Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth (ICEY) is a youth-led group of middle and high schoolers dedicated to climate action. They lead weatherizing teams, promote solar energy, discuss climate change with youth groups, and lobby their congressmen. Last year they organized an overnight youth empowerment event in Indianapolis. [iceybloomington.org/]

icey-logo

2/10, 2019, ICEY and Earth Care, Molly O’Donnell reporting –

ICEY MLK Day “Cook for your Community” event 

On January 22, 2019 two former members of ICEY –Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth– and four fellow Indiana University students held a well-attended MLK Day event “Cook for your Community.” Katherine Tilghman and Mara Flynn conceived of, planned and carried out the event in the hopes of interesting today’s middle and high school students in re-starting ICEY. Their own experiences in ICEY were life changing, and they hope to mentor a new ICEY group.

ICEY organizers Mara Flynn (left) and Katherine Tilghman (right) address middle- and high-school students on Martin Luther King Day. (Photo courtesy of Allan Edmonds)

Fifty-two youth attended the event. Each IU student led a team to prepare one of six vegan dishes. The youth got to taste the food before it was put into containers and taken to Community Kitchen. The youth learned that dishes with no meat or dairy taste good, are good for you and good for the Earth* and that helping less fortunate people in their community feels good.

Many cooks in the kitchen (Photo courtesy of Allan Edmonds.)

Several IU Journalism students interviewed attendees (the youth, and ICEY members and Earth Care members who were providing support) for a class assignment, so they learned about ICEY, Earth Care and SIREN.

A member of Sherwood Oaks neighborhood brought several youth. She was interested in learning more about ICEY’s projects, especially how they promoted Bryan Park neighbors to join a group buy of solar arrays, what became Solarize Bloomington.

Mara and Katherine will be hosting more events for teens in the near future and can’t wait to bring together more youth who are passionate about the environment. Please contact iceybloomington@gmail.com if you or someone you know is interested in joining an environmental youth group!

*Following a plant-based diet is one of the highest impact personal choices those of us in an industrialized society can make to help reduce global warming. Earth Care convener put together a document “Eating Lower on the Food Chain” which is available on the Earth Care website: http://www.earthcareindiana.org/

 

1/14/2019, ICEY and Earth Care

Students Teach Teens to Make a Difference in the Kitchen

Interfaith Community of Environmental Youth (ICEY) has announced a service project for Bloomington area youth on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Please spread the word.

  • What: A cooking workshop to teach teens fun, easy recipes and donate food to those in need (no cooking experience required)
  • Where: First United Church (2420 E 3rd St)
  • When: January 21st (MLK Day), 2PM to 4PM
  • Who: Youth ages 12-18 (or middle and high school students)
  • Why: Because we need to teach the next generation how to make changes that help those in need, both in Bloomington and in the worldwide communities affected by climate change.

Climate change, homelessness, and public health are worldwide problems, but the solution starts with individuals—especially young people. Middle and high school students (ages 12-18) are invited to First United Church for a fun, sustainable, and delicious hands-on service activity this Martin Luther King Day from 2-4 pm. We’ll discover and prepare a few easy, healthy recipes which we’ll then donate to Bloomington organizations feeding those in need—after we taste-test the food, of course!

On Martin Luther King Day, an inspiring day of nationwide service, teens across the country use the time off school to serve those in need. In this event, youth will not only make a difference in Bloomington, but also learn healthy lifestyle changes that have positive effects for the earth. As Dr. King himself declared, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

This hands-on service event is hosted and organized by ICEY (the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth) with support from Earth Care, a local interfaith environmental group. ICEY, a youth-run, youth-led group in Bloomington, wants to provide youth with knowledge and skills they can use to make sustainable changes in their daily lives. Mara Flynn, a student organizer for the event, says, “We can’t just wait for the government to take care of things and pretend we can keep living the way we’re living. We all need to make changes and start living responsibly.” Let’s start by cooking, eating, and donating some delicious food!

Contact for more information:

Katherine Tilghman
Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth
(812) 391-9514
katherinet1104@gmail.com

12/11/2018, ICEY and friends, Anne Hedin reporting –

The Time to Step it Up event on November 10 in the Monroe County Public Library was designed to bring new voices into the discussion of climate change solutions, springboarding off the Leonardo DiCaprio film, Before the Flood. It did – some.  But once again, most of those who showed up are already working on the issue. So the discussion focused on how to break out and cross over into the mainstream.

The organizers of this event are veterans of many ICEY initiatives over the years: Katherine Tilghman, Mara Flynn and Hans Kelson. They introduced the movie and invited the younger members of the audience to join ICEY. While the youth gathered to consider that possibility, the older members of the audience – most of them members of the sponsoring organizations, the Bloomington Friends Meeting, Earth Care, and Time to Choose – met separately.

