“Remarkable and Inspiring Things”

A Message from Interfaith Power and Light

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Dear Members & Creation Care Friends,

We are writing you today with fresh hope, with renewed commitment and a request for your partnership and financial support.

Our mission is to serve as a religious response to climate change, which we consider the defining moral issue of our times. That is because:

  • every day the news brings us troubling images of the latest evidence of a warming planet.
  • every person, every creature, every economy, every system will be impacted – by intensifying storms, fires, droughts, floods, heat waves, diseases, sea level rise.
  • the greatest and most imminent threats, as we’ve already seen, are to low-income and lowlying communities; which are most vulnerable to the impacts, least prepared to withstand the effects and least responsible for their causes.

And yet, some very remarkable and inspiring things are happening.

The Paris Climate talks (COP-21) just concluded, boasting the greatest gathering of world leaders in history!

There are 196 countries in the world. Negotiators from all 196 nations came together to unanimously approve a landmark climate agreement and have pledged specific climate actions. The entire WORLD is collaboratively responding to the crisis!

But the immensity of the challenge calls on all of us to be part of the solutions. And here at home, in Delaware, our collective congregations – each in their own way, inspired by their own faith – are embracing this moral imperative and taking action.

They are serving as energy resource centers and demonstration sites…They are forming stewardship teams and hosting energy seminars. They are planting community gardens, installing solar panels, distributing energy efficiency kits, and pledging individual acts of conservation.

They are meeting with legislators, promoting clean energy policies and advocating for resources for low-income communities. They are partnering with the neighborhoods they serve; promoting money savings, green job creation and healthier environments. And Delaware Interfaith Power and Light is serving them.

We understand that our best guarantee of addressing the challenges and achieving healthy, enduring solutions for climate change is getting there together as we promote partnerships, share resources, advocate for clean energy policies, instill hope and nurture faith in a better future for our children…and their children. They are depending on us.

We welcome your input and invite you to join our efforts. We ask for your most generous support. Contributions may be mailed to the address below or through our website www.delawareipl.org.

In faith and gratitude,

Lisa Locke, Executive Director
John Sykes, Board President

Environmental Action Needed

CPP Implementation in Delaware

Public Comments Period Ends Dec. 30

IndianRiver_Google

Indian River Power Station, Millsboro DE
(Google Maps found at http://www.sourcewatch.org)

Leave a comment at: sc.org/DE-CPP

On Aug. 3 President Obama and the EPA announced the final rule for the Clean Power Plan (CPP)—the most significant action the U.S. government has taken to reduce climate changing carbon emissions from power plants.

The plan allows each state to implement the CPP. We have learned that Delaware’s plan of implementation to reduce emissions and pollution are much too weak to protect Delaware long-term from the effects of climate change.

Significant changes need to be made in the implementation plan.

As citizens and people of faith, we can make a difference. Public comments on Delaware’s plan are open until December 30, 2015. Please go to the link provided and complete the form provided.

Your response is important: sc.org/DE-CPP

Green Sanctuary Team
Contact: Elizabeth Siftar

Why It Matters: Justice in Minneapolis and Wilmington

BLM-SSLI received this email today from Standing on the Side of Love.

It’s about what’s been happening in Minneapolis in the weeks following the police shooting of Jamar Clark. With all the other violence and mayhem in the news lately, the Minneapolis situation seems to have dropped off the national radar.

We last heard about it when white supremacists shot into the crowd of activists and demonstrators (including UUs) who were occupying the street in front of the Fourth Police Precinct. But did you know that earlier this week the City of Minneapolis bulldozed the occupation site? The protest is moving into a new phase, which you can read about here.

I wasn’t surprised to see that Rev. Barbara Hoag Gadon, of Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, MO, was on the site of the Minneapolis protest last weekend. Our former associate minister has been in the forefront of this movement since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, in August 2014. In fact, many Unitarian Universalists are on the front lines of this movement.

Here in Wilmington, citizens are patiently awaiting the results of two investigations into the September  police shooting of 24-year-old Jeremy McDole, a paralyzed black man in a wheelchair. At First Unitarian Church, about 30 people have signed up for the four-session workshop, Being White in the Black Lives Matter Movement, which begins on Sunday afternoon.

Pay attention to these things. They matter in Minneapolis and in Wilmington.

Jeff Lott

PS: To read the Standing on the Side of Love email on a separate web page, click here. If you don’t want to read the whole email, scroll down to the postscript for the latest news.

View this email online. Share: 

Editor’s Note: Actions in Minneapolis have evolved rapidly over the past few days. Please read through to the postscript for the latest news regarding the 4th Precinct.

