The Green Brain Initiative of PRiyaCOMM &
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Vassar College
invite you to
Sacred Earth Leadership Forum:
There is no cost to attend this forum.
To register, please click on the Registration tab.
For more information, please contact:
As the earth continues to be ravaged by the advancing cancerous archetypes of militarism, consumerism, scientism, economic growth, and the like, contemporary theology is recognizing the escalating significance of, and must now fulfill its role in the ongoing dialogue and actions toward sustainable development and environmental well-being, through a humanitarian approach. Whether through the reinterpretation, expansion, synthesis, or creation of new ideas and spiritual practices, the religions are charged with the immense, but sacred, task of continually challenging itself to find avenues to reconnect spirituality to secular environmental ethics and ecological activism.
Be a part of this significant event as leaders from the Native American, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions come together to explore theological foundations for principles for environmental actions and challenges and innovative opportunities for forging links between sustainable householding, sustainable development and ecological integrity, and reconnecting the community with their natural environment through enlightened living and environmental activism.
|5:00 - 5:45 p.m.||Registration|
|5:45 - 5:55 p.m.||Everyone seated inside Auditorium|
|6:00 - 6:05 p.m.||Ceremonial Lighting of Lamp|
|6:05 - 6:10 p.m.||Welcome Remarks (Green Brain Initiative)|
|6:10 - 6:15 p.m.||Welcome Remarks (Office of Religious and Spiritual Life)|
|6:15 - 7:45 p.m.||Panel Discussion (Reflections)|
|7:45 - 8:00 p.m.||Break|
|8:00 - 8:30 p.m.||Breakout Discussion Groups (Reconnections)|
|8:30 - 9:00 p.m.||Plenary Session (Recommendations and Resolutions)|
Ms. Karen Dipnarine-Saroop
The Reverend Dr. Samuel Speers
Reverend Gail A. BurgerPanelists
Ms. Donna Coane — The Native American tradition
Imam Qari Muhammad Asil Khan — The Islamic tradition
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger — The Jewish tradition
Reverend Jennifer Barrows — The Christian Tradition
Dr. Indu M. Lal — The Hindu tradition
Reverend Dr. Chodrung Kunga Chodron — The Buddhist tradition
PRiyaCOMM was formed in 1990 with the primary purpose to function as a medium to educate, shape and communicate the collective conscience of our agencies and peoples to advance critical issues affecting our planet and the people who inhabit it. PRiyaCOMM is a member of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. For complete information about PRiyaCOMM, please visit www.priyacomm.com.
One of the areas that we focus on is the environmental crisis. We are constantly endeavoring to find ways to alleviate the rapid deterioration of the ecological systems, starting with the communities in which we live. We have collaborated with non-profit organizations inside and outside of the US, and initiated projects that continue to be successful in rehabilitating the environment and the peoples who inhabit them. From these collaborative efforts in environmental care and regeneration have emerged our non-profit program called ”The Green Brain Initiative.“
We have begun to collaborate with various stakeholders within our communities to enter into research and dialogues to find common ground on the social and behavioral changes needed, and to develop and implement appropriate innovative programs, to reduce the threats to biodiversity and to transform the environments around us into cleaner, healthier, more efficient and sustainable ones.
The Sacred Earth Project is a program of the Green Brain Initiative.
If you or your organization would like to be a part of this initiative, or have ideas that you would like to share with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) helps students integrate what they care about most with their educational experience at Vassar. The RSL Office�s full time director and assistant director, and staff of part-time advisors�all representing various traditions�work together to support the college�s diverse religious and spiritual communities. Our student led communities include the following:
|Buddhist Sangha||Vassar Catholic Community|
|Vassar Christian Fellowship||Episcopal Church at Vassar College|
|Vassar Islamic Society||Vassar Jewish Union|
|Pagan Study Group||Unitarian Universalists|
Whether you�re a long-time member of a particular tradition or simply exploring, all students are welcome at the services, discussion groups, and other activities of these groups.
In addition to supporting these student communities, RSL has five program areas:
Religious Practices, supporting a diversity of rituals, traditions, and inter-religious dialogue
Peace and Justice, working to make peace with justice across religious and civic communities
Secularity and the Liberal Arts, considering how secular campus life relates to students’ “Big Questions” of meaning, purpose, and identity
Service and Spirituality, offering hands-on opportunities to live out your spiritual commitments in the local community
Arts and Celebration, encouraging students to develop skills for creating public art and taking time for reflection
Karen Dipnarine-Saroop, President of PRiyaCOMM and Co-Founder of the Green Brain Initiative, holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, as well as Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America. She has had an exceptional career spanning over 15 years as a key executive and trainer in the field of public relations and communications, and is a published author. Before moving to the US in 2004, Karen spearheaded the Communications Department at the Office of the Prime Minister (with special responsibility for the delivery of Social Services) in the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Since 1993, she has worked tirelessly to establish and advance initiatives to improve the human condition, and conserve the environment, ancient cultural traditions, fine arts and performing arts through advocacy, research, education and partnership development with community leaders, corporate charitable giving partners, international bodies and non-profit organizations in the US and abroad.
Karen is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, and has served as an executive member of the Board of New York Chapter of The International Association of Business Communicators, and as a Public Affairs Officer in the United States Air Force Auxiliary. She has taught in the School of Communications and the Arts at Marist College. PRiyaCOMM is a member of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Karen serves on Chamber committees including the Marketing and Social Media Committee, the IT Committee and the Education and Professional Development Committee.
Karen enjoys reading, serving her community, traveling and exploring new cuisines and cultures along with her husband, Sudesh.