Tilghman later said that it is still unclear whether ICEY will continue as an organization or focus instead on specific projects such as MLK day weatherization or gardening. The age spread among newcomers – evenly split between middle school and high school – is such that the group doesn’t have the social cohesion of the first ICEY cohort. In addition, the high schoolers belong to Y.E.S. (Bloomington Youth for Environmental Sustainability Society) already.

Getting beyond the choir

The challenge of getting beyond the choir is not unique to this event or to Bloomington. Here is one important takeaway from the film: It is “we the people” who need to be convinced to act. Politicians are not leaders, but followers. (Look at how Obama came around about gay marriage.)

Research shows that two things have to be communicated and broadly understood in order to counteract the effects of the disinformation campaign that the fossil fuel industry has sponsored for decades. They are:

  1. There is no scientific disagreement about the causes of climate change. It is caused by human activity.
  1. Climate change is happening now, and it affects everyone, not just “the poor” (though they are less able to cope with the effects).

There is plenty of readily available evidence to support both points, and they don’t all involve citing the IPCC report. Everybody knows about the recent  extreme weather events, and talking about the weather is a classic conversation starter. How about following up with a remark about what the insurance industry says about them?

In the roundtable discussion after the movie, Steve Vigdor mentioned actuarial data compiled by the reinsurance company Munich RE.  Vigdor chairs the legislative advocacy working group of the Concerned Scientists @ IU and writes the blog DebunkingDenial.com.  As the chart below shows, the frequency of severe storms, floods, droughts and fires with their attendant economic losses has tripled worldwide since 1980. Munich RE has a stake in mitigating climate change because they insure other businesses against casualty losses.

Vigdor suggested that the successful ozone campaign of the 80s might serve as a model for bringing about action on climate change by addressing the corporate self-interest and profit motive of business polluters. The ozone campaign reached a tipping point when the manufacturer DuPont got on board and announced that it was dumping CFCs. They did so only when they had an alternative product ready for market.

Phil Emmi added a local example of finding a profit motive that is a lever for change. The board of his homeowners association is looking into putting solar on HOA roofs (it owns them) and making a profit center out of that. Emmi pointed out that discussions among business leaders at an economic conference held in Paris in July 2015 paved the way for the passage of the Paris Climate Accord in December. (Phil and his wife Elaine attended the Paris Climate talks – Phil as an official delegate with Quaker Earthcare Witness, Elaine congregating with them, with Interfaith Power and Light attendees and Katharine Hayhoe. Big thanks to Phil and Elaine for donating refreshments to fuel our discussions.)

So one avenue to broadening the discussion is to engage directly with businesses. Write to the CFOs and ask “What are you doing to slow climate change?” “Are you doing R&D to find products that promote environmental health?” The business community responds to talk of money, jobs and risks. People often find out what’s really happening in the world through their jobs.

Four speakers shared the outreach programs of local groups. Christine Missik described the growth of Citizens Climate Lobby and its effectiveness in giving people hope for a solution. Molly O’Donnell described Pay It Forward, a fund established by Earth Care to help faith communities go solar. Darrell Boggess reported on how Solarize Bloomington and Solarize Indiana have changed people’s attitudes toward energy conservation. Anne Hedin reported on the first four installations completed by Indiana Solar for All and invited people to a fundraiser at Global Gifts. These programs are regularly covered in this newsletter, so will not be detailed here.

This brings us to what individuals can do in their daily lives to achieve the communications goals necessary to bring more people into this discussion.

Yale Climate Communications research has found that very few people ever have an ordinary conversation about any of this. That has allowed a climate of denial to continue. After all, how important can this issue be if no one ever talks about it?

Newcomer Laura Hanna emphasized consistency and repetition. “Just keep doing what you are already doing.  Work the message into everyday conversations, relentlessly.  Consistency and repetition is what changes behavior.  People are watching you and listening to you.  Don’t underestimate how many people will eventually truly hear it and how far they will spread it from there.”

Please don’t let our experience discourage you.  Movement on climate change has stalled but it will start up again if we keep at it.  If you want to organize a climate-related event, contact Madi Hirschland at mhirschland@gmail.com, TTCC can lend copies of Before the Flood and our namesake movie, Time to Choose, with discussion guide. Both movies are gut-wrenching but motivating.

 

6/13/2018, Call to Action

 

2/9/2018, Anne Hedin reporting for SIREN, ICEY and the MoCo Energy Challenge  –

Frankly, when ICEY first brought SIREN the idea of challenging the Elm Heights/Bryan Park neighborhood to double its solar density in a few months’ time, SIREN didn’t think the idea had a snowball’s chance in hell. The neighbors proved us wrong, and we wanted to thank them for that and for the momentum they unleashed. So on January 18 we threw the neighbors a party.

