Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Tucson, Arizona
Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Tucson, Arizona is the 2022 winner of the Cool Planner category of Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations Challenge for their plans to beautify and cool their neighborhood with newly planted trees and build food gardens to serve the food insecure in their neighborhood. IPL congratulates Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church!
“The members of Kidane Mehret Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church are grateful to receive a first place award, and we are inspired by the urgency of the climate crisis and our concern for the poor who suffer the most from climate and social impacts such as air quality and food insecurity on a local and global level. We want to serve as a visible role model in the community to show how we all can do something to care for God’s Creation. May God help us all in our efforts.” said Tes Menase, Board Member and Church Public Relations.
They plan to build a food garden on the property of the church in a new program that combines science and technology with sustainability, urban gardening and relationship building while supporting Tucson’s Eritrean community. This exciting program begins with engaging young people in building a vegetable garden under the guidance of Thrive and Grow Gardens, a local sustainability garden design company. As part of the garden build, participants will work with SARSEF (Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation) to investigate conditions optimal for growing culturally relevant crops for the Bronx Park community and will present their findings at the SARSEF Science and Engineering Fair in March 2022.
Participants and their guardian(s) will also develop approaches in managing money for their educational goals through a financial literacy curriculum with Wealth Building Strategies.
The garden plans include a rain management system to collect water to irrigate the gardens and trees and to prevent story runoff. Experts and volunteers will work together to implement the plans. The project will consist of a gutter/piping system, 2-3 infiltration basins, landscape plant materials, mulch/rocks, vegetable garden and 2,500-gallon tank. The projected efficiency savings from reduction in consumption: Roof rainfall supply: 17,759 gallons and landscape rainfall supply: 14,618 gallons.
The congregation plans to plant trees to cool down the building, reduce urban heat island, provide stormwater retention and enhance the character of the neighborhood. To start with they will plant four Desert Willow trees on the west side or front of the property to provide shade quickly. They will also plant two trees (blue palo verdes or ironwoods) to shade the east side and give diversity. Trees for Tucson and Tucson Clean and Beautiful will be furnishing the church with trees for their property to help shade it. Local First Arizona has helped with volunteers for this project in their partnership with Pima Community College.
This congregation’s mission is to offer outreach to Eritrean refugees and is supported in their efforts by many community organizations including Sustainable Tucson’s Charitable and Faith-based Sustainability Committee, Local First Arizona, Thrive and Grow Gardens, SARSEF, Wealth Building Strategies, Pima Community College, Trees for Tucson, Tucson Clean and Beautiful, Tucson Water’s Zanjero Program, Robert Bulechek’s Energy Management, Home Depot East Tucson, Lowe’s East Tucson, Tank’s Green Stuff Tucson, and Community Foundations of Southern Arizona’s African American Legacy Fund.
This project is dedicated to the late Dr. Harvey Buie Corbett.