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Speers is Assistant Dean for Campus Life and Director of the Religious and Spiritual Life Office at Vassar College. An ordained Presbyterian Minister, he began his work at Vassar in 1999. Before then, he was in campus chaplaincy for ten years at the University of Chicago, serving as Associate Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Sam is a graduate of Columbia University (A.B.), the University of Chicago (M.Div.), and Princeton Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He is Vice-President of the Association of College and University Affairs (ACURA), and directs Vassar College�s participation in the 2011-2012 White House Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.
Rev. Gail A. Burger has been an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. since 1988, when she graduated with a Masters on Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in NYC. A major part of her ministry was spent as Executive Director of the Dutchess County Interfaith Council, Inc. from 1991-2006. Now retired, Gail still leads worship regularly as a Pulpit Supply Minister; serves on the Board of REAL Skills Network, a youth program of the Family Parnership Center; does prison ministry; and works on several committees of the DCIC. Gail lives in Staatsburg NY with her husband Emerson and near her five grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 18.
Donna Coane was raised on and off the reserves and reservations in the native cultures of the Mohawk and Blackfoot tribes. From a tender age, these teachings were imparted to her by her eldest aunt, while she was taught dance by her father and great uncle who had a dance troupe that traveled the Pow Wow Trial. As Donna matured, she was influenced strongly by her clan mother and great uncle who was a councilman. Donna is knowledgeable and proficient in numerous teachings and practices including The Great Tree of Peace Teachings, The Seven Generations, The Iroqouis Ceremonies and Thanksgiving Address, The Three Laws of the Confederacy, Corrective Native History, Teachings of the Blackfoot Medicine Wheel, as well as dance, stories, songs, games, crafts and archery.
Donna is an original member of the White Deer Organization of Native Americans (ONA) and ONA Youths. She is also a member of the Association of Native Americans (ANA) and ANA�s Women�s Council of the Mid-Hudson Valley, as well as the Red Feather Singers and Dance Troupe, Bear Cove Moon Lodge, Camp Epworth and Thunderheartsings, an all native women’s drum troupe.
After working at the Department of Social Services for 12 years, Donna now devotes her life to caring for and teaching her daughter the native traditions, and advancing public knowledge of these traditions.
Imam Asil Khan has been the Imam at the Mid-Hudson Islamic Association Masjid Al-Noor in Wappingers Falls, NY for the past 10 years. Imam Khan holds a Master�s degree in Islamic Studies and Arabic, and has completed special studies in Islamic Education. He has also memorized the entire Holy Qur�an.
Imam Khan established the Green Club at Masjid Al-Noor, and continues to work closely with the youth to raise awareness about environmental issues, and foster activities, like recycling, to preserve the environment and protect the Earth.
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger has worked as an environmental educator, an interfaith chaplain, and pulpit rabbi, and is the rabbi of Temple Beth-El and Associate Chaplain of Vassar Bros Medical Center, both in Poughkeepsie. He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto, where his Master’s paper synthesized environmental ethics, Jewish theology, and contemporary environmental philosophy. A chapter from his master’s paper is reprinted in the anthology: "Ecology and the Jewish Spirit," edited by Ellen Bernstein, and available from Jewish Lights Publishing.
Rabbi Loevinger’s master paper research led directly to further Jewish studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, where he spent three years before transferring to the new Conservative rabbinical school at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. Rabbi Loevinger was ordained in 1999 as part of the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, which was also the first group of rabbis ordained on the West Coast of the United States. He graduated with academic awards in Jewish studies and a letter of distinction from the Talmud faculty.
He has served on the Board of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and is a member of the Rabbinical Assembly, the New York Board of Rabbis and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains.
Since ordination, Rabbi Loevinger has earned a Graduate Certificate in Management of Community Organizations from Tufts University and studied theology at Harvard. He loves riding his bicycle, hiking, cooking, bluegrass music, and bourbon that is old enough for a bar mitzvah. He writes an electronic Torah commentary every week that you can subscribe to by using the Yahoo Groups facility.
Reverend Jennifer McG. Barrows was born in India of British and American medical missionary parents and was raised in India, the US, England and the Philippines. She has degrees from Hope College, Union Theological Seminary, and General Seminary. She has taught theatre, been a caseworker for the NYC Veterans Welfare Center and the NYC Bureau of Child Welfare and supervised four drop-in centers for service resistant homeless people. Currently she is the Affiliate Advisor to The Episcopal Church at Vassar College (ECVC), serves as the Priest in Charge of Ascension and Holy Trinity Parish, and sits on the Town of Esopus Environmental Advisory Board, having taken training in Bio Diversity from Hudsonia and being a member of the Land Use Leadership Alliance of Pace University’s Land Use Law Department.
Dr. Indu M. Lal is a pediatrician, and has had a private practice in Hopewell Junction, NY since 1980. She graduated with her medical degree from MLN Medical College in India in 1971. In addition to her practice of conventional medicine, Dr. Lal completed training in Complementary Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is integrating Ayurvedic and Oriental Medicine now into her regular practice. Dr. Lal holds Specialty Certification in Pediatrics from the American Board of Pediatrics, and has been a Preceptor in the Department of Family Medicine at New York University Medical College since 1999.
She is a member of the Hindu Samaj in Wappingers Falls, NY, and believes in the concept of nature as “our Mother.” Dr. Lal speaks Hindi and Urdu fluently.
Reverend Dr. Chodrung Kunga Chodron teaches meditation classes at Vassar College and is a senior nun at Tsechen Kunchab Ling Tibetan Buddhist temple in Walden, New York. Before coming to Vassar, she served for five years as an Assistant Research Professor in the Religion Department at George Washington University. She has a Doctorate in Comparative Human Development from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has been a Buddhist nun for 25 years, is fluent in the Tibetan language and has translated over 100 works on Buddhist philosophy and meditation into English.
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