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  • Rick Bonetti

EMO Earth Summit 2023 Recap

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Earth cookies baked by Linda Hammer-Brown, served at the Earth Summit.

On February 5, 2023, from 1:30-5 p.m., PST Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) and Oregon Interfaith Power & Light hosted their 10th annual Oregon Interfaith Earth Summit 2023. The theme was: "Care for Our Common Home: Building Neighborhoods for Climate Resilience." The zoom Plenary portion was coordinated by Cherice Bock, Creation Justice Advocate with EMO.

Twenty-seven of us gathered from the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon at First Presbyterian Church of Medford. More than ecumenical or Interfaith, this was an "Inter-spiritual" event - local networking among members of several faith communities, those "spiritual, but not religious." and concerned climate activists professing no specific faith tradition.

We gathered in recognition that "individual action is not going to solve the climate crisis - It's about communities working together." We have been talking about this for decades, but we still don’t seem to get it right." "Change has to come from the heart, not just the head - everything is interrelated.”

We were welcomed by Rev. Murray Richmond, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, and Bob Morse of the Ashlands Friends Community in Ashland, who served as MC. Caren Caldwell read an indigenous prayer. A fun afternoon highlight was Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Motzkin Rubenstein from Temple Beth Israel in Eugene who led us in a kinetic, Tu BiShvat, body prayer: Let’s learn from the trees today.

Together New Orleans - Abel Thompson and Asia Ognibenepresented how Community Lighthouses are creating climate resilience communities in Louisiana. Together New Orleans' vision is "to build the nation's largest network of solar + storage resilience hubs at churches and community centers across south Louisiana." They are a broad-based organization of organizations, breaking barriers that ordinarily divide us. Started 4 years ago, Together New Orleans officially launched as a non-profit in 2021 with $120,000 in pledges and 54 members.

Then hurricane Ida hit the coast in August 2021 causing $75 billion in damage and 107 deaths, most of which occurred because of power outages, heat-related emergencies such as cardiac arrest, or CO2 poisoning, Together New Orleans set out to build the infrastructure, and train teams so they know their equipment and neighborhoods. To date, they have raised $9 million for Phase 1 for 16 locations, with plans to grow ultimately to 86 locations throughout the state of Louisiana. They are connecting with people in their neighborhoods and not just within congregations

Warm Springs Community Action Group - Chris Watson Executive Director of this group described the Commissary Project on the Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs reservation in Oregon.

Oregon Interfaith Power & Light Advocacy Team - Sign up to receive action alerts, opportunities for training, and invitations to participate in lobbying and advocacy efforts around climate and environmental justice during Oregon Legislative Sessions.

Resilient Communities Cohort for Congregations - they will start meeting each month from Feb-June 2023 on the third Tuesday, learning practical actions.

State Legislation - Oregon State Representative Khanh Pham discussed various proposed bills related to climate change and resilience:

  • How we properly utilize our forests is probably the most important issue for Oregon. Many Oregon forests are privately owned by Wall Street firms. The Senate version of the proposed legislation will offer carrots (financial benefits to owners.); the House version will have more sticks.

  • Transportation is about access to opportunity. Transportation emissions are the number one source of climate pollution in Oregon. Traffic fatalities are also up. The gas tax is declining as people are moving to electric vehicles.

  • Divest Oregon Coalition's efforts to have pension funds divest from fossil fuel stocks will face obstacles. The Oregon Treasurer is against it. The Senate has no appetite for this although legislation will probably pass in the House.

  • OR HB 2990 Community Resilient Hub bill directs Oregon Health Authority to develop and implement grant programs to support resilience hubs and networks in Oregon. The bill. being presented jointly by Rep. Pam Marsh and Rep. Pham, will have both hubs and districts (which have not been divided up yet) administered by OHA with solar resources in the hubs. This is supported by Unite Oregon.

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon's new president Frank So was introduced.

Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, chairperson of the Creation Justice Committee at EMO/OIPL closed the online portion of the gathering. Richenda encouraged those who can donate generously to EMO. Richenda hosts Climate Cafe Multifaith on Tuesdays twice a month, with extras on occasion. They share topics, inspiration, and friendship at the intersection of faith and climate change. Find more about the Climate Cafe Multifaith at

The online Zoom Plenary is covered in the YouTube video above. A description of the in-person presentations and discussion is summarized below.

