Austin Interfaith Environmental Network
The Austin Zen Center has been a member of the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network, whose work is to inspire and assist Austin’s religious communities to lead the effort to care for the earth and to transform ways of life that cause climate change; to provide experiences to allow the community to enjoy, understand, and appreciate creation (e.g. nature hikes, canoeing); and to satisfy environmental needs of the community (e.g. creek clean up, gardening).
Austin Zen Center’s Shrinking Carbon Footprint
- In 2011 Austin Zen Center members began attending the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network meetings and in the Fall of 2011 created the Austin Zen Center’s Environmental Studies Group.
- During the first meeting of the AZC ESG new members unanimously voted to become a dues paying member of the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network.
- By early 2012 the AZC ESG, in collaboration with Appamada’s Gaia Group, held a one day environmental stewardship workshop based on the teachings of Buddhist environmentalist Joanna Macy.
- In 2012 AZC obtained a carbon impact audit through Climate Buddies, installed solar panels, insulated the floors, obtained the Best of Texas Wildlife Habitat certification, participated in now annual Keep Austin Beautiful cleanups, and started bi-annual group camping trips.
- In 2013 AZC became a Green Choice customer, joined the IEN’s Green Shepherds, provided 100 reusable grocery totes for AZC members, held an “Earthship” presentation, and participated in the Austin Environmental Preach-off for the first time.
- In 2014 AZC joined the Energy Action Team, held a well attended public viewing of the movie Bidder 70, completed a comprehensive energy weatherization of its center, started an organic garden, and held an Earth Celebration and tree dedication/ordination.
- In 2015 a majority of light bulbs at the Zen Center were replaced with LED lighting. AZC’s engagement and action in reducing our carbon footprint could not have been accomplished without the guidance and support provided by the IEN, EAT, and Climate Buddies during monthly meetings, referencing the Becoming Carbon Neutral handbook, and individual consultations with these groups.
- We held public viewings of movies “The Yes Men are Revolting” and “The Merchants of Doubt”.
- We have planted many native plants and are preparing a wildflower garden for bees and butterflies to enjoy.
- A recent carbon footprint assessment of Austin Zen Center’s total organizational greenhouse gas impact estimates that AZC emits about 33 tons of carbon annually.
- On July 20, 2015 AZC made a donation to Rainforest Trust to protect the Sierra del Divisor, an irreplaceable ecosystem home to a large diversity of animal and plant species and two ancient Amazonian cultures. AZC’s donation will keep approximately 100,000 tons of tree-stored CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, in perpetuity. This level of environmental protection will offset AZC’s carbon footprint for approximately 3,000 years and preserve annual carbon sequestration on 400 acres of dense, primary-growth tropical forest. With annual tree growth rates generally net positive in the Amazon, this donation will protect roughly 320 tons of additional annual carbon sequestration, offsetting AZC’s carbon footprint by nearly tenfold in most years.
- In November 2015 AZC endorsed the Texas Climate Resolution which was presented at City Hall and the Paris Climate Talks.
- On November 7, 2015 we presented a screening of Merchants of Doubt , a documentary inspired by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway acclaimed book. Robert Kenner’s film exposes a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver- tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities, yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and climate change.
- On February 6, 2016 we held a free screening of In Defense of Food, a documentary based on Michael Pollan’s New York Times Best-Selling book, which analyzes the modern diet of first world nations, and gives suggestions on how to improve one’s daily food intake.
- On May 14, 2016, we held a free screening of Disobedience, a documentary that tells the story of 4 communities preparing to participate in the national Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions of May 2016.
- In June, 2017 we held a screening of From the Ashes, a National Geographic documentary about the coal industry.
- In April 2018, we renamed the Environmental Studies Group to the Environmental Impact Group. Stay tuned for updates about upcoming activities.
Texas Interfaith Power and Light
Texas Interfaith Power and Light (TXIPL) is a nonprofit religious education project that helps congregations of all faiths in Texas take action to reduce global warming and air pollution through energy conservation and renewable energy strategies. TXIPL provides education and training needed to incorporate emissions reduction and renewable energy into day-to-day activities and operations. The Austin Zen Center is an affiliate of this organization and works with them in its efforts to promote a more environmentally sustainable future.