March 1, 2013

Reflecting on DC Climate Change Rally

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joan @ 6:22 am

Reflecting upon DC Climate Event

It has been a week since I arrived back in New Mexico after the Keystone XL Climate Rally in Washington, DC. Sometimes it takes a while to process such blessed and awe-inspiring events. Initiated by organizations such as 350.org and Sierra Club and endorsed by some 130 organizations, including Interfaith Power and Light, the “Forward On” Climate Rally drew more than 40,000 on a cold and windy Sunday, February 17, 2013.
I traveled to the rally as a prayerful pilgrimage flying from Albuquerque to Chicago to take one of two chartered buses with my sister and friend Mar Kay Flanigan, who works at 8th Day Center for Justice. The rally, which included speakers from business, 350, Sierra Club, a US Senator and powerful First Nation Women from Canada and Oklahoma, was inspiring. The march with multitude of signs and chants to the White House seemed like an endless stream of committed souls.
But, what touched me deeply were the smiles on people’s faces, the sense of centeredness and peace of those gathered in the face of the greatest ethical moral and economic challenge of our time, Climate Change. These pictures of people and their messages reflect some of this palpable energy that permeates the work that continues as everyone has returned home.
Kathryn Turnipseed, a Buddhist member of NMIPL also attended the rally affirms the sentiments.“ I felt this journey as pilgrimage and an expression of my deepening care for all living beings in response to the greatest threat: the destruction of our life support system. I was so uplifted and inspired. While a majority of politicians in Washington demonstrate an unwillingness to address the realities of climate change, people across the country are organizing and mobilizing, some risking arrest, to protect what we love and depend upon for life. It’s a heartbreaking and heartwarming journey of compassion. I don’t know what this journey will look like or how it will end but being in Washington, joined together with people from all walks of life, demonstrating wit, care, creativity, courage and boundless goodwill I felt so blessed to be on this journey and grateful for everyone who is taking a stand for the well-being of all creatures.”
Upon returning from the rally, several people and one reporter asked me “So, what next?” I could only reply that those gathered know the seriousness of climate change and are motivated by deep love and compassion to continue their work in whatever spheres they find themselves. My sense is that most of those gathered were already very committed and engaged. It was important to gather from dispersed areas into one body to say “We are the many and our voices are growing and we want to stop Keystone Pipeline and similar ill-fated projects and move forward with strong climate change and energy policies. We act in Love and care for life and the future.”
Perhaps the blue sign held by college student, Amanda, speaks most powerfully to the spirit of the Largest Climate Rally in the United States history on the windy cold Sunday of February 17, 2013.
There are so many small and large ways to get engaged, to activate Love into action, let me know if you want to help.
Joan Brown,osf, Executive Director, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light

January 24, 2013

Witness for the People—En Nombre del Pueblo

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:51 am

New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light participated in the People of Faith Prayer at the opening day of the New Mexico Legislative Session January 15. It was a wonderful even in the Rotunda coordinated by Interfaith Worker Justice with many participating organizations. Here are the words I presented in the name of NMIPL.

What an amazing and synchronistic moment on the 84th Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. As we gather diverse faith leaders of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate gather in Washington, some being arrested.
Those gathered in DC and perhaps many of us here might agree that if Martin Luther King were alive today he would be declaring climate change as one of the greatest moral issues of our time. One of the leading NASA scientists calls it a “national emergency.” A recent UN Report concluded that in less than a year, an ice sheet larger than the U.S. melted. 2012 was the warmest year on record with record highs weather related disasters.
The memories of summer smoke filled air, record high temperatures and drought filled days cannot be left outside the doors of this Legislative Round House. Our concern for sister water and our future viability of living in New Mexico is reaching crisis proportions.
We cannot be silent in this session when it comes to protecting safeguards and regulations around our common trust of water. We cannot have an economy without an ecology. We must hold oil, gas, uranium mining and other extractive industries to high moral standards. Water is our life blood given by our Creator. We must act justly and love tenderly in our actions for what God has given us.
We cannot be silent when it comes to promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation that heralds a future for our children and grandchildren and true economic opportunity. “Who would give their child a stone, if they asked for a piece of bread?”
We cannot be silent if ALEC legislation is introduced to erode the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The burning words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr ring loudly. “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’”
Each of us gathered here is a holy witness called in this amazing moment. We must believe in every cell of our bodies and within every whisp of our souls that radical loving transforms injustice, radical loving heals the disease of despair and radical loving transforms the allurement of greed into a longing for healthy communities and oneness. Poets are also holy prophets. In Dreams Before Waking Adrienne Rich, who passed over this year, wrote:
What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other’s despair into hope?-
You yourself must change it.-
what would it feel like to know
your country (or state) was changing?-
You yourself must change it.-
Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
what would it mean to stand on the first
page of the end of despair?

