A Faith-Based Organization Taking Action on Climate Change

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) works to help members of Vermont's faith and spiritual communities understand that the climate crisis, which is threatening the world, is, at heart, a spiritual crisis. This spiritual crisis demands recognition that Earth is a precious gift; global climate change is a moral challenge; global climate change is disrupting the natural balance; we live our faith through our actions; and there is no peace without a planet.

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) seeks to empower members of faith and spiritual communities to advocate for our Earth and future generations. Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) helps people take action in their houses of worship, homes, and workplaces to conserve energy, use it efficiently, and increase the use of renewable energy.

Welcome to Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL)

An Invitation to IPL's Cool Congregations Challenge

Challenge-23-email-header

We’ve got an electric vehicle category for the Cool Congregations Challenge! This is a great way for you to enter to win if your congregation has promoted clean cars!

You’re invited to apply for the Cool Congregations Challenge for the chance to win $1,000.

The Cool Congregations Challenge is IPL’s annual national contest to recognize “Cool Congregations” that are becoming energy efficient and sustainable role models within their communities.

There are six entry categories:

  • Energy Saver: Lighting, Insulation, Windows & Doors, Heating & Cooling Systems
  • Renewable Role Model: Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solar Water Heating
  • Sacred Grounds: Native landscaping, Organic Gardening, Water Conservation, Bike Racks, Wildlife Habitats, Recycling & Composting

 

  • Community Inspiration: Inspiring Congregants to Reduce at Home, Helping Communities Transition from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy, Helping Communities Prepare for the Impacts of Climate Change
  • Cool Congregations Planner: Audits, Planning Reports, Fundraising
  • Electric Vehicle Leader: EVs, Charging Stations, Education, Advocacy, Outreach

Learn more about the EV category and apply to win $1,000 here.

Three runner ups in each category will receive $500! Plus, $25 Lowe’s gift certificates to the first 50 qualified entries.

Projects can take place inside the worship space or other buildings, on the grounds, in congregants’ homes, or in the community.

We understand that COVID might have delayed your projects -- so once again IPL is expanding the timeframe eligibility for the Challenge. If your projects were completed in 2020, 2021, and 2022 your congregation is eligible to apply. 

The deadline is Dec 15 – enter the Challenge and download your entry guide today. It includes all of the details, as well as a flyer to get your green team excited about entering, inspirational stories of past winners, and links to the entry form.

 

Thank you for leading the way in our call to care for Creation

Reflections on Hurricane Ian by VTIPL Coordinator Donna C. Roberts

Many of us have watched in horror as family and friends in Florida experienced the impacts of Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, among the strongest in U.S. history. Thankfully, our family there is safe.

I lived in southwest Florida for 12 years, having moved from Montréal to Sanibel Island in late 2001. My rationale was to attend graduate school at Florida Gulf Coast University, a college founded on and grounded in sustainability. All undergrads were required to take the Colloquium, a course in ecological literacy. I studied environmental sciences with a focus on international environmental education. Led by extraordinary and passionate professors, I trekked through cypress swamps to learn about ecosystems and counted plant species in plots in an Oak Hammock, my favorite outdoor classroom. A few years later, I took my own students there. We visited Babcock Ranch, which at the time was being developed as a sustainable community of the future. As you have read in this newsletter, residents of Babcock Ranch survived Hurricane Ian with barely a flicker of lights during the storm’s peak.

Sanibel was a very special place to call home. The island municipality was among the first “cities” to adopt the Earth Charter Initiative. Unfortunately, it was rescinded when some residents noticed it focused as much on social justice, equity, and peace, as on preserving nature. Members of the official city committee formed non-profit ECOSanibel – Earth Charter of Sanibel.

I was proud to serve with that organization, hosting panel discussions and regional summits, and representing it at international meetings.

Hurricane Charley hit Sanibel in August 2004, ripping a hole in my roof and in the community.  Two evacuations later, we realized that living on a barrier island was for the birds…and gators, sea turtles, etc. Certainly not humans. I had known it was not a sustainable place for the long-term, but it was a sanctuary for me and my young son. Many days, a tandem bicycle was our transportation, colorful flip flops our footwear. Literally considered a sanctuary island, 2/3 of Sanibel is protected nature preserve. The Sanibel Plan makes sure no building is taller than the highest tree, dark skies ordinances keep nesting sea turtles safer. Native plants are the norm. A 1960s Dairy Queen is the only fast-food franchise. It was a sweet place to call home and a fertile field laboratory for my studies.

Sanibel brought many blessings. On my first Thanksgiving on island, I met my future husband at a communal dinner on the beach. Nine years later, we married in the sand in front of The Island Inn, built in 1895.

