Stories from the Road — I don’t know how to not do this work.

This week, Rabbi Daniel Burg from Beth Am Congregation in Baltimore, reflects on the work of his Reservoir Hill community around racism and environmental justice. Rabbi Burg hosted the cyclists from Philadelphia in 2018. His community created a non-profit, “In For Of, Inc.” in 2013 to deepen relationships between Beth Am and the primarily African American residents of their neighborhood. Listen to Daniel’s reflections:

For 8 years PA IPL has sent cyclists from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. as a low-carbon way to advocate for our planet and financially support PA IPL. This summer we are telling stories from the road. Join us on social media in August for weekly stories from past participants, engagement in climate justice, and investment in the future of PA. (See how our donation tree is growing and help us meet our $30,000 fundraising goal.)

Other voices from the road: Bill Pike

As a perennial host, Bill Pike has hosted many groups of riders. He is the current president of REACH’s Board of Directors, a Hagerstown organization focused on assisting low income and impoverished families during times of crisis. Read William’s full reflection here.

Take Action: Learn about Environmental Racism

Frontline communities are those that experience the impact of climate disruption first and worst, often because of the concentration of direct pollution from fossil-fuel industries in their neighborhoods; many frontline neighborhoods are also low-lying, flash-flood prone, or are heat islands. Frontline communities are most often low-income and disproportionately made up of people of color. A 2018 EPA report found that Black Americans are three times more likely to die from causes related to pollution than their White counterparts.

Expand the conversation that leads to climate justice by gathering a group to study, discuss and discern response.

  • Learn how a front line community in Philadelphia took on Philadelphia Energy Solutions for damaging the health of their community, in this New York Times Magazine article. Then read this article from State Impact Pennsylvania on the connection between climate change, structural racism and birth issues.
  • Watch. The people of the city of Chester in Delaware County just west of Philadelphia, have been battling environmental racism for decades. Listen to their voices from this 2009 video created by DelCo Alliance for Environmental Justice.  
  • Discover which of the nation’s top 100 toxic polluters are in Pennsylvania, and who lives nearby in this interactive map created as part of Breath to the People: Sacred Air and Toxic Pollution, a report prepared for the United Church of Christ by the Environmental Integrity Project. 
  • Discuss. PA IPL includes a “discussion hook” in each of its Sustained Advocacy call summaries, many of which touch on environmental injustice — or work toward climate justice. (Click through for one example of each.)

Turn to Prayer

Please hold PA IPL and all who are working toward climate justice in your prayers through the week.

In 2019, PA IPL supporters “paved the cyclists’ way with prayer,” submitting original prayers, poems and artwork to express the deep faith that underlies their commitment to climate justice and care. The cyclists shared a compilation of these prayers with elected officials in Washington, as part of their advocacy conversations. Each week we are featuring a different prayer from the collection.

A member of Philadelphia PA IPL contributed this week’s prayer

Save the Date for the Stories from the Road Live Celebration, Sept. 1

On Sep. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, at 7:00 pm, we’ll gather for a live, zoom-based Stories from the Road Celebration, featuring live music, prayer, storytelling, and a chance to share your own stories of climate work with people throughout the state. 

The event is free with a donation to PA IPL during the Stories from the Road  campaign (June through August). Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Seating is limited, so donate now!

Stories from the Road reflection — Bill Pike – community host

From 2014 to 2019, PA IPL cyclists were warmly hosted by REACH, Religious Efforts to Assist and Care for the Homeless, when they stopped in Hagerstown MD on their way to Washington, DC.  

Bill Pike, current president of the REACH Board of Directors, sent us these reflections on how the bike trips intersected with the work of his organizations.

When I think of our time with the riders, I think of one word: sharing. From sharing a meal together, to sharing a place to stay at Reach and Christ’s Reformed Church. The Reach shelter has places to sleep, take a long hot shower and do a load of laundry while CRC provides a safe place to store bikes.

Over the last 8 years, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown and members of a few Open Table groups have shared a meal that meets all dietary requirements of the group. The riders would share their concerns about the environment that would be shared with their elected officials in D.C. I was especially impressed with how articulate the younger riders were in their conversations with us.