December 16, 2011

December Is Not Dull

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:17 pm

Blessings this day. Life with NMIPL has been very full these past weeks.

Several members testified to keep the NM Environmental Improvement Board ruling on Green House Gas Emissions. I offered an opening testimony addressing the ethical challenges of climate change and our call to care for the future. NMIPL has been a co-petitioner in this case.

We have also been working to uphold the Albuquerque Energy Efficient Building Codes. The city council will address a proposed roll back on Monday, December 18 in the Council Chambers. Your phone calls and presence at the meeting are important.

On the national front we continue to support stopping the Keystone Pipeline. The national IPL office recently signed another letter and in New Mexico we continue to ask people to contact leaders.

On a brighter note, The First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque is the national winner of the IPL Cool Congregation Contest in the Renewable Energy category for their installation of solar panels and education.

Our board of directors had a great strategic planning evaluation last week. Plans are also in progress for a variety of adventures in caring for Earth and addressing climate change in 2012.

As always, your prayers, engagement and financial support are so appreciated.

Much peace and good these holy days,

Joan Brown,osf

June 3, 2011

Fires Out of Control

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joan @ 2:17 pm

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunset yesterday evening was a fire set. So full of smoke was the air that I thought the fire was down the street rather than in Western Arizona. We are living into the driest year on history here in New Mexico.

I have been reflecting upon the events of this year thus far with tsunami’s, tornadoes, floods, droughts and all of the sorrows of the human and natural world with these events. We are living in times that call for hope beyond the visible and action beyond what is possible.

This past week I attended and testified at two hearings. One was the Environmental Improvement Board which was addressing emission standards for the San Juan Generating Coal Fired Power Plant. NMIPL was supporting strong emission standards. We submitted a letter with signatures from faith leaders lending their prophetic voice.

The EIB decided to go with lesser emissions standards. But numerous people who saw media reports of the hearing expressed gratitude for our voice and presence.  http://www.elp.com/index/from-the-wires/wire_news_display/1429328684.html  Check out the letter of faith leaders on the NMIPL website.

On Thursday I attended and testified at the hearing for cost-saving 2009 NM Energy Conservation Code (NMECC). An effort is being made by the current Martinez administration to return to less efficient 2006 standards. Hearings were held in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Roswell, and Farmington. Speaking on behalf of NMIPL and those who are economically challenged in New Mexico I testified that offering shelter is a work of mercy requiring businesses and leaders to offer affordable and energy efficient shelter as an ethical and justice imperative. The new codes would allow homeowners to save more than $14 on utility bills each month. A decision will be made on this issue by June 10, 2011.

As the fires rage outside, may our hearts be on fire with Love flamed into action for caring for earth and all in the Sacred Earth Community.

Much peace and good,

Joan

December 19, 2009

COP 15, December 19, 9 pm

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:40 pm

Delegates of many nations worked through the night with Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki Moon on a climate paper. It is not official, not all could agree to it, but this is where we stand.

This is my last note from Copenhagen, I leave early in the morning and from the weather reports it sounds like the cold and snow are now embracing the East Cost of the US. Perhaps this is true in more ways than one. A paradigm shift is needed to enter into the future. We are the ones born in this time to work on this together.

See you in New Mexico at work.

Peace and good,

Joan

COP 15, Saturday, December 19, 9 am

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:38 pm

The news came through a recorded message of President Obama last night around 11 that COP 15 negotiations had ended. After a breakdown, once again earlier in the day, a conclusion had been reached. A paper, not a binding agreement had been produced with the hopes that a binding agreement could be reached in 2010. The paper allows for emissions reductions to remain within a 2 degree temperature rise, nationally appropriate action plans in an appendix to the paper, a mechanism for international climate financing and transparency with regard to international commitments.

