Happy Earth Day to all!

As many of you probably know, Earth Day falls on April 22nd each year. But it’s being celebrated in many communities today simply because it’s a Saturday and it’s much easier to get folks out on a weekend.

I’m in Central Florida and the Earth Day celebration at Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando is quite an event here each year.

I hope there’s a party near you!

Here’s a link to a site all about Earth Day and celebrating it. A web search about Earth Day will also bring up a bah-zillion results, some of which may actually be about events in your area!

I hope today and this weekend go wonderfully well for you, whatever you may be doing.

Brother Ben

It’s time to ban the bags

It’s no secret that the Earth is slowly being buried under mountains of trash.

There are a million angles to this sad story and one of the most important involves the prevalence of single-use, plastic shopping bags.

Well, California was the first of the 50 States to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. That happened back in August of 2014.

New York is about to become the second to do it.

Of course, some members of the public think it’s an awesome thing. Some, predictably, are complaining about it.

Sara Goddard sits on the City Council of Rye, New York and is one of the folks who advocated for this new law in her State.

Now that it’s about to take effect, she has put together a quick feature in a question-and-answer format to help people get up to speed on how this change might work out, how it might affect them.

I have no idea whether anyone who may read today’s feature lives in the Empire State or not, but because similar legislation is under consideration in other states, I’m thinking that running it here could be a good thing.

I would love to see this spread to Florida, my home state. I consider that a long shot at best but public opinion on this issue seems to be changing very quickly.

And that’s a good thing.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

What does the EPA do?

If you’re a part of this movement or if you’ve taken a few minutes to check us out here at FSFtoday.org, you know that environmental issues are right at the heart of our ministry.

If you care about our planet, no doubt you’ve made sure that the way you go about living your life reflects that attitude of caring. Caring about the Earth on which we all depend.

No doubt you also think that public policy should be made and be carried out in ways that favor the Earth. Ways that, if they don’t actually help our planet, would at least not harm it.

Well, if you feel that way, you’d definitely be at odds with the way our policies about the environment are being made and being carried out right now.

If you’d read this far, some thought relating to the EPA most likely has popped into your head.

And yes, how the EPA goes about its business is a very big deal.

If you’re not quite sure what the EPA does or whether its work actually matters, this article from Nat Geo would be a big help.

It’s a fairly quick read. I recommend it highly.

Public policy matters. It matters a lot.

It’s time to step up our game. The welfare of our Planet and the survival of our species depend on us and what we do. Our elected officials are not only not helping, they’re making it harder for concerned citizens and Earth defenders to do anything.

The sad truth is that this will not change unless we force those in power to make the changes.

Brother Ben

The Legacy of St Francis

Yes, it is St Francis of Assisi who was chosen to be front-and-center for this new ministry.

Yes, that St Francis.

There are two great urgencies that are at the heart of what the FSF is about.

The first is to make compassion the foundation for all that we do, for all our interactions with our fellows.

And the second is use to treat the Earth, our common home, with wisdom and that same compassion. And to extend this compassion to all of Earth’s inhabitants, not just to the Human species.

With these two urgent priorities in mind, Saint Francis was a most suitable choice as the icon and a wise, compassionate patron for the Fellowship. He was a much-beloved figure in his time.

Francis’ love for animals and for the Earth were noted by his contemporaries and by the leadership of the Church in the 13th Century and are the reasons that he is considered to be a special patron for animals and for the environment.

So it is very fitting to have this well-loved and venerated figure to lead the way, so to speak, for our fledgling Fellowship.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Fellowship of St Francis is a new and completely independent ministry and is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

In Praise of Blossoming Trees

There are few things in Nature as beautiful as a tabebuia tree. The photo here is of one I tended, watered and pruned for nine years. Lovely tree; it was a gift from our next door neighbor.

The fact that a tabebuia only blooms for a few days each spring does not detract from its beauty. It’s a reminder for me that life is fleeting and we blossom for a brief season, then fall away and return to the earth. It is good to have your day in the sun!

Though these lovely trees are barren now, there are some beautiful trees, fairly-common in the Sunshine State, which display their gorgeous, bright-yellow blossoms in summer’s sultry heat! I refer to the yellow poinciana, better known to arborists as the peltophorum.

You might say that the tabebuia and the yellow poinciana are cousins.

I’ve seen more than a few of them around Central Florida in the last three or four summers; they’re quite a spectacle for those of us who crave a little color in the Florida landscape before autumn’s arrival. They seem to blossom from the top down and the blossoms last a good, long while. They can grow up to 50 ft tall; I’ve seen one nearly that size near the entrance to Disney’s Jambo House Resort.

Count me as one of those Floridians who stays indoors a lot more at this time of year. Day after day of temps in the mid-nineties gets old pretty quick. When I do motor about from place to place here in our subtropical paradise, it’s such a welcome pleasure to be greeted by those lovely yellow blossoms.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

The Environment: Good News and Bad News

It may sound like the lead-in to a joke, but that cliche does perfectly sum up where we are right now with the environment. Where we are as far as taking actions which are desperately needed today, to be more precise.

The situation is dire. That’s an understatement. There are thousands of studies and documents to substantiate just how bleak the situation is for our planet.

And here’s another study for good measure.

The good news is that the nascent Sunrise Movement has a huge potential, not only to change the conversation, but to prod us into taking some very, very necessary actions.

Or to slow down all the foot-dragging, at the very least.

The Guardian published an article yesterday to highlight the work being done by this largely youth-led movement; it’s well worth the next few minutes of your time.

The Earth is our common home. She is not dying. She is being killed! We cannot afford to go on with the status quo.

As you no doubt know, there are very committed, well-financed interests which are going all out to muzzle the voices calling for action and to stifle any change.

We’ll always have that to deal with.

But getting more and more committed friends of the Earth on-board for the fight–including the people who are being galvanized by the Sunrise Movement–may at least give the Earth a fighting chance.

Brother Ben

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Some Love for our four-legged Friends

A major emphasis for our movement is to show love and compassion for all the inhabitants of Earth. Not only for those who walk upright, wearing funny clothes and staring blankly into dimly-lit devices that keep getting bigger and bigger.

A big part of this commitment to animals is to support groups who are engaged full-time in the struggle to treat wildlife and pets with wisdom and compassion.

This is something I’m going to do regularly. For the first post, I want to highlight the excellent work that the Wildlife Conservation Society is doing.

The W.C.S. is active all over God’s Green Earth and focuses on policies and actions that help to save and nurture wildlife and wild places.

You can visit their excellent site on the world-wide web by following this link.

There are so many organizations doing this kind of work, that I’ll only be able to scratch the proverbial surface even by featuring an org each week.

But that’s not such a bad thing.

If you take the time to see what those folks are up to and want to get involved, the sites make it easy to do that.

If your objective is to learn and know more about what the organization is doing, following/liking on Facebook and/or Twitter is certainly a good way to go.

This will take you to the official Twitter page of the WCS.

Blessings on you today. Keep advocating for pets and wildlife. That’s what compassionate people do.

Brother Ben

© 2019 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.