August 2019 Newsletter Part 4-Youth

This September, we have an opportunity to follow our youth.  Youth and young adults have been injecting fresh energy and youthful urgency into climate work across the globe, and they have identified September 20-27 for a Global Climate Strike. Adults are invited to support young people, holding space for their work, and following their lead.  Now is a time for your faith community to listen to youth; to hear about their hopes and concerns for the future; and to ask how they would like to be supported in their  movement. Youth who are interested in stepping out into the community to care for the shared spaces of our Common Home can tap PA IPL Board President Greg Williams’ passion and skills.  Greg has offered to assist in organizing groups in supporting resilient and balanced ecosystems by removing plants and planting diverse native plants that also support fauna like insect pollinators and birds. 

Are you an adult who has a skill to offer to youth?  Let us know!

We close with these two lines, from Kahlil Gibran’s poem On Children, so beautifully sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

We can strive to be like them.
Their souls dwell in a place of Tomorrow.

Additional resources:
Flash sit from Earth Holders-Earth Holder Training
Worship materials from the Unitarian Universalists

August 2019 Newsletter Part 1-Inspiration
August 2019 Newsletter Part 2-Listen
August 2019 Newsletter Part 3-Season of Creation

August 2019 Newsletter Part 3 – Season of Creation

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For many Christian traditions, September is the Season of Creation.  2019’s theme is the Web of Life. The Season begins September 1st, and ends on October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis. You’ll find denominational resources, and a celebration guide at the website. Liturgical resources from Let All Creation Praise (the Spirit Series, Word Series, and Wisdom series) are rich and have many resources which can be lightly adapted for use in interfaith contexts, or as part of services in other religious traditions. This responsive invocation is one delightful example that Trinity Lutheran Church in State College used in their Soil Sunday celebration a few years back.

Leader: We invite the land to worship with us: 
People: wildflowers and mysterious mushrooms, swirling grasses and goldenrods. 
L: We invite the farmlands to sing with us: 
P: wheat fields, orchards, and vineyards, hay fields, gardens, and wetlands. 
L: We join with all the fauna of the fields in praising God: 
P: horses, sheep, and cattle, grass snakes and grasshoppers, eagles and crows. 
L: We invite the ground to stir deep below: 
P: life-giving microbes restoring the soil, beetles and worms preparing our food. 
L: We celebrate the song of the soil!
P: Sing, soil, sing! 

Additional Resources:
For the 2019 Season of Creation-Sisters of Mercy

August 2019 Newsletter Part 1-Inspiration
August 2019 Newsletter Part 2-Listen
August 2019 Newsletter Part 4-Youth

August 2019 Newsletter Part 2 – Listen

PA IPL’s staff and Board enrich our work with rare face-to-face time during a working retreat for two days each summer.  This year we learned with, and from, Sara Ward, the recently retired director of Ohio IPL, a state with many of the same challenges we face in Pennsylvania.

Rev. Dr. Melanie Harris

In preparation for our conversations, we were invited to listen to this powerful talk by the Rev. Dr. Melanie Harris, We invite you to do the same.  As we lean in to the work that awaits us, we hold her last words close:  “Listening is an act of justice.” Where do her words lead you?

August 2019 Newsletter Part 1-Inspiration
August 2019 Newsletter Part 3-Season of Creation
August 2019 Newsletter Part 4-Youth

August 2019 Newsletter Part 1 – Inspiration

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We survey our closed dominion until we look up in August to find comet dust flaring in the night.
This vastness, this vertiginous awareness mocking gravity on our speck of now,
wakes us with a recalibrating jolt.

Excerpt from
“Watching the Perseids”
by Isabel Rogers

The end of August is a time to move from the long days of summer to the more regular rhythms of our lives. Even when our households are not guided by the schedules of schoolchildren, communities and congregations tend to drift to the outdoors in the season of daylight, and greet each other in reunion and anticipation as September approaches.  

August 2019 Newsletter Part 2-Listen
August 2019 Newsletter Part 3-Season of Creation
August 2019 Newsletter Part 4-Youth

June 2018 newsletter: Stay cool, and be of service

Dear Friends,

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less.

If the soundboxes stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
                     —Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim friends and members!  

With the solstice approaching, we are dedicating this newsletter to heat — we hope you will learn about extreme heat, keep cool (using as little energy as you can), and be part of community heat solutions.  Heat can be deadly, and community action really can save lives. We’ve also included some fun DIY challenges—solar ovens and low-cost coolers. Open your calendar to be ready for a few dates and announcements at the end.

Extreme heat may not seem dramatic, but it kills more people per year on average than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods combined. People who are young, or elderly, or ill are particularly vulnerable because their bodies are less able to maintain a consistent temperature.  

In cities and near industrial sites (including fracking operations) heat exacerbates lung problems by energizing certain types of pollution to form ground level ozone,, which  can cause permanent lung damage.  Outdoor workers and athletes are particularly vulnerable because they do physical work in full heat, and often in direct sun with little relief. Emergency responders are vulnerable to an uptick in distress calls. Firefighters are exposed to additional heat and must wear full, insulating safety gear.

