Climate, Communities, and Resilience: A Post-Election Interfaith Press Conference @COP22

syrian-childIn the wake of U.S. election results, Americans attending COP22 started getting a lot of questions from their global colleagues: What do we think of the president-elect? What positions will he take? Who will he appoint to be in his Cabinet? But mostly—since we were at a conference focused on international cooperation on dealing with our shared planetary climate crisis—the question was: “What does the election mean for U.S. action on climate change?”  Continue reading

From Standing Rock to Marrakech

If a person of learning participates in public affairs and serves as judge or arbiter, she gives stability to the land… But if she sits in her home and says to herself, ‘What have the affairs of society to do with me?…. Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!’—if she does this, she overthrows the world. -from Midrash Tanhuma, Mishpatim 2

climate-justice-nowI wish there was no need to protest, that there was no tar sands oil pipeline threatening to encroach upon sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux or to imperil the safety of water for whole communities. But the strength, dignity, and purpose displayed by Native water defenders under intense pressure—including violence from highly militarized authorities—inspires my respect. The excited shouts from defenders as they see buffalo approaching on the horizon brings me tears of joy. Watching white religious leaders from across the country answer the call to stand in solidarity with Native leaders—knowing this nation’s history of systematic abuse, oppression, and extermination of Native peoples perpetrated by Whites—moves me deeply and gives me hope for something new.  Continue reading

A Prayer for Paris Climate Talks

hamsa in backyardAccording to everything I read, the global climate negotiations (COP21) happening in Paris Nov. 30-Dec. 11 are the most significant chance the world has for coming to a meaningful and effective climate agreement this decade. With climate change, time is not on our side, so a positive outcome from these talks is crucial. To that goal, people all around the planet are planning fasts, prayer vigils, marches, coordinated social media, etc. to help raise a unified, global voice calling for #ClimateAction. Continue reading

Love Sustains: How My Everyday Practices Make My Everyday Activism Possible

“We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.” —Sandra Cisneros

heartWe do this — the work of tikkun olam

Because the world we live in is a house on fire: Racism. Hunger. Economic Justice. Climate. Education. Domestic Violence. Poverty. More.

And the people we love are: Oppressed. Attacked. Desperately poor. Sick. Afraid. Hungry. Vulnerable. Suffering.

Burning. The people we love and the world we live in are burning.

Sometimes, this is how it feels — like the world is on fire — and in the face of systemic racism, climate change, or the widening gap between rich and poor, it’s difficult to see what difference my individual actions could possibly make. Continue reading

A People-First Approach to Climate Justice: Thinking Jewishly about Change

battery-park-tunnel-floodedIf you are among the despairing would-be climate activists of the world — overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, frustrated by lack of political will, horrified by the ever-more-dire predictions of climate scientists, and simultaneously consumed with both the urgency and the hopelessness of the situation — you are not alone.

As understanding grows that climate change is happening in the here and now — good-bye, Antarctic ice sheet — and that it poses a military threat and endangers corporate bottom lines, even people in corporate boardrooms and executive offices are beginning to pay attention. Our planet’s climate is changing because of things we humans have done, and I stand — and sometimes hide under my covers — right there with you, terrified.  Continue reading

Sticking the Poor with Climate Change: People, Power, and Privilege

disaster-responseAs I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen table while my ten-year old, home from school today with a fever, watches a movie upstairs. It is a bright, beautiful fall day in Austin, Texas—and part of me wants to turn off my computer and my cell phone, make a pot of soup, and sit on the couch under the covers with my son. Maybe I’ll do those things later.

Now, though, I’m watching my news feed for more stories about last week’s floods in Southeast Austin, receiving texts from a friend who is speaking today at the EPA Listening Session in Dallas about carbon pollution standards for existing power plants, and thinking about the role of faith communities in climate preparedness. It’s been a busy couple of travel-filled months for me, and some of the stories I’ve heard from people are swirling about in my head.  Continue reading

Craving a Craving: Global Warming as a Spiritual Crisis

cactus-trail21Some of the trails in the preserve behind our house are clear and distinct, but others end in a tangle of yaupon and cedar, or suddenly open to a clearing with no obvious way forward. One day, my oldest son led the way as we walked along what seemed like a clear path… but then the path disappeared. My son kept walking. “Zeke,” I called, “I don’t think this is a trail.” He kept going. “Zeke,” I called again. He turned around. “Mom, this really is a trail,” he said, matter-of-factly. “It’s just all covered up by cactus and weeds.”  Continue reading