These days, the rituals look different in southwest Florida.

My husband’s - our – adult children and grandchildren have suffered terrible impacts from Hurricane Ian. They live in Fort Myers. Our son, his wife who moved there from New York, and their two little girls lost their canal-front, low-lying home. On FaceTime the night before the storm, we urged them to evacuate. Our son said it would be just another storm; the media always overblows these things. They have a generator; they would be fine. Not to worry. Our daughter, her husband, and little boy, live in a nearby canal-front home. The same pre-storm evening, she also reassured us. Her electric storm shutters close with the push of a button. They would be safe. Both adult children joked that we were worried for nothing. My husband reminded them that when they were young, he evacuated the family prior to Hurricane Andrew. And how we all left for Hurricane Charley. You can never be too cautious, he said.

The next day, we followed Fort Myers news in horror as the storm approached, taking the same path as Charley, as we feared. Reports indicated that high tide would coincide with the arrival of the second wall of the hurricane. Then the streaming news channel was knocked off air.

All we could do was pray.

Pray that that they evacuated.

Pray for their safety.

We also pray that they listen to sound science not politics.

Florida’s governor has banned use of the term climate change. The state’s economy, based on tourism, retirement, and real estate, relies on good weather, calm water, sunny skies, white sand. When I lived there, before the public heard too much about climate on a regular basis - though I certainly did in the classroom (and remember being dismissed by a realtor when sharing an article about climate risks in Florida) - red tide and dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico became unmentionable, politically incorrect.

ECOSanibel helped connect the dots about environmental crises working with allied organizations, scientists, and filmmakers. Evidence demonstrated that agricultural runoff from lands bordering Lake Okeechobee flowing down the Caloosahatchee River to the Gulf of Mexico was the culprit of red tide. Of course, one could smell the stench of dead fish miles away, not to mention stepping over them on daily beach walks. A dolphin washing ashore finally got people’s attention.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico did, too.  With our local PBS station, I made a film about the disaster, “Sea of Uncertainty”, how it affected people and wildlife, how communities weren’t prepared should oil wash ashore. How even the threat of oil impacted communities and economies. Wildlife from Louisiana and other shores were sent to Sanibel’s J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to be rehabilitated.

While our family members are safe, they’ve had to take refuge elsewhere. Our son’s home is ruined. They say there was about 4 feet of water after the storm surge. They plan to tear it down and build an elevated house on stilts on the same lot. They think that will be safer. We hope they’re right. Our daughter’s home had minimal flooding, but enough to cause mold which will need to be remediated. The two families lost three vehicles.

Passage to Sanibel - where they work in restaurants and realty – has been restricted to boat and air for rescue and repair after several portions of the causeway island bridges collapsed in the hurricane. This week, they repaired it well enough to allow emergency and utility vehicles to pass. Next week, residents will be able to cross.

They will rebuild. The houses, hotels, condos, and multi-million dollar waterfront villas…many no longer insurable.

After Hurricane Charley damaged our home, and subsequent evacuations led us to live in Fort Myers, we ultimately moved to PA, then Vermont. It’s interesting that Vermont, northern Vermont, in particular, is being called a climate refuge. I remember hearing the same years ago about the Laurentians north of Montréal. This is not new science.

How will we in Vermont, New England react when more and more people need to move here for safety? COVID made us a haven for people escaping big cities, and home prices have skyrocketed. Yet we already lack sufficient affordable housing. Where will the climate refugees go? How do we take care of ourselves while also welcoming those in need?

As Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes in her poignant, “Gift from the Sea” (written on Captiva Island just north of Sanibel), we must have “patience and faith”.  Patience to plan, build, heat, and travel with climate change top of mind. And faith to make decisions for the good of all, especially the most vulnerable.  Faith that together, be it in community gardens, solar fields, or advocating for bold climate legislation, we are more effective, resilient and joyful than acting as individuals.  May we care for creation and each other.

Inflation Reduction Act & Direct Pay

to Congregations

We hear a lot these days about the Inflation Reduction Act (including a so-called "dirty side deal") the new federal legislation aimed at helping lessen the effects of climate change and health disparities, while reducing inflation. One important program for our readers features $30 billion in clean energy tax credits which, until recently, did not apply to non-profits including faith communities. Now, a “direct pay” program extends benefits to 501(c)3 organizations, including congregations, providing easier access to clean energy funds and tax credits when installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other eligible technologies on an eligible property. This not only reduces financing costs, but also opens the way for more community-owned solar.
The clean energy tax credit will remain at 30% for ten years. The direct payment feature also provides an additional 20% for low-income and affordable housing projects; the tax credit could cover 50% of the cost for these projects. For more information, see the Environmental and Energy Study Institute’s guide.

