Month: December 2019

Parenting in the Time of Climate Change Part II: Geraldine Patrick at the BPL

Concerned About Parenting? Try Humbling Yourself And Paying Attention

Last month, about fifty parents gathered at Brooklyn Public Library thanks to a series that they put together with 350 Brooklyn called Climate Wednesdays

At the talk our moderator Tom Roderick asked people to share their feelings. Anger, anxiety, fear, incertitude, overwhelming thoughts, self-blame or guilt, unrest, despair… all were expressed, in words or in body language –even in weeping faces. We, the speakers who had been featured on the events page as ‘experts’ presented ourselves as non-experts, but as proactive parents trying to figure out how to stand in a world so fragile. 

What I had jotted down a few days before the talk had been this: children are essentially Wisdom bringers, Truth tellers, Keepers of the word and Messengers of original principles of life. Such is the impression I have of children, and I referred to those aspects indirectly, using some brief anecdotes. What might catch the eye is that I consider they are ‘keepers of the word’. Yes: when they are very small they quickly acquire a concept of what keeping the word means; and they hold high hopes when a sacred pact is set with their adult party for the first time. I’m talking of an agreement such as, if I do my chores on time, you’ll take me to play in the park, or, you’ll get me a teddy bear if I give my best at school. But when the adult breaks the pact –even if out of mere distraction or obliviousness— we may have lost the precious opportunity to raise a child that trusts the word –and world– of adults. If parents/tutors carry on disregarding or disrespecting what keeping the word means, socializing stages and emotional intelligence may be severely affected. It may then become very difficult for the child to advance some initiative within the family, the school or broader community spheres. Whatever we as adults do to repair that condition of mistrust, we must openly show that we believe in the words and intentions of our child, leaving room for them to come up with creative ideas and supporting them all the way. Urgency is such that we can only humble ourselves, recognize our mistake and offer to keep the word of commitment so to co-participate in creating harmonious and sustainable livelihoods. 

In this humbling process, we adults need to pay attention to many of our own actions, for, aren’t we trying to model a way of life that makes sense to our children and motivates them to stand up? So here go some introspective questions that I didn’t get to share with the parents that day, but that might help us to pay attention on a daily basis:

Are we living each day in gratefulness for who brought us to the world, starting with the first of mothers, Mother Earth?

Are we honoring each of the four elements of life on every occasion?

Are we giving life back to the plants and animals whose lives we take?

Are we showing what a responsible consumer cares for in all scales of time and space? 

Are we considering all externalities involved in what we produce or consume?

Are we growing at least some of our own food, however small or large it may be in proportion to our needs? Are we respecting seasonal cycles and preferring local produce so to reduce footprints?

Are we showing that we care for human communities of all sociocultural conditions that live within and are related to ecological communities under some current or future level of threat, and in so doing, are we listening to those we offer to support and work with? 

As we wake up every morning, let us go over these and similar questions, and also schedule time to continue sharing what it means to be parenting in these very sensitive times, when building endurance and resilience with wisdom and love is crucial. Thank you Amy Adelman and Tom Roderick for the opportunity to share with all parents and especially with Liat and Nikki.

 

Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina is an Original Caretakers Fellow for the Center for Earth Ethics and a Scholar in Residence at Union Theological Seminary.

Parenting in the Time of Climate Change Part I: Karenna Gore on Parenting Through Climate Anxiety

Cindy Wang Brandt interviewed CEE Director Karenna Gore on Parenting through Climate Anxiety as part of her series on Parenting Forward.   The author covers topics concerning raising spiritual children without trauma, re-examining faith with embodied values and concerns for a better future.

