We Have The Power To Affect Change
By Tracey MacDermott
Board Chair, GPHC, Inc.
Spring is amongst us. Tulips began breaking ground in early March, teasing us with the promised burst of color to arrive this month. The end of the school year is palpable for our students and spring babies from other species (and some human ones too) are beginning to arrive.
It is a time to experience pure joy and soak in Mother Earth’s gifts. The month of March did come in like a lion – not with snow, but with environmental meetings that consumed my first three weekends.
First was a meeting with Accelerate Neighborhood Climate Action. You may recall that in March of 2018 members of our community spent a weekend mapping out our community projects. The initiative involves a two-year plan which includes community-led ideas such as increasing our urban canopy, water saving and increasing solar throughout our neighborhood.
We are a year into the project and our teams could use help from you. We will be revisiting our objectives this month and refocusing on our chosen projects. We would also love to hear from you about your ideas on making our neighborhood more sustainable.
The City of Denver, under the brilliant guidance of the Sustainability Director, Taylor Moellers, celebrated many projects from neighborhoods throughout the city during the Sustainable Neighborhood Summit. We had the opportunity to exchange ideas and begin the conversation to work on projects collectively.
One idea – and I hope you will participate – is to challenge each neighborhood to increase the number of households composting. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of food is wasted in America. If food waste was its own country it would rank 3rd largest in greenhouse gas emissions, right behind the US and China. With almost 11 percent of the world’s population struggling to find enough nourishment, we are called to do better with feeding the hungry and reducing our food waste.
In Park Hill, through the work of our food pantry, fresh farm stand and relationship with Thrive Animal Care, we are able to feed our neighbors in need, provide fresh food and help our furry friends while reducing the amount of food we throw away. This work was highlighted during a panel discussion at the summit.
What we are absolutely unable to utilize is composted. Composting is a wonderful process returning nutrients to our soil, aids in reducing the need for fertilizers and reduces our methane emissions.
A moral call to action
The third week in March I spent in Atlanta for a Climate Reality meeting. This year’s meeting was focused on climate justice. The climate crisis disproportionately places the burden on those who are least responsible for this disaster.
A highlight of the training included an event titled A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis and was held at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin Luther King, Jr was baptized in this church and later delivered his first sermon at the age of 19. It was 51 years ago when Dr. King, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Committee, created the Poor People’s Campaign focusing on ending poverty and economic inequality in the US.
Carrying the tradition of Dr. King, Rev. Dr. William J, Barber II, along with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, started the new Poor People’s Campaign whose focus includes injustices of poverty, racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor at Ebenezer, opened the service and was followed by leaders from many different faiths, from Muslim to Jewish, calling on action.
Not only was there equity in faith leaders, there was also equal representation of gender. Vice President Al Gore’s remarks were calm and organized but slowly built to a culmination that was feverish calling us all to action.
The highlight of the evening was Rev. Barber, who delivered an impassioned speech, raising me up from my climate grief to a believer that we still have the power to stop climate change. Many times he brought the crowd to its feet and the roar of cheering was deafening. My faith had been restored and I found brothers and sisters who shared the same calling. To find out more about the Poor People’s Campaign, visit www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.
At the same time of this conference, the climate youth strike was taking place. Colorado’s own Haven Coleman co-organized the nationwide strike. She is an inspiring seventh grader who is fully aware of what her future looks like if the adults of this world can’t figure out how to stop the greed of the few. Instead of worrying about her math grades or spending more time with friends she is fighting for a future.
Let’s guarantee that future for her by continuing to make small changes each month. Please join me in making each of our lives more sustainable and helping Mother Earth heal the wounds we have inflicted. There is still time, short as it is, and yes, there is still hope.
Tracey MacDermott is chair of the board of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. Active in the Registered Neighborhood Organization for many years, MacDermott was the 2012 recipient of the Dr. J. Carlton Babbs Award for Community Service. She was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2017, and is currently the Statewide Chair of the Climate Reality Project for the 100% Committed Campaign.