Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 17, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Technology Can Help Us Contribute to the Sacredness of Life by Sister Debbie Timmis, CSJ


As Lin Neil wrote in her article last month titled, "Awakening to Good News for our Earth," this year the Home/Land Committee will feature a series of articles celebrating some of the good news that is happening for our Earth and how we can support and extend that good news in our daily life. As a member of the Home/Land Committee I think this cultivation of good news or becoming an intelligent optimist as it is referred to in the Ode Magazine is an important spiritual practice for anyone who advocates for Earth, especially for the Communities of Joseph who express their concern for Earth in these words of our last Chapter, "The sacredness of all of life and creation motivates our urgent concern for Earth and the survival of its life systems." I am convinced that this intelligent optimism is a spiritual practice because it requires a sort of discipline that has us hold lightly the ever growing atrocities our Earth endures on the one hand with the sacredness and good news we celebrate on the other hand. This is truly a balancing act and worthy of virtue which we may recall lies in the middle. These thoughts were kindled in me the other day when I came across this sentence, "Being an intelligent optimist is a discipline that invites us to live in possibility, says Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and co-author of The Art of Possibility." (See more at http://odewire.com/#sthash.cIDd2UY7.dpuf ) Our articles this year will focus our energy on the other hand while still holding lightly and advocating with all our energy for Earth. Hopefully, this good news will increase our energy for good.

I would like to highlight some good news with computer technology and its affect in the web of life. Though we are painfully aware of our destructive search for energy and its effect on Earth's life systems, there are some positive efforts to highlight. Since I teach technology to students in elementary grades, the introduction of iPads this year to our fourth and fifth grade students is an example of this good news, though I was not aware of it at the time. I wondered how we could best put this technology to use for learning, not really considering at first how it might lighten our carbon footprint as a school. I was very much aware of the countless paper copies distributed on a daily basis to our students and decided to direct my efforts to see whether or not our new iPads could help our school become less dependent on paper. Educators throughout the world are grappling with such issues, and I was able to research what others are doing which is a source of good news in itself. Our efforts targeted our use of the iPad (or really any tablet) and how we might reduce our paper consumption. I will highlight two apps that you may want to research or learn more about in order to integrate them into your own ministry. Both of these apps are available across the tablet platforms and also accessible in the desktop or PC environment.

Our first app is a shining star for me. I love the Dropbox app! You are able to download this app in the Google Play Store on an android tablet like a Samsung Galaxy. You can download this app in the Apple App Store. You can go online with your PC or desktop at dropbox.com and download software to link your PC or desktop to a dropbox account. The beauty of this app is its ability to interface across platforms and its ease of use. With this app you are able to keep a digital record of documents that previously you had to print or store on a USB flash drive. Your documents are available to you in any environment like a digital file cabinet. You are able to share documents for editing, share an entire folder with a colleague or simply attach a document to an e-mail. A free account is available and offers users two gigs of space. Please feel free to ask me about this app if you are interested, and I will be happy to help you get started.

A second app which again works across all platforms like dropbox is Evernote. Evernote is like having Microsoft Word along with a digital file cabinet. Sometimes you need to create and work on documents for your ministry. In the case of an elementary classroom, we needed to transition from printed worksheets to digital worksheets that our students could fill out with their iPads. Evernote will allow you to use your iPad to write on a document and store your changes online. These assignments can then be submitted to a teacher's dropbox class folder. With a little bit of tweaking it would be possible to integrate this plan into any work place or place of ministry. Evernote too has a free account with adequate storage capabilities for a regular user. If you would like to learn more about these two apps, there are helpful tutorials available on their websites, dropbox.com or evernote.com. Our students at St. Mary's also have some helpful digital hints available at www.smsbspa.org/webpages/dtimmis/index.cfm?subpage=1034958.

Technology affords us the possibility of contributing to a unique chord in the sacred song of life. My hope is that you will consider what technology can offer us and contribute to the creative process by using these technologies to create and foster more good news for our home planet, Earth!