Click on the link to see the minutes of the Interfaith Eco-Action Group Oct 14 2015 as a pdf file, or view them below.
Interfaith Eco-Action Notes – October 14, 2015
@ Friends Meeting House, Northampton
We began with a reading of the powerful Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing, as part of our solidarity with the People’s Climate Movement. These principles came out of the environmental justice movement years ago and can help stimulate the call to action that lives within all of us.
We then reviewed the highlights of climate actions over the past month – including Moral Actions on Climate in Washington DC, the launch of a new MA Interfaith Climate Coalition event attended by almost 500 people, and a brief presentation of Climate Reality training I did with Al Gore in Miami.
Attendees were asked to reflect on this statement: What do I bring to the Interfaith Climate Movement?
Instead of small group breakouts we continued rich discussion and full group brainstorming about how we evolve the Interfaith Eco Action Network. High level suggestions included:
- planting and harvesting gardens together, particularly for the hungry
- praying together in a focused way for legislators and those suffering from climate disruption
- hosting a community forum for the Climate Reality presentation
- hosting a community forum for an interfaith “exposition” or speed dating where the best practices of all can be learned by all (like volunteer carbon tax, community shelter and meal offerings, movie nights, justice and peace committees, etc.)
Thank you for all you bring.
MEETING SPECIFICS in chronological order
1. Jemez Principle reflections —
Karen shared how great it is to experience church at First Baptist in Amherst given the 41 nations represented and in attendance each week.
Anne recalled the fall summit that used Jemez principles – North East Climate Organizers Summit – as well as SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) with four facilitators working from this vantage point, inter-generational.
David reread the sentence about labor unions and economic justice focusing on environment justice which was echoed by Lee and Karen (who noted the Executive Order signed by Deval
Patrick mandating state agencies have an EJ policy)
It is more important that labor unions and community economic development projects include the issue of environmental sustainability in their own strategies, rather than just lending support to the environmental organizations
Lydia has goal of reaching out to people of color and wants to explore how to lend what we have here to these groups. She has 50 Black Lives Matter yard signs for $7 that can be picked up without prior arrangement at 17 gaylord St. Amherst. She represents www.Coming-Together.org and created a handout on how to talk to people about their feelings about the signs.
In addition: First Congregation Church in Amherst won a Community Fdn of Western MA grant to lead multicultural events, monthly films, action groups, with significant multi-race advisory. There are many upcoming events including an important Nov. 27 meeting and Th. Nov. 9 film. Please check out this events page
Beth talked about all the interrelatedness of justice as Naomi Klein noted in her 9/29 talk. Also noted Roger’s solidarity with BLM; Non Violent Communication Marshall Rosenberg course – feels like a strong basis for this work which Karen Fogliatti (Noho and Occupy mvmt) is a leader.
Georgeanne will be giving the welcome speech for the first ever gay pride parade in Greenfield about how we are all in need of being included in all communities – there should be no stereotyping. Younger generation is most aware of intersectionality.
Karen shared the One Tribe inspiration that feels resonant and growing globally
Margaret noted how well Pope Francis’ encyclical dovetails with these Jemez Principles: “we have one heart”
2. Reflections on Our Recent Actions —
Harvesting Hope was the most amazing day – Joy was palpable, young people were so involved. Lee felt it was a glorious day of realization and hope, packed with people. Wished there was greater coverage. Paki filmed the ritual part of it which will be on NCTV. Lanie shared that it was held at CBI on the 1 year anniversary of Abundance Farm – created to turn the land over and sow it. This was the first harvest and significant because of the 7th year sabbatical for the land in Jewish tradition when land lays fallow and all debts are forgiven. No one owes or owns – a transformative approach for addressing poverty and hunger in our area. An announcement was sent to all faith institutions for this a year in advance (and why the November 4th meeting on the 1 year anniversary of our first Interfaith Eco Action meeting is significant).
