minutes 12/8/2014

Minutes & Updates from  the Interfaith Climate Change Group:

February 2 — 5:30-:730   —  First Interfaith Climate Stewardship Potluck Dinner.  Downstairs community room of the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence. (Thanks to  Karen Ribeiro and Rob Zucker for setting this up!)
 Please post this on your congregation’s or community’s calendar, email the attached suggested blurb to an appropriate e-list — or post on social media, and reach out to personally invite others who may be interested in attending.
MINUTES of Interfaith Climate Change December Meeting:
Questions that were discussed at this meeting:
  1. What climate action is my congregation/temple/meeting taking or wants to take that could be helped by joining or hearing ideas from others?
  2. How can this group- or parts of it- help that happen?
  3. How do we organize to get that done?
1st Question: What climate action is my congregation/temple/meeting taking or wants to take that could be helped by joining or hearing ideas from others?
Andrew Rose of JCA in Amherst (via email):
  • The temple is participating in Mothers Out Front, Reading Groups, and having individuals swap to different programs.
  • Andrew suggests urging other congregations to swap to MassSave, track progress in their membership, and even compete.
  • Also use clergy and lay actions as a way to bring media focus to the issue.
Pauline Marney from Saint Elizabeth Anne Seton Catholic Church (via Elaine).
  • Individuals do things as individuals, but the church is not taking action
  • There is a section in the bulletin where they talk about personal actions people can take.
Roger Conant, from Mt. Toby Friends
  • The voluntary carbon tax – website here, whereby individuals track their carbon emissions, and choose to donate to a ‘carbon tax’ to a shared fund. Contribution amounts are kept private, and the sum is donated to different groups. In 18 months, the group has donated about 4 thousand dollars.
  • There are other congregations that have adopted this practice. Some use the money for buildings, others send it to organizations.
  • Mothers Out Front has a website that’s a great place to look into green energy switching (and make the switch online).

Anne Moore and Maureen from Northampton Friends

  • The Northampton Friends group copied the voluntary carbon tax model from Mt. Toby Friends
  • December 15 is the end of the first quarter they’ve done this, and they’ll decide at that point where to donate the quarter’s funds.
  • After extensive research, they bought a dishwasher for their kitchen. They can share the research about what is most efficient for a small commercial kitchen.