Town Hall on IRA with Vermont Delegation - October 18 - 12 to 1:00 p.m.
Join Vermont Businesses For Social Responsibility and staff from the offices of Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch to explore what the IRA means for climate action, healthcare reform, and economic development in Vermont. Register here. 

For another perspective on the impact of the IRA, read this commentary from the Sierra Club:

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/dark-side-inflation-reduction-act

image0

VTIPL Special Fall 2022 Appeal

Donate to VTIPL this Fall

& A Tree will be Planted for You!

 

 

image1

A special autumn appeal for new donors and increased gifts to Vermont Interfaith Power & Light

A generous supporter of Vermont Interfaith Power & Light has offered to match $1000 in "new donations" to VTIPL received by November 1. They have also offered to match all increased donations over past giving.*Of course, VTIPL welcomes all gifts in response to this special appeal.In reciprocity for these gifts and to support natural solutions to the climate crisis, with the help of the Arbor Day Foundation, VTIPL will arrange for a tree to be planted for each gift of $30 or more.At this time of the year when our natural world gifts us with her breath-taking fall palette, and the trees – like many in the northern hemisphere – prepare for much cooler days ahead, please help VTIPL sustain itself while we help our Earth and Creation by planting more trees.

HOW DO I GIVE?

You can give online by clicking the Donate Now button below or visit our website at www.vtipl.org and select DONATE NOW. If you prefer to use a check, please send a check payable to VTIPL (or Vermont Interfaith Power & Light) to: VTIPL, P.O. Box 3095, Burlington, Vermont, 05408.

Thank you in advance for helping us meet our match while contributing to natural solutions to the climate crisis by planting more trees.

Together we make a difference!

For more information, please contact VTIPL coordinator Donna C. Roberts at info@vtipl.org

THANK YOU!

*Gifts from previous donors will be matched for the 2022 increase above prior annual donations. For instance, a donor who gives $100 during this appeal and has given $50 in the past will see the $50 increase matched.

Spring Conference 2022

Limits to Growth: Finding Pathways to a Sustainable Future

VTIPL Spring Conference

April 24, 1:30pm - 7:00pm

Norwich Congregational Church

 

We are happy to share details of VTIPL’s Spring Conference, with the theme Limits to Growth: Finding Pathways to a Sustainable Future, which was held on Sunday, April 24 at Norwich Congregational Church in Norwich, VT. 

Our Conference featured keynote speaker Dr. Jon Erickson, the David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy of The University of Vermont. Erickson has published widely on energy & climate change policy, land conservation, watershed planning, environmental public health, and the theory and practice of ecological economics. He is past President of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, among other distinguished roles. 

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first publication of the book, The Limits to Growth, which was also the Conference theme.  Our Conference was dedicated to Donella Meadows, the book's lead author and long-time Dartmouth College Professor.

 

Five videos of the conference (Welcome; Keynote; and the three Workshops) are available here:

VTIPL Spring Conference 2022

Our thanks to Bob the Green Guy for these videos.

VTIPL invites those who wish to access the video recordings of the Conference keynote and sessions, but who were unable to attend (and did not pay a registration fee), to please consider a donation to VTIPL of $10-$20 as a gesture of reciprocity.  This is not a condition for access to the videos, but an opportunity to support this small non-profit organization.  Use the "Donate Now" button if you'd like to contribute. 

Thank you for considering making a gift.

Jon Erickson, our Keynote Speaker

Jon Erickson
Jon Erickson

Jon Erickson is the David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy. He has published widely on energy & climate change policy, land conservation, watershed planning, environmental public health, and the theory and practice of ecological economics. His books include The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park (2009), Frontiers in Ecological Economic Theory and Application (2007), and Ecological Economics: a Workbook for Problem-Based Learning (2005). Jon is also an Emmy award-winning producer of films such as the four-part PBS series Bloom on sources and solutions to nutrient pollution in Lake Champlain.

He was the Interim Dean of the Rubenstein School from 2012-2014, Managing Director of UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics from 2009-2012, and is past President of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics, past editor of the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, and serves on the board or advisory committee of numerous nongovernmental organizations. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Iceland, and has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, Visiting Professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic and Slovak University of Agriculture in Slovakia, and was on the economics faculty at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before joining the University of Vermont in 2002.


