Guest blogger: Joyce Eveleth
On the final eve of our trip we scattered across the Washington area to sleep (in my case) in a super comfy bed with a super awesome friend. With the encouraging words of friends at IPL, free cheese and wine, and some nifty handouts (warning: bad puns ahead) we were prepped to tackle another kind of Hill. The next morning we switched gears (told you) to trade spandex for suits and dresses and talk to our Pennsylvania representatives about the passions and beliefs that led us to pedal over 200 miles to speak with them.
We separated in 3 groups to speak to our 18 representatives and 2 senators to lobby specifically for some important legislation regarding climate change action. While each team had a different day, I can speak for mine in saying that while each meeting had a vastly different climate, on the whole our messages seemed relatively well-received. One bi-partisan bill we pushed for that exists both in the Senate (S. 600) and House (HR 2132), would be pilot program to provide grants for energy efficiency projects for nonprofits such as church congregations that would help offset costs and incentivize carbon reduction for organizations that can’t qualify for tax credits and has been introduced by Pennsylvania Congressman Cartwright. [editor’s notes: this is a revenue-neutral bill! and was -co-introduced with a Republican member of Congress from another state].
Jon led my group in reaching out to see where PA IPL could strategize to reach across the aisle and focus on joint concerns and possibilities for joint action. While some offices admitted a stance of “questioning” of the science, many responded well to our taking the initiative to bike to meet them, to hear stories about energy efficiency and weatherization, and to understand the moral obligation and responsibility their constituents feel.
I must say too that the entire day has given me fuel to engage both civically and locally with issues of environment and climate. During meetings with particularly Republican representative offices, I was continually reminded of my own past in evangelical protestant settings. A strong abhorrence for regulation coupled with a strong love for Life and nature in many areas feels entirely antithetical. I truly and absolutely believe these churches too need to take action in protection of the future for their families, earth, and all creation and personally feel motivated to challenge popular conservative views.
While we rode back in gas-powered vehicles, I had the continuing sense of bicycle revolutions, of hearing stories of other’s frustration-fueled bike trips to Harrisburg (Peter, who else?), and stories of life and questions and passions and energy, that in fact seemed to completely well up in each of us — a beautifully, inexhaustible, renewable source. And for that I am thankful, and because of that I have hope.
MANY THANKS to our 2015 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor,
and bronze sponsors Freeze Thaw Cycles and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
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