This is my third PA-IPL bike trip to Washington D.C. I wasn’t planning on going again. I thought I would make room for new bikers to enjoy the comradeship, beautiful scenery, and the chance to lobby our congressmen and senators about climate change. But somehow biking to D.C. has become addictive, and so when asked, I said gladly said yes.
I know from experience that the ride is hard, great fun and a privilege. I will join 9 other dedicated climate change activists riding through the beautiful hills of PA and Maryland and into D.C. on the C&O Canal, conscientious bikers supporting PA-IPL’s efforts to emphasize the spiritual and moral basis for climate change action in places of worship and promote this approach with our legislators. I have been honing my lobbyist techniques this year with our local chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby.
Being in nature is a passion I have maintained through my life. As a child growing up in Southern California, my family spent weekends either at the beach or on coastal mountain trails. Vacations found us in Kings Canyon or Sequoya National Park, hiking in the Sierra Nevada. I received my first 10-speed bike for my 10th Christmas and biking has been a life-long activity for me, along with hiking Pennsylvania’s wonderful system of trails. Being propelled by my feet rather than a car is part of the passion. Seeing nature up close and intimate, hearing the hermit thrush and white-throated sparrow’s fluting notes, is to know Earth’s precious jewels, but also realize that those jewels can be stolen away by our addiction to the ease of fossil fuels.
Each time I bike I relive that sense of childhood freedom of movement. I am not the kind of biker who takes century rides or loves to bike over Pine Grove Mountain. I am a can-do kind of biker; I know I have the stamina to get there and love the exertion, but I also like to pay attention to the natural world before it whizzes by.
As a teacher of nutrition and food security issues, I used to alert my students to climate change. Now retired, I try to give others valid ethical reasons to make a commitment to reducing their green house gas footprint. For my own part of the deal, I keep my electricity needs as low as possible, buy wind energy for the grid at a premium, feed my family and friends vegetables, fruit and potatoes out of my large organic garden and feed their souls with my flowers. I try to bike or walk for transportation when weather permits. Being political about climate change has become second nature for me.
Climate change is not hypothetical. I see it in Penn’s Woods. Sea level rise is now predicted to be 6ft by the end of the 21st century. While some areas drown in downpours, droughts affect huge areas of Western and Southern Africa, Australia and in US food producing areas. I have worked as a nutritionist and foods specialist in Asia, East and Southern Africa, and most recently Guatemala, and witnessed first hand the terrible deforestation caused by poverty, over-population, lack of cooking alternatives, and agricultural field prep via burning. Without rain people have no food to eat. Often the rains don’t come, or come too hard, with no forests to hold back the flood. Climate change refuges will soon number 100s of millions.
At the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County I am working with a strong group toward certification of our Fellowship as a Green Sanctuary. Certification requires that our 300 members and attenders assess their own environmental commitment and increase the presence of Earth-based spirituality and climate change commitment at every phase of our worship, education and action. PA-IPL is already a part of our Fellowship’s commitment, showing people of faith in Pennsylvania new ways to become engaged in loving and nurturing our Earth.
How shallow is the human consciousness — that we are Earth. We eat soil; we breathe the exhalations of trees. Life is tied to how literally we understand our debts to Earth.
or send a check, memo: bike 2016 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801
MANY THANKS to our 2016 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor, to our 2016 bronze sponsors The Bicycle Shop and West Arête, and to the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
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