An Environment of Justice: Communities of Faith Responding to Climate Change

paiplconference2016presentersPA IPL’s 2016 Annual Conference
Sunday, October 30th
1:30 PM-5:30 PM
at the Church of the Good Shepherd
867 Grays Woods Blvd, State College, PA 16870

The conference brought together clergy and lay leaders of all faiths and none for a dynamic afternoon of nationally-recognized and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers.  Our 2016 conference year celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Principles of Environmental Justice, and the growing awareness of the intersection of racism, economic justice, and care for our common home in a time of rapid climate change.  Scroll down or click through for more.

 keynote — scheduleworkshops REGISTER bios — greenfair — sponsors


jalonne_white-newsome-107_5x7 - CopyjpegWe are delighted that Dr. Jalonne L. White-Newsome will be offering the keynote presentation at our 2016 Annual Conference, An Environment of Justice.   Dr. White-Newsome will be speaking on Climate Change: The Path to Inner Resilience.

Climate 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.


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 to help ensure that the concerns of low-income, communities of color were integrated into federal policy, particularly on clean air, climate change and health issues.

jalonne_white-newsome-107_5x7 - CopyjpegA 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.

In addition to her keynote address, Jalonne will be co-leading a workshop titled Putting Environmental Justice Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference with the Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.

ballenger_photoBarbara Ballenger is a member of the board of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Care for the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia.  She has a master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Ursuline College in Cleveland and  has worked professionally for faith-based organizations in retreat work, advocacy, curriculum development and pastoral ministry for more than 20 years. Barbara and Marcia Berry are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

marcia-berryMarcia Berry, an activist, educator, organizational development consultant, writer, and coach, is active in the Harrisburg Cluster of PA-IPL and has been conducting workshops on Active Hope and the Work that Reconnects (WTR), after studying with Joanna Macy for several years. Marcia weaves this work into her practices in the Baha’i Faith and her activism for peace and racial justice. She has an M.A. in Linguistics and a certificate in Multiculturalism and brings over 20 years of communications, entrepreneurship, education and training experience to her consulting practice which specializes in language, culture, diversity, leadership and organizational development. Marcia and Barbara Ballenger are leading Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change.

Dorothy Blair catDorothy Blair is a retired professor of Food Security, Department of Nutritional Sciences Penn State, who has worked abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines, and Bahrain. Presently she chairs the UUFCC Green Sanctuary Certification effort, works locally with Citizen’s Climate Lobby and local food groups, bikes to D.C. with PA IPL, and grows a huge garden.  Dorothy is leading New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating.

Alison CornishThe Reverend Alison Cornish
is a Unitarian Universalist minister and the executive director of PA Interfaith Power & Light. She has a background in parish ministry, nonprofit management, multifaith work, advocacy for the marginalized — and a passion and commitment to care about, and for, the Earth, which has shaped her theology and activism over the past two decades.

A graduate of Wellesley College, the University of York (UK), and Andover Newton Theological School, Alison has also engaged in ongoing study with Gaian teacher Joanna Macy, and is a graduate of the GreenFaith Fellowship program, which is dedicated to preparing clergy and lay leaders for the challenges of ministry in a time of climate change.  She has served as PA IPL’s Executive Director since July, 2015.  Alison is leading But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience.


Leland Glenna
is an Associate Professor of Rural Sociology. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of environmental sociology, sociology of science and technology, and sociology of agriculture.   He is a member of University Mennonite Church.  Leland is leading Climate Justice and Rural America.