Topsy Turvy bus broke down and all the food inside was able to be moved to the festival. 7 day Sukkot.. Rabbi Gendler (in his 90’s) still does Non Violent trainings in Tibet (he was a key person during Martin Luther King Jr’s march…(?) and about tying all things together – intersectionality. Andrea Avayzian led music. And Hakel (enactment of a king’s reading to his people about the limits of his power based on the law of the Torah) with 7 blessings read by 7 denominations with willow branches. Nothing like this has ever happened! Tremendous. And Susan Rice brought her Alpaca’s! It was the Feast of St. Francis and Worldwide Communion Day.
Doug enjoyed the Community Forum on the Papal Encyclical and how diverse were the panel’s perspectives. Sharon noted others feedback about how well Karen got the panel talking to each other. Anne noted the Northampton Community TV video Paki made and how it could be shown in other venues. Gazette coverage of it spent 2/3 on Professor Nicolson in the paper. David noted this event striking a strong chord about mysticism on the periphery. Doug also noted how the Haydenville Congregation associate pastor took the preaching on 9/27 very seriously. As did First Congregation’s pastor (noted by Karen) and Sharon shared details about Edwards Church’s sermon on Jonathan Edwards’ foundation.
Georgeanne noted the joy in preaching on climate and her congregations’ response to the pope’s choice of four focal historical figures – wanting to delve into it more deeply. Wanted to also further explore the questions from the watch party. How can we be human, have strong values, but do it in a way that embraces respect for all. One participant (David Arpa) said he was struck by Pope’s introduction with Moses’s leadership.
3. Moral Action on Climate in DC Reflections —
Margaret first shared about the new MA Interfaith Climate Coalition forming. She’s never felt such intense great energy. All about political action. Nov. 10 lobbying day. Not sure if there’s a website yet.
Then she shared the following details of her trip to Washington DC:
Joining the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, Margaret went with state department heads to express with great clarity and ardor that the faiths are united and we have a moral mandate to act. We are not on a global suicide pact, we care about each other as Pope Francis has so powerfully preached. Margaret drafted a very important letter to President Obama that has actually made it onto the agenda of his Climate Committee!! She did lobbying in Mitch McConnell’s office with the people of faith community. It’s hard to know the impact but spoke with someone yesterday who said the White House was originally afraid McConnell would be confrontational on climate but apparently he is stepping back.
Wed. Yom Kippur services outside on Lincoln Memorial – interfaith services outside the Mall – Margaret gave a prayer on atonement. So many voices united.
Thur. congressional address (with thousands of her best friends huddled together) but needed to be at the national mall rally (#s were a bit low but music was excellent, quality of the silence when Pope Francis spoke was moving, beautiful). BXE fasters (Beyond Extreme Energy) were in their 17th day. Ghandi said fasting is the highest form of prayer. Thursday night there was a big National Cathedral service – head of episcopal church and UCC church leading. Best climate anthem ever The Tide is Rising. Shoshanna (Harvard Heat Week) and Rev. Fred Small co-wrote.
Margaret’s blog has a recap of everything: www.RevivingCreation.org –
State dept has built momentum, has commitment from 148 countries, bad news is that it’s not going to limit warming to 2degrees Celsius. It’s not the road to Paris it’s the road through Paris. Increasingly ambitious targets that countries would re-up every 5 years. Karen Florini, deputy special envoy on climate under Todd Stearns is calling on faith communities to keep the political will and pressure on our legislators.
Then on Monday 10/12 Margaret went to Temple Beth Israel (seats 450 and had an overflow of 50) where the MA Interfaith Climate Coalition was announced. There was a great panel, such high energy. Tide is Rising was sung. Huge. Fred Small just left his ministry to lead this work full time.
4. Climate Reality Project Reflections —
Karen gave an overview of the training she went to in Miami led by Al Gore. Many in attendance asked her to give the full presentation in a public forum and Karen asked for a few people to step forward in planning. We can include this planning effort as part of the agenda for the next meeting, Wednesday November 4th at CBI. Here are a few of her notes:
1200 people packed a huge ballroom at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami just one day after what has become a typical storm flooded a neighboring area. Al Gore had been out in the affected area filming and in our first day of training he shared this footage along with many dozens more video clips on everything from catastrophic shifts in land masses, due to warming jet streams and increasingly severe drought and floods, to clips from 8 finalists in a 2400 video contest in preparation for the UN climate talks.
