I am a 72 year old 6th time biker for PA-IPL, an avid gardener, biker, Unitarian Universalist, and environmental activist. I have a 29 year old son working in cyber security in Washington D.C. who is every bit as avid as me about biking and fighting climate change.
I am hooked on our yearly PA IPL ride to D.C. to lobby our congress folk to enact legislation on climate change. I continue to ride because protecting our environment is an outgrowth of my spirituality and also my grand passion; protecting our environment while biking is a double hitter.
I have been in love with biking ever since I received a 10 speed on my 10th Christmas. The sheer joy and freedom I felt riding away from my house that sunny morning —lucky for me, we lived in California—repeats itself every time I ride. Due to gardening, gym workouts, and a wonderful P.T., my body is still springy enough to crave the freedom and power of self-propulsion.
Since I retired from a faculty position in Nutrition and Community Food Security at Penn State six years ago, I have greeted spring by training for our PA IPL bike ride. On Central PA’s first dry, near fifty-degree day, I jump on my bike for a 12 mile ride. And so it escalates until I am fit enough to join the group, panniers bulging, peddling up and over Tussey Mountain as we head toward Washington D.C. They say it’s all down hill to D.C., but it sure doesn’t feel like it. In any case, the joy and challenge of the road swells our biker-hearts and keeps our legs pumping.
This last year has been an intellectual challenge for me. I took over the presidency of the Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition, a group of about 25 concerned activists fighting local sprawl, water and air pollution. We work with municipalities handicapped by PA municipal law in their ability to control development and maintain the beauty of our ridge and valley farmland. We also work closely with ClearWater, our local conservancy. I have been on a strong learning curve, trying to master the rules and arcane lingo of municipal governance and zoning in order to speak up in municipal meetings for Pennsylvanians’ constitutional rights to clean air, pure water and the beauty of their environment.
I have worked for many years with the State College chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby promoting a price on carbon – a per ton carbon fee placed on fossil fuel as it leaves the ground, with monies returned directly to the citizenry. Year 2019 has been a ground-shed: our national legislators have produced bills with 30 house cosponsors: H.R.763, and we anticipate parallel Senate legislation soon, which will also be known as the Energy Innovation and Dividend Act. I find this piece of legislation very thoughtful and well crafted. Years spent cultivating our citizens and legislators have paid off!
I find that working toward a national solution to climate change blends well with local activism. My UU working group achieved the status of Green Sanctuary for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County by bringing environmental action opportunities and green lay-led sermons to UUFCC members. When given the opportunity, our fellowship voted 100% to endorse the concept of a carbon fee and dividend, and the Unitarian Universalist Association followed soon after by endorsing the national bill.
I feel we can ride to Washington with our heads up, knowing we have so many legislators who understand the urgency of climate change, knowing we will be well received when we visit their offices to ask for positive action on climate change.