote justice. That’s really the origin of my activism. We are also, as Muslims, urged to engage in shura, consultation, with what the community should do. So, I think my involvement is just to sort of try to help them do what’s best for the community and the world at large.

(And more on civic involvement from Islamica Magazine.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Green in 30 Minutes or Less...

"A list of the town's biggest water wasters, and the only non-laundromat on here is... hold on to your turbans...Mercy Mosque!"

My friend, let's call him M. Rafique, or maybe Muizz R. is less obvious, got me started on watching "Little Mosque on the Prairie," the widely publicized Canadian Muslim sitcom. After watching a few episodes here and there, a few questions came to mind. Namely: Are Muslims or Canadians cornier? And what about Muslim Canadians?

But there are some moments which offer a unique window into Muslim communities in the West which are worth viewing. One episode in particular I thought was relevant to post here. The movement to create a uniquely (North) American Muslim culture is an organic and ever developing process. Same too for the burgeoning Muslim environmental movement. In the episode pasted above, the two intersect for a TV experience that some would say is before its time. But for most of us, its long overdue.

While "Little Mosque" may have all the trappings of a Muslim camp skit, it has done a decent job of tackling a variety of issues related to the still growing Muslim community. Here, the issue of abusive wudu practices will hit home for anyone who has waded through damp, mildewy wudu areas before. By the time the end credits roll, the mosque is greened, and made handicapped accessible to boot.

If only all Muslim issues could be dealt with so effectively in half an hour time slots...

Gawd Blezzum

"Actions are only according to intentions, and to each only what he intended."

(taken @ a local mosque)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Film Fest: Starts Next Week!

DC Environmental Film Festival
March 11-22, 2008

Started in 1993, the DC Env Film Fest is a March treat for the green moviegoer. The EFF includes documentaries, animated, feature, and children’s films that address current environmental issues. 

Last year, I got the opportunity to see a very interesting film - Khadak (www.khadak.com). Set on the steppes of Mongolia, the film touches on a number of social and environmental problems, including open pit mining, forced migration, and the loss of traditional livelihoods/cultures - I actually learned a lot through the artistic way the film presents these issues.

For the complete schedule of this year's film, visit http://www.dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org/films.php

Of special interest to DC green muslims: Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives, a film on the environmental destruction caused by war. One of the participants in the film, Dr. Saleem Ali is environmental studies professor at the Univ of Vermont. Professor Ali studies environmental conflicts, particularly in the mineral sector, and has also been involved in promoting environmental education in traditional Islamic schools. Read his latest piece on Indonesias's green madrassas here.

More information:

Film and Panel Discussion with the Filmmakers and Participants in the Film

When we make war, we destroy not only the enemy, we destroy our earth as well. In all its stages – from the production of weapons through combat to clean up – war entails actions that pollute land, air and water, destroy biodiversity and drain natural resources. Yet the environmental damage caused by war (and preparations for it) is underreported, even ignored. The environment is war's silent casualty. Using specialist and eyewitness accounts from Vietnam and Afghanistan to Australia and the Pacific Islands and supported by on-site and archival footage, Scarred Lands shows how war and preparations for war further compromise the environmental health of a planet already under stress from massive population increases, unsustainable demands on natural resources and ruinous environmental practices. In the context of today's growing awareness and alarm about global climate change, the film shows that natural security (the protection and preservation of ecosystems) is an essential component of any realistic approach to national security.

Directed and produced by Alice and Lincoln Day and VideoTakes, Inc.

Panel discussion follows screening with independent filmmakers Alice and Lincoln Day, Co-Presidents of Fund for Sustainable Tomorrows, and participants in the film: environmental science professor Saleem H. Ali; Michael Barrett, researcher on environmental consequences of ships sunk in World War II; military and veteran affairs consultant Lt. General Robert Gard, Jr. (USA-ret); climate change scientist Michael MacCracken; history professor John R. McNeill; defense and foreign policy specialist Marie Rietmann; epidemiologist and public health professor Jeanne Mager Stellman and Paul F. Walker, authority on nuclear and chemical weapons clean-up programs.

Carnegie Institution of Washington, Elihu Root Auditorium,
1530 P St., NW (METRO: Dupont Circle, Q St. exit)