This post was written by CCA Director Sarah Ogletree. She is pictured here (right) beside CCA summer intern Liz Richardson (left). The posters being held by Sarah and Liz were made by volunteers Jan Williams Ritter and Kaete Syed. Thank you for helping us spread this message through the sharing of your artistic gifts!
Not quite two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join our congregations and members of our community in calling for a more just and sustainable carbon plan during the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) hearing in Asheville. During the hearing, I heard from countless people from throughout western North Carolina. Each of them spoke from their hearts and all of them spoke about climate change.
Grandparents, engineers, teachers, college students, lawyers, faith leaders, and more than a few self-identified “climate migrants” (folks who’ve made their home in western North Carolina after fleeing fire in California, flood in Florida, and drought in Montana)–all spoke about the severe dangers posed by climate inaction and the need for those in power to respond accordingly. In reference to the 4 potential carbon plans presented by Duke Energy, the consensus of the people was clear.
We need a plan that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels or nuclear. We need a plan that takes into account the impacts of methane as a greenhouse gas in addition to carbon. We need a plan that considers the needs of our neighbors and puts the cost on those who can afford a bill increase. We need a plan that moves at the speed of the problem and not politics. We need a plan that is shaped by marginalized communities and others on the frontlines. We need a plan that does the most, the quickest, in the most just way–and it doesn’t have to come from Duke Energy. In fact, it probably shouldn’t.
Nearly all of the speakers reminded the NCUC that their responsbility is not to Duke but to the people. They don’t have to go with one of the 4 plans presented by Duke Energy. Instead, they can and should consider alternative plans from sustainable energy groups and other organizations rooted in justice. This was a clear point held by the vast majority of those who spoke during the hearing. And notably, no one spoke in favor of Duke’s presented plans.
I’ve shared much of what I heard during the hearing, where I joined our neighbors in offering testimony on behalf of a better carbon plan. But what I havn’t shared just yet is the love that I felt in that room. Every single person who testified, spoke up on behalf of their love–their love for their children and grandchildren, love for their communities, love for non-human species, love for the planet and life itself. Behind every tear shed and ever waivering voice was the resounding sound of love. Because love it what brings us to halls of power. Love is what encouages us to sit through hours of jargon and legislative process. And love is what keeps us moving and breathing and striving for a better way.
During the pre-hearing rally, I was lucky enough to lead those gathered in a time of prayer and grounding alongside CCA summer intern Liz Richardson. We centered our time around love, striving to help all present remember that their grief, rage, and hope all come from a place of love for each other and this world. I call this love holy. In my faith tradition, I would argue, that this kind of love is a part of what it means to be made in the image of God and to strive to reflect that image in the world.
Below I will share the litany that Liz and I read before the hearing. It is my hope, that in it, you can remember your own love for the world–your own “Holy Why” as to what keeps you going in this work of caring for creation. And if you were unable to testify during the NCUC hearing on the 27th but would still like to raise your voice, you can learn more about upcoming virtual NCUC public hearings here. These hearings will be held on August 23rd.
A litany of love from the July 27th Pre-Hearing Rally organized by Appalachian Voices and Asheville Sunrise Movement:
We gather here because of our love. Love within us, and around us, before us, and after us. We gather to witness to our love for this world.
For clear night skies,
For sunrises stretched across plains,
And for mountains–ancient and alive,
We gather because, as these places have held us, we long to hold each other… We gather in the spirit of neighbors who share sugar and bread and strangers who care for one another in sacred and beloved community. We gather in the spirit of family to witness to our love for one another.
For those, we know
And those we don’t.
For siblings near and far.
And all of us
yearning for and relying on,
Clean air to breathe
and clear water to drink.
For all of us
Together with the fullness of creation, we gather. In this circle, we name our connection to and love for the salamander, bear, deer, fox, cardinal, luna moth, and firefly…
For cats curled on couches and minnows in the creek,
For dogs announcing visitors and wolves howling on the ridgeline,
We gather together grounded in love. Holy love that calls us to action and holds our leaders accountable. We gather here with love in our hearts and our hopes–however fragile they may sometimes feel. We each carry our stories, our reasons, our desires, our imaginings.
We invite you now to speak your love into this space. In a collective chorus, as we all speak at once, tell us: what do you love? How has love brought you here tonight? Speak now, quietly or loudly, in a whisper or a roar, and we will listen.