Many faith traditions have long been rooted in a relationship with the Earth—particularly indigenous traditions, but also others, such as Jainism. And some early advocates of the environment and animal welfare were inspired by faith—such as Francis of Assisi and Buddhist emperor Ashoka. Yet the concept of ecotheology has developed largely within the last half century or so as the world has had to come to terms with the ecological destruction wrought by human society. Ecotheology looks at the relationship between religion and nature and seeks to find solutions to the current environmental crisis.
One of our favorite stories is that of teenager Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who, inspired by his Aztec heritage, became an environmental leader at age 6. Through Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl has been empowering other young people to become leaders in the proactive defense of our planet. He not only inspires us that we can change the course of climate change but reminds us that supporting young people means rooting them in community and faith but also giving them the space and encouragement to lead us with their ideas and passion.
Social innovation requires deep contextual understanding to shape solutions that will have a sustainable impact. In this story in the Huffington Post, listen to Nick Tilsen talk about how he rooted himself in his home community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is helping the community create its own future, deeply connected to its own history and spirituality.