November 11, 2017, Nogales, Arizona – Through the efforts of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, a contingent of Adrian Dominican Sisters are in Nogales, Arizona, for the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) Convergence on the Border. The group arrived November 10 and are blogging about their experience.
By Sister Marilyn Winter, OP
November 13, 2017
Sunday, our final day at the wall, we learned of the history of the movement of SOA Watch and its move from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Nogales, Arizona. Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of the movement, spoke for a short time, encouraging the people present to be constant in their dedication to justice. He also talked about and the need to correct our immigration laws.
Other speakers gave praise to accomplishments over the decades, sang songs, and taught chants. Poets inspired us and challenged us to continue the work. The names of those who recently died while crossing the border were proclaimed to the crowd and the response of recognition was a chanted “Presente.”
The puppetistas (large puppets representing the story of and need for the witness and work being done by SOA Watch) walked through the assembled people talking about what they represented and encouraging response. The program concluded as the puppetistas from both sides of the border shook hands across the wall.
November 12, 2017
Saturday was a day of beauty, sadness, challenge and grace. We passed a Veteran’s Day parade on in the United States as we walked to the wall separating our country from Mexico. Judy, Anne Guinan, OP, and I went into Mexico as Pat Erickson, OP, Helen Sohn, OP, and Michelle Salalila, OP, all stayed on the U.S. side of the wall. We passed murals that served as sad reminders of crossings. Teachings during the afternoon were very informative and challenging in the content and presentation. We were able at the wall to speak to those on the other side of the wall, and witnessed exchanges being made between friends and family. It is amazing and gratifying to see the commitment of many young people involved and the passion for change, justice and openness to a world of diversity.
Left: From left, Nasim Chatha, Maha Hilal, and Todd Miller gave a presentation on “Prison Imperialism.” Right: One of several murals we passed while crossing the border to Mexico.
November 11, 2017
We gathered Friday evening across the street from a detention center. During a very moving and challenging Vigil we witnessed our support for those held in the detention center. A couple people talked about their journey and struggle, and group of Peace Poets led us in singing and reflection as the group waved light sticks. Then group then processed closer to the detention buildings, where the people could hear our chants.
Feature photo (top): From left, Adrian Dominican Sisters Helen Sohn, OP, Pat Erickson, OP, Anne Guinan, OP, Marilyn Winter, OP, and Michelle Salalila, OP, arriving at the Vigil across from the Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona November 10.
November 10, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – The 7-acre permaculture (permanent agriculture) site at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus benefits the eco-system and the climate while bringing special treats to dining room tables at the Motherhouse. Elaine Johnson, Permaculture Specialist, explained the principles of permaculture and gave a virtual tour of the many aspects of the Congregation’s permaculture grounds in a recent presentation.
Permaculture is a “land-based design” for agriculture, in which practitioners learn from the rhythms and ways of nature and follow the principles of “Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share,” Elaine explained. Unlike traditional agriculture, which focuses on cash crops, permaculture aims to “revitalize the eco-system” so that the system is “not only productive for us, receiving the food, but it’s also productive for the Earth system,” to bring about land restoration.
In her presentation, Elaine explained various beneficial aspects of the Congregation’s permaculture site, from a rain catchment system that allows the Motherhouse to rely on recaptured rainwater for irrigation, to berms and swales – depressions and raised land to help in water retention.
Elaine also spoke of ways that permaculture can offset some of the damage of greenhouse gasses and climate change caused by the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon farming uses the soil as a “sink” to store the carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere. “The carbon sink in the soil is a partnership between plants and the sun and the soil,” Elaine explained. Plants take in the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon in their roots and exchange the carbon with soil organisms. “The organisms have that carbon in their bodies, and then they decompose and become part of the soil life cycle … so that it doesn’t come up into the atmosphere.”
On a more practical note, Elaine spoke of the community garden, kitchen garden, and edible food forest that help put food on the tables of people in the Adrian area, including those in the Motherhouse. This year, she said, the permaculture site produced 650 pounds of large tomatoes and 70 pints of bite-sized tomatoes, which were used in the Motherhouse salad bar, along with a variety of vegetables and assorted herbs used in preparing meals.
“One of the benefits is that it gave our diners more of a variety of vegetables, such as chard and root vegetables,” said Susan Kremski, Director of Food Services. She added that the blueberries and blackberries were plentiful and a “real treat” for the Sisters, Co-workers, and guests.
“This is the first big year for permaculture,” Susan said. The kitchen staff will work with the Co-workers from the permaculture site to evaluate this year and determine how to improve on the partnership for next year.
For more information on the permaculture site and how the many areas have been designed after studying nature, watch the video of Elaine’s presentation below.