Members of URBAN-15 perform in“Tall Grasses.” Credit: Courtesy / Ramin Samandari

Creativity and innovative solutions will be key in local and global communities’ efforts to combat environmental destruction.

The Urban-15 Group, known for its dance contributions during Fiesta, will join the June 24 Global Water Dances movement, during which thousands of people on six continents will dance to raise awareness for global water issues.

That same day, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word International Justice, Peace, and, Integrity of Creation Committee will lead a localized gathering at the Blue Hole in the Headwaters Sanctuary adjacent to the UIW campus. They will proclaim the Statement for Sustainability in Solidarity with the Paris Climate Agreement.

“As one of the industrialized nations most responsible for climate change, the United States has a moral responsibility to continue working with the global community to reduce our impact and support those already affected,” the statement reads. “… We are impelled to speak out on behalf of all those currently impacted, those who will come after us, and our Mother Earth herself.”

The statement also describes the Headwaters at Incarnate Word, a local initiative centered around a 53-acre nature sanctuary that promotes science, sustainability, and sanctuary for all.

The San Antonio River flows near the Blue Hole at the Headwaters at Incarnate Word. Credit: Courtesy / Headwaters at Incarnate Word

“Through offering a space for reflection and environmental education, we encourage the ecological conversion Pope Francis calls for in Laudato Si. Through ecosystem restoration, we heal the land and connect the community to Earth care through active participation in its improvement and preservation. In collaboration with the University of the Incarnate Word and the National Weather Service, Headwaters at Incarnate Word bolsters climate science by collecting data via a collaborative weather station, the only such station in the region. Through these actions and others, we will continue to support the global community in countering climate change.

“As Catholic Relief Services has boldly stated, We are the cause of climate change. We are the solution.’ We remain clear in our commitment, and look forward to partnering with other like-minded groups and organizations in the coming months and years to continue addressing climate change, to care for those already impacted, and to further promote sustainability.”

The gathering aims to build united efforts for environmental justice through words, music, and dance. Headwaters intern Alyssa Cook will introduce the Headwaters Sanctuary’s mission and history and speak on water quality and conservation in San Antonio. Repeatedly the springs dry up, and droughts are an ongoing challenge in South Texas.

The Blue Hole at the Headwaters at Incarnate Word was full of water after extensive rainfall in February 2017. Currently this area is dry. Credit: Courtesy / Headwaters at Incarnate Word

Husband and wife Catherine and George Cisneros are co-founders of Urban-15 Group, a local company that has danced at international festivals and in the inauguration parades of several U.S. presidents. Catherine is the organization’s artistic director, an established dancer, drummer, and visual artist, and the recipient of several awards for her creative work. George serves as Urban-15’s music and media director, and is a composer, technology artist, National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship Recipient in experimental genres, and longtime proponent of experimental and community-based artworks.

As a member of the University of the Incarnate Word Sustainability Advisory Board, I constantly remind my students and friends that, “You won’t save what you don’t love.” Exploring the Headwaters Nature Sanctuary and the many mile-long paths along the San Antonio River all the way to Mission Espada at the south end can be transforming, and its beauty should allure us to be strong advocates for environmental protection.

“Standing with the Paris Climate Agreement, Celebrating and Dancing with Creation” will take place on June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Blue Hole at Headwaters Sanctuary, by the George W. Brackenridge Villa, Incarnate Word Campus, 4301 Broadway St. The Blue Hole is at the bottom of the hill west of the George W. Brackenridge Villa. For a campus map, click here.

Sister Martha Ann Kirk, a professor of religious studies at UIW, teaches “Arts for Christian Worship” and is very grateful for her students who are compassionate and creative.