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Bike Blog 2017.7 Hill Visits and goodbyes

Steinbruck Center choir room bike 2017What a whirlwind, wonderful day – there’s so much to process from this amazing trip, but let me try to put down a few impressions. We changed several things this year to accommodate 18 riders. For example, in past years people found their own places to stay in D.C., but this year we all stayed together at the Steinbruck Center. It was a good decision. On Tuesday evening, Cricket gave a mini seminar on Hill visits to the cyclists, and passed out assignments and information packets. Everyone then studied these materials to prepare for Wednesday.

bike 2017Our main job is to build and maintain relationships with our representatives. Interfaith Power & Light is a unique organization in that we regard climate change as a moral issue. We do have specific “asks” such as bipartisan legislation to support non-profits reducing their carbon footprint (H.R. 2197 / S. 981 “Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot Program”). This is the kind of program that would directly help congregations like our hosts, the UMC in Orbisonia and CRUCC in Hagerstown, with their building projects (to the left you see open space in Hagerstown ready for tenants). As we learned from Rabbi Fred at Congregation Adat Shalom, efficiency projects at houses of worship have a multiplying effect with members.on the way to the Hill bike 2017

We also, of course, strongly advocate against the proposed cuts to the EPA. (The President has proposed eliminating the EPA’s entire enforcement budget, among other things.) But to be honest, these are Band-Aids on a broken arm. To keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, we need a complete transformation of our energy system, and the earlier we begin, the easier it will be – especially for vulnerable populations. Because we take a moral perspective, we speak for those who have no voice: our fellow creatures on this earth and future generations who will inherit the climate that we are already changing.youth and Alison bike 2017

Therefore, it is especially wonderful that we had such a large youth contingent on the trip this year – six riders in their teens! By 7 a.m. they were all up and getting ready to go, without any cajoling! We left the Steinbruck Center at 8 a.m. and took the subway to Capitol Hill en masse. Rev. Alison Cornish, PA IPL executive director, took the train from Philadelphia to join us, so we had five separate groups: Alison, Cricket, Janet & Ben, and I led groups to meetings in 17 of the 20 offices in our PA delegation. Dorothy and Louise extended our reach to meet with both Colorado Senators and two Representatives.Luther Place Steinbruck to Hill bike 2017

Each of these meetings is different, and each year is different, but let me give you some impressions from my experience and what I heard from others. First, Congress is in session, and that usually means shorter meetings, if we can get them at all. Not this year. We had lengthy discussions, often lasting 30 minutes or more. I definitely had the impression that Democrats and Republicans alike are feeling the pressure to seem more responsive to constituents.

Karl Carina THOMPSON bike 2017Nowhere was this more obvious than in the office of Rep. Thompson of the 5th district of Pennsylvania (PA-5), where GT made time to meet with us himself. GT is my own Representative, and we have nearly 700 members and fourteen member congregations in his district. “My door is open” and “Let’s meet again in Bellefonte” were repeated more than once. We discussed H.R. 2197 and the EPA, but I also pressed him on his view of our moral relationship with the earth. He rejected the notion of Creation being sacred, and said rather that it is a resource that God has given us to use, while also giving us the wisdom to use it wisely. There is something here we can share and can build on. Wise stewardship of resources is central to religious teachings, and the Congressman is concerned about invasive species and the health of agricultural and forested land in the District. We are far apart, however, on the urgency of responding to climate change.

Other meetings with Republican representatives were different. Reps. Costello (PA-6), Meehan (PA-7), and Fitzpatrick (PA-8) are all members of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, along with Democratic Rep. Boyle (PA-13). Jimmy Gray in Rep. Meehan’s office, for example, was anxious to talk about responding creatively to climate change and felt upbeat about the possibilities for real change in the current Congress. He emphasized that they fully supported the EPA and he listened carefully as Brett and Casey told their stories. In Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office, we were told that “is it time to move past oil” in building a new economy.Ted Jeff Cricket SMUCKER bike 2017

In that last meeting, it was of great help to have fellow rider Jeff Davidson along. In addition to being a member of Faith UCC, Jeff is CEO of Keystone Nano, a cutting edge biotech company in State College. It helps to have Rev. Brett Myers who speaks eloquently about our sacred duty to care and protect nature, and in Republican offices, of course it helps that over the years at least four riders have been Republicans — including Karl Raynar who is a strong supporter of Rep. Thompson yet differs with him on the urgency of responding to climate change.