Urban heat islands, night heat, and humidity (wet bulb temperature) all intensify the health impacts of heat.  Heat impacts do not land evenly, and community cooling centers can be as important for reducing summer isolation as they are for cooling off.  Human connection, heat plans, and check-in calls save lives.  

ACTIONS to take with your faith community or municipality (or both)

  • Prepare for heat waves by planning local multi-generational cooling centers or cooling parties.  Think about how to get the word out, and how to get people there so they’re not isolated.
  • Create a plan for hot-day check-in calls.
  • Talk about heat and workers in your local interfaith council.
  • Alison’s congregation on Long Island bought (and filled) collapsible, re-usable water bottles for day laborers.  Is there a place where outdoor workers and people without consistent shelter gather near you?  Could your faith community could show up with large cooler/dispensers full of cold water to refill bottles?   (bleach wipes keep dispensers clean even when people are doing dirty work)
  • Could you assemble something like this useful page from the Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia for your neck of Penns Woods?
  • What could you do to reduce heat islands in your city?  Start now for 2019.
  • Check out the CDC’s guidebook on heat.  Pages 16-17 Being Prepared Before the Heat and page 18 Resources for Developing Extreme Heat Programs are terrific resources.
  • Air conditioners work by pumping heat out of an enclosed space, into the public space and they require a great deal of energy to do so, taxing the electric grid.  If the power goes out, everyone suffers.  Use air conditioners to stay safe and healthy but use only what you need.  Try fans, community cooling (movies, libraries, houses of worship), use your curtains, and change your cooking habits. Teach friends to do the same.  Can you share a stay-cool tip a week in your faith community bulletin or newsletter? Try hot-night recipes, ways to get the best air circulation of cool-night air, and maybe some of the DIY below.

Summer DIY

Dates of note

  • Tuesday, June 12 —allies including the Pennsylvania Council of Churches are supporting a lobby day at the Capitol in Harrisburg for 100% renewable energy.  If you can’t make it to Harrisburg, call your PA Senator and your PA Representative.  PA IPL’s one-pager on the policy.  The proposal is bipartisan in both PA House and PA Senate.  We suggest asking your legislators to find a friend with whom they can work across the aisle and sign on together. (Announced previously on our Policy Update calls, below)
  • Thursday, June 28 and Thursday, July 26 are 4th Thursdays, and would normally be our Sustained Advocacy Policy Udate Calls. We will have emailed summaries only in June and July. Calls resume in August 12:30-1:30. Get on the list to get both summaries and call reminders.
  • Tuesday, July 10 – we are seeking nominations for our annual visionary award.  Nominations are due July 10.
  • Saturday afternoon, October 27 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon (South Hills of Pittsburgh): PA IPL’s 2018 Annual Conference.  Mark your calendars now, and watch for more information very soon!  PA IPL is committed to multi-faith accessibility. Our most recent big event in Pittsburgh was on a Sunday afternoon.  The conference team will identify nearby opportunities for Saturday morning services for potential Jewish attendees, and is committed to holding next year’s conference on a Sunday.

Why do they give?
The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields joined PA IPL four years ago, after naming climate change as a key social justice issue for the parish. Our Climate Action Team has benefited from PA IPL’s support, vision and resources as it seeks to make action on climate change and its interconnected issues part of parish life.  With PA IPL’s guidance and support we have been able to offer effective opportunities for education, advocacy, collaboration and personal transformation at the parish and in the community. Currently the parish is providing financial support to PA IPL for an effort to create a tool kit for developing similar congregation-based teams to design their own responses to climate change.

Consider supporting PA IPL’s work and mission with a financial donation from your faith community…and by sharing your stories with us.  Note: PA IPL has received a matching challenge that will match institutional donations of $250 or more — and automatic recurring donations from institutions or individuals — dollar for dollar.


O wind,
rend open the heat
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.
                 —H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)

May your days be filled with the awe and wonder of a child discovering fireflies.

April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
   the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Psalm 98:7-8

Most celebrations of Earth Day tend toward the practical, or a simple celebration of the birth of our finall-visible spring, but the widespread celebration of Earth Day is in fact rooted in the conversation between awe and grief.

Awe inspired by the 1972 image of blue marble from Apollo 17 and collective grief came with the publication of Pennsylvanian Rachel Carson’s 1968 book Silent Spring, which engaged imagination to move readers to feel the deep grief of a future foretold by then-current action and inaction.

As faith communities, on Earth Day we are called to hold these things together —this awe and this grief— for without one, the other cannot be.  If we did not love our Common Home and our neighbors, there would be no call for lament, and no need for action.  But we do.

And so for us, Earth Day is not one-off birthday celebration, but rather can be a day to celebrate and commit ourselves to work —practical and joyful work, and prayerful and grief-tender work— with and for one another throughout the year.  Some work we may take on as practical necessity, some we may take on as spiritual discipline, as a way of finding our way back into right relationship with neighbor and squirrel, stream and Source.

On this Earth day, let us seek, reveal, and feel connection with the earth and all who dwell therein.  May we continue in determined and active hope.

Celebrate Earth Day with your faith community!

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
Read on for resources, and a really important poem.

Continue reading April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness