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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 11:44 pm

Good neighbors

Ways you can personally address climate change crisis

Untitled Document More than 100 good neighbors attended a Cool Town Meeting on Sunday, Nov. 4, at the home of another good neighbor, First Presbyterian Church. Along with Saturday’s rally outside the federal building, the meeting was Springfield’s response to the national “Step It Up 2007: National Day of Climate Action” effort. In addition to the church, several local environmental groups sponsored the event. These good neighbors expressed various needs: Some came to learn ways to reduce carbon emissions; some shared what they have learned and done to make a difference in cutting back on carbon dioxide. Many people wanted to know that someone’s taking responsibility for these serious concerns and how to influence decision-makers who have the power to do what’s right. A few may have come for cookies and fair-trade coffee.
Good neighbors all, people you’d like to have living next door, who pay attention to ways they can help others around them live a little better, a little healthier — like the neighbor who brings a meal when you’re ill or the one who shovels snow from your sidewalk when he’s outside shoveling his. Good neighbors who recognize that, no matter where we live in the world, we all share the same air. Good neighbors are what it will take to turn around the rapidly increasing change in our climate. As University of Illinois at Springfield professor Jim Bonacum stated at the meeting, the presumption was that everyone there was convinced by the evidence of increased global climate change described by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other environmentalists. Whether our neighbors are individuals, families, institutions, communities, states, government bodies or countries, schools, churches, businesses, or the media, we all have a stake in the future. There couldn’t be a clearer example of how the love for our children influences the lives of children everywhere for generations beyond us. Here are some steps you can take to conserve energy: • Flip the switch and contact Congress to slow global climate change. For more information, go to www.sierraclub.org. • Unplug yourself and save significantly on your electric bill by unplugging appliances when they’re not in use. • Grow your own and obtain free samples of seeds for next year’s growing season by contacting Contact Lindsay Record at 217-498-9707 or go to lindsay@illinoisstewardshipalliance.org. • Measure your carbon footprint at www.carbonfootprint.com. • Inflate your tires properly to maximize carbon-emission savings. • Shower with a bucket and save what accumulates to water plants or fill a container with the cool water that you run while waiting for warm water. • Compost creatively and get ideas by contacting Bill Becker at cropdoctor@sbcglobal.net. • Shorten showers by taking the under-five-minute-shower challenge or by turning off the faucet as you soap up. • Eat raw — it’s healthier for you and saves energy. For more information, go to www.living-foods.com. • Join Co-op America and receive a copy of the National Green Pages. For more information on eco-friendly products and services, go to www.coopamerica.org. Here are some local organizations that can help you become a better neighbor: • Community Energy Systems, dedicated to moving the state of Illinois out of the carbon economy. Contact Doug Nicodemus at 217-620-7031 or go to www.censys.org. • Cool Cities, encouraging Springfield to develop a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For information, go to www.coolcities.us. • The Illinois Stewardship Alliance, supporting local foods and a healthier food system. Contact Lindsay Record at 217-498-9707 or go to lindsay@illinoisstewardshipalliance.org. • Jubilee Farm, helping people nurture spiritual growth in harmony with nature. Go to www.springfieldop.org/benincasa_ministries_at_jubilee_farm.aspx for information. • The Sangamon Valley Group of the Sierra Club holds public meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month, its Energy and Climate Change Committee meets monthly and sends out two monthly e-mail updates about local action on global-warming and energy issues. Contact Will Reynolds at willinois@gmail.com. • Within a spirituality of environmental justice and care for creation framework, the St. Joseph Parish Environmental Justice Committee has prepared and presented a green parish plan to the parish council. The plan and future efforts can be found on the Pax Christi Springfield Web site. Contact Diane Lopez Hughes at 217-544-3997 or go to www.paxchristispringfield.org. • Sustainable Springfield Inc., an information-sharing network, promotes activities of all the environmental organizations in the area, as well as sustainability resources, and hosts a calendar, a links page on its Web site, and monthly educational programs. Contact Jim Johnston at jimjohnston@insightbb.com or go to www.sustainablespringfield.org. • Students Allied for a Greener Earth, a University of Illinois at Springfield student organization dedicated to bringing environmental awareness and Earth stewardship to the university and local community, seeks to promote sustainability, green living, and positive environmental change locally and globally. Contact Tih-Fen Ting at tting@uis.edu.

Diane Lopez Hughes is a local environmental activist. For more on local global climate change initiative, call her at 217-544-3997.
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