by Pam Arifian
Regardless of your political leanings, it can’t be disputed that the environment lost in the recent election. Reports are coming out that the President-elect has tapped a climate-denier to head the environmental policy transition team, is favoring an oil and gas executive for the Department of Interior and other pro-fossil-fuel champions as energy advisers (more info here . We know that his campaign promises included “cancelling” our country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, bringing back the coal industry, scrapping the Clean Power Plan, rolling back important enviro regulations, and reversing Obama’s decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. There are also reports about his investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Friends, our work is more important than ever before.
First, some good news: The youth who are suing the federal government have won a critical milestone in their lawsuit for lack of climate action to protect the atmosphere for the prosperity and survival of future generations. This, to me, is a bright shining light of hope, and I’ve supported them with my donation - perhaps you will too.
And more good news: thanks to local grassroots opposition, the natural gas power plant proposed for New Milford has been rejected by the Mayor. Local action works!
I have been asked for advice on what to do. While the following is in no way exhaustive, I offer up some ideas for your consideration, and invite additional strategies and ideas.
Discern your gifts, talents and resources to identify the best way for you to be engaged. We need each other!
Educate, educate, educate!!
Organize locally to talk about issues related to the climate justice movement. Show films and host discussion forums. Help people make the connections between their actions and the impacts on our planet and humanity.
Call and meet with your legislators - sign up to be a CTUCC Advocate Corps.
Learn about intersectionality and white privilege and join in solidarity with groups focused on separate but related issues of justice.
Write letters to editors, engage your faith community, etc. to increase exposure of these issues and inspire people to act.
Get kids (and yourself!) outside in nature - studies show that inspiring personal responsibility for the planet is more successful when one fosters an emotional, compassionate connection with nature than when taught about enviro disasters. Send them to camp for summer or for weekend retreats. Donate to organizations with this as their mission (including Silver Lake).
Engage in the movement to end the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure and to support renewable energy infrastructure. Learn about, educate about and resist the pipelines proposed through our region, including the Spectra AIM, and power plants.
Join the movement of towns that are passing fracking waste ban ordinances (there are 5 towns that have passed them so far: I’m sure Gary Bent would be happy to provide more info on his efforts in his town [thanks Gary!]. Jen Siskind, a volunteer from Food and Water Watch, is a force in supporting towns in this regard, and she will provide editable, electronic copies of local ordinance language - contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Get your church and others to go green with the EMT Green Church Awards and the IREJN Green Houses of Worship Recognition program. Look into a faith-based Solarize program.
Divest your own money from funds that support fossil fuels. Encourage your church to invest in the Eden Fund – the CT Conference's Carbon Reserve Free strategy for investing.
I’ve been asked for my shortlist of trusted organizations to fund. Here are a few that I recommend:
Sacred Stone Camp / Standing Rock Sioux Tribe water protectors have been camped out since April, and are committed to staying as long as it takes. The North Dakota winters are tough. They need supplies and funds for legal defense for the water protectors who have been arrested. I’ve sent my donation, and invite you to do the same.
Food and Water Watch
Our Childrens’ Trust
Moral Mondays CT
Southern Poverty Law Center
You can also donate to the work we are doing at the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center.
Finally, please take a look at the BRAND NEW ctucc.org website, including the new pages for our environmental ministries. The site is still a work in progress, and I welcome your feedback. Thank you!
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