Propelled by their faith and spirituality, a concern for environmental justice, and their experiences of being impacted by climate change, over 500 people from across Michigan rallied in the state capitol of Lansing on September 26, to advocate for a series of bills aimed at boosting clean, renewable energy in the state. Led by the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs Coalition and other organizations, the event filled the capitol steps and grounds with speakers, music, education booths, and opportunities to meet with lawmakers. (See the end of this post for an update on the legislation.)
Last week in Part 1 of this series, we shared the voices of people from a variety of perspectives, including the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions. This article lifts up more voices from the rally, all of them focused on addressing climate change and promoting environmental justice to create a brighter, more equitable future.
Pastor Lila Martin - Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church; Lansing, MI: "Trinity just recently installed 40 solar panels, turned them on on Sunday. And we are grateful for the opportunity to have those solar panels... We (the church) represent not only our past and our present, but we also represent the future. And for future generations, we need to make sure that they have the things that they need, and that they understand that we didn't just leave them in a bind or or leave them with nothing, but that we leave them something that they can hold on to and cherish."
Joseph Kennedy - Priest in charge of St. David's Episcopal Church; Lansing, MI - "My concern, especially being out of the Great Lakes region, is the health of our water systems. Primarily, water plays a very interesting role in Christianity. Our initiation rite is baptism, which links us in the cycle of life and death and ministry. And that's a sacrament we do with water that has been blessed. Here in Michigan, we are additionally blessed to be surrounded by life giving water. And so the two are inextricably linked, in my mind."
Jada Robinson, Community Health Coordinator, Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action - "A few months ago, or while the wildfire smoking was kind of spreading to the Midwest, there was a 20 year old who was pretty healthy. And when she inhaled the smoke, essentially she went to the ER and now her parents have no idea if she's going to be able to walk. And so I think I hold on to stuff like that. And it gives me a push to continue what I do."
Rev. Nurya Love Parish - Executive Director, Plainsong Farm - "I know that our earth is exhibiting symptoms of lack of care. And we see that as climate change. And as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I inherit a story that teaches me that humans sin, and that God came in Christ to redeem us and to show us a way of healing. And I think it's my responsibility as a disciple to try to follow a way of healing that is integrating care for creation as part of my practice of faith."
Erica Bouldin - Line 5 Engagement Coordinator, Michigan Climate Action Network - "I truly love (Michigan), and I also really want people to be able to enjoy it for as long as we can. You only get one of this beautiful space that we have, and we’re housing 20% of the world's surface freshwater. So we have to take care of it. We have to do our duty to serve people in a better way."
Legislative update - Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502 recently passed both the Michigan Senate and the House and are headed for Governor Gretchen Whitmer's desk. While some environmental groups support the legislation, others, including environmental justice groups, feel the bills fall short, including with clean energy targets and dates, how clean energy is defined, and the lack of any community solar provisions.