Show Description: “I talk with Karenna Gore, Director of the Center for Earth Ethics from Union Theological Seminary about climate justice, spirituality, and how to parent our children through climate anxiety. She talks beautifully about how the climate justice moment is clarifying our interconnectedness and how to find authentic community in the social movement for life. Lots of recommendations for more resources, see the links below. There’s really some deep wisdom in this episode all, don’t miss it!”  Listen…

Links (affiliates included):

Center for Earth Ethics – https://centerforearthethics.org

Karenna Gore on twitter – https://twitter.com/KarennaGore

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee – https://amzn.to/2QUUDnK

How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk – https://amzn.to/2XO5xgy

The Uninhabitable Earth – https://amzn.to/2DmAUpk

Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi6RkdaEqgRVKi3AzidF4ow

Parenting Forward Conference Recordings – https://www.parentingforwardconference.com

Join us at the Parenting Forward Patreon Team – https://www.patreon.com/cindywangbrandt

Parenting Forward, the Book – https://amzn.to/2GB6eDB

Catherine Flowers Op-Ed for Alabama Voices: Give Alabamians the freedom of solar choice

Catherine Coleman Flowers – Special to the Advertiser

Photo: Solar panels on Ireland Farms in Alpine, Ala., are seen on Wednesday September 25, 2019. Mickey Welsh / Advertiser

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Imagine if every time you picked a peach off of your backyard tree, the government slapped you with a $10 tax – artificially increasing the price of your own fruit and driving you to buy grocery store peaches instead.

Well, that’s exactly the situation we face with electricity in Alabama.

Every Alabamian could make their own electricity cheaper and cleaner by putting solar on their roof. But Alabama Power has other ideas and insists on dumping a fee on solar users. And not a small fee either. It is a fee that could amount to $9,000 over the life of the system.

Such a fee punishes those that want to generate their own electricity, maintaining the company’s monopoly and keeping Alabamians locked into its services. Not only is it wrong to stifle Alabamians’ energy choices and what we do with our own roofs, but it’s also choking job creation in the state and hurting working families.

The Alabama Public Service Commission has the opportunity to eliminate these excessive fees – and they need to know that it’s what Alabamians want.

Alabama is number one – or at least running neck and neck with South Carolina – for the highest residential and commercial electricity rates in the region. Every month we pay more for our electricity, but we don’t have the option of generating our own electricity. This is a monopoly and it is un-American. Working families and small businesses deserve a more affordable choice.

But this fight isn’t just about the costs we all pay for our energy – it’s also about the health of our families. About one fifth of our electricity comes from dirty coal plants that spew unhealthy amounts of particulate matter, ozone and other pollution into the air we breathe. This pollution not only causes lung disease, including asthma and lung cancer, but has also helped make Birmingham the 14th most polluted city for particulate matter in the nation.

Most of all, this fight is about justice, environmental justice. First of all, this toxic air pollution doesn’t impact everyone equally.  African American Alabamians endure roughly twice the particulate matter air pollution that white Alabamians do. Second, as temperatures rise and cities swelter thanks to climate change, it’s the poor and people of color who suffer the most.

By turning from coal to clean energy like solar, we can not only clean up the air we breathe, but also help solve the climate crisis making our summers even hotter and threatening our families. Eliminating onerous solar fees is an important first step.

Now some will say that solar is really only for the rich.  But that isn’t the case in states that don’t have anti-solar policies.  In most of the country, people can lease solar panels and save money on their utility bills on day one, all without having to put any money down up front.

In Alabama, solar fees eliminate that savings. Worse, Alabama Power even claims it is illegal to lease solar panels. It’s time working-class Alabamians had the same opportunity to have cleaner, cheaper electricity that most other Americans enjoy.

Alabama Power parent company, Southern Company, also operates in Mississippi and Georgia, where it also proposed ways to make home solar unaffordable. Georgia, however, rejected a solar fee in 2013 and in Mississippi home solar owners fought back a Southern Company effort to block their ability to sell electricity back to the grid. As a result, Mississippi has 25% more solar jobs than Alabama and Georgia has 6 times more solar jobs than we do here. We should take heart from these victories and know that solar can win in Alabama as well.

In Alabama, we love competition. We love doing things ourselves, our way. Now it’s time for the Alabama Public Service Commission to open the state up for real competition on energy by getting rid of these fees. It’s time for the commission to let working Alabamians take control of their energy and generate their own electricity.

If you agree, please call Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh at (334) 242-5297 and tell her to get these fees off your roof.

Catherine Coleman Flowers

 

Catherine Coleman Flowers is Senior Fellow of Environmental Justice and Civic Engagement at the Center for Earth Ethics as well as the director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice.

Learn More about Catherine’s work…