See below for description of his  upcoming book The Progress Illusion, due in Summer, 2022

The Progress Illusion:

Reclaiming our Future from the Fairytale of Economics

We live under the illusion of progress: as long as GDP is going up and prices stay low, we accept poverty and pollution as unfortunate but inevitable byproducts of a successful economy. In fact, the infallibility of the free market and the necessity of endless growth are so ingrained in the public consciousness that they seem like scientific fact. Jon Erickson asks, why? With the planet in peril and humanity in crisis, how did we become duped into believing the fairytale of economics? And how can we get past the illusion to design an economy that is socially just and ecologically balanced?

In The Progress Illusion, Erickson charts the rise of the economic worldview and its infiltration into our daily lives as a theory of everything. Drawing on his own experience as a young economist inoculated in the go-go 1980’s era of greed is good, Erickson shows how pseudoscience came to dominate economic thought. More importantly, he illustrates how that thinking shaped our politics and determined the course of American public policy.  

While the history of economics is dismal indeed, Erickson is part of a vigorous reform effort grounded in the realities of life on a finite planet. This new brand of economics is not only gaining steam in academia but is supporting social activism. The goal is people over profit, community over consumption, and resilience over recklessness. Crafting a new economic story, Erickson shows, is the first step toward turning away from endless growth and towards enduring prosperity. 

Workshops Offered Were

Systems Change Frames for Climate Action Inspired by the Work of Donella Meadows; led by Marta Ceroni, PhD, Co-Director, Academy for Systems Change (formerly known as the Donella Meadows Institute), with Professor Jon Erickson

Marta Ceroni, PhD
Marta Ceroni, PhD
Joan Javier-Duval
Joan Javier-Duval

Fueling Our Homes: The Sacred and Profane; led by Jared Duval, Exec. Director, Energy Action Network & The Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Pastor, Unitarian Church of Montpelier  

Jared Duval
Jared Duval

Citizen Toolkit for Creating a Sustainable Community Through Town Zoning Regulations; led by Bob Fireovid, Exec. Director, Better (not bigger) Vermont 

 

Bob Fireovid
Bob Fireovid

Many Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Efficiency Vermont

Lyme Green Heat

VPIRG

Norwich Solar Technologies

Sierra Club - Vermont Chapter

Greenvest

Preservation Trust of Vermont

VNRC/VECAN

Congregational Sponsors

Ascension Lutheran Church, S. Burlington

Charlotte Congregational Church

Christ Church Presbyterian, Burlington

The Congregational Church of Middlebury, UCC

Weybridge Congregational Church, UCC

2022 Green Congregation of the Year Award

members of winning Weybridge Congregational Church

"During the Conference on Sunday, April 24, 2022, VTIPL recognized the Weybridge Congregational Church as the recipient of VTIPL’s inaugural “Green Congregation of the Year” award.

Richard Butz, a VTIPL Board member, made the presentation, which consisted of a commemorative plaque and an award of $500 to be applied to “green projects or programs” in the congregation or community.  Accepting the award were Daniel Wright, David Andrews, and Nancy Spears, members of the Weybridge Congregational Church.

Green Congregation of the YearAward/plaque

In making the award, Butz identified this as the first VTIPL Green Congregation of the Year award which it plans to make based on self-nominations or applications starting in January of each year.  Butz also identified some of the actions that the Weybridge Congregational Church undertook to warrant this award including:

• Founding a church "Green Team" in 2013

• Weatherizing the church

• Sharing Creation Care moments at the beginning of each worship service

• Celebrating Earth Day with a special worship service each year

• Having sermons on Creation Care regularly throughout the year

• Divesting the church’s investments from fossil fuels

• Receiving UCC Creation Justice Church certification in 2019

• Introducing and subscribing to the Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN) Solar 2 community solar project; participating in the Bristol Solar Community Project in 2020-2021"

 

 

Youth v. Gov on Netflix

& VTIPL Youth-Led Panel Video Available

Our Spring offering of a virtual presentation of another compelling film, Youth v. Gov, followed by a panel featuring Vermont youth (led by VTIPL Board member Sylvia Burkman) took place on Thursday, April 14. The film is still available on Netflix. We are also happy to share the video of our youth-led panel discussion (see link below).

The film tells the story of 21 young plaintiffs who - since 2015 – “have been suing the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal safety, and property through their willful actions in creating the climate crisis they will inherit.” The film is about “empowered youth finding their voice and fighting to protect their rights and our collective future”. The film was offered thanks to an agreement between the filmmakers and national IPL. 

You can still watch the film on Netflix, and then view our youth-led panel discussion at video of VTIPL youth-led discussion.

Sacred-Trust-email-header-TW

Faith Climate Action Week

is Interfaith Power & Light’s premier week of climate action: sermons, worship services, educational events, and hands-on-action to show that people of faith are leading the way to heal our climate. It is a 10-day period of activities in celebration around Earth Day. With the help of people like you, Faith Climate Action Week has reached close to 2-million people with more than 5,000 climate and Earth stewardship sermons and talks nationwide.

