This Lent, parishes and schools of the Diocese of Salford were asked by Bishop John Arnold to take the environmental crisis more seriously and to make changes in their own lives that would make a difference. The Bishop didn't just ask others to make changes, he has responded to his own challenge by beginning a major environmental project - the Laudato Si centre - in the grounds of his own residence, Wardley Hall.
Named after Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and human ecology, the centre will create a space for practical action to care for our common home, which will help to leave a sustainable world for future generations. The final elements of the project will be agreed after a period of consultation with parishes and schools. The plan includes a walled vegetable garden, an outdoor classroom, chickens, a forest school and a wildflower meadow. This ambitious multi-phase project will take at least three to five years to fully realise. It will be open to the public and its is hoped will inspire the local schools and parishes to transfer some of the ideas on display into their own communities.
At the Centre ecological solutions to problems such as single use plastic will be taken from across the globe. Solutions such as an 'eco brick', which is also produced in Cambodia. The eco brick is a way of putting old plastic bottles to good use. When the bottles are packed with waste plastic they become a very useful material and are used instead of bricks for building walls. These are the materials that will be used to build the raised gardens and other small structures at Wardley Hall.
The 'eco brick' is an indication of the Centre's aims to be a place for practical action, inspired by faith, rooted in prayer and that gives a sense of the sacred for people of all faiths and none. People will have the opportunity to proactively engage with the pressing environmental issues facing our generation and the generations who follow.
A statement from the diocese says: "Our goal is to make the Diocese of Salford a flagship for effective action on Climate Change and by launching this initiative the Bishop is putting his words into action on his own doorstep."
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