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Justice Mission 'Go Local' Forum Stresses Environmental Responsibility

June 3, 2009

In an effort to raise awareness about the local environment and educate both OBU students and community members about creation sustainability, Oklahoma Baptist University's Justice Mission hosted a "Go Local" Forum May 4-7 on campus.

"By 'going local' people can have a tremendous impact on the environment, their health, local economies and relationships," said Seth Stallings, a senior from Heavener, Okla., who serves as co-chair of Justice Mission.

Monday, May 4, a panel of professors and local ministers facilitated a discussion, titled "Spiritual Perspectives on Creation Care and Sustainability," with the intent of spurring dialogue between guest speakers and audience members. Guest speakers included: Dr. Kevin Hall, OBU Hollums Chair of Bible and professor of religion; Dr. Warren McWilliams, OBU Auguie Henry professor of Bible; Dr. Bob Searl, pastor of University Baptist Church; and Father Clark Shackelford, Rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Forum participants watched the multi-award winning documentary film "Blue Gold: World Water Wars," on Tuesday, May 5, brought to the OBU campus by the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute and Sustainable Shawnee. A representative from the institute was present following the viewing to answer audience questions.

Students and community members gained local insight Wednesday, May 6, through "Get Your Local On! Farmers Markets and Local Action." The event provided an opportunity for forum participants to converse with Shawna Turner, president of Sustainable Shawnee, and Claudia Crow, farmer and co-owner of Crow's Vegetable Farm in Shawnee.

Bob Waldrop, president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, gave a keynote address, titled "Is Local Food Really Worth It? Yes!" on Thursday, May 7. Waldrop is president of the Oklahoma Food Coop and one of the founding directors of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network. He spoke about the advantages of purchasing local foods.

The forum saw an attendance of about 45-60 attendees per evening.

"I feel that the forum was very successful," Stallings said. "Not only were students in attendance, but community members as well. I heard numerous students saying that they were exposed to ideas and information they had never thought of or heard before. Overall I think it was beyond my hopes and excited me for possibilities in the future."

Sponsors for the forum included Bean and Berry, Crows and Sons Vegetable Farms, Cuppies and Joe, Prima Café and Sustainable Shawnee.

Justice Mission is an organization that seeks to bring about awareness of global and local issues pertaining to social justice, sustainability/creation care and also to motivate people to action. In the past, Justice Mission has conducted events and awareness campaigns on topics such as sweatshops, child soldiers and refugees. The OBU club maintains that being active and aware of these issues is a spiritual matter emphasized by Jesus Christ.