Find the resources you need to celebrate Faith Climate Action Week on their site: www.faithclimateactionweek.org. 

The free download of the Faith Climate Action Week organizer’s kit is now available!

Download it here.

The resources in this kit will equip you to lead faith-based discussions and action in your faith community or congregation during Earth Month in order to safeguard a thriving Earth for future generations.

The theme of 2022’s Faith Climate Action Week is “Sacred Trust: Our children’s right to a livable future.” We will examine our responsibility to safeguard our Earth for future generations, and how our faiths call us to respond with bold and just solutions to climate change. This year’s dates are April 22-May 1.

The value-packed kit includes a Sacred Trust guide with information on intergenerational climate justice, and the moral and legal rights of our children and grandchildren to a livable climate. There are also suggestions and resources for how to get engaged in supporting local climate justice action, and a call for art created by youth and children that envisions a positive future for our Earth through the #ImagineIPL campaign. Additionally, you will find faith-based discussion materials, suggested short films, and a Youth and Children Blessing ceremony. 

Click here to download your free 2022 Faith Climate Action Week kit today.  

Transition Time in Vermont

Calls Us to Reaffirm Our Commitment to Care for Our Home

20220118_154403

Information and Photos from Past Events

Mission_ JOY Poster

Film Screening and Conversation

"Mission: Joy"

To close the year, VTIPL hosted a special screening of "Mission: Joy," a film about finding happiness in troubled times, featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Following the film, Pastor Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington and VTIPL Vice-President, facilitated a conversation.

You can visit the film's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/missionjoyfilm for more about the film.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away on December 26, 2021, at the age of 90, shortly after VTIPL presented the film, Mission: JOY, about the extraordinary relationship between Tutu and His Holiness The Dalai Lama…and their fabulous laughter! Tutu, who played a key role in ending apartheid in South Africa and led South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was also a climate activist.

On Being with Krista Tippett recently shared a wonderful 2010 interview with Nobel Laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Tutu. Listen.

Photo from the September 26 event (provided by Donna C. Roberts)
Photo from the September 26 event (provided by Donna C. Roberts)

The Vermont Climate Council adopted the initial Vermont Climate Action Plan at the beginning of December 2021. They state that the plan will help Vermont meet the emissions reductions requirements outlined in the Global Warming Solutions Act and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The Council has made the full plan and a summary available to the public.

Initial Climate Action Plan - Final - 12-1-21       VT CAP Summary_Final_0

More information can be found at https://climatechange.vermont.gov/ 

A letter written on behalf of fifteen Vermont-based organizations representing tens of thousands of Vermonters and hundreds of Vermont businesses, was sent to the Vermont Climate Council at the beginning of their work. It urged adherence to the principles it contains as they went about their incredibly important work.

Read the letter here: 2021-10-04 Act on Climate VT coalition VCC letter

On September 27th, VPIRG hosted a webinar/panel discussion with several members of the Vermont Climate Council, moderated by VPIRG’s Ben Edgerly Walsh, to discuss this process. You can view a recording of this event at https://youtu.be/EABwP1g4EPY.

screenshot-2021-10-04-11.41.50

“Faith and Science: Towards COP26.”

On October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the Vatican organized “Faith and Science: Towards COP26.” This day-long gathering brought together religious leaders and scientists to issue a joint appeal for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held November 1-12 in Glasgow, Scotland. At the meeting, they released a joint message saying that “The world is called to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, with wealthier countries taking the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions from poorer nations.” Learn more from the Vatican News, Reuters, EarthBeat, and the Catholic News Agency. Read Pope Francis’ address here. Watch the broadcast here.

(from the October 2021 Newsletter of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology)

screenshot-2021-10-04-11.44.12
winter-g29ecf6f4c_640

BUTTON UP VERMONT

Preparing for winter is an annual event for Vermonters. Maybe this year is the time for individuals and faith communitites to explore how weatherization is an important tool in our effort to address our personal and house of worship climate footprints. Efficiency Vermont has a program to help you do that. For the month of October, Button Up Vermont offers ideas, contacts, and support for Vermonters as they prepare to deal with the cold, snow, and ice that winter is sure to bring. Vermont Interfaith Power and Light is exploring the possibility of offering an event for faith communitites to learn about this program. In the meantime, get started on your own by visiting their website at Button Up Vermont  to learn more and get started on your personal or faith community's winter accomodations.

Climate: What Can We Do?