A legally binding agreement will be very hard to negotiate in the future because there are so many views and realities of climate change, President Obama noted. It is no longer debatable that there is climate change and the issue is being dictated by science which requires stronger steps into the future, he also stated.

Given the corporate and political challenge in the US and the fact that no legislation has passed, perhaps it was too much to hope for a stronger outcome at COP 15. Unlike the rest of the world, it is also the reality that some do not believe climate change exists. If we are to move forward, perhaps it is by promoting the positive care of the future with energy efficiency, solar, wind, conservation and love of the beauty and the children of the planet.

As the fireworks sounded outside my window at midnight, marking the end of COP 15 there were no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Rather, there are many reflections moving within me on this winter solstice eve in this cold northland where sun rises at about 9 am and sets at about 3 pm.

We are still in the night, waiting for the light. In Christian tradition this is the Advent time of waiting with hope into an incarnation of love and life. Some other religious traditions might speak of it as a time waiting for a new consciousness that some expected might be birthed at this historic meeting. Never before have so many diverse nations and peoples gathered together in one place to sing, dance, speak, negotiate, demonstrate and plead for the cause of survival and life.

I consider myself a hopeful realist. Yesterday, I was very disheartened. Today, I am a disheartened, hopeful and ready to act human being standing with brothers and sisters of New Mexico and all who dwell with Mother Earth.  We have much work to do. We have many prayers and meditations to be faithful to. We have hearts that must continue to long for the birthing of Love, Compassion and Action for Life.

Today, I am glad that I do not go to Bella Center. How could I look into the beautiful faces of the island peoples, the indigenous peoples, the people of Africa and other developing countries who came at great financial and heart expense to be courageous and speak at this conference only to leave knowing that their nations may soon be drowned in 2 degree temperature standards of rising water or to face more drought and hunger. As someone from one of the African nations said, for the developed world it is about keeping 3 meals a day, for us we would like to have three meals a day.

It was interesting that President Obama made the announcement of the decisions rather than Ban Ki Moon or another leader representing the UN. In the Denmark paper today, it is the picture of our President that I see with headlines that say this was a meltdown meeting. Great moral and ethical responsibility comes with being a nation that considers itself a leader. Are we leading? Can we lead? Leaders listen and somehow are able to collect the voices and the common good into an earthen bowl that can be filled with actions and sustenance for the common good.

For me, perhaps the most amazing reality of this incredible meeting was the gathering of civil society sharing meals, listening to stories, and working for life. These bonds cannot be denied. The truths spoken are recorded in the hearts and minds of all on the planet (even the water, plants and creatures were listening and witnessing.)

We have much work to do. Our work does not come out of drudgery, but hope and love and faith. Each time that Ban Ki Moon addressed the assembly he noted the religious leaders present in the civil society. Perhaps our role in addressing climate justice and justice for Mother Earth is more important than we have recognized to this moment.

Nearly a week ago I met the dancing, singing Danish youth in the town square who told me they had to dance and sing amidst the climate change concerns because they are humans and not robots. May we live and act out of our humanness this day into a solstice dawning.

Peace and good,
Your sister,
Joan

December 18, 2009

COP 15, December 18, 2:30 pm

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:36 pm

I am so disappointed and frustrated with the United States and President Obama who spoke a short time ago. To me his talk was arrogant and bullying and the world community sitting here seems to feel the same. He proposed:

  • Mitigation to reduce emissions of 17% of 2005 levels by 2020 while even Europe is proposing 20 percent reduction of 1990 levels and 30 percent if the world would join together.
  • Transparency and a way to evaluate this by all nations
  • Financing meaning 10 billion dollars by 2012 for fast financing and 100 billion dollars by 2020 joining with other industrialized nations.

President Obama proposed action to words. Here in the NGO hall there was no applause, but a pall.

President Morales of Bolivia and Chavez of Venezuela were given the floor to speak before the closing of the informal session.