This diversity of voice is a strength of our organization, but let me also relate another strength: leadership. In addition to Cricket’s amazing organizational skills and Rabbi Daniel Swartz’s vision as president of the PA IPL board, my son Noah couldn’t say enough about Alison’s skill at facilitating the meetings that he attended. Alison accompanied the youth contingent, and Noah said she did a brilliant job of helping them formulate their stories, and then giving them the time and encouragement they needed to speak in front of power (while occasionally introducing key pieces, such as the PA IPL Board Resolution on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure).

Like all non-profits, PA IPL is dependent on hundreds of individuals and our member congregations for its operating budget, and the more than 130 donors who contributed to the bike trip financial goals (THANK YOU!) have helped us to retain our outstanding staff. All of you who have read these blogs, who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers, are part of our community, and we are deeply grateful for your support.

packed truck Noah bike 2017After our visits, a couple of us dashed off to rent two cars and a truck to transport the group back to State College. Of course, I harangued the National Car Rental representative that they need to start carrying electric vehicles (they now have plenty of range to get us back home!). Karl and Carina left early, and another car headed off to take care of Bret’s broken bike, but the remnant stayed behind to clean up, pack the truck and enjoy one last meal together (Thai food!).

PA IPL is a community of congregations and individuals responding to climate change as a moral issue, and we have found that community with one another on the road. We help one another, share the burdens, and leave no one behind. I have grown very close to these people over the past five days, but I have also grown closer to my son. Let’s be honest: I barely got any sleep last night and the four-hour drive was not easy. But Noah kept me awake with story after story, reflecting on the trip, his past year, his upcoming year at Penn State. For those of you who are parents, you know how precious these moments are when you can share in the hopes and dreams, the successes and failures, of your children.before final departure bike 2017

Climate change affects us all, but by listening to, learning from, and working with one another, we can build the resilient communities that can respond to the difficulties ahead. This trip has given me that hope – thank you for being a part of it.

—Jon
for all the cyclists

#PAIPLonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
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and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
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Bike Blog 2017.6: Eat, make new friends, learn something new, repeat

Guest post by Martin Swim

Rabbi David Shneyer bike 2017[intro by Jon: As vulnerable cyclists on the road, we are deeply dependent on the kindness of our hosts, and no one has been more important to this trip than Joyce Breiner. Given our larger group this year, she suggested we stay at Am Kolel sanctuary retreat center. What an amazing place! I had met Rabbi Shneyer at Joyce’s house a few years ago and we immediately hit it off. He spent some time with us this morning explaining the relationship of human beings and the earth as told to us in the Genesis story.

Part of the point of this bike trip is to emphasize the “Interfaith” part of Interfaith Power & Light, to give our cyclists the opportunity to hear about what Caring for Creation means to Mennonites, Methodists, Muslims and Jews. Now, to Martin’s reflections!]

This was our Jewish day. We woke up in our clean, cozy beds, got up, a few things went wrong but we kept going.

Low points: We realized we had rusty chains from all the mud from the ride yesterday, we had one overnight flat, and one bent kickstand. We set off on our daily ride and within five minutes we had two dropped cycling gloves and one mis-shifted chain.

solar panels poolesville bike 2017High points: We had two of our riders (thanks, Casey and Carina!) volunteer to prepare custom omelets for all the other riders, we were able to fix all the minor problems, the nice folks at the retreat let us borrow a bike to replace the one with the wrecked front wheel from the day before, and we were quickly ready for the days relatively short 40 mile ride.

We were sent off with a song and a blessing from Rabbi David Shneyer, director of the wonderful retreat we stayed at. Then we stopped at the Poolesville solar array, where Joyce Breiner gave us the history of getting a municipality on board with solar power.Rabbi Fred Scrolls at Adat Shalom bike 2017

Continuing the day’s theme, we had lunch at a synagogue hosted by Kathy Bloomfield, Executive Assistant & Program Coordinator at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, got a fantastic tour of the inside of the synagogue and the grounds surrounding it, including vegetable gardens, and a pollinating garden. We got a very educational talk, jokingly called Judaism 101, and beautiful send off from yet another very friendly Rabbi, Fred Scherlinder Dobb.

lincoln memorial bike 2017We ended in DC, and after taking the traditional photos in front of the Lincoln Memorial, we arrived at the Steinbruck Center hostel at Luther Place Memorial Church where we had large quantities of pizza, hosted by Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and heard about the life of the volunteers.  After dinner, one contingent set off to watch a baseball game, while the rest carted all the luggage inside containing clothing for the meetings with our congressmen tomorrow, the reason we all cycled to D.C. Then, of course, some folks went to search for more food (!).