Stop Line 3_photo 1
cid17c02ff8c87c50750d91

VTIPL had strong representation at this recent event. Though it is in the past, the effort to stop the pipeline continues, and VTIPL will continue to share updates and action suggestions around this issue.

Photos & Video from Stop Line 3 Rally in Burlington (contributed by VTIPL Coordinator Donna C. Roberts)

Celebrating Sacred Waters - September 11

VTIPL and our partners* are thankful for those who participated and made our  Celebrating Sacred Waters event a day to rejoice in the gift of Lake Champlain and our relationsjop with it. 

Held on Saturday, September 11th, 2021

at Shelburne Bay Park

Participants spent a delightful day exploring Shelburne Bay, the LaPlatte River and the trails in Shelburne Bay Park.

There was an activity of paddling a canoe up river, exploring ecosystems on nature trails, or creating written or visual art based on individual observations. Educational and spiritual activities were guided by faith leaders, field naturalists, educators, artists, and other talented souls.

Our gratitude goes to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for providing the canoes, paddles, and life jackets, as well as the naturalist guide(s). Thanks also to  UVM Professor Walter Poleman who led the trail walk. 

We were honored to have Don Stevens, Chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk - Abenaki Nation (www.abenakitribe.org)  join us to offer an Opening Blessing.

It was truly a  fun day of community celebration and connection to our beloved Lake Champlain and the waters that feed her!

 

Photo 1
Photo by Katrherine Lee
Photo by Katrherine Lee

 

 

*Sponsored by:

All Souls Interfaith Gathering

Ascension Lutheran Church ; Clean Water Network

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain Committee; Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Lewis Creek Association

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light

Photo by Katherine Lee

More PHOTOS from Our 2021 Day of Celebrating Sacred Waters

Canoeing the LaPlatte River - Photos by Katherine Lee

VTIPL’s Water is Life virtual event with film & panel discussion marks World Environment Day & World Oceans Day, Thursday, June 3, 7 p.m. 

On Thursday, June 3, at 7:00 p.m. VTIPL hosted a special water - themed virtual film screening and panel discussion marking and celebrating World Environment Day and World Oceans Day.  

Our event opened with a screening of the short film, “One Word –Sawalmem” about indigenous perspectives on water in a beautifully moving story about the West coast Winnemem Wintu tribe (Mt. Shasta, CA) and their activism to save wild salmon.  

After the film, we were joined by panelistsJon Groveman, Vermont Natural Resources Council’s Policy & Water Program Director who shared about the Council’s campaigns to keep PFAS out of our water supplies (see more information on this from VNRC at About PFAS ); VTIPL Vice-President Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright, waterkeeper and author of the Watershed Stewardship Manual, and two of the filmmakers, Michael "Pom" Preston and Natasha Deganello Giraudie. See bios of the panelists below

Watch a trailer for the film here: One Word Trailer

For more information, please contact VTIPL Coordinator Donna Roberts: info@vtipl.org

 

 

A Gift from the Filmmakers

In addition to the film viewing on the day of the event, the filmmakers are making available to VTIPL friends a one-week access pass to view the film. Follow this link to the filmmakers' site and a special "VTIPL gift” page:

https://www.rosaguayaba.earth/vtipl 

and  enter your email address. You will receive 7 days of access from the day you register.

VTIPL has also made available a recording of the virtual community conversation portion of our June 3rd Water Is Life! event which followed the showing of the film One Word - Sawlamem. This recording can be accessed at Water is Life!, using the access code @p3FsG5d. We suggest you watch the film first and then view the conversation.

Manual Cover

Announcing The Bristol Community Solar Coop

(Image courtesy of Donna C. Roberts)

The Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN) has invited VTIPL to collaborate in a groundbreaking project to engage the Vermont faith community in addressing climate change, reducing their electricity costs, and supporting an important Vermont-based racial justice organization.

The Project

Soon to be built on the capped former Bristol town landfill, a community-owned solar array will generate clean, sustainable electricity, and our communities are invited to participate. Individual investors and houses of worship may purchase units and become part of a co-op that will manage the system. Electricity generated will be allocated to Green Mountain Power; revenue will be credited to purchasers through their GMP electric bills according to Vermont State regulations. Information regarding the specifics is outlined in materials distributed by Acorn Energy Systems that will be shared with interested parties by email. Of the 1840 units available, 20% will be designated to ICAN and VTIPL to offer to faith organizations, their members, as well as friends of VTIPL who may not be members of congregations.

 To participate in the charity component, faith communities, their members, and VTIPL friends who are Green Mountain Power customers will work with Acorn Energy Systems to determine their electrical need, and then sign up to purchase units. The unique part of this program is that VTIPL and ICAN purchasers will be asked to donate a tithe (10%) over the cost of the units, to support the Clemmons Family Farm, an African-American cultural organization located in Charlotte.

