For the second year, all 39 Interfaith Power & Light affiliates gathered – online – for their annual conference and DC Advocacy Days. Since it was online, there were more attendees that in previous in-person gatherings. IPL staff, as well as Board members, were invited to the two day event featuring prayers, advocacy strategies, and special sessions, such as Youth and Climate Justice, and effective Story Telling.
The session on Story Telling was informative, engaging, and touched the hearts of listeners. Basic lesson: statistics and graphs are good for imparting information, but a well-told and engaging story can capture the heart of the listener, leading to transformation of mind. Laura Kigweba James and Rev. Doug Bland told such stories, of their origins, and what situations formed and shaped them to be effective climate advocates. Stories have power. They help us understand who/what to support, what needs to change, and what we can do. Stories shape our organizing, the narratives we adopt, and keep our advocacy responsible and ethical.
After two days of meaningful interaction, deep sharing, and effective workshops, each state affiliate met with their members of Congress. An estimated 150 meetings were held with state representatives on the proposed Infrastructure Plan, The American Jobs Act, and For the People Act, which passed the House of Rep on March 3 and is now in the Senate. Responses from congress members and their staff varied. Many – on both sides of the aisle – were in favor of the Infrastructure Plan, but differed significantly on the definition of “infrastructure” and what the price tag would be.
Interfaith Power & Light sees this Plan as a unique opportunity to advance climate and racial justice, job creation, and hasten our country’s transition to clean energy. Four key priorities of IPL in the Plan are: modernizing the power grid, and expanding clean, renewable energy; upgrading our water infrastructure to ensure clean, pure water for all; electrifying our transportation and expanding public transit; and including the RECLAIM Act, which cleans up abandoned mines in former coal communities. Overall, IPL calls for Congress to invest with justice, and for President Biden to stick to his campaign promise of 40% of all climate-related funds be spent on underserved communities hit worst by our polluting economy.