PA IPL’s annual bike ride will take place on May 8th through May 30th! This year our ride “Cycling for a Cleaner Future” has a dedicated bike ride website for all of our riders, sponsors, and supporters that outlines the details of this year’s ride and how to register to be a rider or sponsor!
The annual PA IPL Climate Advocacy Bike Ride to the US Capitol has been re-imagined as a bike tour of Pennsylvania. The various bike routes will bear witness to our extractive past and present while nurturing and rooting hope for a cleaner future to grow across our state.
This year’s ride will take place directly following the national Interfaith Power & Light’s annual conference. Our hope is to recruit 100 cyclists to participate in this year’s ride.
Be sure to mark your calendar for these important bike ride dates:
SATURDAY, MAY 8th-Opening Ceremonies and Kickoff Event
SUNDAY, MAY 9th – MAY 30th-RIDE ONE HUNDRED MILES
SATURDAY, MAY 29th-Advocacy Day of Action
SUNDAY, MAY 30th-Closing Ceremonies – Celebrate the riders and their accomplishments!
“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 impactof 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.
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. Tallamy: Bringing 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!
This was first published as March 2020 newsletter. Now that we have fully entered this time of COVID-19, we trust that our members will use resources responsibly — virtually, in-household , or much later. As you will see in other posts, the newsletter included March and April events, an action idea, and a review of our February Annual Conference. We will be adding virtual connecting points and more.
The Cusp of Springtime
Although some would say there was no real winter in 2019-2020, nonetheless, the calendar heralds a change in the season. Thoughts of springtime fuel our March newsletter’s opportunities, and yet we pause first to take in all that is alive and churning within us – and the myriad ways we are called to respond.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. (The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995)
Please join others around the state as we honor all the ways there are to ‘kneel and kiss the ground.’
Have you made plans to host, or attend, an Earth Hour gathering? It’s not too late! Since 2007, people around the world have paused on a Saturday close to the Spring Equinox – this year March 28th – to ‘power down’ and turn off the lights from 8:30-9:30 pm local time. PA IPL encourages and supports all kinds of Earth Hour gatherings — concerts, house parties, vigils, and celebrations – all opportunities to show reverence for our planet. Two special celebrations in Philadelphia and State College are fundraisers for PA IPL, helping us continue our programming, keeping it affordable and accessible.
NOW is the time for interested cyclists and volunteers to sign up for the 2020 Bike Trip. We are seeking riders from several locations around the state, particularly Philadelphia, State College, and Harrisburg for the new Capital-to-Capital ride, our annual ‘minimal carbon’ event delivering a message directly to elected officials. This year’s trip takes place May 15-19, with a launch overnight on May 14. If you know someone who might be interested in riding, or in supporting the riders, please encourage them to join us! Potential cyclists and volunteers can access a recording of the informational webinar; we’re asking for cyclist registration and commitments by March 31st. Would your business, foundation, community group, or congregation like to sponsor the bike trip? Pass this information on by sharing this newsletter, or this 1/2 page print sheet. PS – watch for the 2020 supporters’ prayer project which is forthcoming!
Faith Climate Action Week
Congregations around the country are gearing up for Faith Climate Action Week April 17-26. This annual “week” of action organized by Interfaith Power & Light calls faith communities to preach, teach, and act for the climate. This year’s theme is Love Made Visible, and includes activities around tree planting, art, and activism or civic engagement rooted in love. There are downloadable resources, or you can order a print kit for a small fee. This year’s suggested film is The Human Elementby filmmaker James Balog, who also made the powerful and beautiful film Chasing Ice.
With more coverage of the growing phenomena of climate anxiety and despair, we are offering more opportunities to gather to strengthen our spirits and resolve. We are just wrapping up our first Engaging Active Hope Virtual Workshop, and are about to offer an in-person workshop in Philadelphia. Would your congregation, school or organization like to host an in-person or online workshop? Please be in touch.
For the moment, our plans are on hold. We will review the situation with our volunteers, leaders, and hosts and update this page on April 10th.