 This is a project with a minimum 25-year lifespan and the opportunity to stabilize electricity costs, leading to low-cost electricity.

As this is a limited opportunity, interested congregations and individuals should contact VTIPL/ICAN Coordinator Richard Butz as soon as possible here 

There is no obligation.

A flyer describing this project can be downloaded here:

BCS Flyer for ICAN (1)

 

Update: 8/1/21

The Bristol Community Solar Project Successfully Wraps Up

 

Earlier this week the Town of Middlebury Selectboard voted to approve the purchase of the remaining available Bristol Community Solar units pending a town bond vote at the end of August. Given that the project was 80% subscribed at that time, any new requests to purchase units will be held in obeyance pending the bond vote and the availability of any more units. Closing is expected in mid-September with construction to start soon after and full operation by the end of the year.

The project, which included a tithe component to benefit the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, VT, was supported by the Addison County Interfaith Climate Action Network (ICAN), and Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL).  Those who chose to participate in the tithe project agreed to donate 10% over the cost of their units to purchase units for the farm, which is “dedicated to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the African-American and African diaspora, history, arts, and culture”.

Community solar projects, such as this one offers local residents the opportunity to invest in clean electricity, made in their own community. This gives them a sense of control, and enables them to contribute to Vermont’s goal of becoming energy neutral by 2050, in a way that benefits them personally along the way. And, in this project they are able to support better racial understanding and equity.

(update provided by VTIPL Board Member Richard Butz)

 

The Clemmons Family Farm 

Most of us have had the chance to read about the Vermont Human Rights Commission report that Vermont law enforcement agencies discriminated against the Clemmons family during an ongoing problem with a disruptive tenant. It has been found that law enforcement agencies were guilty of racial and gender discrimination in their response to the Clemmons' call for help.

The Clemmons Family Farm (CLF) is an African American farm and cultural center in Charlotte that offers programs, arts exhibits, and workshops regarding the African-American experience. Their goal is to “build a loving multicultural community around the African/American diaspora history, arts and culture.”

We at VTIPL are particularly concerned about this episode because we have been trying to raise funds to purchase solar units for Clemmons Family Farm, through the tithe program connected with the Bristol Community Solar project. Those who agree to the tithe program add 10% to the cost of the units they purchase for themselves to pay for units for the farm.

We can help in another way: donate directly to purchase solar units by downloading a Donation Form that will enable you to send a check to support this project.  Donating solar units will provide low-cost electricity to the farm for years to come. Download the form here: Tithe Donor's Form

Our Ongoing Programs

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL)’s Watershed Manuals

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) has created two manuals, one with a Christian emphasis, “Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian Edition)” and another with an interreligious emphasis, “Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World's Waters (1st Interreligious Edition).”

In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont. The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals.

These are high-resolution print copies, spiral-bound to lie flat conveniently. Print copies of these manuals are available through Pastor Nancy Wright.  Contact her at pastornancy@alcvt.org

The Katy Gerke Memorial Program

(photo by Richard Hibbert)
(photo by Richard Hibbert)

The Katy Gerke Memorial Program is a matching grant program created to honor the memory of Dr. Katy Gerke. it was established, endowed, and defined by her family and has been used over the years to make houses of worship more energy efficient.

The stipulations for the program and its availability are described  at a dedicated page on this site: The Katie Gerke Memorial Program 

On that page you will also find links to a downloadable brochure and application forms for energy assessment and energy efficiency projects.

For more information. about this program or to make a contribution toward establishing an additional grant please contact Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) Coordinator, Donna Roberts by email at info@vtipl.org.

 

Energy Assessments

One of the ways Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) helps congregations is by providing energy assessments of houses of worship and other religious buildings. The service is free to congregations that request this assistance. Vermont Interfaith Power & Light (VTIPL) asks each participating congregation to commit to using the recommendations to guide their ongoing efforts to improve the energy efficiency of their religious building. Send an email to info@vtipl.org for more information.

Residential Guide for Clean Heating

A new, free guide produced for the Vermont Public Service Department is now available to help homeowners navigate the process of heating and cooling their homes with clean energy. Look for detailed information on our Resources page

Water Is Life Virtual Event

About Our Panelists

One Word - Sawalmem Co-director Michael "Pom" Preston is a member of the Winnemem Wintu tribe and the son of the current tribal chief, Caleen Sisk. He grew up going to his tribe’s sacred places and has been dancing in the Winnemem way since he was four years old. 