There are roughly 8,000 active climate leaders from this dynamic program 8 years running with many thousands more not on active duty. His goal is indeed to have an army of climate leaders reaching out in every possible direction to engage ever more people in the most critical conversation of our time. As one man quoted on a slide once said, “the more difficult the topic, the more important it is to talk about it.”
5. Reflections on the Evolution of Interfaith Eco Action Network —
Roger noted the interfaith opposition to climate reality and opened a discussion about how to address this – David underscored the need to encourage deep listening Introducing Evangelical Eco-Theology (book shared by Anne)
Beth noted the importance of native peoples and incorporating their traditions. There are tribal peoples who live in this area, what can they teach us.
Margaret shared the website www.BlessedTomorrow.org – eco America’s project. All about climate communication best practices, particularly on the one-on-one communications. This is a psychological issue that has been compared to Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ stages of grief. People are in a place of high resistance because they are overwhelmed. This is an invitation for us to focus on compassion. Did some lobbying in June for CCL – basic rule is that if you cannot find something to appreciate in a politicians record you shouldn’t be lobbying them. EX someone with the Tea Party voting record on KXL, Arctic drilling, etc.
Karen shared the inspiration to unite around what we do well, to pray. We can have very specific prayer actions and she has models for this that have been very powerful and effective.
Doug ran a workshop on Active Hope – about how people are blocked due to pain. Spiral – start with gratitude, see with new eyes, and take inspired action and cycle. Had a ceremony with people putting things that scare them in a bowl – many tears.
Lydia noted the Greater Good Science Center in Berkeley CA – # of articles why we can’t pay atttention.
Georgeanne – what’s going to move people? Pope’s encyclical is a primer on how to connect across paradigms. Even John Boehner heard him.
Elaine – reflecting on last year and how hard it was to schedule due to weather. Now is the perfect season to reflect and do small study groups. How do we use the power of faith to bring people into the climate conversation?
Doug – Jemez principles #5
Next Meeting November 4th at Congregation B’Nai Israel. Elaine is interested in calling together all the groups. Food Justice, Gun Control, Climate Justice and website How can climate justice be a part of all the interfaith groups?
Beth suggests potluck – and crafting some questions that could stimulate discussion.
Roger noted Pelham’s Neighbor to Neighbor group building a community garden to serve the hungry in the community. Knocked down an old barn, people will be leveling the land, planting seeds, pollinator garden, etc. This is what people want to do, act, not talk.
Garden at CBI
Sharon reflected on the fact that $32,000 was raised to songs for Syria – what made this so successful? People realized they could help by being there. We need to carefully identify how people can be helpful – collection for something… I make a difference.
Susan noted the formula of having Sara Weinberger write an editorial, having a great poster and music.
Lydia shared that the This Changes Everything movie will be on itunes on October 20 faith communities could purchase have movie nights.
- And Here are three upcoming climate actions you can take:
Su. October 18th – Plainfield in Opposition to the Pipeline (POP) is holding a protest at the site of a proposed Contractor Yard for the pipeline on an APR (Agricultural Preservation Restriction) protected piece of prime farm land in
Plainfield from noon-2pm. 184 East Main Street is 6/10s of a mile East on Route 116 from the corner of South Central Street and Route 116. You will see the giant pipe! For info call: 413.634.8043
Tu. October 20th – Attend the Public Forum on Transitioning from Plastics to
Alternatives, GCTV Studio 3rd floor in Greenfield 6:30-8pm. Contact: Sandra Boston 774-5952 www.greenfieldrightsofnature.info
Mo. October 25th – Attend the Monthly Climate Action Now general meeting at the UU Northampton 7-9pm