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Vista of the Chandalar River. Photograph by Dayhsa Eaton, courtesy KALWs The Spiritual Edge.
Sacred Earth: Climate Change Activism in the Arctic and on the Street
October 15, 2021

We meet two climate activists who take their inspiration from their deeply held spiritual beliefs - one from the indigenous Alaskan Gwich’in culture, and one Jewish.

Sarah Jaynes hands holding lichen. Photograph by Dayhsa Eaton, courtesy KALWs The Spiritual Edge
Gwich'in in Alaska October 16, 2021
Reporter Daysha Eaton brings us the story of native Alaskan leader Sarah James. For most of her life, the Neets’aii Gwich’in leader has worked to protect her homelands, including the coastal plain of the nearby Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. To the region’s longtime inhabitants, attempts to drill for oil in the region threaten land they call sacred. More than a pristine wilderness is at stake in this conflict. The Porcupine Caribou Herd -- the center of Gwich’in culture -- gives birth on the coastal plain inside the refuge. Caribou are also the main food source for Gwich’in people who live in villages spanning the U.S. Canadian border.

Sarah Jaynes. Photograph by Dayhsa Eaton, courtesy KALWs The Spiritual Edge.

Sarah James
Courtesy KALW's The Spiritual Edge

This story comes to us from KALW's The Spiritual Edge in collaboration with USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Reporting from this story was also supported by the Alaska Humanities Forum. Cheryl Devall is the Sacred Steps editor. Tarek Fouda is the engineer. Judy Silber is the executive editor.

It won first prize in the category "Outstanding Religion News Story in a Radio Broadcast" for 2021 Religion News Association awards.

Daysha Eaton. Contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn-courtesy Dayenu
Waking Up to Environmental Justice October 15, 2021
After decades working on social justice issues that are people-centered, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn began to recognize one issue emerging as a common driver: climate change.  Yet, within the Jewish American community, she saw little engagement and coordination.  She decided it was time for a new organization that would amplify the voices of faith-based activists calling for change and organize public-interest issue campaigns to increase pressure on lawmakers to pass climate change policies. This week the organization and its affiliates are working hard to press U.S Senators to use the reconciliation process to send the infrastructure spending bill to President Biden’s desk.

Rabbi Jennie. Founder & CEO of Dayenu, a new organization mobilizing the American Jewish community to confront the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. Rabbi Rosenn has spent more than two decades leading Jewish non-profit organizations, advocating for social change, and creating dynamic new initiatives at the heart of the Jewish social justice movement. Before founding Dayenu, she served as vice president for community engagement at HIAS, where she built a robust Jewish movement responding to the global refugee crisis.

Our theme music is by MC Yogi

This week's closing music, New Hope, by Audiobinger,
used under a Creative Commons By Attribution 4.0 license.

All additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

Remixes and sound design by Dissimilation Heavy Industries