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Why Climate Justice is a LOVE issue!

This time last year (and the two years before it!) we were in the midst of a campaign near and dear to many of our hearts called Thirty Days of Love. It was a transformative project; bringing together Unitarian Universalists, the Love People and our justice and faith partners to learn, reflect and take action together on a wide range of justice issues. We got tons of feedback from folks all over the country on this campaign, and one big request we heard over and over again: what if UUs and others got together for a month of education and action, but focused on a single justice issue? What if together we put all of our hearts and collective energies towards one important goal?

This is why I am excited to participate in Climate Justice Month, an amazing collaborative effort being spearheaded by an incredible array of UU organizations.

First, you might ask, how does climate justice fit into the Standing on the Side of Love campaign mission to harness the power of love to stop oppression?

In order to answer that, let me explain why I think climate justice is a love issue by telling you a little about myself, and why I am personally committed. When I was about eight years old, I started an Earth Club with my friends, where we did stuff like adopting manatees and figuring out ways to get our families to recycle. As the years passed, I realized I had to broaden my understanding of being an environmentalist to include all the people who are being affected by environmental damage like climate change, especially people from marginalized communities who had the least power to respond to climate destruction, and would stand to suffer the most.

Before I started working with Standing on the Side of Love, I was an organizer for several years doing environmental advocacy, from trying to get major Fortune 500 companies to stop using tar sands fuel, to working with religious communities to faithfully respond to climate change. It was often really difficult work, like watching the Waxmen-Markey Climate Bill stall in 2009, or reading each new dire Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The times that I felt the most hope for our planet and our communities was working with leaders in the environmental justice and green jobs sector. The most inspiring project I got to work on was one of the first solar installations at an historic African American congregation, Grace Tabernacle, in San Francisco’s Bayview community. Grassroots leaders there created a win-win-win: a small family owned solar business worked together with a local green jobs training program to donate and install the solar project, and the church came together to help their community learn from it, while reducing their energy bill and ecological footprint. That is what Climate Justice looks like to me! Together, we can find the solutions that will benefit all of us.

Climate justice, and the broader environmental justice movement before it, recognizes that inequality has a huge role in the current climate crisis and many of the environmental problems we face. Faithfully responding to climate justice means recognizing that the people who are most at risk from devastating climate degradation around the world are also the most vulnerable.

That is why from World Water Day (March 22) to Earth Day (April 22), Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience will embark on a spiritual journey for climate justice. During Climate Justice Month you will be invited to learn, reflect, and discern what long-term actions you, your family, and/or your congregation or group can take on that will build resistance to climate change. Climate Justice Month is being organized by Commit2Respond, the new climate justice initiative led by UU groups across our faith movement. Congregational leaders are invited to sign up their congregations or congregational groups, and save the dates for Climate Justice Sunday and Earth Day observances.

If you are feeling anything like me, you are probably missing the community and time for reflection we had during the past few Thirty Days of Love. That is why I am so excited to really dig into Climate Justice Month, and see what we can do when we all work together to harness the power of love from World Water Day to Earth Day (and beyond)!

I really hope you will join me!

Faithfully yours,

 

Jennifer Toth

SSL Campaign Manager