By Aly Tharp, Commit2Respond & Unitarian Universalist Young Adults for Climate Justice
Blessings and greetings on World Water Day and this beginning of Climate Justice Month 2016!
I write to you from an altar in the Radical Arts and Healing Space warehouse in New Orleans, Louisiana—by the time you read this, it will be 24 hours until the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management holds a lease sale for up to 43 million mineral acres to the oil and gas industry for fossil fuel extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.
I am gathered here with Jimmy Betts (fellow UU Young Adults for Climate Justice and Commit2Respond Communications & Resources team member) as well as people from Detroit, Washington DC, Alabama, Ohio, the San Francisco Bay Area, and, of course, New Orleans, to create beautiful artwork for a large civil protest of tomorrow's auction.
Get inspired: Look for updates about the big things happening today and tomorrow by following @commit2respond, @uuyacj, @alytharp, @jiseng, @uusc, #commit2respond, #NoNewLeases, and #WorldWaterDay on Twitter.
After a 1,500 mile journey to New Orleans from Massachusetts, Jimmy (@jiseng) and I have just put some finishing touches on a thirty-foot banner that reads LOVE IS LIBERATION
From this altar I pray that we can reflect back on this day, one year from now, and find that our efforts have moved us into a more loving and liberated world. One where the Gulf of Mexico and shores of Alaska are not destined to be sacrifice zones to a carcinogenic way of life. One where there aren’t thousands of communities in the USA with contaminated drinking water supplies, and the EPA does not send internal memos saying “Flint was not worth going out on a limb for.” Flint, MI, is a predominately black, predominantly poor city. In a world built with justice, equity, and compassion in human relations—a world that recognizes that Black Lives Matter—such a memo could never exist.
Climate justice calls us to collectively rise up and above the gridlock, greed, and violence of this racist and classist society. If love is liberation, I pray then that love will guide our way. Today, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has launched a petition calling on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to address the Flint water crisis and incorporate water justice into national and state-level Climate Action Plans.
Take action today: sign the petition.
Do so knowing that these demands are aligned with the vision for Climate Justice articulated by leaders of frontline impacted communities such as those who created the Climate Justice Alliance’s Our Power Plan. Get educated: Learn more about the meaning and pathway toward climate justice imperatives in the USA by reading this great resource.
The sacred waters altar in the Radical Arts and Healing Space warehouse in New Orleans
In closing, I leave you with this message for World Water Day from Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe:
"We are asking to open your heart and minds to this time of crisis that is now upon us, threatening a healthy life for our future generations and also for the many spirit lives of the four legged, winged ones, those that crawl and that swim who depend on Mni Wiconi, the water of life. Those that know how strong spiritual energy is, understand water is the most essential life-line to survival. It is a 'Source of Life' that is so powerful, that when we offer our energy of prayers, it can change into medicinal healing, through united intentions. Even science finally found this out only recently. Water carries the Keeper’s energy and can change very fast. It can also bring death by not respecting its gift, especially when over abused as a Resource. It is time we wake up the World to stop abusing and destroying a gift of life—before it is too late." (read the full message)
Thank you for opening your heart to this prayer and call for unity and action. Thank you for taking action.
The new Commit2Respond Communications & Resources team will be sending a weekly email to everyone who is part of Commit2Respond. If you haven't already RSVP'd for Climate Justice Month, sign up for additional resources and sources of inspiration throughout the month.
In the Spirit of Love and Faith,
Network Coordinator, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice
Chair, Commit2Respond Executive Team
Member, Commit2Respond Communications & Resources Team