Volume 14, No. 17
Sept. 6, 2010
How green is Canadian Mennonite?
In a letter to Canadian Mennonite on June 28, Angelika Dawson of Abbotsford, B.C., charged that when we challenged Mennonite Central Committee and congregations to be more environmentally responsible in a previous issue, we “failed to point the finger back at [ourselves].”
Here’s an attempt to answer her specific questions:
Is your magazine printed on recycled paper using soy-based inks? No. When doing informal bids recently on printing with recycled paper and soy-based ink, I discovered we would likely double our paper costs.
Web printers are using only partially soy-based inks (up to only 30 percent—not enough for us to run the an environmental logo with integrity). This presents a conflict of values: Do we increase the costs to our subscribers, congregations and denominational partners—the latter two of which are already struggling with diminishing contributions—and “go green,” or hold the costs in line while Canadian paper mills and ink producers get enough customer pressure to also “go green?”
Do we choose good stewardship or costly environmental changes? We are open to counsel.
Would your office hold up to an environmental audit? Yes, very likely. My predecessor went to the expense of installing special film on our largely glass front, reflecting—rather than absorbing—the sun, to cut down on cooling costs. Other than that, we are not sure what an energy audit would find.
How many of your staff use alternate transportation to get to work or gather stories in the field? Our managing editor has recently moved closer to the office and walks to work as often as he can. Others live at a distance and have to use cars. Our correspondents work mostly from home, using their phones/computers to gather stories. When onsite reporting at a distance is required, we often sub-contract the story to a local reporter.
Since our 12-member board of directors and six correspondents live in all parts of the country, from east to west, we are increasingly holding video-conference meetings. Our board chair holds executive committee meetings almost exclusively via video conference. We still think it is important to hold our annual meetings in a local community, where we invite pastors to attend and hold an annual dinner for local interaction, but our overall carbon footprint in this area is on the decrease.
Suffice it to say, environmental protection is a top priority for Canadian Mennonite. We are holding ourselves as accountable as we ask the church to be.
To the end of using less paper and more electronic technology to stay in touch with our readers, we are launching a completely redesigned website with this edition. It has much more capability for interaction and updated news. The home page will feature regularly updated news events, along with photos.
Since we are limited by paper, ink and delivery costs in our print edition, we are using our website—which is not constrained by page counts—to include more features than we can put into print: features such as more book reviews; perhaps a new “sermons” feature down the road; and a new subscription to Ecumenical News International, raising our awareness of important religious happenings around the globe, especially as news occurs in areas where our MC Canada Witness workers and our service agencies like Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Economic Development Associates and Christian Peacemaker Teams are active.
And our blog, which now has a moderated discussion, will be open to any and all feedback without needing the approval of a moderator. Our blog writers are anxious for your comments to widen discussion of the issues they thoughtfully raise.
Redacting historical information online
We can no longer comply with requests to excise names from our website and our online posted issues for two reasons:
• First, as a publication of record in the MC Canada world, such redaction makes the record incomplete. Historians would not find us a reliable source.
• Second, in the universe of the “worldwide web,” complete with the omnipresent Google and other service providers, excising information from Canadian Mennonite—a very, very small player in this universe—will not solve the problem of this information being public.