First, this is what the solar “snowball” looks like:

The neighborhood is Elm Heights/Bryan Park, where SIREN and ICEY organized the first local Solarize campaign in the summer of 2016. Some 30 neighbors opted in to the group-buy program which more than doubled the existing number of solar homes. They panels they installed added ~200 kilowatts of electric generating capacity.

The snowball got bigger. The Solarize Bloomington campaign kicked off in the first half of 2017 with the City as our partner. Then the scope was expanded in the second half of 2018 to include Monroe and the surrounding counties. These two phases added ~900 kW.

The cumulative total of ~1100 kW installed over 18 months is enough, dear friends, to keep 22.5 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the air over the warranty period alone of those systems. To get an equivalent carbon offset, you could plant 105,712 tree seedlings and let them grow for 10 years. But there is not enough room in our neighborhood. It measures less than one square mile.

Also in 2017, the City committed to adding 5 megawatts – nearly five times as much as the Solarize projects – on public buildings and parks. We don’t want to take any credit away from Mayor Hamilton for this achievement, but he personally went solar with that first group of neighbors. Just saying…

Back to the snowball… All the tools, processes and people power it takes to run such an initiative rolled up into Solarize Indiana. It got 65 more buy-ins in the second half of 2017 and is ready to launch its 2018 campaigns. The momentum continues to build.

It all began with a few individuals. It grew by the power of example.

The next time you hear someone ask, “What difference can one person make on climate change?,” think of the snowball.

Party, party!

Fourteen neighbors came to the party, some bringing rolls to go with the soup and dessert to put on the buffet. The atmosphere was a warm and jubilant contrast to the freezing and snowy night. Katherine Tilghman represented ICEY as she had during the original house parties in 2016. SIREN had three people present: me as host, Darrell Boggess to provide updates on legislative matters affecting solar owners, and Woodie Bessler to field technical questions that people brought with them.

Nolan Hendon and Ellen Bergan represented the Monroe County Energy Challenge (MCEC) and demonstrated the solar cars available upon request to teach children on the Energy Bus and in classrooms. SIREN always recommends that before you buy solar, you try to reduce the amount of energy you consume. MCEC shows people how to do that through its Task of the Month tips and numerous other resources.

This house party was sponsored by the Time to Choose Coalition; all three participating groups are members.  We asked our guests and we ask you to help in the following ways if you can.

PROTECT AND EXTEND SOLAR OWNERSHIP. Contact your legislators and voice your support for solar. Talk to people about Solarize Indiana (including Solarize Bloomington) and its 2018 group-buy programs; net metering is still available for 15 years. Contribute a testimonial about the process and benefits of going solar for use in publicity. Sign up for the SIREN email list to be kept up-to-date on issues and to participate in sharing information. Ask a SIREN volunteer or email contact@sirensolar.org for details or help with any of the above.

COMMIT TO USING LESS ENERGY AT HOME. Duke Energy and REMC both offer free home energy assessments upon request. This is a great way to identify easy energy and money savings opportunities. Duke Energy also offers small business assessments and cost-sharing opportunities for energy upgrades. Customers of both utilities can purchase name brand LEDs online at a significant price reduction. Using a smart or programmable thermostat can significantly reduce your heating and cooling bills.

GET YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVED, perhaps through ICEY or MCEC.

THANK YOU CONSIDERING OUR REQUESTS!

The members of these groups are people like you who believe that it is possible to keep the earth on a safe course if we all get together and act in our best interest.

Anne Hedin is the editor of the Time to Choose newsletter and a member of SIREN.

 

10/13/2017, ICEY, Molly O’Donnell reporting –

With members of St. Thomas Lutheran and Hans Kelson of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Earth Care is working on (literally!) rejuvenating ICEY. Including youth from seventh grade up would provide more continuity when older teens graduate. Two ICEY graduates who are IU freshman this year will mentor the new recruits, along with Kelson, a longtime ICEY volunteer. If you know someone who would be interested in joining, send an email to Molly O’Donnell. mollysod@gmail.com

The group is contemplating changing its name to the Indiana (formerly Interfaith) Community of Environmentalist Youth to be more inclusive. They aim to partner with the Monroe County Energy Challenge to do renewable energy demonstrations on the Energy Bus, among other things.

 

8/15/2017, ICEY – Anne Hedin reporting –

ICEY “signs” its work

Tamar Moss and Katherine Tilghman of ICEY paint yard signs for a tour of selected Bloomington homes whose owners they helped persuade to go solar. The self-guided tour is timed to coincide with orientation for IU students and their parents.

 

3/28/2017, ICEY – Anne Hedin reporting

ICEY wins the Be More Energized Award!

