Home » Features » Loretto Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Untiring Support’ for EarthLinks

Loretto Celebrates 20 Years of ‘Untiring Support’ for EarthLinks

Posted on December 1, 2016, by Cathy Mueller SL

“One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.”

– John Muir
Bette Ann Jaster OP holds the Foundress’ Award to Loretto as Julie Schwab speaks at EarthLinks’ 20th anniversary celebration.
Photo courtesy of Cathy Mueller

In 1995, when Bette Ann Jaster OP and I were at a Loretto Earth Network retreat in Santa Cruz, Calif., on eco-feminism, we were inspired to share what we had been learning with others who did not have the same opportunities. What evolved was EarthLinks, a nonprofit in downtown Denver that would link persons who were homeless or economically poor with Earth and with one another.

We used Earth as our teacher and developed many ways to address Earth literacy. A day away in the mountains, parks or museum enabled folks who spent hours in lines for shelter, food, etc., to learn directly from Earth, to have time in the silence of nature and to experience community. Sixth graders from inner city and rural schools studied their bioregions and taught what they learned to their biobuddies. Women in transitional housing developed gardens, which became a metaphor for their lives: the potential in seeds; the need for space, nourishment and care; the time and work and sweat it takes to nurture the garden; the richness of harvest. Flowers and gourds, carefully tended and pressed or dried, became works of art in the hands of participants. This has expanded to beekeeping with its honey and lotions, working with wood to make bat boxes and mason bee boxes and artistic painting on large containers to make rain barrels, sewing and flower arrangement and food. The creativity of the participants is vast.

In Good Hands! — From left, Bette Ann Jaster OP, Julie Schwab OP, Kathleen Cronan and Cathy Mueller attend the 20th anniversary celebration of EarthLinks. Each has served as director of the organization.
Photo courtesy of Cathy Mueller

All of this is offered in a community of respect, acceptance, dignity and kinship as participants work on goals in their lives to maintain stability.

At this year’s 20th-anniversary celebration, Loretto was given the Foundress’ Award, the highest honor at EarthLinks, recognizing untiring support of EarthLinks’ mission and growing the capacity of the organization. Loretto has been supportive from the beginning, through personal collaboration and encouragement, financial support and involvement in programs, and numerous volunteers on the board, in workshops and at sales of products.

We have had the help of several Loretto Volunteers throughout the years. For the past 13 years, Mary Nelle Gage has worked part time on the staff in marketing and sales of the many products made by our participants.

EarthLinks began as a thought on the beach and a longing to share our abundance. It has evolved into a significant program reaching out to thousands of persons on the margins, welcoming them into kinship with all of nature. And, after 20 years, the stories and the people continue to evolve.

For more information, (or to do your Christmas shopping) visit: www.earthlinks-colorado.org.


Cathy Mueller SL

Cathy Mueller SL is a former president of the Loretto Community and current member of Loretto’s Executive Committee and Forum.
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Loretto welcomes you

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