Food Justice, Faith & Climate Change Forum

Food Justice, Faith & Climate Change

Date and Time: 

Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 9:00am to 4:15pm
Friday, February 12, 2016 - 8:45am to 4:30pm

University of Arizona ENR2 Bldng.,
Haury Lecture Hall for Plenaries 

Featuring internationally-recognized interfaith leaders, farmers, social justice activists & scholars:

  • Sister Joan Brown, Fred Bahnson, José Oliva,
  • Veronica Kyle, Katie Hershboeck, Teresa Mares, Don Bustos, Doug Bland, Kristy Nabhan-Warren,
  • Robert Ojeda, Barbara Eiswerth, Greg Garfin,

& interactive workshops involving you as well!

To register for this event plese follow this link

Drop-ins are welcome for the afternoon panel sessions, no need to register. Full schedule below.

For questions please contact:



Featured Speakers


Jose Oliva, Food Chain Workers Alliance

Jose Oliva is from Xelaju, Guatemala. Jose founded the Chicago Interfaith Workers’ Center in 2001 and then became the Coordinator of Interfaith Worker Justice’s National Workers' Centers Network. In 2008 he went on to run the Center for Community Change’s worker justice program.  Jose held several leadership positions at the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United the national organization of restaurant workers. He is currently the Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a national coalition of food worker organization that represents over 250,000 workers.


Nikki Cooley, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP)

Nikki is ITEP’s senior program coordinator for the Tribal Climate Change Program. She is of the Diné Nation by way of Shonto and Blue Gap, AZ, and is of the Towering House Clan, born for the Reed People Clan, maternal grandfathers are of the Water that Flows Together Clan, and paternal grandfathers are of the Manygoats Clan. Nikki has worked with the Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research on a Climate Change Education Program, and at NAU Talent Search working with underrepresented, low-income, potential first generation college students at 10 middle and high schools in Northern Arizona.


Rhett Engelking, OFS, Franciscan Action Network

Rhett's expertise includes group facilitation, community and sustainable living, experiential learning, small business management, and spiritual formation. Prior to joining FAN he was a Community Facilitator for the Center for Organizational Advancement at Rogers Memorial Hospital, Minister of an emerging Secular Franciscan Fraternity, a Catholic Worker, and resided for nearly 6 years in intentional living communities in the Milwaukee, WI area. Rhett is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he was active as the local President of the Catholic Students Neumann Association and a Peer Minister with the ELCA Lutheran Campus Ministry at UWM. He holds a Masters of Science in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a focus on Multicultural Community Counseling.


Patti Sills-Trausch, Faith in Action Ministry

Patti Sills-Trausch is currently the Director of Faith in Action Ministry at the Franciscan Renewal Center.  She leads a department that coordinates 16 different outreach and justice ministries.  One of them is the Care for Creation team.  She has her BA in Religious Studies from the University of Dayton and a Masters in Pastoral Ministry from the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University of Chicago. She has spent 33 years in ministry involved in youth, young adult, retreat and social justice ministries. She has worked at both the parish and diocesan level, as well as for a nonprofit hunger organization. She is married with two sons. Patti believes that we are all called to put our faith into action to create positive change in our world.


Veronica Kyle, Faith in Place

Veronica joined the Faith in Place staff in August 2008 to engage in the much needed work of linking/involving African American churches to the work of Faith in Place. She received her B.A. in Religion and Women Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University and her MA degree in Gender and Development Studies from University of the West Indies Veronica serves as a Commissioner on Illinois  Governor’s Environmental Justice Commission and is a 2013 Toyota/Audubon Together Green Fellow, A member of the Vital Lands Illinois Working Group and most recently was awarded an EECapacity Fellow of the North American Association of Environmental Educators.


Fred Bahnson, Wake Forest University School of Divinity

Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith. He teaches at Wake Forest University School of Divinity where he directs the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative. He holds a masters in theological studies from Duke Divinity School. In 2005 he co-founded Anathoth Community Garden, a church-supported agriculture ministry in Cedar Grove, NC, which he directed until 2009. His essays have appeared in Oxford American, Image, Christian Science Monitor, Orion, and The Sun, as well as in numerous anthologies.


Teresa Mares, University of Vermont

Teresa Mares, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Vermont.  Dr. Mares' research focuses on the intersection of food and migration studies, and she is particularly interested in the ways that the diets and foodways of Latino/a immigrants change as a result of migration. She is currently engaged in an ethnographic study examining food security and food access among Latino/a dairy workers in Vermont.


