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Climate Change: The Path to Inner Resilience

Join us on the afternoon of October 30 for our 2016 statewide annual conference, An Environment of Justice.  Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome of the Kresge Foundation will offer the keynote presentation, as well as one of 9 remarkable workshops.  She has shared her keynote teaser and workshop objectives with us, and we’re pleased to share them with you.

jalonne_white-newsome-107_5x7 - CopyjpegClimate change is one of the most pressing threats to the health of our communities, our cities and our nation.  The negative impacts of our changing climate are often felt by low income communities, and communities of color, whom are, in most cases, faced with multiple environmental insults on a daily basis.  As we acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the crafting of the Principles of Environmental Justice, the time is now to build awareness, to acknowledge the inequities, and encourage a movement that can facilitate a path towards building not only physical resilience to climate change, but enhance the spiritual resilience of faith and community leaders across the country.

 Workshop Objectives
During this workshop, participants will engage in a facilitated discussion that will:

  • Describe critical moments and foundational documents of the Environmental Justice/Climate Justice movement 
  • Provide examples of current federal policies that have unintentional consequences on environmental justice communities
  • Unpack the challenges and needs of climate leaders to build a more unified movement
  • Allow participants to share challenges and successes about the most effective/ineffective ways to educate, build capacity and advocate within and outside of your congregation, community, network of peers, etc. in a safe space
  • Leave hopeful, energized, with a list of resources, new partners and opportunities to inject equity and justice into your ministry and advocacy

Want more right now?  Read A Policy Approach Toward Climate Justice a scholarly article on the topic just published September 22, 2016.

Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome is senior program officer at The Kresge Foundation, responsible for the Environment Program’s grant portfolio on sustainable water resources management in a changing climate. Jalonne also leads the foundation’s work addressing the intersection of climate change and public health.   Before joining Kresge, Jalonne served as director of federal policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a community based, environmental justice organization, where she was involved with leading national campaigns tohelp ensure that the concerns of low-income, communities of color were integrated into federal policy, particularly on clean air, climate change and health issues.

A native of Detroit, Jalonne earned a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan School of Public Health; a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Southern Methodist University; and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. She currently serves on the board of US Climate Action Network and was recognized by Grist Magazine as “The 50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016.”  Jalonne’s career has spanned many sectors, private industry, government, non-profit, academia and now philanthropy.  She is a professional lecturer at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct professor at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

Jalonne is also an active member of her Baptist church, teaching Sunday school, and serving as a deacon.

Board Profile: Chuck Marshall

Chuck MarshallThis Board member profile is one of a series that will roll out from now through the early fall.  Board members are active PA IPL volunteers who live and serve across Pennsylvania.  Chuck Marshall is a charter board member who was re-elected in 2015.

Chuck writes: My entrance of faith to Central Baptist Church was through the secular portal of environmental injustice for all environmental pollution, whether it be a local waste processing facility in Chester, PA or a global buildup of greenhouse gases. Along the way I have adopted creation care as a theological framework for climate change work. Our church’s Ecology Mission Group has fostered climate disruption efforts for at least 10 years since we first purchased wind energy for our church and our mission house. Our mission group, which guides our church’s beliefs and energy conservation practices, believes in stewardship and not domination. We installed solar panels in 2009 and as of August 2017 have generated 80,000 kwh of electricity. This work with solar panels brought us in touch with PA IPL and a continuing relationship among CBC, me and PA IPL.

Chuck Marshall sells LED 15wI joined the board of PA IPL because I believed that PA IPL had the potential to be the most effective interfaith organization in Pennsylvania. I felt that the programs implemented by CBC over the years would give be experience and knowledge to contribute to PA IPL. I believe that the thousands of buildings operated by faith groups represent a substantial portion of energy consumption in PA and represent millions of people that can be reached to effect energy conservation and efficiency in their own lives.

Personally, I have been involved in implementing the installation of solar panels at CBC and reducing CBC’s carbon footprint to zero. I use LED lights at home.  We are a one car family by choice, and we have increased our efficiency to the point that we only consume 4,854 kwh of electricity per year at our residence.

When I’m not working on climate change, I enjoy singing (not as a soloist) in CBC’s choir and a community choir called the Norristown Chorale.  I raise funds for the chorale by recycling small electronic gadgets and sending to eScrip for recycling.

Want more inspiration?   How about a personal reflection from another CBC member about the impact of their Getting To Zero — published in GRID Magazine.

Islamic Horizons: Divest and Reinvest

Reprinted from Islamic Horizons, September-October 2016, pp. 38-39
written by Saffet Abid Catovic, one of the authors of the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.Islamic Horizons COP21 and divestment

Muslims involved in the environmental “green” movement often cite two of Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) hadiths: “Indeed the world is green and sweet, and indeed God has left you to remain to see how you behave. So beware of the world, beware of the world” and “People have common share in three (things): Grass (herbage/vegetation for humanity and animals), water and fire (light, heat and power, which includes the electrical power derived from burning fossil fuels and other sources of energy).”

