Fletcher Harper: Faith-based communities for environmental stewardship
My work: Inspiring, educating and mobilizing people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.
This profile was prepared when Fletcher Harper was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
An Episcopal priest, Fletcher sees that spiritual communities in America represent, collectively, an enormous lever for environmental stewardship that is transformational, in its appeal and impact. Working through a deliberately interfaith approach, he offers a customizable action framework that supports spiritual communities in embracing care for the earth as a core value, finding its roots in their spiritual tradition, and connecting these concretely to the actions and consumer practices of their houses of worship and members. He cultivates leaders—seventy GreenFaith Fellows since 2006—and influencers within various faith communities and helps them along a changemaking ladder, so that they gain an interfaith peer group and the skill and self-permission to guide transformational environmental stewardship in their communities. Fletcher reaches and supports congregations directly as well through a certification program, structured as a rigorous two-year commitment, that guides participating groups as they embed a host of environment-friendly practices into the way they worship, what they consume (i.e. energy, food, cleaning products, and Styrofoam), and the policies they promote to create cleaner environments in heavily polluted areas. Having begun in 2009, the certification program now has thirty-five participating congregations—mosques, synagogues, churches, and so on—at various stages of adoption, with some “graduating” and beginning to mentor new congregations. Fletcher aims to realize wide impact over the next decade, bringing a broad faith-based network into the environmental action fold and positioning the religious sector as a key ally and distribution network and partner for utilities, environmental groups, and so on.