Going Green

With Earth Day just around the corner, we knew, hands down, that Rachel Whipple had to be our Inspiring Mum for this month.  Aside from being a Mum to three beautiful chickies, Rachel is a huge advocate and guardian of Mother Nature; seizing any opportunity she is given to better educate others on the simple ways in which they too can live a greener life.  Whether she's advocating for cleaner air or teaching her children how to turn table scraps into compost for their garden, Rachel is living what she preaches and we are truly inspired. 



Thanks again for being so willing share your thoughts and insights on the importance of 'Going Green'.  It’s people like you who get us really motivated about doing more for our environment.  Would you mind telling us where your own love for the environment came from?

I’ve always been amazed by this beautiful world we live in. I can remember family road trips in the summer, when we would drive up from east Texas to southern Idaho to the ranch my father grew up on. I’d crane my neck, staring out of the windows at the mountains as we drove through the passes and collect horn coral fossils from the low limestone mountains around the ranch. And then back home, I’d work in the garden, taking time out from weeding to eat freshly snapped asparagus or blueberries, or bury my nose in jasmine and honeysuckle.  It’s a sensual experience, being a human, and when we experience this world with wonder and gratitude, our lives are full and meaningful.

Nowadays, you are very busy when it comes to being an advocate for the environment.  What are the latest organizations, forums, etc. that you have been a part of?

I was elected as a board member of LDS Earth Stewardship in 2012. In 2013, I was elected Secretary of the Board, and I was recently elected Chair of the Board for the year of 2014.
In 2013, I was appointed a member of the Provo City Mayor’s Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee. As a committee member, I have been assigned to work with local school administrations and volunteer organizations such as the PTA and PTO on Provo City’s anti-idling campaign.
I was elected Maeser Neighborhood Vice Chair in October 2013. I organize neighborhood meetings and service projects, act as a liaison between our community based police officers and the residents of the neighborhood, present information to the residents on proposed projects and development, and represent the neighborhood in advocating for their interests at city meetings for such projects.
I have also served in various church callings including several years in both Relief Society and Primary Presidencies, while also serving as a Cub Scout Committee Chair, and later a Boy Scout Advancement Processor.
I have spoken as a faithful Mormon housewife and environmentalist in several public forums, including lecture series, radio broadcasts and a podcast. Appearances include being a guest on RadioActive about Mormon Environmentalists, a Mormon Matters Podcast about Mormonism and Environmentalism, a speaker at the Swaner Eco Center Sustainability in Action Series on Spiritual Sustainability and Stewardship, a guest on Access Utah about Religion and the Environment, and an interviewee of The Mormon Women Project. Most recently I participated in a panel discussion on Mormonism and Environmentalism cosponsored by Weber State and the Institute of Religion.
       I have also been a permablogger at Times and Seasons and LDS Earth Stewardship since 2011, where I write about lived faith and the practical intersection of daily life and environmental ideals.

You are also a wife and mother to three very beautiful and bright children.  Could you tell us a little more about your incredible family?

My husband and I have been married for almost 16 years. We have a 14 year old son, a 12 year old daughter, and a little 6 year old son bringing up the rear. We have a lot of fun together. Last fall, the kids and I were artists for the Chalk the Block at the Riverwoods, and big Doctor Who fans that they are, they chose the Van Gogh-style The Pandorica Opens as the piece for us to chalk.

Having the deep-seeded love that you do for our environment, how do you help foster that same love and awareness in your children?

We spend time together outdoors. We walk together as a family to restaurants and the farmer’s market, and all of our kids either walk or ride their bikes to school, in all weather. We hike the local canyons and camp up in the Unintas and southern Utah. Even our 6 year old can pull a ten miler. We grow a garden and everyday the kids haul out the kitchen scraps to the compost heap.  We ride our bikes up to Movies 8 to watch family shows, and in the summer we ride to the Rec Center to swim, eschewing air conditioning to spend those few long hot days with popsicles and watermelon, playing and working outside until we’re tired enough to settle down in the shade with some good books.

When it comes down to it, we are all stewards of Earth.  Do you have any suggestions on how we too, can make a difference?

First, grow something, even if it is just a little pot of herbs in your kitchen window. Annuals like basil aren’t hard, and perennials like sage and thyme will season your food forever. The miracle of growing something is amazing, and to eat that food you know is a sacrament. So get your hands dirty. Second, walk. Plan your day so you have time to be outside in the world, seeing the subtle changes of passing time, feeling the hot or cold or pleasant breeze, smelling and tasting this particular place and time. Walk without your phone or headphones, alone with your thoughts or together in conversation with your friend, connecting yourself to the immediate and the eternal. If you want to make a difference, you must first open yourself to noticing and caring. So take time to wonder and be grateful.

Any final words of wisdom?

Right now we’re in my favorite holiday, holy season, actually: Lent.  For me, it is a time to acutely experience gratitude and abundance for all that I have, both the basic needs and the pleasant luxuries, through a short period of self-denial.  As a middle class American, I live a very privileged life, and I am grateful for this time to  remember that many of the things I take for granted are actually non-essential, and that I need not be a slave to convenience.  

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