They spoke words that many were feeling. They said the time had come to respect all and that President Obama offered nothing, has not been here with the other presidents for negotiations and then he came in a small door and left after his speech by a small door.

They said that they are leaving the meeting and that they cannot support what has happened in the proceedings that the hope is in the people and that the people worldwide must be polled to come up with an agreement because the people of the world want strong action.

President Chavez said that Obama received the Nobel Prize of War and that if the US was serious they would offer commit to real reductions and real money like the billions to bail the banks and the 700 billion a year for war. If Mother Earth was a bank she would have been bailed out.

Although these leaders leave, they leave with the hope of the people of the world organizing around saving lives and the earth. The fault that the conference has failed lies at the feet of the US and the capitalist system of greed and capitalism.

President Chavez said they support the Kyoto Protocol until there is a real agreement. While his words were very strong saying ultimately that in the world the US empire will leave the world as the President did through a very small back door and in an undignified way.

Âfter these speeches almost everyone here applauded out of relief of truths that had been spoken about inequality at a UN gathering of this magnitude where the future of the planet is at stake and greed continues to hold power
over the majority of the world.

Forgive the numerous communications this day, but it is such a grave turning
point for the planet.

More later.

Your sister in hope and reality,
Joan

COP 15, December 18, 11 am

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:25 pm

I am sitting at the Forum for NGO members waiting for the televised proceedings. Using still another borrowed computer whose text is very small and a keyboard geared toward French…so please forgive errors.  I wanted to give you an update from the ECO news letter that comes out every day from NGO organizations and bits from folks around.

*It seems delegates and leaders worked through the night and there is hope that an agreement will  be unveiled today. There is confidence that with so many heads of state present that there will be an agreement. The strength of emissions reductions and financing for mitigation and adaptation are big questions.

*While the US has stated they will work with nations to come up with 100 billion dollars collectively to address climate change needs of developing countries, a fair, ambitious and binding agreement places the need at 195 billion dollars of public finance by 2020. *Because mitigation targets seem to hover around 3 degree rise in temperature, adaptation is essential and more costly than actions for adaptation. The existing text contains good and bad elements for adaptation:

Good= Attention to most vulnerable people

Good= For the first time climate change induced migration is addressed

Good= Stronger language on support for regional centres and cooperation

Bad= No mention of historical responsibility which clearly should guide the provision of fdinancial support

Bad= Finance will likely fall short, especially if we are heading to 3 degree rise

Bad= Key industrialized countries diverting money from promised development budgets into adaptation

Bad= Does not facilitate a paradigm shift in attitude from seeing developing countries affected by climate change as entitled to support, rather than the needing waiting for aid handouts dependent on donor whims.

*Because of civil society organizing and sending some 50,000 post cards asking for an ambitious and nuclear free climate agreement, there may be hope for sustainable development….

*A leaked report from the UNFCCC secretariat which assesses the impact of the upper end of the emission reduction pledges on the table from all Parties warns that without strong additional action, “global emissions will peak later than 2020 and remain on an unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations equal or above 55ppm with the related temperature rise around 3 degrees C.

Let us pray, let us wait, let us hope for Blessings for Mother Earth.

Peace,
Joan

COP 15, Friday, December 18, 8 am, BME Day

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:24 pm

Good morning! A brief note before heading off to the Forum Hall for NGO’s who can’t get into the Bella Center. I am calling today the BME Day or Blessings for Mother Earth Day. Amidst the political words, words, words, many of us have been and will continue to pray, fast and act for blessings for Mother Earth and all people and all species.

President Obama arrives today and traffic will be congested, it is very cold and more snow is expected. I am praying for a glimpse of sunlight to break through the Advent darkness awaiting the turn of the solstice. So many beautiful people of all races, languages and faiths have made a pilgrimage here from around 190 countries to say yes to life, even while certain powers of finance and politics are huddled beside them trying to keep the status quo named greed for a few rather than beauty and life for all.

Greed is one of the two G elephants in the room. It has been spoken of by the developing countries and by many NGO’s and human rights workers, but not in the polite circles for fear of offending. Throughout the city are various public art displays and photographs of the face of economic disparity and a system that is broken and destroying Mother Earth. I hope to see one of the art pieces this morning on my way to the Forum. In praying for transformation, light and healing I am praying for graciousness to envelope greed to transform our human hearts. Graciousness is the spirit of the wonderful Desmond Tutu who the other day said, we want to invite the others to join us on this the winning side, which is the side of life and love where there are no sides, but all is one.

