Here is a summary of my memories from the statewide action on health, housing, and climate held during the evening of Tuesday, December 5 at Good Hope Union United Methodist Church in Silver Spring. Note that my memories may be incomplete and could be erroneous in places.
This action was organized by People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), Action in Montgomery (AIM), Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT), the Sierra Club, and Interfaith Power & Light.
I arrived late to the action, mostly because I got lost when trying to find the person I was bringing. When I entered the sanctuary the opening prayer was just ending. I found a seat in row of seats reserved for attendees from UUCC and Patapsco Friends Meeting.
The prayer was followed by a review of why we were gathered by Shehlla Khan, the co-chair of PATH, and by two other people.
Next we did rounds, where a representative of each organization told the number of people the organization had pledged and the number who actually came. I reported that UUCC had pledged six people, but actually had seven. I was wrong. UUCC actually had nine participants, but I had arrived too late to tally them all.
This was followed by two women who shared their stories of nitrogen dioxide levels in their homes and how it affects health. This was in Spanish, and a translation was projected on a screen above the speakers.
Then the group broke up into four listening sessions. The listening session topics were 1) healthy homes, 2) affordable housing, 3) green jobs, and 4) networked geothermal. I was assigned to a group discussing affordable housing. It was like the house meetings we used to have for PATH. One person brought up that seniors need help. Someone else wanted more housing for multi-generation families. A third thought that seniors aging in place in large homes used up housing needed for growing families. Some ideas that were discussed included co-operatives like Greenbelt, tiny houses, and concrete houses made by a 3D printer.
At the end of the listening session, live musicians played some spirited music while we waited for people to return from other rooms.
The EmPOWER Act plays a pivotal role as we advocate for $137 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to shift Marylanders to cleaner energy and upgrade homes holistically.
Five Maryland politicians were guests at this action: Delegates Pam Queen, Lorig Charkoudian, and Vaughn Stewart, all of Montgomery County; Senator Brian Feldman also of Montgomery County; and Paul Pinsky, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. All agreed to support the aspirations expressed by our organizations. Delegate Charkoudian pointed out that her bill to improve the EmPOWER Act had passed the House last year, but failed in the Senate. Senator Feldman said that the House sent the bill to the Senate only three days before the end of the session and that amount of time was insufficient.
The meeting ended with a call to action by PATH co-chair Rev. Tyrone Jones, IV and a closing prayer in Spanish.
I’ve include two photos (see below). The first shows our group listening to why we were there. The second shows Shehlla, Tina, and John Farrell from Patapsco Friends enjoying the music that followed the listening session.