Joan Brown, osf, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

Joan is a Catholic Franciscan sister from the Rochester, Minnesota community who serves as the Executive Director of NMIPL. Her farm background, passion or the Sacred Earth Community and many years of experience in the non-profit and social justice sector inform her work.  She holds a Master’s Degree from California Institute of Integral Studies where she studied with Brian Swimme, Joanna Macy and others. Fr. Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin inspire her work for the long haul in helping people come to a sense of wonder at the marvelous world we have been given and are called to take care of for the future of all beings.


Kristy Nabhan-Warren, The University of Iowa

Kristy Nabhan-Warren is the inaugural V.O and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Fellow in Catholic Studies. Kristy is passionate about teaching and research and finds both vocations to be mutually informing and inspiring. In both the classroom and in her scholarly work, she focuses on the lived experiences of American Christians and their communities. Kristy’s published work focuses on American Catholicism, Mexican American lived religion, ethnographic methods in the study of North American religions, youth and religion, and women and American religion. She is the author of The Virgin of El Barrio: Marian apparitions, Catholic Evangilizing, and Mexican American Activism, and Cursillos in America: Catholics, Protestants, and Fourth Day Spirituality.


Other speakers and panelists include:

Barbara Eiswerth, founder, Iskashitaa Refugee Network

David Denny and Tessa Bielecki, co-directors, Desert Foundation

Robert Ojeda, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Moses Thompson, Tucson Unified School District

Morgan Apicella, University of Arizona, Community and School Garden project

Bill McDorman and Belle Starr, co-directors, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance

Doug Bland, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light

Dr. Katie Hirschboek, Catholic Climate Ambassador

Nina Sajovec and Sterling Johnson, co-directors, Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture



Food Justice, Faith, and Climate Change Forum


February 10-12, 2016


Co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Center for Regional Food Studies, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Southwest Center, Institute of the Environment, and Department of Religious Studies and Classics; with the City of Tucson, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Edible Baja Arizona, and the Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization


First public educational launch of Tucson as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy



An interfaith forum at the University of Arizona, ENR2 Building. Plenaries held in Haury Lecture Hall (S107), with breakout sessions in S225, S215, and the Bannister Tree-Ring Building, room 110.



Note: Every talk and panel will be preceded by 3-4 minutes of silent reflection, contemplation, or prayer. The speaker or panel moderator may have the prerogative to cut her or his session short in order to guide a reflection or meditation in her or his tradition as well.

Wednesday, February 10

7:00 pm: Food Justice Mini Film Festival at The Loft Cinema (3233 E. Speedway Blvd): feature film The Harvest and short films Man in the Maze, Forked, and Food Ministries in Tucson, AZ. Films followed by panel discussion with Jose Oliva and Don Bustos, with moderator TBA. This event is free to conference pre-registrants, others pay at the door.

Thursday February 11: Climate Change and Faith-Based Responses

8:30-9:00 am: Registration

9:00 am: Blessings and greetings: Gary Nabhan, University of Arizona, with Robert Ojeda, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild; Kevin Courtney, Director, Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization, with Rev. Leah Sandwell-Weiss, St. Phillip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church.

9:20-10:05 am: Franciscan Sister Joan Brown, Partnership for Earth Spirituality and New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light. “Laudato Si’ and Climate Justice in the Southwest.


10:05-10:50 am: Fred Bahnson, Wake Forest University School of Divinity and author of Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith. “Tree of Life: Perennial Faith in a Time of Climate Change.”

10:50-11:00 am: Break

11:00-12:00 pm: Panel: “Climate Change and Faith,” moderated by Doug Bland, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light; with Sister Joan Brown, Fred Bahnson, Dr. Katie Hirschboeck, Catholic Climate Ambassador and University of Arizona Professor; and Dr. Octaviana Trujillo, founding chair, Applied Indigenous Studies, Northern Arizona University.

12:00-1:20 pm: Lunch break

1:20-3:00 pm: 1:20-3:00 pm: Breakout “listening” sessions for interfaith dialogues: What are we currently doing?

Laudato Si and Faith-Based Responses (Bannister 110): Katie Hirschboeck, moderator and participant; Rhett Engelking, Franciscan Action Network; Father David Denny, Executive Co-Director, Desert Foundation, Cross International Catholic Outreach; Tessa Bielecki, Executive Co-Director, Desert Foundation and Colorado College.

