The Oikos Conversation: Schedule and Speakers

Thank you to our co-sponsors: Hope College, Urban Roots, and Eighth Day Farm!


8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-10:30 Opening Remarks: Framing the Question
Levi Gardner – 45 minutes
Panel – Steve, Tom, Nurya, and Lance

10:45-11:45 Breakout 1 (Theological)
Tom Boogaart: Industrialized Eating
Steve Bouma-Prediger: Why Be An Earthkeeper?

12:00 -1:00 Lunch (Semelink Hall at WTS)

1:00-2:00 Breakout 2 (Collaboration/Social Services)
Patrick Cisler: The System is Designed Perfectly…To Get the Results it Gets
Lisa Uganski: Ottawa County Food Policy Council-Local Efforts to Increase Access to Healthy Food
Emma Garcia: Access

2:00 – 2:30 Tabling + discussion

2:30-3:30 Breakout 3 (Race & Justice)
Jeff Roessing: Resurrecting Jubilee as Response to Gospel Versus Law
Nurya Parish: The State of the Christian Food Movement

3:30-4:30 Closing thoughts: interactive dialogue
Jeff Roessing + Levi Gardner

4:30 – 4:45 Dismissal and tabling


Dr. Tom Boogaart

Western Theological Seminary

Tom Boogaart has spent a lifetime immersed in the scriptures, as a student and teacher in the Netherlands and in England, and later at Central College in Iowa and at Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained into the ministry of the Reformed Church in America in 1982.

In all his scholarship and teaching, Dr. Boogaart is committed to helping the church recover the Scriptures as a spiritual resource. He tries to show his students how delving deeper into Scriptures brings them closer to God. Most recently he has worked on writing a new curriculum for teaching Hebrew in which students take the words into their hearts through various practices, such as singing, memorization, and enactment.
Dr. Boogaart helps his students to see the world through the lens of Scripture and to see more clearly God working for peace and justice. His own vision for peace and justice is seen in the ministries he has initiated at Western Theological Seminary: The Bridge, a fair trade store on 8th Street in Holland, and the Community Kitchen, a hot meal program served at noon in the Commons of the seminary.

Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger

Hope College

Steve Bouma-Prediger is Professor of Religion, Director of the Environmental Studies Program, and Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A graduate of Hope College, his Ph.D. is in religious studies from The University of Chicago.

His most recent book is For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, revised second edition (2010). The first edition received an Award of Merit from Christianity Today as one of the best books of the year for 2001. Other books include Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement (2008), co-authored with Brian Walsh; Evocations of Grace (2000), co-edited with Peter Bakken; Assessing the Ark: A Christian Perspective on Endangered Species and the Endangered Species Act (1997); and The Greening of Theology (1995).

He has won numerous teaching awards, including being selected by the Hope class of 1998 to give the Commencement Address, being voted in 1999 the recipient of the Hope Outstanding Professor-Educator Award, and being chosen in 2001 to receive Hope’s Outstanding Faculty Award.

His wife, Celaine, is a marriage and family therapist, a spiritual director, and an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. They have three girls–Anna, Chara, and Sophia.

Patrick Cisler

Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance & Community SPOKE

Patrick Cisler is a community developer at heart who has spent the last several years working predominately with nonprofits and government agencies to improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. Currently, Patrick serves as Executive Director of the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance and Community SPOKE, two organizations that seek to improve the community through collaboration with a special emphasis on strengthening the nonprofit sector. In addition to this role, Patrick serves in a variety of volunteer capacities including Co-Organizing TEDxMacatawa Events, leading a local exercise class with his wife called Healthier Holland, and serving as a Deacon in his church. Patrick is a life-long resident of Holland, MI where he currently resides with his wife Elyse.

Emma Garcia

Access West Michigan

Emma Garcia is the Program Director for Access of West Michigan, a network-based organization whose mission is to reduce the impact of poverty in Kent County. As coordinator of a network of charitable food organizations in Kent County, Emma facilitates learning opportunities on local food systems, healthy food policy training, development-based food security models, and other food system best practices for charitable organizations. Emma holds an M.A. in Ministry Leadership from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and is an adjunct graduate faculty member at Grand Valley State University.

Levi Gardener

Urban Roots

A West Michigan native, Levi has an M.S. in Community Sustainability and Ecological Food and Farming systems, experience in biointensive and organic growing, and is a certified Permaculture Designer.  He is a passionate teacher and gives frequent workshops and lectures on food systems, agroecology, and the pedagogy of place. He has designed and implemented multiple courses on food systems and agriculture, and works with local educators, community partners, and consumers to elevate the dialogue around education and place-making. Levi is founder and director of the nonprofit Urban Roots. Levi is always up for a cup of coffee to talk, and he ardently believes that the world desperately needs more celebration, beauty, and dancing. He lives with his two daughters in Grand Rapids, MI.

Lance Kraai

New City Farm

Lance Kraai studied religion and philosophy at Calvin College and lived with several other students off campus in intentional community. Through that experience, Kraai met his wife, Dana, and many friends in Grand Rapids.The couple moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Kraai completed his Master of Divinity from Regent College in 2009. While at Regent, Kraai interned at Jacob’s Well, a ministry that seeks to live in relationship with people on the margins of society, he says. He helped at the urban farm, which was comprised of two city lots. Food grown on the farm went to a large weekly communal meal.
In 2012 Lance launched New City Urban Farm in Grand Rapids off Leonard Street and Union Avenue on a two-acre farm behind Fourth Reformed Church.

Rev. Nurya Parish

Plainsong Farm

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish is starting up Plainsong Farm, a ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan focused on engaging churches in agriculturally supported discipleship as well as community supported agriculture. She writes the blog Churchwork and edits Grow Christians, a resource for families practicing faith at home. In 2015 she published the first version of the Christian food movement guide and served as chaplain at the Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Intensive for Wake Forest Divinity School. She will be speaking at Harvard Divinity School’s “Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture” conference next month so she would very much like you to tell her if she is (not) making sense today. She serves St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church as their associate rector with a focus on youth ministry and creation care. Her family has lived in west Michigan since 2001.

Jeff Roessing

Eighth Day Farm

Jeff Roessing is founder and director of Eighth Day Farm, a Holland-based nonprofit committed to cultivating communities nourished by regenerative agriculture where all people have land to grow on.

A graduate of Grand Valley State University and Western Theological Seminary, Jeff worked in a Montessori School before starting Eighth Day Farm with his wife Melissa in 2010. The farm has since grown a small CSA of 30 families to include over 200 families while collecting food waste for compost, donating produce to area nonprofits, providing summer internship for young adults, hosting field trips and workshops, and the Backyard to Table Project.  Jeff and Melissa live on 18th Street, surrounded by beautiful neighbors, a housemate or two, backyard chickens, and most importantly, their three energetic kids, Tsepo, Naomi, and McKenna.

Lisa Uganski, RD

Ottawa County Food Policy Council

Lisa is a Registered Dietitian and has been working as a Health Educator for the Ottawa County Health Department for 15 years.  She has been the Chairperson of the Ottawa County Food Policy Council since it began in 2011.  She has a passion for making healthy food available and accessible to everyone.  Prior to working for Ottawa County, she worked at Zeeland Community Hospital as a dietitian in both clinical and community settings.  Lisa lives in Jenison with her husband Steve and their two daughters.