Another elephant in the Bella Center has been gender. While again and again it is noted that women, who in the vast majority of the world are the farmers, the water bearers, the children care givers and food providers and the ones who are most vulnerable and adapt quickest to the changing planet–the gender gap is large. Before I left New Mexico, one of the NMIPL board members, who is male sent a photo of a 350 event where all were women. He continually asks where are the men, compared to large numbers of women in the movement. Then he noted that those making the decisions at high levels would be in suits and ties. So it is. Yesterday, one after another the heads of state addressing the assembly were men. Would the scenario look slightly different here if more women sat in some of these seats?

The other day I attended a session on Carbon Financing. All of the presenters worked in business and finance and all were men. Almost the entire room was filled with suits and ties. After each presentation, almost as an after fact it was stated that, if the environment was not helped by Carbon financing then it would have met its purpose. I know these are good people, people of various faith traditions, but it is so easy to become off balance when you are part of a system that is not working.

The system must change, not the climate.

We await anxiously here for a positive resolve for life this historic day in humanity’s life span. Until later.

Peace and good,
Joan

December 17, 2009

COP 15, Thursday, December 17, 9 pm

Filed under: Copenhagen Climate Conference — admin @ 4:20 pm

Warm greetings from a VERY cold and snowy and chaotic Copenhagen. Amidst all, the Danes have been so hospitable these challenging two weeks.

Today, I spent much time viewing the proceedings on enormous screens in a hall for NGO’s and also took in an exhibit on the Arctic thaw near the place of the Little Mermaid, whom I shall visit tomorrow morning before heading to the hall again. NGO’s from island nations, Africa and Latin American were walking about various places today (freezing I am sure). Since NGO’s were not allowed in the Bella Center everyone tried to find a spot to wait the time through, praying for a meaningful negotiation.

At COP 15 there have been a number of elephants in the room, that have hardly been mentioned. One came glaring to my eyes as I read COP 15 Post, Daily Climate Conference News. Prominently, page 11 is a full page star spangled Lady Liberty ad entitled; Message From America to the American Delegates in Copenhagen and the Rest of the World. Quoting the Constitution throughout it states: We Reject Taxation without Representation even if it is attempted by our President through an international `political`agreement like the Copenhagen 15.

Finding this ad in a publication supporting action on climate change was at first shocking and then disheartening. I immediately borrowed a friend’s computer to google to follow the money trail of the American Solutions for Winning the Future. I did not go to their website www.AmericanSolutions.com but googled an analysis of who the money holders are. Corporations and their part in climate change has hardly been touched upon at COP 15, yet, they are the ones controlling the governments, conversations and politics.

The American Solutions is funded by some of the wealthiest men in the United States (another elephant in the Bella Center, the gender issue). Those behind the ad and the threats include: Carl Linder of Chiquita, George Argyras who reportedly contributed millions to elect George Bush and was awarded Ambassadorship of Spain though he does not know Spanish, Stanley Hubbard of Hubbard Broadcasting in Minneapolis, Peter Thiel who is a young millionaire engaged in hedge funds, Dick Farmer known for union busting and Roger Milliken a textile industry billionaire.  My friend needed her computer so my research was short, you can do your own.

I am again reminded in being here that many of us in the US need to open our eyes wider to an analysis of where information stems  that does not support the science of climate change? Who are the voices saying we do not have enough money to help brothers and sisters with adaptation and mitigation when we bailed out banks and spend the most money in the world on the war industry? Who are the voices saying we cannot make goals of high emissions standards?

If we do not open our eyes, ears and hearts soon the rest of the world will leave us behind standing ever so alone in a world community that chooses to work together for a future for the children and all species.

I am off to bed. I plan to visit the little mermaid and a special artistic statue next to her that was created for the climate meeting….if I get a picture I will share it with you.

Thank you for your prayers, fasting, acts of kindness, phone calls and light to our world this day.

Peace and good,
Your sister,
Joan

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