Cricket HunterCricket Eccleston Hunter was our first PA IPL staff person, and now serves as our Director of Programs.  A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College (in Biology) and the University of Michigan (with a Master’s in Science Education and Curriculum), her classroom teaching has dovetailed with a lifetime of experiences with diverse faith traditions to support her work with congregations and communities across Pennsylvania.  She is a member of Grace Lutheran Church in State College, and is leading Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-4-52-09-pmPresenters from POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) include Terri Burgin, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Paula Paul, and Frances Upshaw, all members of POWER’s Green Justice Committee.  POWER is a multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives.  Terri is a member of St. Vincent dePaul Roman Catholic Church in Germantown; Julie serves Congregation Levy Ha-Ir in Phildelphia; Paula is a member of St. Benedict’s Church and St. Athanasius Parish in Phildelphia; Frances is a member of Calvary St. Augustine Episcopal Church, Philadelphia.  Terri (not pictured)  Julie, Paula, and Frances are leading Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate.

rev-dr-horacestrandThe Reverend Dr. Horace W. Strand, Sr. is the driving force for environmental justice in Chester, PA.  In the early 1990s, Rev. Strand of the Faith Temple Church founded Chester Residents Concerned for Quality of Living (CRCQL) to address the numerous environmental hazards that the people of Chester faced on a daily basis. He led his group to block the permitting of new hazardous waste facilities in Chester, and in doing so became a national figure in the suit Chester v Seif, PA DEP that went to the US Supreme Court.  In 2005, recognizing a greater potential to improve health and environment through cooperative action, Rev. Strand founded the Chester Environmental Partnership (CEP).  He is a member of the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board, and is an appointee to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Board (NEJAC). Rev. Strand and Dr. White-Newsome are leading Putting EJ principles into action: learning to build bridges to make a difference


Rabbi Daniel Swartz serves as the board president for PA IPL.  Currently serving as the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed of Scranton, he was the founding director of Greater Washington Power and Light, and he served as the Associate Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.   He is the lead author and editor of To Till and to Tend:  A Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action, and his comparison of classical Jewish texts with sections of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si has been used in congregations across the globe.  He is the grateful spouse of Rabbi Marjorie Berman and the proud father of Alana Swartz.    The tree featured in the photo with Rabbi Swartz is found near the Meeting of the Waters in Brazil.  It is informally known as a “messenger tree” — the sound of a stick beating on the “fins” travels for mile. It is from the genus Swartzia, discovered by the Swedish botanist Olaus Swartz (no relation, as far as Daniel knows).  Daniel is leading Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair.

denice-wardrop-photoDenice Wardrop is a wetland ecologist by training, and is currently serving as the Director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, whose mission is to lead and support the integration of sustainability into the University’s teaching, research, outreach, and operations. Her primary research area is the impact of human activity on the valuable ecosystem services provided by various aquatic habitats, from wetlands to estuaries, including such things as flood storage, water quality improvement, and habitat. She is struck by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and of humans, on a daily basis, and tries to understand how both can bring out the best in the other. She’s been a member of Good Shepherd Parish since its earliest beginnings.  Denice is leading Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?

 keynote — scheduleworkshops REGISTER bios — greenfair — sponsors


Putting EJ Principles Into Action: Learning to Build Bridges to Make a Difference
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

Led by: Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, and Rev. Dr. Horace Strand.

Want to learn more right now?  You can read a scholarly article by Dr. White-Newsome just published at the end of September 2016:  A Policy Approach Toward Climate Justice.

But Are We Ready?  Faith Communities, Climate Change and Resilience
Communities of faith have always been on the front lines of responding to needs in their communities, providing essential food, water and shelter in times of disaster; support to refugees; and food to those without resources to feed themselves.   But all of these conditions are set to intensify as the effects of climate change grow.  How can our congregations be the resilient, resourceful and responsive communities of faith that will be so needed?  And how will all faith traditions do this work in ways that correct, rather than perpetuate, injustice? Led by: The Rev. Alison Cornish.

Pennsylvania Impacts: What Can We Do?
As the science of climate change becomes more robust, we have greater confidence about identifying both future risks to the Pennsylvania environment and changes that we are already seeing. In this workshop, we will share our experiences of the changing climate and concerns and hopes about the future. We will also learn what individuals and groups can do to make our world more resilient and to help mitigate some of the worst effects of our warming world.  Led by: Denice Wardrop.

Dealing with Overwhelm and Despair 
We all lose hope sometimes.  The problem of climate change is so vast, with such dire consequences, and there seem to be countless obstacles to solutions.  But faith communities have unique resources to help ourselves — and other climate activists — walk through our grief and despair and come out of the valley.  Come together to share challenges and hear about possible paths forward. Led by: Rabbi Daniel Swartz.