Dear Jeff,

Having just returned from a weekend on the ground with Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis, I reaffirm my own expanded understanding of the term “Congregational Life”. In the two weeks since 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot down by the police in the north part of the city, members of the surrounding community and activists of Black Lives Matter organized to shut down at least the front side of the Fourth Police Precinct and maintain an occupation. Like the kinds of congregations where Unitarian Universalists gather from week to week, this one deals with its share of opportunities and challenges along the way.

As I walked toward the barricade in front of the police precinct last Friday evening, I choked a bit from all the smoke in the air. The temperature had dropped, so several fire pits burned in that block of the four-lane street. Small bunches of people gathered around them, a criss-cross mix of college students, activists, neighbors, bystanders and clergy. Some people were looking to make donations, and others were asking for money. On Nov. 23, a small group of white supremacists began shooting at the gathered protesters, wounding five. The following night shots were also fired though fortunately no one was hit.

I looked around for familiar faces, but I didn’t recognize anyone.  Then I heard someone call my name. I turned around and there was Rev. Barbara Hoag Gadon, my colleague serving Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, Missouri. She was in town for Thanksgiving with family and came to the site with a sign that read “Black Lives Matter: St. Louis Stands with You”. A self-confessed introvert, she said the sign helped her meet people, and sure enough it did, especially people who had a relationship to that other Midwestern hotspot of racialized tensions.

We listened to people express their gratitude for our being there from far away. We met one of Jamar’s cousins. Darius, one of the young people on security detail, introduced himself, gave his talk about keeping everyone safe and then offered a group hug to a cluster of newcomers. In time, Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP arrived. She and I met at the Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland back in July — a gathering of 1,200 activists and advocates countering the killing of black people by police and vigilantes. As I walked through the crowd with her, she said to one protester:

We have to fight for justice and most of us aren’t willing to pay the price. The fact that we were silent is what led to Jamar Clark being killed.  Police brutality is the biggest open secret in the state of Minnesota. So why were we silent? Why weren’t we calling the governor for police reform? Why weren’t we calling the Mayor and the City Council? Our silence has played a role in all these issues. We have got to have allies.  We have got to have people use their voices before the next situation happens.  The video of Jamar’s murder needs to be released. People need to know what happened and is happening.

After a couple of hours in the cold, as my feet were beginning to go numb, Lena K. Gardner, a lead Black Lives Matter organizer in Minneapolis and a Unitarian Universalist who puts her faith into action, showed up in her car and away we went to the airport to pick up Leslie MacFadyen, another black UU organizer and creator of the Ferguson Response Network, and Lizzy Bond of the Deep Abiding Love Project. Lena had invited us to come and to stand with Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis as concerns rose about a potential police crackdown on the precinct occupation on the far side of Thanksgiving. Lena had already met with Mayor Betsy Hodges several times to press for BLM-Minneapolis’s demands. Two weeks ago, a police officer pepper-sprayed her as she live-streamed during an action at the Fourth Precinct. Several times over the weekend, she let us know how glad she was that we were with her and the other local BLM organizers.

Leslie and I first met at the Convening in Cleveland also, where she was one of the key organizers. She, Lena, Kenny Wiley—a Black Lives Matter organizer in Denver and a writer for UU World–and I were the team of black Unitarian Universalists who rolled out the Black Lives of UU and Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism platforms in September, and who, along with Elandria Williams—a UU and an organizer with the Highlander Center, have created a proposal for the Black Lives of UU track for the UUA General Assembly in Columbus 2016. Meeting Lizzy for the first time, I felt a connection already through her work with Lena and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, who I know from his presence at the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland.

The weekend involves little sleep and lots of sitting in on late-night meetings of the lead team for BLM Minneapolis; supporting militant nonviolent resistance trainings led primarily by Rev. Sekou, Lena, Leslie and Lizzy; some reconnaissance for future nonviolent protests, and visits to the smoky occupation site in front of the precinct. At the time of this writing, the BLM organizers were speculating on what the charges would be against the white supremacist shooters and formulating a plan of action for getting their demands met.

And what are those demands? In conjunction with Jamar Clark’s family, BLM Minneapolis is demanding:

  • the release of all video footage of Jamar Clark’s shooting
  • direct prosecution of the officers involved, i.e., no grand jury
  • a community protection plan to guard the people of North Minneapolis from police retaliation

Sunday morning,  the Minneapolis NAACP sponsored a worship service at the occupation site. Rev. Brian Herrron, Minister of Zion Baptist Church and member of the faith-based community organization ISAIAH, gave the message. Before I left, I took the time to walk the two blocks along Plymouth Avenue to the site where Jamar Clark was shot killed. There, his family and neighbors created a makeshift memorial. “Justice 4 Jamar” is the largest sign, and calls to mind for me what the Black Lives movement is all about — holding killers accountable and preventing senseless killings of people like Jamar. We simply want a country where black lives are as valuable as white lives, where black people can go about their daily affairs without harassment or reckless police/vigilante violence. We believe that valuing black lives is in everyone’s interest, and makes the world safer for us all.

