I’m writing this now from home in State College – hard to believe this adventure is over, it was such a whirlwind. We are so grateful to those of you who helped make it possible – we felt buoyed by your good thoughts and prayers and gratified by your continued outpouring of donations: we beat our goal of $3,000 for PA Interfaith Power and Light! That means 6,000 dollars, thanks to our matching grant from IPL national.
Our last day on the road was very pleasant –
Joyce made a cyclist’s dream breakfast of eggs Benedict and asparagus,
and we looked over maps while planning our final 35 miles into
Washington. Just as we prepared to leave for our lunch meeting in
Poolesville, though, Peter discovered his tire was flat again. Taking
the tire apart he found, much to the surprise of his thumb, a small wire
sticking through the tire. Good thing he has nine other fingers to play
piano for Bernadette Peters tonight …
We had a great
lunch meeting with representatives from local Presbyterian, Lutheran and
Reform Jewish congregations, and afterwards, Peter quickly dashed over
to the Presbyterian Church to have a look at their buildings. We are
going to miss Peter and his readiness to share his knowledge and
expertise so freely with others, but our loss is Maine’s gain.
day turned quite warm (an amazing contrast to the freezing weather we
had only a few days earlier), and we rode through some beautiful country
on our last leg to Washington. The concentration of wealth was
palpable, however, and the comparison with the poverty of Central PA
couldn’t be more striking. As the roads got busier and traffic more
annoying, we hit the old C&O canal towpath once again for our ride
in to DC. The going was slow, but seeing the Potomac river and the old
canal locks was pretty cool.
We rounded one bend and could
see the Washington monument, then a little farther on we glimpsed the
Lincoln Center and passed the Watergate hotel. Soon we were riding up
Independence Avenue and knew we had really arrived! We stopped briefly
at the King memorial and then rode by the Smithsonian, around the
Capitol building and to Reformation Lutheran Church, where Pastor Mike
Wilker was waiting for us with cold water and a warm embrace. We didn’t
stay for long, however, as we needed to connect up with Cricket (PA IPL
executive director) who had our “meeting clothes” for us and our
marching orders for the next day. Cricket was attending the Interfaith
Power and Light national conference at Gallaudet University, and as
people got wind of our arrival, they came out to greet us (see a short video clip linked from the national IPL Facebook page). Finally, Rev. Canon
Sally Bingham, founder of IPL, came out and gave us a real hero’s
welcome, beckoning us to bring our bikes right into the conference
center where about 100 IPL folks gave us a standing ovation!
and I stayed that night with Mavis and Rev. Phil Anderson, members of
Reformation Lutheran and wise in all things political, who helped
prepare us for our visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. We then joined
Cricket and Rev. Cheryl Pyrch (board member of PA IPL) and split into
two teams to cover as many offices as possible. Because Congress was in
recess we didn’t meet any actual members, but we were able to talk at
length with staffers in (so I am told) a much less hectic environment.
Many of our meetings lasted 30 minutes or more as we urged them to
support specific bills on energy efficiency (the U.S. government is a
huge landlord - let’s start by making these buildings energy efficient:
good for the budget, good for the environment!) and support new EPA
Clean Air rules. We spoke to Republicans and Democrats, seeking common
ground and trying to break the deadlock in DC.
Cricket’s great work, all of them had heard about our bike trip and
asked us about it. One staffer said to Peter: “we get a lot of people
talking to us about the environment, but they fly their planes here to
do it – you rode your bike in.” I think we really made an impression as
we spoke passionately about the many people in Pennsylvania choosing
between food and fuel, and about the people everywhere already suffering
the effects of climate change.
After a long day, we tied our
bikes to the rack of the car that Cricket drove down, piled in and
headed for home (watching all those hills whiz by with amazing speed).
We have a lot of experiences to process, many things to think through
and much work ahead of us. Without doubt it was a successful,
transformative experience and one that I hope we can repeat year after
year. Thanks for being a part of it!
Jon, Kris and Peter