Earlier this month we were thrilled to host an interfaith summit on “Climate Change, Faith, and Vulnerability” with partners at Old South Church in Boston.
Over the course of the afternoon, we learned about how climate change disproportionately impacts historically disadvantaged communities from speaker Dr. Atiya Martin, and about how to deal with our climate grief by acknowledging “the broken heart” from Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas.
We also heard from a great panel of speakers about how their communities are already dealing with climate impacts.
- Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana Lisa Owens talked about how her advocacy work on the Suffolk Downs and Frontage Road development projects intersects with both climate change and housing justice.
- Rev. Edwin Johnson of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church called for environmental advocates to “center the experiences and lives of persons of color” in their work, rather than casting racial justice concerns as barriers to climate action.
- Rev. Britta Carlson of Nuevo Amanecer spoke about her work with recent immigrants and encouraged us to develop a consciousness of the systems we live in that make some more vulnerable than others.
Participants also saw a series of rapid-fire presentations from Rev. Don Remick of the United Church of Christ, Arlene Magoon from FEMA, Nancy Smith from the Boston Public Health Commission, and CREW board/staff members Chester Osborne and Aaron Troncoso on how faith communities could play a role in disaster preparedness and recovery. Small groups continued these discussions and made plans for following up to take actions in their own communities.
Some specific resources that were identified included:
- Scheduling a Get Ready, Be Safe, Stay Healthy training with the Boston Public Health Commission.
- Becoming a Climate Resilience Hub with CREW.
- Helping seniors back up their favorite photographs on flash drives.
- Making a disaster plan for your church, synagogue, mosque, or community center.
- Checking in on vulnerable neighbors during a heat wave or cold snap.
Finally, the conference closed with a prayer from CREW board member Rachel Jacobson.
Thanks to the 100+ people who came, as well as to the many members of our planning team and staff at Old South Church for making this event possible.