Most conflicts throughout history, regardless of their size, can be tied, in one way or another, to one side’s access and/or control over these finite life-sustaining resources. Currently, these resources are not being shared equitably, in terms of the present members of creation and those yet to come. Just as the global faith communities and their leaders have declared their intent to battle climate change by releasing statements and declarations (e.g., the Papal Encyclical on the Environment and Climate Change and Laudato Si), local faith leaders must continue to mobilize their congregations to pursue this cause.

Meeting in Istanbul on Aug. 17-18, 2015, over 60 Muslim scholars, academics, and environmental activists from around the world adopted an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. This bold grassroots initiative was driven by various NGOs, including…

Read the rest of the article at Islamic Horizons (you will have to navigate to pp. 38-39), or via a PDF of the same article.

The Islamic Declaration on Climate Change that was released in the space between the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, and the COP21 talks in Paris.  You can find links to the encyclical, the Islamic Declaration, and many other multifaith resources published in that time period on our website here.

Pipeline infrastructure

Interfaith Power & Light has joined a faith sign-on letter in support of the Standing Rock Sioux, reprinted below the first horizontal divider.

In addition, Philadelphia PA IPL has sent a letter connecting their work on proposed expansion of oil and gas receiving and processing plants with the work that the Sioux Nation and others are doing in North Dakota on the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Reprinted below the second horizontal divider.

PA IPL’s Board Resolution on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure speaks to our work in Pennsylvania, and is relevant to the choices we make about infrastructure in Pennsylvania and well beyond.    Continue reading

Board Profile: Bill Lochstet

Bill Lochstet PennCentral Conference UCC 2016 Bright Idea

Bill Lochstet (left) at the collection point for Bright Idea at the Penn Central UCC conference

This Board member profile is one of a series that will roll out from now through the early fall.  Board members are active PA IPL volunteers who live and serve across Pennsylvania.  Bill Lochstet was elected to the Board for a 3-year term in October 2013.

When I first heard about a plan to explode an atomic bomb underground near Renovo, PA, I wanted to learn more about it. I learned that the project was intended to create an underground cavity to store natural gas during the summer that could be delivered to customers in the winter. I understood from my study of physics that radioactivity from the explosion would be released to the air and delivered with the gas to customers homes. This would be a threat to people’s health. My faith is about healing and feeding people, not doing harm. Many people came to realize the injustice of this idea, opposed it and the plan was canceled.

A few years later, a friend told me about a plan to build a nuclear breeder reactor plant in northeast Pennsylvania. A study of this plan revealed many hazards, including the release of radioactive materials, which were not taken seriously. When the details were discussed publicly, the injustices became apparent.  The wisdom and faith values of the people of the area prevailed, and the proposal was withdrawn.

For several years, I sought to critique government assessments of the health impacts of long lasting radioactive materials. In such a situation, the number of people contracting cancer each year is small, but the hazard persists for millions of years. However, the government    evaluations of harm to peoples’ health only extended over the first one thousand years.  We are all brothers and sisters on this planet,  including our many previous generations, and all of our generations of the future. This is the meaning of the “good Samaritan” story. There is no statute of limitations, all people count.

I remember, a long time ago, asking a clergy friend for biblical references on caring for the Continue reading

Board Profile: Greg Williams

This Board member profile is one of a series that will roll out from now through the early fall.  Board members are active PA IPL volunteers who live and serve across Pennsylvania.  Greg Williams was elected to the Board for a 3-year term in October 2015Lula and Greg #1 7.27.

After being plunged into despair that my beloved natural world was changing rapidly, as cities flooded and thousands were rendered homeless, I have come to an awareness that I am called to work to reverse our planet’s precipitous path to climate disaster.  I have awakened to the horror that my granddaughter Talula and other three year olds will face a declining quality of life as they reach adulthood.  I have been pulled out of a kind of denial that had led me to believe I was powerless in the face of such a catastrophe.  I have been rescued from these depths by my faith that my God is powerful enough to somehow save the planet, again, but that I, and a boatload of other folks, need to find hope and get to work.

I found that boatload first in the Philadelphia cluster of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light a couple of years ago. I was emboldened to organize a Climate Action Team at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, and together we started the ongoing process of educating ourselves, changing, bit by bit, our bad environmental habits, and praying hard about ways we might respond together to this profound threat.  I’ve eased into the uncomfortable (for me) role of rebel and have gone to public hearings fighting against pipelines and new refineries along the Delaware River in Philadelphia.  I was humbled to be invited and delighted to join the Board 10 months ago, even though it meant more meetings—not my favorite activity.

In our Board Retreat at Pendle Hill a week ago, one reflection was that any movement, including our fight against climate change, requires at least four different types of folks Continue reading