Sometimes, we would share information about the mission and operation of Reach. We also shared information about the Open Table which is a program to mentor an individual or family out of homelessness, poverty or both. One of our brothers who spoke to the group was Darius Harris.  He is now the father to five healthy children supported by his job as a manager of a McDonald’s restaurant. This is a true success story.

There is one picture that will be forever burned in my head: The riders all stood in the 2nd floor elevator lobby with the Reach sign on the back wall. 

I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Stories from the Road — we are stronger together!

Learn about August’s Stories from the Road, see how our donation tree is growing and help us meet our $30,000 fundraising goal to lift and support our faith-grounded work toward climate justice. There are now 2 ways to double your donation!

“We’re regularly in the cathedral of God’s creation”

Sun shines and birds sing as PA IPL Board member Greg Williams takes us to Detwiler Park in Huntingdon, PA, one of the many locations where he has helped volunteers had made green spaces resistant to climate change through habitat restoration.

2018 and 2019 cyclists stopped there to remove invasive species and plant trees, adding to the 592 events, over 400 participants, and over 3500 person-hours of pruning, clearing, and planting nearly 2500 trees, three wildflower meadows, and over 1000 live stakes in Central Pennsylvania between November 2016 and June 2020! (You can see the live stakes in the video: they are live stick segments from ecosystem-appropriate shrubs stuck into the muck stream side, which then root and grow, protecting the banks!)

Listen to Greg’s story below, or catch his 10 minute sermon for University Mennonite Church’s zoom-based church gathering on Sunday, May 10, 2020 (the rest of the service is pretty great, too!)

Other voices from the road: Mark Smith

Mark Smith of Philadelphia drove a support car for the Philadelphia leg of the 2019 bike trip (that’s him in the little red car!). He leads the Germantown Tree Tenders, part of the work of the PA IPL – Philadelphia, and is also supported by Mark’s home church: the First United Methodist Church of Germantown. Planting and tending trees in the city of Philadelphia is a way to reduce urban heat islands, which are growing and intensifying with climate change. Read Mark’s reflections.

Two ways to DOUBLE your donation!

Feel free to mismatch your socks and your silverware, but get your donations matched while you can!

Supporters of PA IPL’s Stories from the Road Campaign have two ways to see their contributions matched. A group of generous donors has created a matching fund of up to $4,000, doubling the contribution impact of right-now givers during the August campaign.

Those who make a three-year pledge will have their first year of donation matched by an individual donor through our For the Long Haul campaign. We are immensely grateful for the generous people seeding our growing organization’s fundraising efforts.

DONATE

Take Action: Make your local ecosystem climate change resistant

Here are Greg Williams’ top five ways to combat climate change through habitat restoration. Need more guidance or advice? Contact Greg to get connected to books, trees, and advice for setting up local habitat restoration projects.

1. Read one of these books on restoring native habitat by University of Delaware entomologist Douglas W. TallamyBringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants; Nature’s Best Hope; or The Living Landscape.   Or you can start with a listen to this Bringing Nature Home interview from 2013, or if you really want to get into the relationship between birds and insects and plants, try this Hope for the Wild zoo talk.

2.  Reduce the size of the lawn at your home or congregation and replace it with native trees, shrubs, wildflower meadows, or food gardens. Want to know what’s growing there already? The  iNaturalist app lets you submit photos of plants and animals for identification, and contribute to research on biodiversity. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has a helpful collection of online fact sheets and photos of invasive plants and how to remove them.

3. Host a series of earth tending parties for your worship community, youth group, neighbors, or budding PA IPL chapter. (Work, Eat, Pray is one example.)

Teach participants to identify and remove invasive species, see the fruits of their labor over time, and have a conversation on the effects of global warming on the natural spaces they love. This can be done on the property of your faith community, or in a local park (with permission from park authorities!) Contact a local naturalist or extension agent for help with plant identification and removal. 

4, Ask your local nursery if it sells native trees, shrubs, and flowers which support native pollinators as well as being feeding grounds for native insect larva.  These Pennsylvania nurseries do carry native trees, and should be able to help you choose one for your site.  The linked list is from our friends at Keystone 10 Million Trees.

5. Plant those trees! They trap and hold (sequester) a huge amount of the carbon dioxide that causes global warming, and they temper the immediate microclimates in the neighborhoods where they are planted. The Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL partners with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders program to plant trees in the Philadelphia region. Learn about their Zoom-based training in September. 

