We scheduled many events for this project months in advance. At the same time we were scheduling events, we were also trying to figure out our bicycle route. As we rode towards Michigan, we realized that we didn’t have time to do the talk in Monroe and still get to Chicago on time for events there. So we utilized multi-modal transportation. This is a great term that means using more than one mode of transportation to reach your destination. A few cities offer good multi-modal transportation where you can, for example, ride your bike to the bus and put the bike on a rack and then bus across town before hopping on your bike again to reach your destination. Many cities need further work to make this a realistic form of transportation for people.
We looked into a train but soon found that this Amtrak line does not allow bicycles. Then Father Charles came to the rescue. Father Charles is a friend who helped to set-up our talk in Monroe. He was already heading to Grand Rapids for a conference and offered to give us a ride in his Honda Civic Hybrid. We caught a ride to E. Lansing which took 120 miles off of our route (no, we don’t count these miles in our total) and allowed us to reach Chicago in time for the group ride. We also had the opportunity to interview Father Charles and hear why he is so concerned about global warming and what he is doing about it.
Father Charles was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1983. In the 90’s he went back to school and got a masters degree in urban planning with a focus on environmental justice. His interest in global warming peaked due to three main things:
1. A woman in his parish challenged him to rekindle his interest in environmental concerns (again showing the impact one person can have);
2. Dr. James Hansen of Nasa gave testimony in 1988 about the emerging threat of global warming;
3. He read Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry.
Father Charles went on to start Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (and this how I met him – when I worked for the national organization). Michigan Interfaith Power and Light works with member congregations to educate people of global warming and find practical solutions. They help congregations save money with energy efficient products, work with congregations to find developers and contractors who can build with energy conservation and efficiency in mind and educate others about these solutions.
In his own Church, they invested $160K in things such as a much more efficient boiler, new lighting, energy efficient windows, and Energy Star appliances. The results were a 60% reduction of energy use and a savings of over $20,000 each year in energy costs. Results like these are possible for many homes and buildings by conducting an energy audit and implementing the findings.