After settling into the Luther Place hostel in Northwest, Washington DC on Tuesday afternoon both rider groups made the transition to gear up for a day of advocacy in Congress with meetings scheduled for 14 of the 20 Pennsylvania Congressional delegation (2 offices are vacant). Cricket Hunter, PA IPL’s Program Director, took on the yeoman’s task of scheduling meetings with Congressmen or their aides, organizing advocacy teams, and then prepping 4 advocacy teams with a late night training.
As always, groups focused on engaging in real conversation rather than demanding. This year we had the pleasure of advocating for the U.S. Legislature to draw on bipartisan leadership in Harrisburg to build similar bipartisan support for transition to a 100% renewable clean energy economy by 2050. We also pointed to clean energy technology prize competitions legislation (which the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus has been leading) , and on the ways that rolling back both legislative and administrative clean car standards (drawn with industry at the table) would hurt vulnerable populations (including economically). Finally, we expressed our support for legislation that would release federal assistance for coal mining communities from an existing fund created for this purpose (RECLAIM legislation, faith op-ed) [fact sheets and one-pagers]
While responses to some of these specific asks broke down along party lines, a number of veteran cyclists commented that this year’s Hill visits seemed different; in particular many staff were willing to have frank conversations about clean energy, which have been rarer in past years, and 3 Congressmen stopped into our meetings for a few minutes themselves (Congressmen Kelly, Fitzpatrick, and Doyle). Several congressional staffers were familiar with PA IPL from past visits and even thanked the group for bringing faith-rooted moral and ethical perspectives into the conversation.
While the process of moving our Congress to support a just clean energy path for the country is a long term one, having the opportunity to engage together in advocacy was powerful. Several offices were impressed by our determination to pedal hundreds of miles to come to their doorstep and they listened. And the effort energized our group to continue the work into the future. It was clear that without Cricket Hunter and Alison Cornish’s incredible efforts the trip would not have been successful. And, in a bittersweet post-lobbying celebration dinner, the group had the opportunity to thank Jon Brockopp for his amazing 7 years of ride organizing as he passes the mantle of leadership.
In closing, we offer a Marge Piercy poem entitled “The task never completed” (found in this volume) as a final reflection of our work:
The task never completed
No task is ever completed,
only abandoned or pressed into use.
Tinkering can be a form of prayer.
Twenty-six botched worlds preceded
Genesis we are told in ancient commentary,
and ha-Shem said not only,
of this particular attempt,
It is good, but muttered,
if only it will hold.
Incomplete, becoming, the world
was given us to fix, to complete
and we’ve almost worn it out.
My house was hastily built,
on the cheap. Leaks, rotting
sills, the floor a relief map of Idaho.
Whenever I get some money, I stove
up, repair, add on, replace.
This improvisation permits me to squat
here on the land that owns me.
We evolve through mistakes, wrong
genes, imitation gone wild.
Each night sleep unravels me into wool,
then into sheep and wolf. Walls and fire
pass through me. I birth stones.
Every dawn I stumble from the roaring
vat of dreams and make myself up
remembering and forgetting by halves.
Every day I choose to take a knife
to the world’s flank or a sewing kit,
rough improvisation, but a start
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Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801) and a huge THANKS to all who helped us reach our goal!
to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,