It’s still a good idea to register or email (see below) as a way to let us know you may be interested in riding or volunteering. We will be sure to be in touch directly with those who do.
This year, PA IPL is trying a Capital-to-Capital ride (Harrisburg, PA to Washington, DC) taking place May 15th-19th, 2020. The ride will begin with an overnight just outside of Harrisburg on the night of Thursday, May 14th, and will end with many riders making visits to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 19th.
Interested and potential cyclists can learn more about the 2020 bike trip here and request a recording of the 2020 interest webinar that shares details about the bike trip for cyclists and supporters.
To register as a cyclist for the upcoming bike trip, please complete the registration form.
Before you head out to the wider ‘net, scroll down to see the elevation change pictures from the cyclists, thanks to Dave Hunter’s nifty GPS watch. The first-day ride was a little longer than it appears — he forgot to start the watch until the end of the community ride.
It is good to be back in State College, where spring comes at a more normal pace. It was 92 degrees yesterday in Washington as we walked the halls of Congress, and it seemed that the cherry trees that had only just blossomed were already losing their beauty in the hot breeze.
This was my second time visiting our Congressional representatives, and I absolutely recommend that everyone go to Washington to do this at least once in your life! Dan Tomaso (Ray’s grad student who drove the van down from State College to transport the tandem back home) came along for some of the visits and said afterwards that he came away feeling much better about his government than he ever had before.
I understand what he means. Our Congressional representatives may seem far away, but I really get the sense that the whole place is designed to provide access to any citizen who makes the effort. All the office buildings are open to the public, and the security lines were better than most airports. Every office door says: “please enter” and when we did, a receptionist was always friendly and happy to help.
Cricket made all of our appointments in advance, and when she writes and asks for an appointment to talk about climate change (not everyone’s favorite subject), they carve out some space in their busy schedules. Generally, this means 15 minutes with a legislative aide, but sometimes it’s more.
We separated into three teams: Jess and Hannah met with aides to both our senators, and they were very solicitous of Hannah. When she brought out the more than 100 prayers and drawings she had collected, they were delighted, even making copies of several for their own records. The PBS cameras were right there to record the moment as well.
I was with Ray and Dan, and our most surprising meeting was with Jordan Clark, chief of staff for Rep. Glenn Thompson, Republican for PA-5. Rep. Thompson is my representative, so I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to speak with someone in the office.
A few things about this visit were unusual. In the past, we have spoken with John Busovsky, a staffer who specializes in energy issues – John joined the meeting, but it was Clark who controlled it. Also, meetings are often in cramped quarters, even out in the hall, but Clark sat us down in GT’s own spacious office. Finally, meetings are usually quick and intense, but we sat and discussed the issues for over an hour.
True to what I had heard about him, Clark is a tough old politico: he had no interest in our bike trip or Hannah’s letters; he feigned ignorance about climate science and tried to goad Ray and me into arguments over alternative energy and carbon taxes. He was playing with us to see what we were made of.
Far too much happened during that meeting to record here, but about 30 minutes in there was a palpable shift in his tone. I guess he realized that we were serious about finding truly pragmatic solutions to this civilization-challenging crisis. He emphasized his own concern for the poor and for the environment, and invoked his Catholic faith. He seemed genuinely interested in our energy efficiency programs (especially our cooperative venture with Interfaith Human Services) and even offered that at some point, perhaps “GT” (Rep. Thompson) could even help us with an insulation project.
This sort of shift is precisely what I was hoping for. I am convinced that climate change is too big a problem to be caught up in partisan politics. All parties have to be involved in the solution, and there are many ways that we can work together, at least on some short-term solutions.
As we now settle (or rather crash) back into our normal lives, my thoughts turn to the members of our immediate families who kept things running for us while we were away: Barb, Jean, Jim and Louise, and Paula. I know I speak for everyone when I say that this trip would not have happened without your support – thank you!
Finally, I want personally to thank my fellow cyclists: Andy, Dave, Hannah, Jess and Ray. You were terrific, and your good humor in the face of small adversities was very much appreciated! I can’t imagine a nicer group of people to spend five days with.