Meet Janet Swim, State College trip leader, and tenth in the 2019 series of rider profiles. Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips! Learn more. Donate.
This will be my fourth year of bicycling with PA IPL to DC. This year I am the bike “leader”, though the truth is I am co-leading it with many other people both on the ride and within PA IPL leading through their experience and efforts to make the ride possible.
I go on this ride for many reasons. First, personally, the bicycle ride viscerally represents my passion for the need to make changes. Moreover, symbolically, it represents going beyond what we now define as ordinary ways to live to engaging in new ways to live that are more symbiotic with nature.
Second, morally, I ride with PA IPL, because I find religious groups are dedicated to attending to ethical dimensions of climate change—attending to impacts on people, animals, and, more generally the biosphere. These group consist of supportive intergenerational communities effort and express spiritual messages that moral, unifying, and hopeful messages of change. PA IPL is working to facilitate and unite these groups to give them more strength.
Third, efficaciously, I ride because of the connections and influence my fellow riders, the people I meet along the way, and Pennsylvania federal government senators and representatives. My fellow riders and I form a community of people dedicated to keep the need for climate change action salient across the state and in the halls of congress. For many of our new riders, it provides an introduction to civic engagement that they can carry with them after the ride. We support and are supported by people along the route. The people we meet represent those who are dealing with drug problems plaguing in rural PA, addressing poverty and homelessness in our cities, working to restore natural environments, and taking community actions to collectively reduce their carbon emissions. Our ride connects these communities.
One of my favorite stops is in Orbisonia, where we meet with members of a rural, conservative church. We connect with them on a personal level, serving them and sitting down to have breakfast with them. This represents a starting point to take down walls between people with different political and religious views. Last , we provide a consistent, annual reminder to our legislators that, among their representatives, there are those who believe there is a moral imperative to address climate change, which, for many, is grounded in their religious beliefs. The latter is sometimes surprising to young staffers.