Care for Creation with Bridget Robertson

Care for Creation with Bridget Robertson

good afternoon and welcome to the center for mission youtube page the page where you can learn about all things catholic social teaching and justice related for the archdiocese of saint paul minneapolis my name is adam fitzpatrick and i am your your beloved host well hopefully beloved and you don’t want to throw tomatoes at me if if you want to throw tomatoes at me send me an email don’t don’t don’t throw tomatoes at me um i am here today with bridget robertson a graduating senior at the university of minnesota here to discuss her research on laudato c in the u.s catholic church and we’re going to do a little mini interview today like about 15-20 minutes to get a few basic questions to get our research just on the airwaves here and then we will be planning a larger presentation of our research sometime this summer along with a few other organizations potentially so be on the lookout for that um bridgette first of all first i’ll just tell us a little bit about tell us a little bit about yourself hi everyone um like adam said my name is bridget i’m a senior at the university of minnesota i’m studying environmental science policy management with minors in corporate environmental management management and sustainability studies so i’m really interested in how do we affect change in the climate crisis at a systemic level but also how does that affect communities so over the past four years i’ve really enjoyed getting involved in various clubs and research activities and that’s led to the culmination of this research project in my free time i love camping and hiking and um exercising things things like that and uh i’m looking forward to moving to atlanta soon after graduation to start um my professional life wonderful so you wrote a thesis about loved otto c in the u.s catholic church can you give us what the thesis was and then a little bit about your research methodology and how you came about finding the information yes definitely so i was um i’ll start at the inception of where i got this idea for the research um i was in adoration and i was looking at the tabernacle and i was wondering we’re keeping you know the body of christ in this gold amazing box i’m wondering where the gold comes from if this is coming at the hands of people that are being mistreated or mistreating the environment especially after reading lovato c which encompassed a lot of what i’d learned during my tenure at university so that led me to think about sustainability in a wider level in the catholic church we have such a broad reach in the united states and we use so many precious minerals for our chalices for all of these holy holy items that um it seems like it would really go along with catholic social teaching to have those be ethically sourced so i was curious at what the united states is doing in this realm and um in the catholic church specifically so i the research question was you know have catholic purchasing habits in the united states changed before and after the publication of legato c because that was really the big shock that we were looking at um where people started to wake up to the environmental crisis that are happening and how that has implications on humanitarian uh things as well so that was the big question that we were looking at um i was working under the supervision of my entrepreneurship professor she works with zwalilu and she works in um corporate social responsibility research and so she was helping me guide this this process and so we took a few approaches we had to pivot a few times due to data availability issues and um we were originally going to look at manufacturing to see where they were getting the gold from but turns out that since a lot of church suppliers are private companies they don’t owe that information to anyone besides their shareholders so they were not willing to provide that information to a student researcher so we pivoted to talk to the archdiocese level um and so i called we also decided that qualitative would be better for this just to understand the breath a little bit more because this is so complex that we could go the quantitative route but it would be better to talk with people hear their stories um so i called archdiocese and said you know hey i’m doing this research asking these questions about sustainability who would be the best person to talk with because each diocese is structured so differently that um it ended up being a different title in almost every diocese that i talked with so um had some awesome conversations some really great interviews with um some fabulous people at archdiocese level just talking about you know how does your diocese make decisions how are you know are there contracts how are purchasing is sustainability include included in prior to singing decisions um things of that nature and then um analyzed that and looked at what what were common themes uh things like that that’s that’s super fascinating um so what did you find when you were because you you’re in a real technical technical field if you’re looking at sustainability contracts and pro and proxy arrangements and contract review processes of diocese so what did you find in your research yeah great question so the resounding theme was that there is an awareness and um people feel compelled to work for work on the dato seat but due to the disjointed fragmented purchasing scales and um you know sometimes archdiocese they can make recommendations to the parishes but parishes aren’t always mandated to take those recommendations and and also we’re we’re in a spot it seems like that most contracts don’t include sustainability in their requirements for purchasing so um we found that there’s an awareness and people feel convicted but there’s a lack of prioritization on this so funds are just not being allocated to any form of sustainability in most parishes if anything it’s the low-hanging fruit like led lighting or um you know they’ll do audits and realize a lot of air is escaping so they’ll do little things to mitigate that on a cost-saving basis so we found