Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, software developer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

On Religious Leadership, and the GreenFaith Fellowship

June 15, 2014

An essay submitted as part of my application to the GreenFaith Fellowship Program. Hopefully I put my best foot forward ;-).

There are no clergy in the Bahá'í Faith. There is no seminary, and none can seek a position of leadership based on education, attainment, or station. Its governance is egalitarian and progressively inclusive. And yet it is inaccurate to say there are no leaders.

Summertime Goals: Building Relationships and Developing a Vision

May 25, 2014

Stirring up a grassroots movement is hard work.

Dallas Interfaith Power & Light's steering committee has been working together for about two years now. We've held a number of workshops and dialogues on diverse topics, including: forming a green team, energy efficiency, solar, health impacts of climate change, the value of our park systems, the science of climate change, and more. Perhaps 100-150 people have attended, although our actual signed-in attendance count is 84 across all events.

Continue reading at the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

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"Learning to focus" © 2013, S. Fuqua / T. Homayoun.
Ovenbird at Paradise Pond in Port Aransas, Texas.

A Quick Lesson in Black-Chinned Hummingbird Identification

April 20, 2014

In the east, you have the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. In the west, there's the Black-Chinned Hummingbird. As with many other east/west divisions in both the animal and plant kingdoms, the two hummers sometimes overlap right here in Dallas county – for example, you can find both of them at Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center at Cedar Hill. Living in northwestern Dallas County, we did not know which to expect when we set out our feeder a few weeks ago. Thus far, it is has been entirely Black-Chinned.

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Click for a larger image

Can We Talk About Climate Change? Pt 1

February 23, 2014

Last weekend, faith communities across the U.S. hosted more than two-hundred events aimed at expanding awareness of the reality of climate change. This was the National Preach-In on Climate Change, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light. As Co-Chair of Dallas Interfaith Power & Light, I was excited and honored to be able to give a presentation to my own community (Bahá'ís of Irving) and to attend the innovative Preach-Off on Climate Change in Austin. The Bahá'í s of Austin also afforded me an opportunity to give my presentation on Moral Imperatives for Climate Action, from a Bahá'í Perspective, at their Sunday morning devotional program. Hopefully I was able to provide something useful to a few people; I certainly received much from my conversation and participation with people from many faith backgrounds. This will, God-willing, be the first of two blog posts reflecting on the conversations.

A Green Future for Valley Ranch?

February 8, 2014

We got up this morning with merely grudging acceptance of the breakfast we planned on attending – an introduction to the Valley Ranch home owners association and committees, for new home owners. We left the meeting feeling excited and optimistic. We already knew that it was a good, "master planned," neighborhood. Now we feel more confident that it has a bright future as well, one that includes serious water conservation measures, ecological aesthetics, and social opportunities.

It Was All About the Networking at IPL and Physicians for Social Responsibility Event

February 1, 2014

Climate change and air quality were the unifying concerns at this past week's Dallas Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) meeting, held at White Rock United Methodist Church in Dallas on January 9. Our guest speakers, from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), attracted an eclectic group of people from many organizations - attended by active members of IPL itself, the Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk, Frac Dallas, and Americans for Nonsmokers's Rights. Each of us, from slightly different perspectives, are concerned about the damage we are doing to our selves and each other from continued pollution of substances such as mercury, CO, organic compounds, and CO2.

Continue reading at dallasinterfaith.org

Urban Gardening and Agriculture - What Is It?

September 15, 2013

Urban gardening and agriculture in public spaces are becoming accepted as potent means for personal transformation, small-scale economic activity, and for larger-scale climate mitigation and adaptation. This week, Dallas Interfaith Power & Light will be touring the East Dallas Promise of Peace community garden at White Rock United Methodist Church – built, of all places, on top of an unused parking lot! Based on the early feedback, we expect this will be the first of many opportunities to tour community gardens in the ambit of sacred spaces. Likewise, this will be the first of several blog posts on the subject.

Hastening the Collapse

August 12, 2013

pushing a bicyclist over a cliff

At a Bahá'í retreat on Conversations on the Way: Kindling Hope in a Time of Despair, the conversation following a presentation on the environmental crisis turned to the notion of hastening the collapse of the old world order. There is a thesis out there, amongst some Bahá'ís and in parts of the Christian community, that environmental destruction is a signpost on the way to a better world; it is seen as a crucial element of the retributive calamity that ushers in the promised day of God.

Then it follow, so some say, that we should not try to stem the tide of climate change, of ecosystem degradation, of the loss of biodiversity. Moreover, why should we not actively work to bring about that collapse by purposefully over consuming – so that the day of reckoning, when we must transcend our baser natures in order to survive (or achieve the rapture, in another theology), will arrive that much sooner?

The Oneness of Burial

May 16, 2013

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The closing from one of the many beautiful essays in Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril is incredibly moving (as is the rest of the essay), illustrating the beauty of simplicity and oneness with the world around us:

"When I die, wash my body with a cotton cloth. Bury me in a split-wood coffin crafted from trees that died a natural death. Lay me to rest in clothes I have already worn thin. Do not seal out the water and bugs and burrowing critters. Let me be absorbed back into the Earth. Let my body turn to soil. Even when I'm dead, let me nourish the future." (p107, by Carly Lettero).

In fact, it reminds me of words from 'Abdu'l-Bahá… I cannot find the passage I am looking for, but I have found another, more succinct passage, in Star of the West, Vol 11, No. 19 (March 2, 1921):

"The body of man, which has been formed gradually, must similarly be decomposed gradually. This is according to the real and natural order and Divine Law … that after death this body shall be transferred from one stage to another different from the preceding one, so that according to the relations which exist in the world, it may gradually combine and mix with other elements, thus going through stages until it arrives in the vegetable kingdom, there turning into plants and flowers, developing into trees of the highest paradise, becoming perfumed and attaining the beauty of color."

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Reflecting on a Year of Involvement in Dallas Interfaith Power and Light

April 14, 2013

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A year ago I began a personal journey that I had long wished to start: a journey of integration, practice, cooperation, and learning, all in the name of playing a small part to unite the strands of science and faith on the "common ground of stewardship of life", to paraphrase E.O. Wilson [1]. In the uncaring and inefficient sprawl of Dallas, I set out to find those who share my belief that sustainable living would only be achieved when individuals and society re-connect with the divine, with the highest potential of human nature. From many such personal journeys, Dallas Interfaith Power & Light has been organically emerging as a moral and practical social space for addressing the great challenge of our times, climate change.

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