If you live near central Pennsylvania, Greg Williams, who lives in Williamsburg, is distributing trees from the Keystone 10 Million Trees initiative of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which aims to  plant 10 million trees in Pennsylvania by 2025. Contact him.  You can also watch a recording of the November 2019 webinar for PA IPL with Keystone 10 Million Trees.

Turn to prayer

Please hold PA IPL and all who are working toward climate justice in your prayers through the week.

In 2019, PA IPL supporters “paved the cyclists’ way with prayer,” submitting original prayers, poems and artwork to express the deep faith that underlies their commitment to climate justice and care. The cyclists shared a compilation of these prayers with elected officials in Washington, as part of their advocacy conversations. Each week we are featuring a different prayer from the collection.

This week’s prayer is excerpted from a poem written in 2019 by  Lynn Cashell of Congregation Beth Israel, Media PA:

God is an artist
Creating majestic mountains from molten lava and magma
Forming stoic woodlands and flowing grasslands;
Bursting through the earth’s crust in towering geysers;
Sliding down glaciers into rocky moraines.

God is a painter
Brushing long flat strokes of plains and prairies;
Dabbing puffy white clouds onto azure blue skies;
Cascading waterfalls from mountain springs;
Coloring rainbows from an unending palette of pigments.

God is a creator
Sending aloft soaring bald eagles and osprey;
Filling the grassland with bison, sheep and pronghorn deer,
Stocking the streams with cutthroat trout and dam building beavers;
Varying our sizes, shapes and colors like the landscapes that surround us;
Imagining all of us – together.

Save the date— Stories from the Road Live Celebration, Sept. 1

On Sep. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, we’ll culminate our campaign with a live zoom-based Stories from the Road Celebration, featuring live music, prayer, storytelling, and a chance to share your own stories of climate work with people throughout the state. 

The event is free with a donation to PA IPL during the Stories from the Road campaign (June through August) Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Seating is limited, so donate now!

Stories from the Road reflection— Mark Smith, support driver

Share a highlight of a past bike trip.
I loved being able to show up at scheduled breaks with snacks and water. Maternal feelings of concern and care for the riders were not typical of the ways in which I typically connect to other people.

Fuel for the humans!

How has the bike trip continued to impact or sustain you? 
I learned an important lesson about the power of working with other people. We can’t always do everything on our own. We are more powerful together. I witnessed the support of a rider who was struggling on a particular day by several other riders who stayed with him, even as he fell behind the main group.

In what ways are you continuing to reap inspiration and energy from your experience of the trip?
I hope that I will be able to make the trip at some point in the future.

Fall 2016 Blessing of the Trees

What you are doing right now to support the work of PA IPL in raising climate change as a moral issue?
I run Germantown PA IPL Tree Tenders, an official tree planting group of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The group advocates in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia for the moral imperative of PA IPL’s message about the climate crisis through its spring and fall plantings.

What “call to action” would you encourage others to take regarding climate change at this time?
Voting for strong environmental candidates, not just in the national election, but in the state and local elections is the most important thing to do this year!

Stories from the Road reflection— Peter Dugas, inaugural rider

Peter Dugas was a charter PA IPL Board member of PA IPL, and one of three inaugural cyclists in 2012. He is an engineer who knows a lot about energy efficiency, and a fine musician, which both played a part in his community connections during that 2012 ride! Peter now lives in Maine.

Share a highlight of a past bike trip. 
I had the pleasure of being one of three cyclists on the inaugural (2012) PAIPL bike trip and have so many memories. I remember the send-off in State College with the 20-plus cyclists who agreed to ride the first few miles with us. I felt a bit over my head because everyone was wearing cycling gear and shoes and I was the jerk who didn’t know any better and wore chinos and loafers.

Sendoff after the blessing in downtown State College!
Made it! arrival at the national IPL conference at the Kellogg Center on the campus of Gallaudet University

How has the bike trip continued to impact or sustain you? 
I often remember the outreach we made to the kind folks along the way who opened their homes for us. No matter their opinion of climate action they were moved by our commitment, and we were moved by their hospitality.