—Martin (and the rest of the cyclists)

#PAIPLonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
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and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
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Bike Blog 2017.5: People of the Mud

Pastor Gregg Hagerstown 2017 bikeGuest Blogger Ted Jaenicke.

We woke up at around 6:00am this morning at the REACH outreach and homeless center affiliated with Christ’s Reformed UCC church in downtown Hagerstown, MD. Members of the church made us a big breakfast, and Pastor Gregg Meserole gave us a blessing to send us on our way. Skies were gray and close to rainy as we loaded our bikes and headed out of town.Muddy tow path bike 2017

First stop, Antietam. We didn’t have a lot of extra time, but did make decide to ride up one extra hill – a steep one – to the notational cemetery at the battlefield. We then descended to the Potomac River and the tow path along the C&O canal.

If you haven’t been on the tow path recently, it’s gorgeous. The river on our right, the empty canal on our left, we entered around mile marker 69. Less than 70 miles to DC!

The tow path was in good shape at the start. But as we rode south, the trail got a little muddy. And then it got very muddy. Ah to have a bike with fenders! That would have been nice.

lunch Brunswick 2017 bikeAfter about 15 miles we stopped in the river town of Brunswick for lunch. Before entering a cute middle eastern restaurant (shout out to Potomac St. Grill!), we all compared our backs and legs to see who was muddiest. Did I mention that we were exhausted and hungry? Suffice it to say that we ate a lot of hummus, falafel, and all sorts of other great stuff.

After lunch, we had another 15 miles to go on the tow path for the day. Those 15 miles were even muddier than before! One of our most experienced cyclists wiped out, and it’s lucky that the mud provided a soft landing. He was okay, and so was his bike.Am Kolel bike 2017

We finally exited the muddy trail, which meant we had to bike up and up from the river toward Poolesville and Beallsville. Some very steep hills here, although that might have been the 50 miles talking. Our stop for the night was the Am Kolel Jewish retreat center with lots of rooms and lots of beds.

Hagerstown bike 2017 groupUpon arriving we washed off our bikes, showered our bodies, and then waited for Chinese take out to arrive – courtesy of our Poolesville friends, Joyce Breiner, and Dave and Alex Yaney. Joyce is the leader of “Poolesville Green” and a local advocate for solar panels and National Drive Electric Week. After dinner we heard about these activities as well as efforts to make Poolesville a recognized “sustainable community.”dirty leg bike 2017

Tomorrow, onward to DC. Will it rain all day tomorrow? Stay tuned.
—Ted Jaenicke (with input from other riders)
#PAIPLonbikes

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
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and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
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Bike Blog 2017.4: Crossing over… to Maryland

Prayer flag installed bike 2017Guest Blogger: Dorothy Blair

Sunday morning found the intrepid PA IPL bikers splayed out on the floor of the Orbisonia UMC outreach center floor, 17 sleeping bags arranged around the four walls like so many dominos. The day was chilly and dreary, but at 7:30 Pastor Ed Seeley arrived with a huge deep dish of egg custard and an out-sized crock stuffed with hot cakes (still hot!) to be eaten with syrup or yogurt. We all dug in like we hadn’t eaten since yesterday’s lunch!Rider day 3 bike 2017

Today was our most challenging so far: 55 miles, most of these up steep or rolling hills and over Cowan’s Gap near Burnt Cabins, all the way to Hagerstown, MD. Some of us left early to get on the road, but most attended 9 a.m. “Bible Study” with about 25 members of the congregation. Ken Scott, carpenter and builder, spoke on the book of Nehemiah. Fortified with food for both body and spirit, we biked off, through Penn’s Woods, over streams and by dairy farms, up, up those hills to meet the other bikers.swimming in the cold bike 2017

Notable sights along the way: the historical placards between Orbisonia and Shade Gap, beef cows on a picture-perfect farm, our reunion with the other bikers in Cowan’s Gap. Lake in the background, we snarfed down the plentiful food that Ben and Dave brought from State College in our very own sag wagon.

But we barely had time to swallow before time considerations drove us back to our bike seats (some of the younger folks still wet from their chilly swim) and down a 3-mile hill to the Mercersburg side of Cowan’s Gap. The push was on to bike the remaining 32 miles to Hagerstown before 5:30 p.m. and a dinner prepared by “Open Table” at the REACH homeless shelter attached to Christ’s Reformed United Church of Christ.

