Reports from an action packed week in DC

Photo by Aly Tharp - Sun catching the columns of the US Supreme Court building

Photo by Aly Tharp – Sun catching the columns of the US Supreme Court building

My journey this month began with a flight to Washington, D.C. A small bird stood for minutes on the wing of the plane and flew off in the opposite direction as we started moving.

There was so much energy in the city as Greta Thunberg held a climate strike in front of the White House with hundreds of youth, as well a press conference in front of the Supreme Court with some Juliana v US youth plaintiffs (including 12-year-old UU plaintiff, Levi Draheim). Local UU leaders helped host huge climate coalition-building events in both Montgomery County, MD and Fairfax County, VA.

I came to DC primarily for the Sept. 15-17th conference — Advancing Economic and Climate Justice as a Moral Issue, Building a Movement for a Green New Deal, co-hosted by UUMFE, UUs for Social Justice (UUSJ), UUs for Just Economic Community (UUJEC), All Souls Church – Unitarian, UU Service Committee (UUSC), & Side With Love (UUA).

UU Climate Justice Advocacy & Action Conference Attendees pose for a Group Photo on Capitol Hill

UU Climate Justice Advocacy & Action Conference Attendees pose for a Group Photo on Capitol Hill, Sept. 17, 2019

We had some fantastic presenters, and the first half of the conference was livestreamed on UUMFE’s Facebook page:

Day 1 – Stream 1

Intro & Welcoming
Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock, Lavona Grow, Rev. Rob Hardies, Aly Tharp
Just Transition Intro
Basav Sen, Climate Justice Program Director of Institute for Policy Studies
Spirit and Values: It Matters How We Show Up
Rev. Rob Keithan, Rev. Dr. Robert Hardies, Jen Hayman,  Senowa Mize Fox, Rev. Amanda Weatherspoon, Pablo DeJesus, Paula Cole Jones

Day 1 – Stream 2

Values in Action at the Local Level
Christoper Bradshaw, Founder & Executive Director of Dreaming Out Loud
Doris Marlin, creator of the UU  Strengthen Local Climate Commitments   campaign

Day 1 – Stream 3

Joining and Building the Movement —
Julian Brave Noisecat, Director of Green New Deal Strategy of Data for Progress

Day 1 – Stream 4

Joining and Building the Movement —
Julian Brave Noisecat, Levi Draheim, Aly Tharp, Beverly Harp

Day 2 – Stream 1

Faithful Movement Building for a Green New Deal
Rev. Susannah Tuttle, Julian Brave Noisecat, Rev. Leo Woodberry

Day 2 – Stream 2

Labor issues for a Green New Deal
Allison Hirsch, Vice President and Policy Director of 32BJ SEIU

Day 2 – Stream 3

The Legislative State of Play on Capitol Hill
Emily Wirzba & Ruth Ivory-Moore

The second-half of the conference centered around advocating for strong and just climate policy in the US Senate. Hundreds of letters were written by UUs across the country and mailed to the UUSJ in DC for the conference attendees to hand-deliver at US Senators’ offices on Capitol Hill.

I delivered letters from my home congregation, the Wildflower UU Church of Austin, and from the Westside UU Church of Forth Worth, TX. UUSJ collects and delivers UU advocacy letters on the Hill monthly with their Advocacy Corps & Write Here! Write Now! campaign.

 

Outside of the official conference, I hosted a Sacred Activism Evening Session side-event. Participants shared stories over dinner about finding courage and overcoming fear as we respond to the climate crisis. Everyone also learned how to screenprint and made a special UU Young Adults for Climate Justice patch with artists from The Sanctuaries DC, Nando and Rev. Erik Martinez-Resly.

I also volunteered with the DC Food Not Bombs chapter to cook and serve delicious reclaimed vegan and vegetarian foods in the park for free. It was a really beautiful afternoon spent in community.

 

On my final night in DC, I helped Doris Marlin paint a 10-foot Climate Action banner to display underneath the Washington Monument during the span of the Global Climate Strike and UN Climate Summit events. Early the next morning (9/19),  I made my way to New York City to participate in the climate strike there alongside our UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick Gray…

Aly Tharp
Aly Tharp
Aly Tharp is the program director at the UU Ministry for Earth and has been with UUMFE since 2014, initially serving as the network coordinator for the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice. Aly lives in Austin, Texas, and in their free time is an arts-activist and community organizer supporting a local food forest on public parkland and Gulf South climate justice movements.