St. John the Baptist Ecofair

Sarah Parker

St. John the Baptist Ecofair

I'm Sarah Parker. I've attended St. John's for 35 years. They welcomed me as a single parent when I was looking for a church, and I never needed to look anywhere else. Over those years I’ve participated in the choir off and on, served as treasurer one year, led Sunday School, been on the garden committee, gone on two mission trips to Guatemala, and three trips to Alabama for Habitat for Humanity projects. I’m currently on the Vestry.

I have three children and three grandchildren. My husband and I are retired. I originally wanted to work in an environmental field, but jobs of that type were hard to find way back then. Since I retired, I have returned more to the environmental world by becoming a MN Master Naturalist in the same year I retired. Last year, in the midst of COVID, I completed the MN Master Gardener program. Both of these programs offer many opportunities to stay up to date on environmental and climate issues on a local basis. Both programs require a certain amount of volunteer time. For that, I’ve done a few citizen science projects through the Master Naturalist program that allows hands-on participation in some university projects. One project was to help determine the distribution of bumblebees in MN. Another one was about bio-surveillance using the smoky bandit wasp for early detection of Emerald Ash Borer. I’m currently involved in a buckthorn project.

In the wintertime especially, I enjoy quilting and I have taken an interest in mixing science and quilting. Thus, the climate quilts were created during COVID to not only keep me busy but to show the differences in weather conditions from when I first moved to MN 40 years ago and now.

St. Johns recently celebrated their 100th year. It is a vibrant, liberal community with a good number of opportunities for a church its size. Linden Hills is in southwest Minneapolis with Lake Harriet on its eastern border and Bde Maka Ska on the north side. It’s a quiet neighborhood but has lots of activities going, especially near the lakes. I don’t live in Linden Hills, but I just learned that they have an active neighborhood association with an environmental and sustainability group. They take on community projects such as creating pollinator gardens in public areas and pulling out invasive plants in other areas such as around the lake and in the bird sanctuary.

We held an Ecofair around Earth Day, which brought together several different desires, needs, and talents: we wanted to find a way to connect with our neighborhood, our youth had climate change as a part of their formation program for the year, and I was full of fresh information on climate and environmental topics. By the time we really decided to go forward with the Ecofair, it was late in February, so the planning was fast and furious. The planning team included Doug Mensing, Allen Gooch, Lois Neve, and me. 

The fair went great! We had the parish hall filled with 18 tables of a variety of topics and people came! For a while the room was packed. People were happy to see outside people come in. I believe people thought it would only be St. John’s people presenting. We did have some St. John’s people talking about personal experiences with such things as solar or geothermal, but we also had people from Hennepin County recycling, some re-use groups, MN Water Stewards, a horticulturalist, master gardeners, the Linden Hills Neighborhood Association, MN Interfaith Power and Light, the Citizens Climate Lobby, and more. Actually, we barely fit into the space we had. It was probably good that the planning time was so short as we wouldn’t have been able to fit in any more groups.

I’m already hearing people start sentences with, “Next year we should . . .” Continuous improvement is something I heard a lot in my career at Emerson Automation Solutions and it does work. It is important to evaluate, trim some parts, and add something better. So, next year should be something to look forward to, but perhaps on a little bit warmer day as we may have to spill over to the outside.

I don’t consider myself a spiritual person but I do believe we have a responsibility to take care of things. It might be your children, your neighbors, refugees, or this fragile earth, our home. I was happy to see people learning simple new ways they can help the earth. It’s not hard, it just takes a little bit of thought, a little bit of change, and a commitment to make things better.