Bill Diamond and Ed Olmstead from Northampton UU

  • Unitarian Society Climate group met December 7th.
  • Discussed the gas pipeline. Bill is working on ongoing blocking efforts- like a postcard campaign, which was effective when done in-person, at the church.
  • The group is discussing energy programs, since it is hard to understand electric bills. Lots of questions about the sourcing of the energy.
  • There is a small subgroup looking into the sourcing of energy, and they’re going to seek more information from Mothers Out Front.
  • There is lots of interest in the UU climate group about KXL blocking efforts.
  • Will be going to the Springfield Training on non-violent direct action on January 3rd.Details can be found here.
  • Continuing the letters to the editor campaign.
  • Researching solar panels for the roof, but it’s a big negotiation with the buildings and grounds committee.
  • Will be going to the Anti-KXL standout rally from 12pm-2pm on Saturday, December 13th.
Elaine Ulman, from Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI)
  • CBIis doing local food work. Brought in people from a farming retreat to help start Abundance Farm on the 1/2 acre of land next to the shul.
  • The Hebrew Day School, temple, and Northampton Survival Center are all involved.
  • Will have an orchard and berry patch that is open to picking and gleaning from anyone who is hungry.
  • Will donate some of the produce to the survival center, and again, invite picking and gleaning through that center.
  • The farm has been a huge community builder.
  • CBI organized a bus for PCM over the summer, which was a big stepI. People in the congregation were really excited about it, generous with their support and time.
  • Elaine is hoping to work with individuals within the congregation on individual actions.
  • Wants to know more about the state of the building, and its efficiency .
  • Wants to get a small group interested and publicize the carbon tax to the congregation.
Karen Ribeiro from 1st Baptist Church of Amherst .
Is on the Steering Committee of Climate Action Now, and the Pioneer Valley coordinator of Mothers Out Front
  • Within the congregation, is working on bringing a green bible study and a green team into existence.
  • Working on bringing the Interreligious Eco Justice Network to Western Mass. It is currently a CT program- website here.
  • There is a showing of Chasing Ice at the JCC of Amherst tomorrow, December 9, at 6:30.
  • Mothers Out Front MOF):
  •  has learned about the state mandated that all state agencies develop an environmental justice plan.
  • MOF wanted Duval Patrick to draw a line in the sand against new carbon projects in the state. That’s unlikely, but the group is going to continue applying pressure.
  • MOF is running a switch campaign to help individuals swap energy supply providers. They know that Mass Save is offering 100% green energy, but aren’t certain about National Grid options.
  • MOF is also looking into electricity price increases- can other municipalities follow in the shoes of Lowell? Is Hampshire power green?
  • Mentioned that Climate Action Now (CAN) had an interfaith group a few years ago, but it fizzled out.
  • Interreligious Eco Justice Network (IREJN) is working with a group that does town-based solarize programs. Hopes to offer solarize options to communities in Western Mass.
  • Karen is in the planning stages for bringing IREJN to Western Mass, and hopes to start it off with a big 2-day Western Mass event in early spring. IREJN is very focused on dialogue, getting people to talk, and wrestle with issues
  • When Better Future Project and Mass Interfaith Power and Light were mentioned, she noted that the Better Future project is an umbrella for Mothers Out Front, and hasn’t had the capacity to run an official interfaith campaign. Also  Mass Interfaith Power and Light is a huge org that’s very Boston-centric.
  • Mt. Toby Friends group is a member of Mass Interfaith Power and Light- cost $25 yearly, and an agreement to work on certain actions. But the group isn’t very responsive to questions.
Sharon Moulton of the First Church, new head of their Peace and Justice Group
  • Church has a long  history of Climate Justice.
  • The church signed onto an environmental covenant long ago.
  • It’s a historical building, so options are limited.
  • UCC, for the past 3 years, has had a Lenten Carbon Fast, with nice resources and very useful daily meditations.
  • This Thursday at 7pm, there is the first meeting of the group where they’ll look at next steps.
  • Recommends being on the CAN list serve to hear about all of these local campaigns and groups.
2nd Question: What should the interfaith group bring to the table? How can this group help these goals happen?
  • Elaine- if a congregation is showing a film or something open to the public, contact another congregation on the other side of the river, so that both congregations can do the same event on different days. That way, nobody has to travel very far.
  • Karen- Share resources, like the Lenten Fast. Share resources specifically aimed at getting your feet wet in climate learning and activism. Also, be mindful that there is a huge bottleneck in many parts of the energy audit program- so that it is hard, once you get an audit, to do the next steps. And sometimes there are barriers you can’t control (like boiler age).
  • Rob- Bringing the focus back to what we as an interfaith group can do. We have access to lots of groups, and we also offer a spiritual perspective. There’s a balance between spirituality and activism. They can feed each other. Our shared spiritual orientation can inform how we do what we do, and improve it. As Activists, we can be out of touch with our souls. Or the other way around- be all talk, and no action. Finding a balance between spiritual action and activism could be good.
  • Elliot- Suggested quarterly meetings of community and self-care for activists.
  • Karen- MOF has had support groups of this type, but low engagement. Thinks that the spiritual community would be better at supporting that, and would like to see that kind of focus.
  • Elaine- traditions have things embedded in them that bring out spiritual selves and heart sharing. I.e.- Shmittah year in Judaism, or Lent, in Christianity. We should bring that perspective into our activism.
  • Sharon- make sure that Earth Day has spiritual options for people.
  • Rob- Agrees- art, music, there are so many different things we can bring to touch the spiritual side. We are trying to save the planet, and that is very hard.
  • Ed- We should reconnect with the good we are doing. This isn’t all about sacrifice- this is about being more in connection with the world and each other, building healthier communities. [paraphrasing by Elliot]
  • Karen- this is why I’m so excited about IREJN. They’ve looked into this type of interfaith sharing.
  • Bill- could we provide a manual of interfaith festivals? I.e. the haggadah.
  • Karen- IREJN has already built that structure. They looked at  holidays, traditions, creation care paths from different faiths. Also, Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” is so clear that land treaty agreements with indigenous Americans are the legal foundations that are stopping the KXL pipeline. Are any lawyers in Mass looking into that?
  • Alan- recommends reading This Changes Everything.
  • Rob- the UU is starting a This Changes Everything study group in January, which will be open to the community. More information will be shared with this list about that.

3rd Question, roughly- Why do we meet together? What makes this relevant and worthwhile?

  • Karen- Teams in each congregation can be small, but we can be fortified by connecting to other groups. IREJN showed that churches were the first to step forward to commit to action around PCM. Faith-led leadership can catalyze so much more.
  • Rob- Can our spirituality help ground people to work together and move forward?
  • Roger- I don’t feel the need to come to meetings often if a more efficient way is available. To me, the whole purpose is to learn from and inspire one another. The website has forums to let you share and talk with one another, communicate wins and successes.
  • Karen- Wondered if it could feed into facebook.
  • Roger- recommended that facebook fed into the forum.
  • Sharon will post information in the forum about the meeting on the 11th.
  • Ed- it’s worthwhile to maintain some connection in person.
  • Group agreed
  • Karen and Rob will organize the first dinner for the interfaith climate folks to get together and share community and stories. Aiming at some time in late January.
  • At that first dinner, the second dinner will be planned.

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