Bill Pike The Hope Center Hagerstown bike 2017Despite the multiple bike breakdowns and flats today, we spring through the last of grassy, horsey, rolling PA into Hagerstown by 5:25 p.m. Dead tired, we are greeted by real beds, sheets, and pillows. A delicious meal of soup, chef’s salad and multiple dessert choice, prepared by Bill Pike, leader of the Hagerstown Open Table program. We learn through a short speech by a young, formerly homeless man helped by Open Table that 8-10 mentors commit a year to helping an individual in trouble to flourish, simply by using their own social capital and skills. He is back on his feet, supporting his son (now in first grade) and soon will himself become a mentor. You can learn more about his important twist on helping at opentable.org.Cowans Gap state park sign bike 2017

As I write this, our young contingent is engaged happily in game playing while other bikers are repairing their bikes, chatting or reading. Soon it will be lights out, to sleep like the dead so that we can be packed and ready for our 8 a.m. breakfast.

—Dorothy

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
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and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
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Bike Blog 2017.3: Balance

Coal train bike 2017hard climb bike 2017The word for today is balance. My bike tires are about an inch wide, and as I ride my forward momentum keeps my bicycle up, with only this tiny patch of rubber on the road. 17 cyclists look rather elegant as we glide along the Juniata river. Our balancing act was particularly important today as we rode several miles along state highway 22, with only a narrow space between the gravel and the rumble strip. I was so grateful to have Paula driving along behind us in our Volt with the flashers on, and also grateful that we all made it through safely.

Balancing on our bicycles is a good way to be in this world of natural beauty, because it reminds us of the amazing balance of nature.  Wind and water, sky and tree, all function together in a beautiful pattern, one that is delicate, elegant and also in danger.planting sweet potoato slips plowshare bike 2017

No one knows more about these natural rhythms than farmers, and we spent an hour this morning working with Micah Spicher-Schonberg to plant a field of sweet potatoes. Farmers depend on the regularity of the seasons, on gentle rains and fertile earth. But these patterns are being disrupted by carbon pollution.Riverside Park Huntingdon bike 2017

We made our way to Huntingdon, for a wonderful luncheon hosted by Stone Church of the Brethren. Laura and Sharon told us about the work of their Sustainability Circle over the past 10 years and then led us to Riverside Park for an amazing event they organized on “Climate Change: Why Your Voice Matters.” About 40 people heard about the work of PA Interfaith Power & Light and Citizen’s Climate Lobby; they engaged in wonderful actions, including making prayer flags that now flap behind our bicycles.

Our ride to Orbisonia was uneventful – a snapped bungie cord here, a break for DQ there – and we got to the United Methodist Church outreach center ahead of schedule. Pastor Ed Seeley was there waiting for us with large quantities of baked spaghetti lovingly prepared by the women of the congregation (oh, and a HUGE platter of brownies!). If you come from a family of preachers, as I do, you understand that Saturday evening is a particularly busy time for clergy, but Pastor Ed generously spent an hour telling us about balance of a different kind.Orbisonia 2017 bike

Orbisonia UMC is on the edge between the wild beauty of rural PA and its dangers, and this church is in the center, laboring to keep the balance. We stay in a converted High School gymnasium that the congregation now wants to build out into a location for after school programs, bluegrass concerts, and worship. The resilience they build helps to hold families together. We listened, reflected, and prayed together – we are all connected to this rural congregation.Bike 2017 UNO

But right now, laughter is drifting in from the next room as the cyclists are all settling into our temporary home for the night. Jeff got things started by telling a joke, and then everyone started joining in; the youth contingent is playing spoons. Our group has already grown close over the past few days, as we have learned to depend on one another. Balance, resilience, laughter – these are the things that matter, that we must always rediscover. May your lives include a portion of the joy and camaraderie that is filling this room right now!final climb to orbisonia 2017

— Jon
and all the cyclists

 

 

 

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
NewLogoSM

and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
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      FreezeThaw small

2017 Bike Trip VIDEOS

Various videos, links posted here — super short snippets from Facebook (you can view even if you’re not on Facebook)

#paiplonbikes will bring up cross-posted Instagram videos, too…, and they’re reposted on our Facebook page…until some of the digital natives on the ride can help us post them here.clip-art-film-reel-clipart-panda-free-clipart-images-ZS8jFD-clipart

Donate online to PA IPL in support of the PA-to-DC cyclists
or send a check, memo: bike 2017 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801


MANY THANKS to our 2017 silver sponsor Sun Directed
NewLogoSM

and our 2017 bronze sponsors, the KBB Beth Richards Group and Freeze/Thaw Cycles 
KBB-logo-2-web
      FreezeThaw small