On September 26, 2019 over 60 teachers, parents, grandparents, and other adults and young people answered the call of youth climate strikers around the world and asked PECO executives a reasonable question: climate is changing, why isn't PECO? We expected an update on PECO's plans for addressing climate crisis and inequality in the region, but rather than answering us, PECO made it clear that its only plan is business as usual. Below are reflections from two EQAT members on the action.
If you're like me, you're inspired by young people across the globe, preparing to strike for climate justice.
I know I'm not the only one who feels called to follow their leadership.
As you likely remember, at the April 2019 Exelon Shareholder Meeting, members of the Power Local Green Jobs Campaign told you that we are under the moral weight of the climate crisis, which has killed people and will continue to kill hundreds of millions of people. We spoke about how climate catastrophe will compound existing racial and economic inequality, which as people of faith, we feel morally bound to fight. In fact, it was to address these interrelated crises that we began this campaign four years ago to challenge our electric utility, PECO, to use its considerable power in southeastern Pennsylvania to spur a just, solar energy transition in our region.
We can tell because we were informed late on Friday by PECO VP, Tony Gay, that PECO was cancelling a meeting we had scheduled with Exelon CEO, Chris Crane for today.
This past month, we sat down with PECO CEO Mike Innocenzo. This meeting was much like the meeting last month with PECO executives - where we were re-affirmed that PECO is thinking about our campaign and taking our presence more seriously than they have before.
On Tuesday, April 30th, EQAT members brought our truth and persistent demand for justice to Exelon’s annual shareholder's meeting, PECO’s parent company. Below are two stories on what some members bore witness to inside the meeting and what some members experienced while holding our space outside the meeting:
When I first moved to Philadelphia in 2010, EQAT was launching its first campaign, Bank Like Appalachia Matters. I'm a Quaker from the Appalachian region, and I had good friends involved -- it made perfect sense for me to join the campaign; but I didn't, despite numerous invitations. It felt too hard then to invest time, energy and hope in making change, for fear of the disappointment to come if the efforts failed. I was surprised at just how irrational and stubborn I found myself around this - against my own values!
You'll probably find something your EQAT experience has in common with Elizabeth Piersol Schmidt - she's been to general meetings and actions, served on core teams, kept up with the work and supported EQAT financially. One thing that Elizabeth appreciates about this work is the ability to come to actions with an attitude of joy and playfulness - that it's part of the resilience of the work, and the organization.
When Ellen Deacon discusses her commitment to EQAT today, she starts with recognizing the importance of understanding "on whose shoulders one stands." She traces the campaign today back through social change work and philosophies building and developing long before she was avidly watching the early conversations where EQAT began, at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sessions. She recalls A Quaker Action Group, AQAG, founded in the sixties - and the nonviolent direct action philosophy it built its approach on.
This past Sunday, I and a few other EQAT members attended The People’s Forum - a nonpartisan candidate forum hosted by Alliance for a Just Philadelphia and MLK D.A.R.E. Coalition.