The Rapidian

Inspired by Faith, Advocating for Change: Climate Activists Speak Up

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

These young activists met with Senator Gary Peter's office to speak up about climate change. Through the experience, they were inspired to continue to work for environmental justice.
West Michigan Advocacy Meetings

West Michigan Advocacy Meetings /Karolyn DeKam

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Get involved in faith-based climate advocacy

At the Climate Witness Project, we can help set up legislative advocacy meetings, offer coaching on how to conduct a legislative visit, provide talking points, and more! We want to help you raise your voice on behalf of God’s creation and alongside our neighbors around the world who are poor and vulnerable. To learn more and get connected, reach out to our Grand Rapids based advocacy coordinator now.

On August 16, 2021, a group of young activists with Climate Witness Project met with Peter Dickow, a congressional staffer from Senator Gary Peters’ West Michigan office. Their purpose? To advocate for faith-based environmental justice legislation. This was one of many virtual advocacy meetings the Climate Witness Project held this summer throughout the United States. Activists first attended a Faith in Action seminar which offered coaching on how to conduct a legislative visit, craft advocacy talking points, and more.

 

Each of the college students had a turn to share their thoughts about climate change issues. From commending the Senator for his recent work on funding for environmental cleanups in West Michigan, to expressing concerns about the outdated infrastructure that exists in poor and minority communities, the activists covered a wide range of ideas.  Karolyn DeCam commented, “I am hopeful that the Senator heard our voices and considers the faith-action perspective on climate change.”

 

“I think it’s really important that we continue to take up the call of Christ to care for others and the creation which we’ve been blessed with,” said Lille Dekker. This desire for environmental justice legislation was a driving factor, as the participants expressed their support for President Biden’s infrastructure bill. As one of them noted during the meeting, “While we recognize that the costs of the bill are huge, we believe that the national debt is not the main problem - the climate crisis is!” 

 

As advocates wrapped up their meeting with Senator Peter’s office, they were encouraged to keep up this type of advocacy outreach. Knowing what bills are being discussed in committees and which lawmakers are on those committees is key, Mr. Dickow told them. He also encouraged continued outreach, as phone calls and letters are noticed by congressional staff and can definitely influence lawmakers’ positions on legislation. He emphasized that constituents reaching out to their elected officials is a powerful grassroots tool for change.  

 

This opportunity to put faith into action was inspiring to all involved. Afterwards, Audrey Clayton decided she was going to keep on speaking up for just climate change policy. “I am excited to continue reaching out to members of Congress in Michigan.” Clayton’s newfound  determination was one of the goals of the Faith in Action advocacy training. Grand Rapids-based organizer Steve Mulder was heartened by the results of the meeting. “I was so impressed by the young women’s research and presentations. And really, this is all about building relationships and having an ongoing conversation, so I was thrilled that these young activists want to continue the conversation [with their elected representatives].”

 

Climate Witness Project looks forward to offering more opportunities in the days and weeks ahead to facilitate advocacy efforts on behalf of environmental justice legislation. 

 

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