Two weeks ago I was selected as the keynote speaker at the Environmental Defense Fund NC’s Advisory Board dinner to present the collaborative activities and accomplishments of our growing partnership.
Beginning in the fall of 2014, NC Interfaith Power & Light (NCIPL) began working with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in preparation for the 2015-2016 biennial North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) session. EDF directed NCIPL on how to review the NC legislature to determine strategic target areas for our work. This power-mapping looked at a member’s faith tradition, what congregation they belong to, and if they spoke publicly with a moral or religious voice. NCIPL also mapped its own congregations to determine which legislative districts the organization has strong presence in as well as whether or not the congregation was progressive, moderate, or conservative.
With EDF’s guidance and support NCIPL was inspired to facilitate our very first “Faith Voices for Clean Energy” advocacy day in 2015 at the General Assembly. This has become an annual event as the centerpiece of NCIPL’s “Spring into Action” seasonal campaign leading to national IPL’s “Faith Climate Action Week” that takes place during Earth Day. In 2016, we educated and prepared more than 40 faith leaders to visit their representatives at the Legislative Office building on advocacy day and inspired hundreds of community faith members to contact elected officials via our virtual advocacy online toolkit resources. We are now working with EDF to plan next year’s “Faith Voices for Clean Energy” advocacy day scheduled on the first day of spring, March 21, 2017.
NCIPL encourages every congregation to do all they can to become energy efficient and move to renewable energy sources where possible. We offer an energy audit program at no charge to faith communities, plus many other resources through our emPOWERed program. Last winter we began working on an application for NCIPL to host a 2016 Climate Corps Fellow. EDF’s Climate Corps provides skilled, hands-on help for organizations looking to optimize their energy use. EDF selects and trains graduate students from the nation’s leading institutions to help organizations take their energy management to the next level.
Out of more than 100 partnership engagements this summer EDF’s fellowship with NCIPL is being showcased by the national Climate Corps program. NCIPL’s energy program was enhanced by surveying congregants’ perceptions of the benefits and barriers to implementing efficiency initiatives; collaborating with Duke Energy to connect congregations with appropriate efficiency incentive and rebate programs; and performing an energy savings analysis on a Raleigh church; all within a 10-week period. The fellowship was housed at the Raleigh EDF office, and we combined our resources to strengthen affiliations.
EDF’s partnership has truly transformed NCIPL’s abilities to be instrumental and effective in supporting both communities on the ground and within the matrix of collaborative advocacy groups working towards a clean, renewable, efficient energy future in North Carolina. I look forward to our alliance continuing to grow and flourish as we generate hope-filled positive solutions towards a healthy and safe future for all!