Interfaith Walk for Green Jobs and Justice departs from North Philly Chapel
PHILADELPHIA- About 40 walkers took the first steps of a 100 mile journey for justice outside of Morris Chapel Baptist Church this morning, after a blessing from 9 clergy leaders. In a group ranging from millennials to great-grandparents, the walkers began a circle through PECO’s service area, moving between dirty fossil fuel plants to sites where solar jobs could build a bright future.
For over a year, the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER) have been focusing attention on PECO, the state’s largest utility, saying local solar installations could create thousands of jobs and save lives shortened by dirty air. They want PECO to get 20% of its electricity from local solar by 2025, prioritizing installations in areas like North Philadelphia and Chester where workers have been left behind. Now EQAT and POWER members are pounding the pavement through 5 counties to connect trailblazers who are already charting the way.
Solar produces more jobs per dollar than any other electricity source. Nationally, the industry already employs more Americans than coal and natural gas combined, but not in PA. The state ranks a dismal 43rd in solar jobs per capita.
Back on the corner of 12th and Lehigh, clergy and leaders from diverse congregations spoke about unemployment, electricity cut offs, and the lack of equal access to solar savings. Rev. Dr. Thompson of Morris Chapel revealed his congregation’s efforts to get solar panels for the church, train local youth installers, and save money for crucial community programs. Later in the day, the walkers stopped at Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation, who are building solar shelters over neighborhood parking lots to bring in revenue for the community.
“Every single day, folks tell me about struggling to support their families. They need jobs, not programs. It’s time to build a green city that works for all,” said Rev. Holston, Executive Director of POWER. “It won’t be easy, but PECO can change.”
The Walk for Green Jobs and Justice returns to Philadelphia on May 22, when national environmental justice leaders Bill McKibben and Bishop Dwayne Royster will join the last mile up to PECO headquarters.
Power Local Green Jobs is a faith-based economic justice campaign led by Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) and Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Begun in 2015, the campaign uses nonviolent direct action to pressure PECO, the largest utility in PA, to spur job growth through solar expansion in areas with high unemployment. Learn more at www.eqat.org and www.powerinterfaith.org.