Stories from the Road — I also recognize that the Ocean can only take so much…

This week Ray Najjar, a 2013 cyclist and Professor of Oceanography at Penn State University shares his story from the road as he reflects on some highlights from his trip and also on the fragility of our oceans and the communities at their edges. and the need to take action on climate change — and he offers hope from other environmental crises we have faced. Listen to Ray’s reflections:

For 8 years PA IPL has sent cyclists from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. as a low-carbon way to advocate for people and planet, connect communities, and financially support PA IPL. This summer we are telling stories from the road. See how our donation tree is growing here and help us meet our $30,000 fundraising goal.

Other voices from the road: Noah Droege, cyclist

Read Noah’s reflection.

Take Action:

Two ways to respond to climate change: adapt, and mitigate.

Adapt: prepare for challenging climate impacts now and in future.
In this week when thousands of communities are under flood watch, flood warning, or under water, check your home’s Flood Factor. Find out where climate-intensified torrential rains cause problems in your area. Flood Factor is a free online tool created by the nonprofit First Street Foundation that makes it easy for Americans to finally find their property’s current and future risk of flooding, learn if it has flooded in the past, and understand how flood risks are changing because of the environment.

Do you have boil-water advisories after strong storms? Many Pennsylvania communities do. Are there wet basement problems? How does that impact people’s insurance rates, or indoor air quality due to mold? These burdens are not borne equally. Is your neighborhood OK, but adjacent to one that floods? Who lives where? As we look at bigger storms, did you know that homeowners have access to recovery funds that are inaccessible to renters? What can you do? Ask your municipality about rain gardens, bioswales, and other adaptation efforts. Can you participate, spread the word, or help? Can your congregation?

Mitigate: cut climate-changing pollution.
Households and houses of worship can use the Cool Congregations Calculator tool to see their baseline emissions and set reduction goals. You start with your zip code, so the results are shaped around data from your area. Congregations can get certified as a Cool Congregation, or share their stories for an annual Challenge — a contest to inspire others, and maybe even win a prize!

Want to motivate own household and a small group of friends to cut climate changing pollution, and model a potential carbon policy at the same time? You might consider a Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness.

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 was written by a member of the Philadelphia chapter of PA IPL.

Two Ways to Get your Donation Matched!

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 one-time givers during the August campaign. Those who make a three-year pledge will have their first year of donation matched through our For the Long Haul campaign. These opportunities come with immense gratitude for the generous people seeding our growing organization’s fundraising efforts. 

 Stories from the Road: Celebrating the Journey Zoom event, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.

On Sep. 1, we’ll culminate our campaign with a live zoom-based Stories from the Road Celebration, featuring live music, prayer, storytelling, a chance to share your own stories of climate work with people throughout the state, and a chance to meet our brand new Executive Director, David Heayn-Menendez  The event is free with a donation during Stories from the Road. Additional tickets can be purchased for $10. Spaces are limited, so donate now!

Stories from the Road reflection— Noah Droege, cyclist

Noah Droege has been a youth cyclist in multiple rides, and welcomed, supported, and sent riders off in others. He is currently a student at Penn State University. Noah shared this reflection:

Please share a few sentences describing a highlight of a past bike trip. 
Jumping into the water at Cowen’s Gap after the long, steep ride uphill is always a favorite moment. The water is cold, really cold, but we do it anyways. And then there’s the 3-mile downhill afterwards. It’s like the trip itself. You start out with no idea how you will ride 200-plus miles. You just go.

How has the bike trip continued to impact or sustain you? 
The successes and failures of talking to people on Capitol Hill has probably had the biggest impact on me. The first time on the Hill I was super nervous. Now I realize that even when I “study up” and use good rhetorical language, at the end of the day they will listen or not, and that’s not up to me. It’s not an immediate thing where the legislators are going to say ‘OK we’ll do what you want.’ We’ve been having this trip for 8 years now, and we still need to keep going. Change is not going to happen overnight. It’s important to be patient.

What “call to action” would you encourage others to take regarding climate change at this time?
Do what you can. Be vocal. Individual action is good, but it’s not going to make the difference when 70% of global emissions are large companies. We need the government to act. Care and be loud about it.

Please share a few sentences on what you are doing right now to support the work of PA IPL in raising climate change as a moral issue.
I use every opportunity to bring up climate change. It’s one of the most annoying aspects of myself. Climate change is applicable to every issue and so much needs to be done that it’s always something that can be brought up as a topic of consideration.

Stories from the Road reflection — Joyce Breiner host and community connector

Joyce Breiner has been welcoming cyclists to Poolesville, Maryland since the earliest rides. In her role as director of Poolesville Green, she has created many and varied opportunities for cyclists and community members to connect and learn. What that doesn’t tell you is that (1) she personally hosted riders until the ride got big enough that she connected us with the Am Kolel Sanctuary Retreat Center and (2) she cooks legendary breakfasts. Joyce shared this reflection:

Please share a few sentences describing a highlight of a past bike trip.
There have been a number of highlights over the years – 8 so far?! From small beginnings of hosting a handful of riders in our Poolesville home to showcasing progress on sustainable actions in our community, it has been years of fun and growth in faith and purpose.

How has the bike trip continued to impact or sustain you?
The bike trip has been a reminder of the importance of continuing the work to encourage and inspire a more sustainable future.

In what ways are you continuing to reap inspiration and energy from your experience of the trip?       
Thinking of the PA IPL friends we have met and hosted each year, remembering the conversations we’ve shared and listening to their experiences along the trip continue to feed the soul. Hopefully sharing our experiences has been inspiring in return.

Please share a few sentences on what you are doing right now to support the work of PA IPL in raising climate change as a moral issue.          
Last year I achieved the Climate Change Professional designation as certified by the Association of Climate Change Officers and the State of Maryland. I am a member of the Montgomery County Maryland Climate Planning Workgroup, which is determining how to achieve the county’s climate emergency goals of reducing GHG emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035. I am advocating to allow agrovoltaic Community Solar projects in the county’s Agricultural Reserve through adoption of a countywide Zoning Text Amendment.

PA IPL’s Sustained Advocacy group is following and promoting community solar legislation in Pennsylvania — it is bipartisan and in both houses! You can help!

What “call to action” would you encourage others to take regarding climate change at this time?

  1. Vote.
  2. Run for local office, even a church council position, PTA position or other.
  3. Adopt renewable energy sources or drive an electric vehicle. Look for ways that make it work instead of being put off by perceived difficulties.

Watch for a how-to webinar for choosing 100% renewable energy at PA IPL this fall —the “shoulder seasons” when we use less energy are the best time to shop.

 

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 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!