Our state legislators heard loud and clear that people of faith care about clean energy and environmental justice on Thursday, May 9th.
Nearly 600 people attended, making this the largest Advocacy Day ever in the 12 years that Faith in Place has joined with the Illinois Environmental Council and other groups to organize State Capitol visits!
People started the day at one of 19 locations across the state where buses picked up people from all walks of life, including students, seniors, faith leaders, scientists, environmental activists, and first-time advocates. In spite of the early morning departure, participants from Rockford to Carbondale eagerly boarded buses and made new connections with fellow community members on the trip there.
As people arrived, they found their group members from the same legislative districts and began swarming the Illinois State Capitol building with pastel green shirts that expressed the message of the day: “Clean air, energy, and jobs for all.”
People stressed the importance of caring for our Earth for our neighbors and future generations while meeting with state senators and state representatives or their staffers throughout the morning.
Illinois has incredible potential to lead in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmental justice by building on the success of the Future Energy Jobs Act passed in 2016.
Advocates of faith emphasized that strong leadership at the state level is necessary to combat climate change, and that we have a moral opportunity to ensure economic justice, jobs, and equity in this green transition. If you signed a petition recently, you were there with us too as we delivered over 1,800 petitions collected over the past year.
We also urged legislators to hold polluters accountable for contamination from fossil fuel industries, including coal ash left behind at over 80 sites that are polluting our groundwater.
Legislators were excited to meet with people from their districts who spoke from the heart.
This year, we were especially excited to have many young people, including Girl Scouts and nearly 70 students from Oakdale Christian Academy, attend and remind us that their future is the reason we act.
In the afternoon, people gathered outside for an interfaith prayer vigil organized by the Illinois Council of Churches, featuring prayers from United Methodist, Unitarian Universalist, Baha’i, and Quaker traditions.
We rallied on the steps in front of the Capitol building and heard from many inspiring speakers, including legislators, union representatives, a graduate of a solar job training program, Girl Scouts, and more. Pastor James from the United Congregations of the Metro East spoke about making our communities better places by cleaning up our transportation and energy sectors, and Dr. Foster of the IL Baptist Convention reminded us that Baptists care about the environment too!
Senator Scott Bennett shared how the persistence of faithful advocates in Central Illinois, including Outreach Director Rev. Cindy Shepherd, moved him from ambivalence about environmental issues, to championing environmental cleanup from the toxic pollution of coal ash ponds.
Thank you to everyone who joined us to make Advocacy Day 2019 a huge success!