One Word - Sawalmem Co-director/Producer Natasha Deganello Giraudie is a mother, filmmaker and teacher of nature practice. She helped to pioneer the micro-documentary genre for humanitarian movements, filming in more than 30 countries and reaching expansive audiences with her work. Her experiential nature meditation film, Inmanencia, released in 2019, was selected for festivals around the world from Boulder to Buenos Aires to Bhutan, where it won the Audience Choice Award. 

Jon Groveman, Vermont Natural Resources Council’s Director of Policy & Water Program, will share about the organization's campaign to keep PFAS out of our water. PFAS chemicals are linked to harmful health impacts including high blood pressure, thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancers, and suppressed immune system function.

Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright, VTIPL Vice-President, is a waterkeeper, Co-author of the Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World's Waters, published with VTIPL support, and pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, VT. 

VTIPL’s Black History Month Event a Success! 

VTIPL Film & discussion

Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil narrated by Alice Walker

Yemenja Film with Accolades
Festival of Yemanjá as celebrated each February in Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Gerald Hoffman
Festival of Yemanjá as celebrated each February in Bahia, Brazil. Photo by Gerald Hoffman

Nearly 60 friends gathered for our virtual event on February 23 to view and discuss the film Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil. Narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, the film explores the Afro-indigenous spiritual tradition of Candomblé in Bahia, Brazil, often called the religion of nature. Unique in traditional African religions, many of the most revered Candomblé communities are led by elder Afro-Brazilian women.  The film’s director, VTIPL Coordinator Donna Roberts, introduced the film offering some background on the project’s long evolution commencing during her first trip to Brazil in 1997 (for the Rio+5 Forum on Sustainability.)

After the film screening, we were joined by panelists, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright of Ascension Lutheran Church, and The Rev. Rachel Field of Mission Farm/St. Thomas and Grace Church.  An unexpected guest was lawyer and prof. of Africana Studies Dr. Danielle Boaz of University of North Carolina, an expert in religious intolerance and violence in Brazil which she prefers to call religious racism.

The film Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil is available OnDemand or DVD viawww.yemanjathefilm.com   Read more about this event on our News & Events page.

 

 

Faith and

Care for Earth

in Times of Covid-19

As people of faith, we begin with love for all, and are called to care for Creation.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our lives, our jobs, our schools and our worship.

Many things are opening up, but not like it was before, nor should we expect life to go "back to normal.”

In many ways, a new normal would be welcome - a more caring, sustainable way forward for all of humanity, and for all of life, reimagining what and who we value as essential.

Some faith communities are slowly returning to prior worship patterns, but others have chosen to continue to meet and to worship virtually.  Each community needs to decide for itself how best to proceed.

Regardless of how we choose to worship, we must remember and reach out to thosewho have been impacted the most, especially the most vulnerable who have become even more so during the pandemic.  They are all our neighbors.

Look on our RESOURCES page for words of inspiration and links to resources for returning to worship together.

Statements on the Murder of George Floyd, Racial Justice, and Environmental Justice

We at Vermont Interfaith Power and Light are deeply saddened and outraged at the latest in a series of despicable murders of black and brown people across our country - the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. “Black Lives Matter” protests around this nation in response to these shootings are an expression of a built-up anger at injustice, frustration with the many forms of white supremacy that are inherent in our culture, and a deep longing for human dignity and justice for People of Color. The systemic racism that allows this kind of police brutality must stop and we must do our part. There can be no climate justice without racial justice. Around the world, people of color and people with fewer economic means - typically people of color - are those most affected by climate change, while contributing the least to the causes of the climate crisis. This is injustice. Issues of climate, economic and social justice are intrinsically interrelated. In recognition of this moment, we share some of the statements made in our movement as a response. It is our hope that they might deepen our thinking, raise our understanding, and prompt compassionate action.

Additional Statements can be found on our Resources page.

The national Interfaith Power and Light organization has created a new page on their site with resources to help make the connection between environmental justice and racial justice. Check it out at:

https://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/public-policy/take-action/climate-justice-is-racial-justice/

Another Way to Make Your Voice Heard

Visit this site to design a postcard which they will send to your senators, representatives, and the governor, urging them to move our state to 100% renewable energy.

https://rev.ilovemy.solar/

Vermont Interfaith Power and Light is affiliated with the national organization, Interfaith Power and Light. Information about their work and connections to other state affiliates can be found on their website at

https://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/

A flyer describing several IPL initiatives is available for your information and use:

IPL Programs

Climate Change and Health Documents

Changes to the website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have raised concerns about the availability of educational materials related to the impact of climate change on human health. To be sure that they remain available, we have downloaded the documents and made them available. Below is a list of available pdf files that you can download.