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Community Faith

'Solar Nun' to speak in Tri-Cities on renewable energy

April 25th, 2014 11:15 am by Staff Report

'Solar Nun' to speak in Tri-Cities on renewable energy

Sister Paula was instrumental in converting an old chicken barn into a passive solar residence that she shares with another nun on the campus of the College of Mt. St. Joseph. (contributed)

JOHNSON CITY — Sister Paula Gonzalez, who "walks the walk" of renewable energy, will visit the Tri-Cities this coming week.

For decades, Sister Paula has been a leader for environmental stewardship among the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, where she was instrumental in converting an old chicken barn into a passive solar residence that she shares with another nun on the campus of the College of Mt. St. Joseph. She also has a solar-powered golf cart.
In 2007, Sister Paula co-founded the Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, the state affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), which now has affiliates in 40 states, including Tennessee Interfaith Power & Light (TIPL).

Green Interfaith Network (GINI) and TIPL are co-sponsoring Sister Paula's visit to the area from Monday through Wednesday.

Her most recent efforts as a futurist, educator and environmentalist include conducting workshops and participating in conferences about eco-spirituality, including the "promise of, and need for" renewable energy sources.

On Monday morning, Sister Paula will visit St. Mary's Catholic Parish School, where she will meet with students and faculty to share her enthusiasm for living responsibly on Earth. Her presentation is titled, "Walking the Talk."

She will also present a lecture to the public at 7 p.m., Tuesday at the Culp Center on the campus of East Tennessee State University, as part of the ETSU's scheduled Earth Month activities. She will answer questions following the lecture.

On Wednesday, she will have lunch with the Friends of Amos, the social justice group at Emmanuel Christian Seminary and the environmental group at Milligan College. At 6:30 p.m., Wednesday Sister Paula will address a rare joint session of area youth groups from a variety of area congregations. Her discussion is titled, "Co-Creating a Sustainable Future."

Since 1970, Paula Gonzalez, Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, has offered more than 1,800 talks, mini-courses, seminars and retreats on various aspects of Futuring, Planetary Awareness, Renewable Energy, and the growing interface between science and religion. These consciousness-raising programs have reached religious communities; educators and students; civic, church and professional groups; and radio, TV and other general audiences. Her freelance activities focus on Learning From Earth, Moving Toward a Sustainable Future, Renewable Energy and Green Building, Ecospirituality and The Future of Religious Life.

In the early '80s Paula gained direct experience with passive solar design and super-insulation techniques while converting a chicken barn into a passive solar residence, La Casa del Sol (The House of the Sun). Modeled on the cyclical processes in nature, it was built by volunteers, using largely reused materials.

A second major building project in Cincinnati resulted in the 1995 opening of EarthConnection, a center for learning and reflection about 'living lightly' on Earth. This 21st-century, solar-heated model of energy efficiency often provides tours. Several summer "Greening" Institutes have addressed the role of the Catholic, Christian, interfaith and educational communities in restoring balance within the ecosystems of our planet

Sister Paula has written many articles on Ecospirituality and has developed audiotape mini-courses for St. Anthony Messenger and Credence Cassettes. Writings include a chapter in "Embracing Earth" from Orbis Press, one on "Sustainability in Ecology and Religion: Scientists Speak" from Franciscan Press and one in "Earth at Risk" from Prometheus Press. Her work in solar design and construction is featured by the Union of Concerned Scientists in "Renewables are Ready."

Since 1986 Paula has been guiding Reflection Weeks, Weekends and Days (retreats) on the emerging spirituality that considers the ecological and social situation of the human community at this watershed moment in human history.

For more information about Sister Paula's visit, and presentations in Johnson City, visit www.greeninterfaith.org or email greeninterfaith@gmail.com

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