The newly formed Dubuque Chapter of Iowa Interfaith Power & Light is off to a roaring start in building the movement of climate justice in Dubuque! The Chapter worked together with Iowa IPL to put on a Green Team Training event on Sunday, February 19th. It was a huge success with 80 people in attendance!
This first project of the Dubuque Chapter was to encourage the start of new congregational green teams in Dubuque and strengthen existing green teams by providing information and resources, and a chance to network with other green teams.
Mayor Buol of Dubuque opened the event encouraging people of faith to speak up for green measures, saying the faith message has a powerful influence on community attitudes.
Then we had a public signing of the Chapter Agreement, with Mary Thomas Armstrong from St. Luke’s Methodist Church signing on behalf of the Chapter to great applause and snapping of photos.
We started with a definition of Climate Justice: that’s when we do what we can to cut the carbon that causes climate change, and also help the poor to survive the devastating effects to their environment of the changing climate. For it is the poor who suffer the worst, and have done the least to cause it.
The first hour was a chance to articulate why we care enough to do something about climate change.
Each participant had a chance to tell their story about what concerns them the most about climate change and what motivates them to do something about it. Studies show that personal stories are far more convincing than facts and figures as you talk to others about climate change. Participants will use these stories as they talk about climate change in their congregations. Many told stories about their concern for their children and grandchildren, and how their faiths call them to care for the earth and each other. One participant told how her family back in Vietnam had to evacuate permanently from their coastal home due to the rising sea level. Another participant from Jamaica told how she lost her older brother to a tropical virus that is becoming more prevalent in Jamaica due to the changing climate.
The second hour we heard from several panelists who spoke about their successes in caring for our common home.
Judy Giesen from the Church of the Resurrection spoke about their annual Zero Waste Festival where they serve 3000 people. Using animals as a weight comparison, Judy reported they composted as much as an elephant weighs, recycled as much as a bear weighs, and sent to the landfill as much as a goat weighs. Church of the Resurrection was runner up in the national Interfaith Power & Light contest for their Zero Waste Festival.
Mary Purdy, St. Luke’s Methodist Church, taught us lessons from what she has learned in spearheading a large food donation garden, and also a “wading pool” garden project funded by a city grant. Start small she says, and grow from there.
Dr. Jade Angelica, a Unitarian minister, spoke about the benefits of green cleaning supplies, showing us what she cleans with: baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. She gave advice for how to use these in congregations.
Cory Burbach, the city’s Sustainability Coordinator spoke about Sustainable Dubuque’s grants available to help fund green initiatives.
The Dubuque Chapter choose to create an assessment tool for area congregations to see how well they are doing in caring for the earth in their congregational practices as the first step in formulating a plan to care for creation.
Carrie Lohrmann, Holy Trinity Lutheran, a member of the committee that created this Dubuque-specific tool presented it to the group and offered to help teams use the assessment.
The third hour was a chance for Green Teams to gather and begin to discuss plans using Iowa IPL’s Green Team Guide as a starting point. The Green Team Guide is advice gathered from green teams around the state of Iowa from our 10 years of working with them.
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make the day a success!
The Srs. of the Presentation hosted the event, Dubuque Chapter members moderated the event and brought refreshments, Walhert High School LEAP students assisted with logistics and had a table about the good work they are doing. Several community groups tabled with resources including Green Iowa AmeriCorps who offers weatherization services for free to all homes in Dubuque.
And thanks to our sponsors for the day as well, Church of the Resurrection, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Srs. of the Presentation, Trailhead Energy, Westminster Presbyterian Mission Team.
The Dubuque Chapter of Iowa IPL is the first chapter in Iowa. An IIPL Chapter is a citywide, faith-based, interfaith “green team” made up of members from local area congregations and religious organizations.
The purpose of an IIPL Chapter is to build and strengthen regional networks of people of faith wanting to act together to heal the climate. Members of chapters will offer one another mutual support, resources, encouragement through regular meetings and through joint planning of events.
Consider starting an Iowa IPL Chapter in your community. Contact Sarah Paulos at firstname.lastname@example.org