In what ways are you continuing to reap inspiration and energy from your experience of the trip? 
I continue to lobby my national lawmakers for climate action and I will always carry with me the lesson I learned on that trip that caring for our common home is a bridge issue not a wedge issue.

Between appointments in Pennsylvania legislators’ offices on Capitol Hill.

What you are doing right now to support the work of PA IPL in raising climate change as a moral issue.
Though I no longer live in PA I continue to support PA iPL and enjoy reading about their recent outreach efforts and bike trips

What “call to action” would you encourage others to take regarding climate change at this time?
Call your Senators and Representatives, ask for specific policy like a carbon fee and dividend, invoke the climate stewardship messages from your faiths, share the En-ROADS Climate Simulator* with others and talk about climate care as often as socially acceptable!

Peter with the inner workings of the green Quaker Welcome Center across from the U.S. Senate.

*Note: The En-ROADS Climate Simulator is an online policy simulation tool that gives users the ability to explore the likely consequences of a variety of factors  that affect climate change, such as  energy, economic growth, land use, and other policies and uncertainties.

Friends, did you know?
PA IPL includes a “Discussion Hook” in every monthly policy call update. These are timely articles that provide an entry point for learning and conversation around climate impacts, climate justice, climate solution, and related policies. There is always a little intro, a link, and often a little excerpt. They are suitable for conversations with neighbors, friends, family members and even congregational study or action groups! For a sample, check out the discussion hook in the end-of-April summary here.

Climate scientist and climate communicator Katharine Hayhoe has said that talking about climate change is one of the most important things that anyone and everyone can do. If we’re not talking about climate change, we’re not talking about solutions, and our policymakers aren’t hearing about their constituents’ concerns or hopes.

Stories from the Road — isn’t that about a million miles?

Learn about August’s Stories from the Road, see how our donation tree is growing and help us meet our $30,000 fundraising goal to lift and support our faith-grounded work toward climate justice.

This week, listen as IPL founder, the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, reflects on greeting the 2013 group of PA IPL cyclists on the day they arrived in Washington DC, and what  their ride meant to those who had gathered from all over the country to learn and advocate as part of IPL’s annual National Conference.  

Listen to Sally’s reflection here…

Other voices from the road: “A bridge issue, not a wedge issue”

Read Peter’s full reflection – and catch more photos in this week’s blog post.

Take Action: Tips from Sally Bingham

Sally offers these suggestions for caring for the earth and maintaining hope during this time of uncertainty. (Hear it in her bonus reel here.)

  • Resist contributing to the waste being produced at this time by disposable masks, gloves, grocery bags. Sew masks, use reusable bags where they are allowed. And live in a way that respects and protects the life around you.
  • Connect with people that give you hope. For people living alone, like herself, she suggests getting off the computer and picking up the telephone to spend time with family and friends. 
  • Sally says she takes long walks outside to restore her soul. “It gives me the hope I need to get through all of this,” she says.
  • And if you’re finding yourself stuck at home, take the time to read about climate change and, listen to podcasts. Sally recommends the  weekly podcast Outrage + Optimism, co-hosted by Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac, and Paul Dickinson.

Turn to Prayer

In 2019 PA IPL supporters “paved the cyclists’ way with prayer”, submitting original prayers, poems and artwork to express the deep faith that underlies their commitment to climate justice and care. The cyclists shared a compilation of these prayers with elected officials in Washington, as part of their advocacy conversations. Each week we’ll feature a different prayer from the collection.

We ask that  you hold PA IPL and the work of climate justice and care in your prayers through the week.

Creator God, in this very divisive time, let us all work together to protect our Common Home. Open the hearts, eyes, and minds of those who do not see or care to see the damage we have done to your wonderful gift, the Earth. You have given us the knowledge in recent years to understand how we can better care for our planet.  Forgive us when greed and fear get in the way of us moving ahead to cleaner sources of energy. Give us all the courage to do the right thing. Amen.
—George Dempsie,  Huntingdon, PA, board member, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

Save the date— Stories from the Road Live Celebration, Sept. 1

On Sep. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, we’ll culminate our campaign with a live zoom-based Stories from the Road Celebration, featuring live music, prayer, storytelling, and a chance to share your own stories of climate work with people throughout the state. 

The event is free with a donation to PA IPL during the Stories from the Road campaign (June through August) Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Seating is limited, so donate now!