Voices from the Intersection: Race, Economics, Climate
POWER, the multi-faith, multi-racial social justice movement based in Philadelphia, shares perspectives from its Green Justice group. Members integrate commitments to racial and economic justice in working for a planet that supports all lives. Challenging questions and the story of a powerful campaign to increase local solar jobs (a campaign at the intersection of race, economics and a livable planet) are part of this workshop. Led by Terri Burgin, Julie Greenberg, Paula Paul and Frances Upshaw.

Getting Past Getting Past Styrofoam
Now that you have ditched the styrofoam cups and started recycling, what next?  Yours is not the only congregation that has taken a step or two and then gotten stuck.   Come join a rich discussion of possibilities and approaches.  Explore both big-impact projects and smaller ways we can enrich our stewardship by recognizing it as a spiritual practice in the more secular parts of our home and congregational lives.  Where is the soil rich and ready?  What are you hungry for?  How can you prepare the ground to continue growing the work over time?  Led by: Cricket Hunter.

Climate Justice and Rural America
Rural America faces persistently higher poverty rates than other parts of the country. Moreover, with their dependence on resource-based industries, rural people are likely to be disproportionately affected by environmental disruptions, such as those caused by climate change. Environmental justice will require sustained engagement with rural people. Led by Leland Glenna.

New Views on Climate-Friendly Eating
How do we eat to honor and preserve the Web of Life while reducing climate-changing gases? Is veganism the only option? This workshop explores participant concepts about food choices promoting greenhouse gas mitigation, as well as emerging views on the role of farm stewardship.  Earth-friendly diets may be different than you think.  Led by Dorothy Blair.

Activating Hope in the Face of Climate Change
What if the world as we know it is not unraveling before our eyes but is engaged in a Great Turning toward life and health and interdependence?  What if sharing our pain for a world beset by climate change would reconnect us to our deepest powers to act on behalf of life?

Based on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”, this ACTIVE HOPE workshop provides an introduction to tools and practices for staying engaged for the long haul during this time of transition from an industrial growth society to one that is life-sustaining.

This workshop:

  • shares meaningful perspectives and frameworks that inspire hope and action;
  • engages participants in heartfelt conversation and truth-telling, interactive exercises, experiential learning, tools and practices that move people from overwhelm to empowerment;
  • equips participants to support others and receive support in the journey of going forth and taking meaningful action.

Led by Marcia Berry and Barbara Ballenger.

BONUS pre-conference workshop on SATURDAY on Habitat Restoration and Care for Climate Resilience.  Learn more, meet leader (and PA IPL board member) Greg Williams, and share the link and poster with anyone you think might be interested.  Greg will help your congregation do something similar.

 keynote — scheduleworkshops REGISTER bios — greenfair — sponsors


1:00        Registration and Green Fair Reception
1:30        Welcome and Opening
1:45        Keynote Presentation and Q&A
2:30        Break and Green Fair reception
2:45        Workshops
4:00        Break and Green Fair Reception
4:15        Plenary/report back
4:45        Visionary Award Presentation
4:55        Looking back, looking ahead, and Board Elections
5:20        Closing
5:30        Adjourn

 keynote — scheduleworkshops REGISTER bios — greenfair — sponsors


ad graphics coming soon!

 keynote — scheduleworkshops REGISTER bios — greenfair — sponsors


Reserve a table at our Green Fair  (Fee includes 2 registrations.)

 keynote — scheduleworkshopsREGISTER — bios — greenfair — sponsors

Mark your calendar for October 30, and come to the conference!  You’ll leave inspired, energized, and newly connected with other Pennsylvanians who are reaching out in faith to act on climate change.  You’ll add new skills and ideas to your toolbox for adapting for your own work and contexts — we hope in collaboration with PA IPL.  We’re totally excited.  Don’t miss it.  Gather a van-full of registrants from your area and let us know as soon as you can — we’ll apply for transportation funding for your group.

Browse past conferences.  Print and share conference fliers:  color flier   black-and-white flier