aFewSteps seeks a few hands
To the Editor:
“In the long run, climate change will make ISIS look like nothing more than a tiny little bug.” So said my colleague, Brad Gustafson, a lifelong Republican, who in his position at the Department of Energy, has often served a tempering role in that organization’s efforts to reduce the energy usage of the federal government’s buildings. Brad is so often the conservative “voice of reason” that his statement regarding climate change stands out, ominously.
Climate change is the greatest challenge facing our civilization. Yet Americans seem, by and large, unmotivated to do anything about it. Forget the remaining deniers – there will always be that contingent, just like those who think smoking isn’t bad for us. The more troublesome reaction to climate change is the failure of citizens who accept it to do anything to slow or stop it. Why is this? Students of the problem have posited hopelessness (it’s inevitable), helplessness (what can we do?), habituation (we’ve been hearing about this for decades and it’s boring), and selfishness (it’ll be bad, but I’ll get out before the worst of it).
aFewSteps, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2010, is looking to inject some new energy into our efforts. Our mission is to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs of the residents, businesses, and institutions in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. aFewSteps has accomplished a lot in our short tenure, including:
• Provided “sustainability coaching” to more than 60 households across the four communities;
• Hosted more than a dozen workshops covering topics ranging from minimizing cooling costs to general environmental awareness;
• Promoted and facilitated green power sign-ups resulting in Swarthmore ranking second in the country (proportionately) in renewable energy usage;
• Helped ten local churches and synagogues lower their energy bills, and taught them how to “benchmark” their energy usage;
• Consulted and collaborated with all four of our municipalities on municipal energy-saving initiatives, such as LED street lighting and municipal building retrofits;
• Sponsored two photo contests to highlight local environmental concerns;
• Educated community leaders on throwing waste-free parties, spurring that to become the norm with numerous July 4th block parties;
• Co-sponsored events with groups such as the Swarthmore Garden Club, Earth Care Council, Transition Town Media, Swarthmore Historical Society, Swarthmore Co-op and GreenFaith.
We estimate that we’ve influenced several hundred households in the WSSD footprint. That’s impressive, but it represents less than 10% of the homes in the district.
What we’d like to do now is widen that reach. To that end, we’re inviting others to get involved. We have active committees covering the residential and commercial/municipal/institutional sectors, as well as ad hoc activities of various sorts.
We extend a hearty welcome to new players in our organization, ideally ones who represent some different demographics and perhaps some new skills. We’re seeking good men and women to help us overcome the inertia around this challenge that faces us all.
‘Has Swarthmore changed?’
To the Editor:
I was dismayed to read about the response to the proposal for the house at 200 S. Chester Road to become a home for cancer patients.
I grew up one block away. My mother worked at the Hollyhock Shop, greeting and meeting Swarthmore residents of all kinds. My father was an active member of the Player’s Club.
Both of my parents would have been more than welcoming to anyone who was looking for a place to live while fighting a serious illness.
Has Swarthmore changed? Have the charitable and Quaker beliefs disappeared? My family is disappointed to discover that money has usurped human kindness. Thank you.
Know about FUSE?
To the Editor:
I attended the “4 Ever Grateful Concert” sponsored by the Swarthmore-Wallingford Interfaith Ministerium (SWIM) and The Fellowship of Urban Suburban Engagement (FUSE) at Ohev Shalom on Sunday. I went primarily because the youth choir from my church was participating, but soon realized that the event offered far more than music.
I knew of SWIM, but very little about FUSE. I do now. FUSE’s mission involves “deepening relationships, extending ourselves to one another, striving wholeheartedly to understand “The Other,” and creating a shared sense of destiny and purpose (www.fusedelco.com).
Sitting among so many neighbors from the Chester and Swarthmore communities of different races, genders, socio-economic backgrounds, ages and religions (including “Nones”), I soon realized that I was experiencing America at its best.
I am grateful to Ohev Shalom for hosting this extraordinary event. I know that many Americans, whether they voted for Hillary or Trump or neither one, are wondering what they can do to stand up for the values that make America great without contributing to the anger and division that threaten our nation. I believe that supporting FUSE and organizations with similar missions is an important part of the answer.