the balancing act


We are very pleased to announce Chief Oren Lyons will be joining our ECO JUSTICE FOR ALL Dialogue on August 10!

Oren Lyons is a Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan and serves as a Member Chief of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs and the Grand Council of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee Peoples. Oren holds the title of Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo, has a Doctor of Law Degree from his Alma Mater, Syracuse University and Lyons Hall at SU is named in his honor. Chief Lyons is an All-American Lacrosse Hall of Famer and Honorary Chairman of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team. He is an accomplished artist, environmentalist, and author. Oren is also a founder and Principal Partner in One Bowl Productions, a purpose driven film and Television Production Company, located in Los Angeles California.

Oren is a leading voice at the UN Permanent Forum on Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples, serves on the Executive Committee of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders for Human Survival, acts as Chairman of the Board for both the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and Plantagon, a world leader in GreenHouse Innovation. Recipient of several prestigious awards including; The United Nations NGO World Peace Prize, the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, The Rosa Parks and George Arent Award for environmental and social activism and recently receiving Sweden’s prestigious Friends of the Children Award with his colleague the late Nelson Mandela. Recipient of Green Cross International Environmental Icon Award 2019.

The Balancing Act: Extracting Needed Minerals and the Green Economy

August 10, Thursday 11-12:30am ET

Presented as a part of Interfaith Awareness Week

The full IAW virtual program can be accessed through
the World Interfaith Network

Part 1:

Part 2:

Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan and serves as a Member Chief of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs and the Grand Council of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee Peoples

is joined by EJFA Dialogue partners:

  • Luke Henkel, Programs Coordinator North America, Laudato Si Movement
  • Azza Karam, Secretary General, Religions for Peace
  • Michael Richardson, Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith
  • Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Influential leaders representing the world’s main religions and eminent Indigenous leaders discuss the moral and spiritual aspects as well as the difficulties of transitioning to a “green economy,” the Rights of Nature, and respectful, responsible transformation away from extractive industries. What can the world’s religious population, over 85% of the Earth’s people, do to influence governments, industry, commerce, and their own communities? The move to electric vehicles and, more so, to battery technology dependence requires a vast amount of “transition” minerals to be extracted, including nickel, lithium, cobalt, and copper. How can the extractive industry, international for-profit companies, and governments respect and protect the land, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and protect the health of all living beings affected in these areas? Are we able to transition to renewable energy in a just and equitable way that could positively impact communities and the environment?

Prof. Azza Karam (Ph.D.) served as the Secretary General of Religions for Peace. She holds a Professorship of Religion and Development at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Dr. Karam is currently a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s ‘High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism’. She served for nearly two decades in the United Nations (UNDP and UNFPA), and she founded and was Convenor of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development as well as the Multi-Faith Advisory Council of that Task Force. Karam has worked internationally since the 1980s, including with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA), the OECD, and the EU, and has taught and lectured in various academic institutions in Europe, North America (including the United States Military Academy/West Point), and in the Arab region. She was born in Egypt, lived and worked in many continents, and now resides in the United States.

Luke Henkel is the Laudato Si Movement programs coordinator for North America. A 2022 MS graduate in Climate Justice, his dissertation focused on Indigenous spirituality in the southern Philippines, specifically how the Pulangiyen people’s sense of connection with the land and their identity are affected by climate change. He has long been a climate advocate, having started his environmental career in the garbage dumps in Smoky Mountain, metro Manila, in plastic pollution reduction. A lifelong Catholic who practices engaged Buddhism, his advocacy is rooted in both Catholic and Buddhist principles of interconnectedness and interbeing: the sacredness and connection of all things. Henkel’s focus as programs coordinator is on the film campaign of the documentary The Letter, which is a conversation between Pope Francis and the four “voices” or populations most immediately and severely affected by climate change.

Michael Richardson is co-founder of Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith, an inter-faith group of climate activists in the upper Hudson Valley of New York State in coalition with Stop the Money Pipeline, Third Act, and GreenFaith (international). He is also the facilitator of TH!RD ACT Upstate New York and is on the steering committee of NY Renews, the force behind the landmark NYS Climate Act. Michael is a lifelong activist – from war resistance and social justice movements beginning in the early 1970s to today as a planner and organizer of climate and environmental actions. Michael is an advocate for regenerative agriculture. In 2012, he co-founded and directed an agroecology training and demonstration center in Nicaragua for small-scale growers. From a varied cache of experiences – including organic farmer, solar heating contractor, labor economist, county legislator, and Buddhist practitioner – Michael is committed to bringing attention to the moral imperative to stop funding climate chaos.

Rabbi Daniel Swartz is the spiritual leader at Temple Hesed of Scranton and Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), which has engaged Jewish organizations and individuals in environmental advocacy and programs for over 25 years. He was recently one of 40 faith leaders from around the world who took part in a Vatican-led effort to promote Climate Justice, “Faith and Science: Toward COP 26.”  Under the leadership of Pope Francis, this group met at the Vatican in October 2022 and issued an interfaith Appeal to the countries that gathered at COP26.  In Northeastern Pennsylvania, he has helped build interfaith coalitions to support LGBTQ communities, to stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, and to promote environmental justice. Prior to coming to Scranton, Rabbi Swartz held leadership positions with Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, the Children’s Environmental Health Network, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

ECO JUSTICE FOR ALL interviews and dialogues are ongoing programs produced by the Temple of Understanding, incorporating our outreach in the area of environmental awareness and advocacy. We present a diverse range of perspectives, from scientific to spiritual views, on the climate emergency and offer a variety of solutions that we can all do easily and effectively in our everyday lives. World religious and spiritual visionaries, Indigenous leaders, scientists and social scientists, environmental activists, artists, musicians and writers, youth and elders, local and global people, all come together to address the urgency of the climate crisis through these ongoing interviews and dialogues.

See all our programs on our ECO JUSTICE FOR ALL youtube channel.

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