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Shalom woods trail 2020
In 2020 a long-awaited project was finally completed. Before 2020 there were summer activities for youth at Shalom. As a part of that effort, we thought we could create a trail through the woods on the East side of the Shalom property. With the help of church members we “blazed” a trail through the woods so the children could have some up close and personal interaction with nature. The trail wends its way past Ash, Beech, Black Cherry, Cottonwood, Hackberry, Hickory, Maple, Oak, and Sycamore trees, a large granite boulder, and numerous other plants, including the ever-present invasive plants that we continue to try to control. Originally about 12 yards of wood chip mulch were created from the invasive plants removed from the northwest corner of our campus. That mulch was placed on the trail to make it more easily accessible year-round. 
Dagne Assefa Park Dedication August 22, 2021
Shalom dedicated the church playground and woods trail to Dagne Assefa, who was a long-time pastor of Shalom Mennonite Church and advocate for those who live in the church neighborhood.
Memorial tree planting August 21, 2021

A record 179 homicides in Indianapolis was set in 2017. In 2018 and 2019 178 and 172 were recorded. Then in 2020 the Circle City set a grim record of 245 homicides, 37% more than in any previous year. Unfortunately the trend continues. July (2021) was the most violent month in the history of Indianapolis with 32 people murdered, and dozens more shot and stabbed. As of August 11, Indianapolis had 873 people shot, stabbed or both, with 163 people murdered. The Fraternal Order of Police calculates that Indianapolis could see a jaw-dropping 275 to 300 homicides this year!

Indianapolis has not stood alone in the dramatic increase in violent crime. Time magazine reported that nationwide, more than 19,000 people were killed by gun violence and firearm-related incidents in 2020. The highest number in more than 20 years.

Shocking and disappointing statistics… But for many just random numbers referred to in the news. That changed for us Sunday morning November 22, 2020 upon receiving a phone call from a church friend informing us that his 29 year old son had been murdered. It happened about two miles from the neighborhood where he grew up and attended church. In the 2020 homicide database our friend was number 189. What we thought could never happen to us, or at least what we hoped would not happen changed in a moment. This time it it was our friend, not a random number in a database.

Recent years have brought a wave of violence to Indianapolis that carried our friend away. The COVID-19 crisis caused us to postpone a memorial event. We heard reports of balloon releases done to remember lost loved ones. At Shalom Mennonite Church we decided to plant a memorial tree. Our friend came from Ohio. We hope the Ohio Buckeye tree we planted will remind us of the life of our friend, of what might have been, and will continue to challenge us to work for change in our city.

Creation Care
The creation care committee works to provide a community setting of nature and beauty for both the Shalom congregation and neighborhood.  We are restoring a forest in an urban setting to provide educational opportunities as well as ecological stewardship.
Northwest campus restoration project
A new project is underway to remove invasive plants at the Northwest corner of the Shalom property. One of our church members remembers walking through the area in the late 1990’s, when it was almost completely clear. The first stage of clearing, yielded an impressive pile of cuttings. Thanks to the effort on a hot summer Saturday in early June, 2020 of a number of Shalom “senior citizens” reduced the accumulated brush to about 12 cubic yards of wood chips that were used on our woods trail. 
Shalom Mennonite now is a Certified Cool Congregation
Through Interfaith Power and Light, across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship to prevent global warming through the Cool Congregations program. This stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities and engages their members in reducing their carbon footprint at home. The program educates, inspires, and saves money too!
Plastic cap collection
For several years we had a dedicated church member that coordinated collection of plastic bottle caps. We made several trips to Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana to collect a bench and a youth picnic table. that were made from recycled caps. We no longer collect caps but the last batch of caps we collected were donated to the Cumberland, Indiana community organization to use in their efforts to source recycled tables and benches. Church members can now recycle caps through their respective curbside recycling companies. 

Invasive plant removal
Invasive plant removal has been an ongoing challenge at Shalom. Bush honeysuckle, Vining honeysuckle, Winter creeper and Buckthorn have been the targets. We have noticed that as invasive plants are removed, native wildflower species like Trout lily have greatly expanded their extent in the Shalom woods.
Tree planting
A few years ago we were forced to remove a large Red oak tree that had graced out church campus for many years. Last summer a storm took out the top of another large Red oak in the Northeast corner of the back parking lot. Some time back we removed an invasive Bradford pear tree that had been planted before we knew of it's detrimental influence. Recently an ornamental Cherry tree dies and was removed. But Shalom has partnered with a number of agencies through the years in  our tree planting efforts. The initial plan was to create the Peace path. Since that time a number of Indiana native trees have been planted, including, Basswood, Tulip, Buckeye, Kentucky Coffee tree, White oak, Red oak, and Burr oak .

Solar array installation
A request was made to use building funds already received and an appeal was made for additional funds to complete the project. Within a week the remaining funds had been raised and installation was scheduled. In November of 2019 Shalom installed an 88 panel solar array. By March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to cease most in person activities and the church building was not being used on a regular basis. Electric energy consumption dropped significantly while the solar panels did their job and generated much more energy than we consumed. Thanks to net metering, the energy Shalom produced entered the grid and our neighbors consumed the locally produced electric energy, saving transmission losses from distant power generating plants. By the time in-person activities resumed we had banked a significant credit of electric energy that we can draw on far into the future.

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