Cross-Cultural and Tribal Responses to Climate Justice (S215): Laura Monti, Prescott College, moderator, with Nikki Cooley, Senior Program Coordinator at Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP); Vernon Masayesva, Black Mesa Trust; Sterling Johnson and Nina Sajovec Altschul, Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Roberto Nutlouis, Green Economy Coordinators and Black Mesa Water Coalition.

Interfaith Power and Light: Greening Our Places of Worship (S225): Doug Bland, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, moderator; Sister Joan Brown; Patti Sills-Trausch, Franciscan Renewal Center; Amos Smith, UCC Church of the Painted Hills.

Local Food Literacy for Immigrants and Climate Change Refugees in Urban Areas (S107): Barbara Eiswerth, moderator and participant, with Jillian Robinson, New Roots Coordinator, International Rescue Committee; and Iskashitaa Refugee Network members: Beda Nepal (Bhutan),  Koor Garang (S. Sudan), Oyewole Adeola (Nigeria), Alaa Al Ani (Iraq), and Fabien Chidandali (Congo).

3:00-3:15 pm: Break

3:15-4:15 pm: What do we need to do next? Dialogue/Listening Session moderated by Kristy Nabhan-Warren, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, in Haury Lecture Hall (S107).

5:00 pm: Possible receptions or small group dinners hosted by various constituencies, by invitation from community groups.

Friday February 12: Food Justice and Faith-Based Responses

8:45 am: Welcome by Lydia Breunig, Director of Community Outreach and Special Projects, UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

9:00 am: Plenaries moderated by Gary Nabhan

9:10-9:45 am: Veronica Kyle, Chicago Outreach Director, Faith in Place, an affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light: “Facilitating Deeper Conversations on Faith, Food, Race and the Environment, and Putting Our Values into Practice.

9:45-10:20 am: Don Bustos, New Mexico Organic Farmer of the Year and American Friends Service Committee Director of New Farmers Program: “Farmworkers to Farmers: Empowering Those Who Bring Us Our Daily Bread

10:20-10:30 am: Break

10:30-11:05 am: Jose Oliva, Co-Director, Food Chain Worker’s Alliance: “Taking Care of All the People in the Food Chain: The Role of Faith-Based Communities.

11:05-11:40 am: Teresa Mares, University of Vermont Anthropology and Transdisciplinary Research Initiative in Food Systems: “Justice for Farmworkers across Borders.”

11:40 am-12:15 pm: Panel: “Food Justice: Policy and Practice” moderated by Robert Ojeda: panelists include Kathleen Crowley Schwartzman, University of Arizona Department of Sociology, author of The Chicken Trail; Veronica Kyle, Teresa Mares, Jose Oliva, and Barbara Eiswerth, founder, Iskashitaa Refugee Network.

12:15-1:30 pm: Lunch break

1:30-2:45 pm: Breakout sessions

Growing a Future: Tucson’s Community Projects for Food Justice (S107): Nick Henry, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, moderator, with Dora Martinez, Flowers and Bullets; Nelda Ruiz, Tierra y Libertad; Francisca Cruz, Santa Cruz Neighborhood Association; Patricia Arteaga, Casa San Juan/St. John’s Catholic Church; and Chet Phillips, Compost Cats.

Involving Youth in Food Justice (S215): Rhett Engelking, Franciscan Action Network and the Living School, moderator and participant; Laura Monti, Prescott College (tentative); Roberto Nutlouis, Black Mesa Water Coalition; Moses Thompson, University of Arizona TUSD Schoolyard; Morgan Apicella, University of Arizona Community and School Garden Workshop.

University Collaborations on Food and Faith (S225): Kristy Nabhan-Warren, moderator and participant; Fred Bahnson; Teresa Mares.

Seed Libraries and Other Strategies for Providing Better Access to Fresh Food Diversity in Food Deserts (Bannister 110): Belle Starr, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, moderator; with Bill McDorman, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, Kelly Wilson, Pima County Public Libraries (tentative); Matthew Kost, Native Seeds/SEARCH.

2:45 pm-3:00 pm: Break

3:00 pm-4:30 pm: Building Collaborations for Next Steps Dialogue/Listening Session moderated by Robert Ojeda.



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