Climate Change Leadership Emerges: What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood?

With the upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change (Paris, November 30-December 11, 2015) marking the UN’s 21st attempt at a universal agreement on climate change, you are likely noticing (if not involved yourself) in awareness-raising efforts in your neighborhood. The EMERGE Leadership Project is headquartered on Bainbridge Island, Washington near Seattle and here are just a few of the things happening here:
Interfaith-CCLast night, a panel of five religious leaders from the United Church of Christ, Lutheran, Jewish, Bahai, and Episcopal faiths answered some tough questions on the topic of “Faith and Climate Change” ranging from what is your particular faith’s view of our responsibility regarding climate change, what is your congregation doing about it, and what should we all be doing about it. One of the things I liked best about the responses was the attempt by all of the panelists to address the questions at both the macro and micro level. What can we do at the state, national, and international level? And, what can we do right here in our congregation and in our homes on Bainbridge Island? Although Pope Francis didn’t attend, he was very present, in an introductory video and in many references to his recent encyclical on the subject of the environment: “On Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato Sii). I appreciated the discussion, which was rigorous and self-revelatory, even confessional at times.
The event was recorded by Bainbridge Community Broadcasting and should be available by podcast at bestofbcb.org.
Following the panel were announcements by representatives of several local initiatives, most affiliated with state/national/international climate change leadership groups: Eco-Adapt, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Action Bainbridge, and Carbon/Washington. Perhaps one of the most exciting to those of us in the sustainable building community was about an upcoming climate impact assessment workshop during the day on November 18th organized by Eco-Adapt and intended to inform the City of Bainbridge Island’s comprehensive plan update. The goal is a “resilient” Bainbridge Island.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Earthart Bainbridge and Sustainable Bainbridge are sponsoring a screening of “This Changes Everything (TCE),” the evening of November 18th. TCE is the documentary presenting the idea author Naomi Klein proposes in her book of the same name: “that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.” I’ve been asked to help facilitate a Q&A after the film and I’m looking forward to it!
Iverson-CCAnd because it’s just a ferry ride away to downtown Seattle, I checked out an exhibit by artist Mary Iverson this last weekend: “Walking through Climate Catastrophe.” Most of her paintings use out of place elements, scratches, shipwrecks, industrial features that clearly don’t belong in the natural environments she portrays. The one exception is her rendering of the Polar Pioneer, the oil rig that spent some time here in our Puget Sound this past summer. Just as it seemed to us who live here on the Sound, the rig in her portrait is completely out of scale with its environment. She did nothing to alter the image. So as Seattle Times Critic Michael Upchurch noted: “The real, Iverson seems to be saying, has become the surreal.” Indeed.
So climate change leadership is emerging in my neighborhood in many ways: faith, policy, economics, and art. This emergence is not surreal. It’s real. So what’s happening in your neighborhood? Join in and tell your colleagues.