Feb 11 2020 meeting of full group

Notes from Feb 11, 2020 meeting to discuss near term climate action by Philadelphia government. 

22 people participated (alphabetical by first name): Alex Lola, Bernard Reid, Brent Groce, Cameron Walker, Dave Moscatello, Dita White, Fareed Abdullah, Francis McCloskey, Freyda Kornblum, Jeanne Myers, Judy Morgan, Lisa Hastings, Lynn Robinson, Marilyn Reid, Meenal Raval, Mujahid Abdullah Alim, Pat Libbey, Paula Smith, Pratima Agrawal, Ray Bailey, Wanda Walker — — with Eugene Chislenko facilitating, and Judy Morgan as note taker.

7 groups represented: All Together Now PA, Eastern Service Workers Assoc (ESWA), Extinction Rebellion Philly (XR), Neighbors Against the Gas Plants (NAGP), NW Philly Climate Action Network, Penn Environment, Ready for 100 Philadelphia (RF100 Philly)

Judy reported on conversations with Julie Greenberg of POWER, Bryan Mercer of the Alliance for a Just Philadelphia, and Mitch Chanin of 350 Philly. 

  • POWER Interfaith has an active campaign including canvassing that blends electoral work with demands on candidates to pledge to 1) no campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies and no new fossil fuel infrastructure if elected; 2) publicly express support for the vision of the Green New Deal. POWER welcome us to work with them.  They recognize the importance of a shared alignment among all the groups doing climate and justice work, and are planning a gathering in March to bring groups together to hammer this out.  
  • Also, POWER is working with the Office of Sustainability to setup a table for climate organizations to provide grassroots input.  Councilwomen Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks are also interested in forming some sort of Green New Deal caucus or network.  
  • The Alliance for a Just Philadelphia was formed to create a strong coalition for change in advance of the 2019 City Council elections – they had 1300 people at a meeting with candidates before the elections.  At this point they consist of 30 mostly neighborhood-based organizations, and decided to close membership because they felt they were as large as they could handle for now.  However, they are open to working with us, and definitely have energy/climate as part of their platform.
  • Mitch Chanin of 350 Philly strongly recommended that we focus on strategy as much as policy options, since any policy proposal is only as viable as there is public support for it.  He is trying to get some people knowledgeable about strategies that worked in NYC and elsewhere to give talks here in Philly.

In response to this update, Alex provided a description of what a focus on strategy would mean – that we would need to look at the big picture and what has worked elsewhere to see what overall direction to take.  For example, would we use door-to-door canvassing in targeted communities, or social media, or petitions, etc. Alex will be providing a two-hour workshop on developing strategies. This would be in cooperation with Rep. Kenyatta’s office, and likely the evening of Tuesday Mar 10th. All encouraged to attend that; details to follow via email.

Refinery update – PES is asking the federal judge overseeing the case to approve the Hilco bid, as that means an end to the refinery and potentially green uses of the 1300 acres.  Drexel’s Lindy Institute has been organizing visioning exercises to imagine how the land could be used, and this input will be presented to Hilco.  Hilco has a somewhat good reputation for green land uses – they built a wind farm elsewhere, for example.

Lynn & Meenal reported that incoming Council member Katherine Gilmore-Richardson, new chair of City Council’s Environment Committee, has invited a few members of environmental organizations for a ‘meet and greet’ next week.

Working Groups – There was considerable discussion about the concept of the working groups and whether there was consensus to move forward in this direction.  Alex provided a diagram of how the working groups would relate to a central coordinating group (hub).  Each group would meet on its own and send a representative to the hub meetings.  In this way, we could have many people involved in the areas they are most concerned about, with the hub meetings being an opportunity to give feedback, suggestions, and share updates in areas of overlap between the groups.  For example, the working group on power generation might want feedback on rooftop solar ideas from the buildings group.  And equity (social justice) and finances (how we fund transitioning to renewable) are examples of working groups whose work would affect all the groups.

There were many divergent views on how to proceed, but in the end it was decided to break into working groups for the evening and see how far we could get.  There were not enough people for the whole list of groups, but the following met, with a quick report-back, and made plans to reconnect by the next large group meeting.

  • Urban Agriculture, Trees – Wanda, Jeanne
  • Equity – Bernard, Ray, Pratima, Marilyn, Dita, Mujahid
  • Strategy – Judy, Lisa, Fareed, Frances
  • Power Generation – Brent, Dave, Freyda, Alex, Paula

Next Steps

  • All participants will be invited to a discussion group. This should make it easier to share updates and campaigns.
  • Our website has an Action! page where we can list current campaigns. Check it out! And please tell us of a campaign we’ve omitted!
  • The next meeting date of the whole group will be announced soon.

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