that there’s a lot of barriers especially prioritization cost wise risk analysis things like that that are um barring the church from really adopting these practices at a larger scale but it’s difficult to see that people really want this it’s just there’s a lot of hoops to jump through to get it and how how do you find [Music] so we got this we got the problem um and we’ve talked a little bit about the particular some of the particulars that might be causing the problem do you have any ideas in terms of solutions that dioceses could implement or if not diocesan wide what could parishes do to look at the purchasing of purchasing agreements that they make throughout the parish as like it because if if we’re in the idea of respecting subsidiarity the idea that if you can make a local decision at the local decision at the local level you make that decision and if you need help it goes up to the higher branches so how do you how do you how would you say how would you suggest people look at purchasing contracts even if sustainability is not explicitly mentioned in a contract yeah i think this is the most important question because this is why i love research that hopefully it’ll change things in the future so um what i realized was um you know if more parishes have people like you in these positions of being able to think about either social justice environmental justice um sustainability managing that would be extremely helpful because a lot of parishes have green teams or care for creation teams um doing this work so that you know even if it was part time it would make a massive difference if uh archdiocese had widespread you know care for creation staff working to implement these things and create um audits or a systemic way for people to see this is how caring for creation can also help alleviate some cost issues um i also think that if the um procurement or you know contract negotiators at the archdiocese level really push for including sustainability on their contracts that will trickle down to the parish level because they’re using those contracts most of the time it seems like and um so if that’s a push um it seems like there are a few people in those positions that have a real heart for sustainability and they’re they’re really active in that space and so if they’re able to intertwine that in the contracts then the parishes are just going to naturally adopt that and and hopefully see the benefits and the dividends coming after that um so i think one hiring a care for creation expert sustainability manager however you want to name it and adopting the things that the currently existing volunteer led care for creation teams are doing would help immensely because a lot of parishes just don’t have the bandwidth and resources to dedicate to that right now which is completely understandable for navigating pandemics so you know everyone’s got a lot on their plate and then incorporating that into contracts i think would be a really seamless way to get that done um and just i mean realizing the power of if you can have an archdiocese that has a little bit more um connection between what the recommendation is and the parishes in the schools that’s that’s a lot of impact you could have a lot of greenhouse gas emissions could go down depending on how you approach things um i do think your point about each parish being able to decide for themselves is really important because for some parishes it makes more sense to switch to leds in some areas it makes more sense to um you know change insulation or do recycling or things composting things like that so i really like the idea of having autonomy at the parish level but having some semblance of cohesion between all of the you know moving parts within the diocese just to really reinforce like we are a church that cares about this doctrine from the pope and this you know uh mandate to care for the environment how are you going to take this research as you move forward in your own career you said you’re starting a new job in a few weeks so how is this research going to help propel you in your career as you’re thinking about issues of environmental justice corporate social responsibility and and just the the care for the earth yeah i mean this is something that i’m clearly passionate about um and i think this has been a great start to the research but i think a lot more can be uncovered a lot more can be discovered in order to help parishes help the environment and i think with my future career i’ll be um even though i won’t be necessarily working in this specific field i think that these are lessons that i can apply to um corporate social responsibility in my workplace in shaping what does that look like how do we engage well in corporate social responsibility and then in my free time i’d love to pursue this research further and work with those care for creation teams hopefully in atlanta i can start contributing to the autistic action plans and implementing those as a way to um honestly bring this research to fruition see how we can you know test it out a little bit you know i’m coming from the theory side right now so i’d love to see the the applied knowledge but this is a lifelong process and i’m foreseeing it as something that you can continually strive for both in my professional career but then also in my faith journey and walk with whatever parishes i end up being a parishioner at great well that’s all the time we’ve got for bridget today’s so we wanted to thank you again this is our mini interview with bridget robertson we’ll be doing some further work with her later this summer as her research comes to completion completion and then we can do a more full exposition of her research here on here on youtube um again my name is adam fitzpatrick i am the social mission outreach coordinator for the center for mission serving the archdiocese of saint paul minneapolis and we had bridget robertson on today thank you for being on with us and we will see you next time
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Care for Creation with Bridget Robertson

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