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June 19 2019

Summit for Change and #ActOnClimate

By Emily Parker

“Europe Becomes First Carbon-Positive Continent; Australia to Follow”

“Sahara Desert Becomes World’s Largest Solar Energy Farm”

“Pacific ‘Dead Zone’ Dead No Longer, International Clean-Up Efforts Succeed”

“Solar Panel Installation, Repair Brings 1.2 Million Jobs to Former Manufacturing Towns”

On June 12-14, 2019, I had the joy of experiencing the Sojourner’s Summit for Change, hosted at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The Summit upheld a theme of environmental justice throughout its three days, from its programming to its food. My personal highlight of the Summit was an optimistic yet informed exercise led by two young environmentalist leaders, Melody Zhang of Sojourners and Avery Davis Lamb of Interfaith Power & Light. Their joint session, “Faithful Action in the Era of Climate Change,” took participants on a brief, interactive tour of the history of climate activism, starting with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Martin Luther King Jr., then moving to modern political movements. The second part of the session encouraged participants to first reflect on the history of environmental activism, and then visualize what events they’d like to see in the future. We were given paper and markers and, in small groups, were instructed to dream of potential climate news headlines we’d like to see.

Headlines are often something we see daily, multiple times a day, and sometimes they’re even the first and last thing we read during our waking hours. We consume news but rarely consider what we’d like to see, or even the power we have over the news. We are the news.

Melody and Avery’s exercise empowered us to assert our influence over headlines and dream of how it could become reality through our own actions. After all, knowing where we want to end up is critical in deciding the steps to get there. If we want to live in a world with headlines like, “All International Faith Institutions Pledge Carbon Neutrality by 2030,” first step is to check in with ourselves and our faith institutions. How are we doing? Have we even brought up carbon neutrality with our friends? Our families? Our communities? We need to keep our eyes on the prize and start doing the work to get there.

Take this exercise to your own community. Incorporate it into your personal reflections. Close your eyes and visualize the headlines you want to see someday. Imagine how you’ll feel to see these dreams come into fruition. Write it down.

Now, let’s make those dreams a reality!. Download the Blessed Tomorrow Moving Forward guide today for guidance, resources, and first steps toward a better future.

As individuals, congregations, and communities, we can create new headlines, together!

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