Reflection: "Seemingly Small Acts of Justice"
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Spotlight on Blue Water Congregations
Virginia and Maryland Advocacy
Sometimes it’s helpful to pause, look back, and see how far you have come.
In 2009, Frontline aired a 2-hour special about the environmental injustices taking place in the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. You can watch the entire show online by clicking here. Watching it, I got angry over the lack of moral compass by so many industries in both regions. But, it was also a good reminder of really how far we’ve come.
Similarly, as we approach Black History Month, we remember the seemingly small acts by teenagers at the Woolworth’s Counter and Mrs. Rosa Parks on a Montgomery bus. These and other simple acts catalyzed an entire revolution. We could learn much from the old spiritual: "We've Come this far by Faith." And yet, we painfully acknowledge in light of current events throughout America’s cities - we still have so far to go.
In all cases of injustice, we find strength in reflecting on how far we have come - and how many people across the country are working for the same goals. Click here to watch hundreds of stories about seemingly small acts of water restoration taking place in Philadelphia, San Antonio, the Bronx - all of them telling the story of transformation from the ground up.
Next week is the Jewish celebration of Tu B'Shevat, which marks the beginning of spring in Israel. Jews will celebrate the sacredness of The Tree of Life with a seder meal of fruit and nuts - a meal for which no creature lost its life. The Shalom Center offers a beautiful reflection about “how to heal the wounds that Mother Earth is suffering in our own generation...how to plant new life where it is withering.” In Baltimore, Pearlstone Center is sponsoring a workshop on Sustainability to celebrate Tu B’Shevat. Around the world, millions of acts of restoration will be lifted up - a transformation from the ground up.
Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” As you plan for Tu B’Shevat, Lent, Earth Day, or seemingly small acts in the movement, IPC invites you to browse the full version of the Menu for Action for ideas for youth activities, advocacy, reflections, and more. Browse our bulletin board for upcoming events and gatherings or check out our Programs page and sign up your place of worship for 2015!
There are no small acts of justice. They are all essential - they all add up to a sea of change. Be moved by how far we have come. Be moved by how far we still have to go.
Blessings to you in your work,
The IPC Team
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Spotlight on Baltimore and Blue Water Congregations
Blue Water Congregations is building! The first cohort of five congregations (Faith Presbyterian, Kadampa Meditation Center, The Church of the Redeemer, St. Anthony’s of Padua and St. Pius X) have all prioritized stormwater mitigation projects for their grounds and, with help from Blue Water Baltimore, applied for grant funding to cover the costs. We’ve just learned that Faith, St Anthony’s and St. Pius X will receive grants from Department of Natural Resources to do very large pervious pavement removal and bio-retention areas and we are hoping for good news on the rest! All of this work will help reduce polluted runoff from these properties while educating the broader community about this community-wide problem. Baltimore City is also gearing up to utilize stormwater fee funds to implement hundreds of projects to further reduce runoff pollution. Their plan is outlined in their Watershed Improvement Plan (WIP). We encourage all those who live, work, or worship in Baltimore City to check out the WIP and send any feedback to Bonnie Sorak if you would like your opinions to be shared with the City. We are preparing written comments to be submitted at the end of this week.
For programs offered in other parts of Maryland, please browse our Programs Page.
All Maryland citizens are invited to the Maryland Legislative Summit, which offers opportunities to meet your legislators and hear about issues to be emphasized this session. It will be held Tuesday February 3rd 4-6 pm in Annapolis. Details are here.
Styrofoam Ban in Montgomery County - Congratulations to all who worked to ensure passage of the Styrofoam ban in Montgomery County. The ban starts in January 2016 and was passed by an 8-0 vote.
Maryland Statewide Bills - Several bills are expected to be proposed in the state legislature this session that we are keeping an eye on:
Stormwater Repeal - We fully expect opponents of stormwater utility fees to propose repeal bills. IPC joins other organizations in the Clean Water - Healthy Families coalition to help keep the stormwater utility programs intact so that we can work for clean water for generations to come.
Bag Bill - Trashfree Maryland is working to introduce a bill that would charge a 5-cent fee for disposable bags. Collected funds would go toward solid waste mitigation projects throughout the state.
Fracking Moratorium - A movement to request Gov. Hogan to consider a long-term moratorium on fracking has not attracted 73 signatory organizations, of which IPC is one. Legislation is now being drafted for proposal in the current session. You can review the letter that IPC signed onto here.
Virginia Bill to Watch - This week Virginia will vote on House Bill 1293 which will exempt all places of worship fro stormwater utility fees. For reasons explained on our Polluted Runoff page, IPC does not support this bill. We encourage you to stay informed in Virginia and write your legislators regarding your opinion on this bill.
Grant-writing Workshop - Join us on Feb. 4th in Annapolis at a workshop designed to help congregational leaders better understand the grant-writing process. Details on our bulletin board
Tu B’shvat Sustainability Forum - Energy & Sustainability - to be held February 5th at Beth El Congregation in Baltimore. Details are here.
Interfaith Forum - Showcasing Congregations - Join us Sunday Feb. 15th for the 4th Annual Interfaith Forum in Montgomery County. Hear inspiring stories of actions that faith communities are taking to help restore our watersheds, and get tools and resources to help you get started, too! Details here.
Howard County - Earth Forum of Howard County will be offering a workshop on February 15th on effective environmental leadership, planning, and developing engaging programs. Hear Howard County environmental leaders share the highlights from 2014, and plans for 2015. Click here for full event flyer.
Montgomery County Greenfest - Would you be willing to help IPC staff a table at the Montgomery County Greenfest on Saturday, March 28th? Hundreds of people will come together at Montgomery College Silver Spring to celebrate our environment and we want to inspire them to engage their congregations, too! Learn more about the festival here. Please contact Bonnie Sorak if you can help staff our informational table for 1 hour.