Rogue Climate - Alessandra de la Torre and Maeve Hogan from Rogue Climate spoke about Community Resilience Hubs. In a survey of 160 participants (101 from Jackson County), most felt safest in their homes, schools, churches, and medical centers. When emergency services falters is when the power goes out. Wildfires, smoke, and earthquakes are top concerns. Food, refrigeration, mental health services, and child care are concerns. It is important for people to be temporarily housed where they have trusted relationships.

Rogue Climate prepared a Community Resilience Guidebookfor people and organizations who are passionate about environmental justice, care about emergency preparedness and resilience, and want to see a more just future for ourselves and our neighbors.

Rogue Climate is advocating to Stop GTN XPress. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) largely ignored more than one thousand public comments by concerned community members who oppose TC Energy’s GTN XPress project.

Rogue Action Center - Nicole Greider said Rogue Action Center focuses on justice issues related to climate - the people who are most impacted are underserved. She has been part of the disaster relief team for 2 years. They are doing a mapping project. Rogue Food Unites has storage for water and a truck.

Ashland Climate Collaborative - Lorrie Kaplan told us ACC focuses on home electrification; water conservation; transportation; and food waste/composting. They are trying to change the social norms. ACC was set up in Ashland because of the city's Community Action Plan of 2016. Neighbors are less likely to talk about climate change so it will be easier to bring it up as they organize Neighborhood Group in 2023.

Zero Food Waste Act and the Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion Of Sustainable Techniques (COMPOST) Act - Flavia Franco spoke about two bills sponsored by U.S. Senator Cory Booker and others “to reduce the amount of food wasted in the U.S. and to redirect food waste to composting projects.”

National Food Waste Prevention Week - April 10-16, 2023 - A Florida collaborative “to educate and inspire real cultural change around food waste in order to help families save money, reduce the negative impact of food waste on the environment, and address hunger in our communities.”

Rogue Food Unites - community values; shopping local; and working with local restaurants MRE (meals ready to eat).

Oregon Climate Action Hub - Their goal is to “build individual and community capacity for action, and encourage each of us to live in ways that create a vibrant future for all.” Find an organization; collaborate; look for work; take action; change policy; meet up. Find them on Facebook; and Instagram.

Emergency Preparedness - Jackson County Emergency Management has links to emergency preparedness Resources. Rick Bonetti mentioned that Rogue Valley Manor has been organizing cottage neighborhoods for emergency preparedness and there is a Resident Preparedness Group Manual with links to some useful general information.

Rogue Valley 2020 Fire Resources - A local Realtor compiled a list of resources available to victims of the Almeda fire.

Oregon Climate Equity Network - coalition members about some of the key climate policy bills—and why it's so important for families to raise their voices for climate justice!

PCUN - Their mission is to “empower farmworkers and working for Latinx families in Oregon by building community, increasing Latinx representation in elections, and policy advocacy on both the national and state levels.”

Oregon Environmental Council - OEC “brings Oregonians together to protect our water, air, and land with healthy solutions that work for today and for future generations. Founded in 1968 by concerned Oregonians across the state, they are a membership-based, nonpartisan nonprofit.”

Just Crossing Alliance - “The Interstate Bridge Replacement is our region’s largest transportation investment in half a century. It should be centered on social justice, environmental justice, climate justice, and fiscal responsibility. The Just Crossing Alliance is a partnership of environmental, environmental justice, and sustainable transportation organizations who have endorsed a statement of values for the project.”

Neighbors for Clean Air - “Neighbors for Clean Air envisions an Oregon where every community has clean and healthy air to breathe.”

Divest Oregon - “The PERS pension is funding climate change by investing in fossil fuels. It’s a financially bad investment for your retirement savings and the planet. You can do something about it!”

Building Resilience - “Improving Oregon’s Homes and Buildings for our Climate and Communities.”

The young people from Rogue Climate left at 5 p.m. to attend a Zumba class at their Phoenix location, reminding us that we need to have fun and find joy to be truly resilient.

What's next? There was a lot of information presented so a process of discernment is necessary to determine how to collaborate and work together. If you are interested in participating in the 2023 Resilient Communities Cohort but want more information click here. If you are ready to join fill out this form.

If you are interested in a monthly Climate Cafe meet-up in Ashland, let me know.

Thank you to all who contributed to making this event a success!

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