I left Minneapolis Monday with deep respect for the young adults — and specifically, the mostly young black and brown queer women — who are leading the struggle for justice there against a backdrop of intense racism, sexism and homophobia.

I see their work in the context of the life of the congregation that is the community occupying the Fourth Precinct. BLM Minneapolis leaders are facing some of the same questions I support congregations in answering with my work as UUA staff for the Southern Region. Who is authorized to speak for the group? How do we manage donations? Get our message out? Tend to our own spiritual needs and self-care? Handle disruptive persons? Stay on message? Make decisions? What supports are there for people in deep grief over the loss of loved ones, as well as for people needing social and mental health services? How do we act effectively and responsibly for justice?

How will Unitarian Universalists rise to these troubling times? How will we support these new congregations in the streets? How do we become dues-paying members of these congregations, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof? What do we do with this opportunity to step out of the comfort zone that being white-identified affords UU congregations, such that this nation and the world is transformed?

These words by Assata Shakur are an ongoing touchstone for Black Lives Matter, and one that I’ve taken to heart. I look forward to the days ahead when more and more Unitarian Universalists and people of all ethnicities can act upon them with true conviction:

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.

 

In faith,

Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith
UUA Congregational Life Staff, Southern Region

 

p.s. December 1, the day after this blog was drafted, a group of Minneapolis clergy and other BLM activists occupied City Hall, making the demands listed above. Mayor Hodges called for the end of the BLM Fourth Precinct occupation, citing concerns about community safety. In response, BLM Minneapolis Miski Noor said on Facebook, “If Mayor Hodges is so concerned about safety, she should join us and call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Jamar Clark’s murder to avoid using a broken grand jury system.” Meanwhile, the white supremacists who injured five people when they shot at the occupation last week were charged with the softer crime of rioting with a dangerous weapon, rather than attempted murder or domestic terrorism. “We just feel like this is more evidence that the system does not work for black people to bring people that hurt us to justice,” Lena K. Gardner told protesters at Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday night. “It fails us at every turn.” In the early hours of this morning, the Minneapolis Police bulldozed the occupation site in front of the 4th Precinct. Six people were arrested, and no injuries were reported. The 4th Precinct Shutdown Eviction Rally is 4:00pm this afternoon at City Hall.

p.p.s. As we enter this holiday season, if you are interested in socially-conscious purchases, I invite you to consider www.fergusonresponseholidayguide.com.

Inspiration from Paris

 

Kid2.ParisPARIS HOSTS UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE
ON CLIMATE CHANGE NOV. 30 TO DEC. 11

“What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it.” 

—President Barack Obama, opening session of the COP-21 meeting in Paris, November 30, 2015.

CONSIDER…

180 COUNTRIES making commitments to cut carbon emissions and embrace a clean, renewable energy era.

THE LARGEST GATHERING OF WORLD LEADERS IN HISTORY!

40,000 WORLD CITIZENS gathering in Paris.

2,300 EVENTS across 175 COUNTRIES attended by 785,000 PEOPLE of all ages, races, backgrounds and faiths.unknown.png

22,000 PAIRS OF SHOES, including those of Pope Francis and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, were placed at Place de la Republique, on behalf of the 400,000 people who had been expected to march before heightened security measures were implemented.

Shoes_Paris_Climate

 

10,000 PEOPLE HELD HANDS in solidarity with communities most imminently affected by climate change.

18,000,000 PEOPLE OF FAITH SIGNED A PETITION calling for more action on climate change, delivered to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary, Christiana Figueres.

YOU can be a part of it!

WATCH/SEE:

SHARE:

  • Spread the word of this GLOBAL, HOPEFUL mobilization.
  • Share the stories through Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets.

ACT:

  • Sign the Paris Pledge:  http://www.parispledge.org
  • Engage your family, friends, co-workers, faith community in raising the bar on their own climate commitments.
  • Form a Creation Care/Stewardship Team
  • Volunteer, Intern, Collaborate, Advocate with DeIPL & NC3 (New Castle County Congregations)
  • BE a religious response to climate change
  • THE TIME IS NOW.

Contact Delaware Interfaith Power & Light for resources, activities and support…joining voices, taking action, raising hopes.

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