From left to right: Hannah Kasak-Gliboff, Katherine Tilghman, Nicholas Ford, Tamar Moss, Clarisse Gamblin

ICEY was nominated twice this year for a Be More Award offered by the City of Bloomington. They won in the Be More Energized  community youth category.

Their two nominators acted independently of each other and without consultation. One nomination came from Madeline Hirschland (the convenor of the Time to Choose Coalition) who had known the group since their formation in 2012. The other came from SIREN whose members had worked with ICEY on weatherizing and solar projects. Sections of their nomination statements are collated below, starting with Madi’s answer to the following questions.

What need do they serve?

Senior denominational leaders from across the faith spectrum have alerted their followers to the immense suffering that climate change will cause our global neighbors and future generations. Scientists report that record-breaking droughts, floods, and heat waves – like those Bloomington has experienced – are what climate change looks like.

Scientists note that human-caused carbon emissions are a root cause and warn that these phenomena will only get worse if we wait to act. In fact, Indiana’s heavy reliance on coal-fired electricity makes us one of the country’s highest per capita contributors to heat-trapping emissions. Nevertheless, many well-meaning Hoosiers avert their attention from this – perhaps because they see climate change as a matter of politics or feel hopeless about its enormity.

Seeing climate change as a moral issue, ICEY is responding. Acting on ethical and faith-based convictions, these Christian, Jewish, Muslim and unaffiliated teens overcome the partisan divide with their youth, practical actions and upbeat dedication. They motivate us to act and show us what we can do. ICEY radiates a sense of hope, efficacy, and fun  – qualities urgently needed to inspire Hoosiers to come together to address this threat to future generations, the species on earth, and the most vulnerable.

What impact have they had? What difference have they made?

ICEY’s trainings, actions and advocacy have affected hundreds of youth and adults. Specifically,

  • over 260 participants in three annual MLK energy conservation projects gained hands-on energy conservation skills and, in a fun and inspiring environment, could see that we all can make a difference.
  • 29 households in the Bryan Park-Elm Heights area are installing solar panels through the neighborhood project ICEY promoted. The city is replicating the project on a broader scale.
  • 53 households, two restaurants and three houses of worship received help that is reducing their day-to-day energy consumption. Members of these congregations will learn by example how to reduce at home.
  • 43 youth and six youth group leaders from across the state gained skills to develop an interdenominational environmental group, engage in advocacy and conserve energy in homes.
  • over 650 adults and youth to which ICEY has presented in person heard about the importance of climate action and could see that youth can lead on this issue.
  • 3 congress people and some of the HT’s 27, 500 readers hopefully were influenced to new thinking and action by meetings with ICEY, an op-ed it co-wrote, and the HT’s two front-page articles about ICEY.

That is a huge list! Any one of the bullet points is a story in itself. SIREN told one of those stories

Example: The Bloomington Neighborhood Solar Initiative

Last summer, ICEY members sought out SIREN – Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network – with an ambitious strategy to double the number of solar homes in the Elm Heights and Bryan Park neighborhoods. While SIREN organized a group buy program, ICEY members went door to door, evaluating homes for their orientation and suitability for solar, then explaining to homeowners how they could save money and reduce their carbon footprint. Their original goal was exceeded when 29 households signed on.

This Bloomington Neighborhood Solar Initiative became the model for the current City of Bloomington Solarize Campaign.  It added approximate 140 kilowatts of solar capacity, which will supply enough clean energy to prevent tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere every year for decades to come. 

Why do they deserve the award?

Readers have doubtless figured out the answer to this question, the last on the nomination form. This is a group of teenagers who have directed their own activities and poured a tremendous amount of time and hard work into service.  SIREN answered, “ICEY members have inspired both their peers and adults. We have more faith in the future because of them.”

Madi answered, “ICEY embodies what we hope for from the next generation – a willingness to take on a huge challenge, … the ability to identify the skills they need, seek training, partner with others in order to learn and do more,  … a natural bridging across diverse faiths through intense collaboration, humor, respect and a shared drive to heal the world, [and a shouldering of responsibility for the world outside themselves, both their own Bloomington community and beyond.”

We all wish these loving and beloved young members of our community great success as they go on to college next year.

Anne Hedin, editor of the Time to Choose Newsletter, edited this story.

 3/10/2017, Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth (ICEY) – Tamar Moss reporting

Our top priority at this point is securing the next generation of ICEY members before the seniors in our group graduate from high school this year. We are also planning to lobby this spring and get some new members to give it a try. During spring break in 2015 in Washington, DC, we received training in how to lobby legislators on environmental action from the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Other than that we’ll eventually be doing solar tours of the Bryan Park and Elm Heights neighborhoods, where we helped recruit 29 households to go solar last summer.