“Hope. It’s like a drop of honey, a field of tulips blooming in the springtime. It’s a fresh rain, a whispered promise, a cloudless sky, the perfect punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. And it’s the only thing in the world keeping me afloat.” This quote from Iranian-American author Tahereh Mafi resonates with me, especially after the challenges we’ve all faced in 2020.
When I retired as an elementary teacher a few years ago, I was looking for a community where I could put my energy into action, to help future generations. I’m grateful to have found Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light because I’ve been able to do just that and remain hopeful.
As this difficult year ends, help us continue to be a faith based voice for climate justice so we can provide community and hope for so many across Pennsylvania. We need your financial support in these uncertain times now more than ever to advocate and care for our environment, especially those most vulnerable frontline communities. With new leadership at PA IPL and nationally, we hope to have a greater impact than ever before, but we need sponsors like you to continue to support our shared mission.
I’m proud and excited to be a member of an organization that has accomplished so many worthwhile things despite all the challenges of 2020. These include:
— Creation Care: We connected people to hands on opportunities to safely connect with each other and restore their environment. Through our tree planting efforts — and collaborations with the Keystone 10 Million Trees project, and scores of local groups across PA — we have planted over 3,000 trees in the last four years and removed invasive species. These efforts made measurable progress against climate change. We increased the biodiversity of our environment, we cooled our rivers and streams, we slowed down pollution and erosion, and we enhanced our environment’s ability to sequester CO2. Help us reach another 1,000 in 2021!
— Engaging Active Hope: Around the Spiral & The Work That Reconnects: During the pandemic, we offered a welcoming space on Zoom for an on-line community to meet several times a month. Inspired by Eco-philosopher and teacher Joanna Macy, this community of practice helped individuals express Gratitude, Honor Pain for Our World, See with New Eyes, and Go Forth to act on behalf of life. Programs such as this helped us to come together, reconnect, and seek hope as an interfaith community during trying times. PA IPL’s Sips of Sustenance emails connected to this work. These uplifting emails offer messages of hope and moments of reflection during the pandemic. The responses have been full of enthusiasm and appreciation across our community.
— Stories from the Road: Due to COVID-19, we reimagined a safe way to hold our annual relationship-building-fundraising-advocacy bike trip. It became The Stories from the Road campaign and featured stories, songs, and video from past participants. We reflected and celebrated the work we’d accomplished, and invited financial support for future work to come. We hope to give new life to this annual event and continue to advocate in Harrisburg and Washington DC.
—Beat the Heat: Since 2018, PA IPL has partnered with Esperanza, the City of Philadelphia, and the neighborhood of Hunting Park in Philadelphia to address a dangerous combination of heat island temperature spikes and the lack of public spaces for cooling off in the summer. Hunting Park can be 20 degrees hotter than adjacent neighborhoods. Before the quarantine, we were identifying and preparing local houses of worship to be summer cooling centers. The impossibility of gathering this summer shifted efforts to focus on creating toolkits for households. The groundwork we laid is already leading to further intentional environmental justice collaborations in the community. These efforts continue our commitment to frontline communities across the state.
— Our First Distributed Annual Conference: Our conference, The Long Journey: From Extracting the Past to Cultivating the Future, was held simultaneously in three physical locations across the state (Scranton, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh) with a shared keynote speaker and in person workshops. This format connected us across the state, and helped us stay rooted firmly in local experience and wisdom.
— Sustained Advocacy Calls: These calls informed, empowered, and equipped members with information about PA and national news and legislation affecting the environment. More than 114 individuals have engaged through these calls!
—Webinars: These included a “how-to” guide on hosting a book study of Joanna Macy’s Engaging Active Hope, as well as workshops such as Power from Above- Choosing Your Electricity with PA PowerSwitch. In addition to offering educational presentations and sermons, we continue to develop our Climate Justice Toolkit to serve as a guide for future congregations as they join us in this critical work.
In closing, I would like to ask for your continued support of our important work at Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. Please consider making a generous year-end donation to help us go forth. Your gift is tax-deductible. PA IPL uniquely helps make connections between issues, faith, and our common call to action across traditions. We continue to be a force for change capable of connecting diverse communities in a divided world. As the tumultuous year comes to a close, now more than ever, this common call — unity — is so important. You lent your muscles, you shared your prayers and stories, you embraced us as we pivoted, to quote Wendell Berry, “The earth is what we all have in common.”