Effective Climate Action

A CMC Sunday School exploring how our congregation engages as a community with effective actions to the many dimensions of the climate crisis.       

This Sunday school runs from Jan 15 to Apr 2. All are invited to join!

This Sunday school will draw on many people and materials as resources. A primary resource we draw on is Project Regeneration. Take time to explore this excellent resource outlining many ways that we can practically respond to the climate crisis.

Project RegenerationWebsite associated with the book we’re using for this class. An excellent and  extensive resource.
DrawdownAlso an excellent resource, rates and explains different climate solutions.
CMC carbon tax calculatorUse this to calculate how much you might want to contribute to CMC’s “carbon tax fund”.


Intro and Background

Jan 15: Session 1

Link to video recording

Join for a time to hear from CMCer’s who work with climate change and give you the top items on their “What everyone should know about climate change” list.  We will introduce the class, give a chance for you to ask questions and give input on what you want to hear about in this Sunday School.  

Facilitators – Doug Graber Neufeld, Wayne Teel

Powerpoint from this session, with some answers to questions

Project Regeneration
Climate opinion maps (US opinion by county on a variety of climate questions)
– Map of average US household emissions by county
Contributions  of different countries to total emissions over time.
Where do states get their electricity, and how has that changed over time?
Survey of global Mennonites on creation care attitudes and practices (see bottom of that story for links to all stories)

Jan 22: Session 2

Link to video recording

If you’ve ever felt anxiety, grief, or anger about what’s happening to our earth or guilt that you’re not doing enough, join us. It’s normal to experience “climate overwhelm” and guilt leads to paralysis or overaction and burnout.  Bring paper and pen as we’ll be doing a short exercise that helps us start “talking about it” which is an important first step in helping us move beyond concluding it’s “game over.”

Over the next two weeks, read pages 6-15 and 248-255 in , Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one generation by Paul Hawken.

Go here to purchase this book 

If you have limited time, here’s my suggested in order of priority:

Agency: pages 10 -11
Regeneration: page 9
Forward by Jane Goodall: pages 6 -7
How to use this book: pages – 12-13
Action + Connection: page 248-255
Reader’s reference guide: pages 15-16

Facilitator – Carolyn Yoder

Jan 29: Session 3

Link to recording of this session

This Sunday, we’ll continue looking at 7 ways to address climate overwhelm.  They are:

  1. Connect to your real feelings about what is happening.
  2. Connect to a bigger story that gives purpose, meaning and vision.
  3. Connect to news beyond the headlines and discover what makes you come alive!
  4. Connect with others to act on what enlivens—and stretches you.  
  5. Connect with the land and nature in regenerate ways.
  6. Connect by initiating conversations about the crisis.
  7. Connect with your faith in deeper ways.

Facilitator – Carolyn Yoder

Study guide for Kiss the Ground movie

Lament—crying out in grief and anguish to God, is a cathartic practice. The BTS Center in Portland, Maine, which grew out of the former Bangor Theological Seminary, holds five seasonal online event throughout the liturgical year called Lament with Earth. Click to register or access past events.

Strategic Inaction

Feb 5: Session 4

Link to recording of session

How do we move from a consumer society to a creation care society?  Change the emphasis from “stuff” to restoration. This speaks to our consumer society and fast fashion.  The biggest source of plastic in our environment is polyester, and the major source is clothing. 

Facilitator – Brian Burkholder

Resource people: Katherine Yoder, sustainable clothing production and reuse practices; Nathan Zook Barge, driving less; Jennifer Murch, food

Powerpoint from this session

In Regeneration, read:

Action and Connection, deciding what to do (248-254) Clothing (232 -236), wasting nothing (172-174). 

Watch: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard 

Resource for talking about transportation: Change in your Transportation Future


Feb 12: Session 5

Video recording for this session

Come for a session on waste management in the US, discussing some alternatives, and telling some stories about this topic. Jared will provide stats, trends, and action items for individual, community, and State/National action.

Facilitator – Jared Stoltzfus

Jared has a PhD in Sustainability with a focus on organic waste management, teaches environmental science courses at JMU, and oversees student research related to waste diversion from landfills.  He has a wide variety of interests related to sustainability and tries to find ways to implement them in his daily life, including living in a Net Zero, passive solar home.

Strategic Action: Drawing down carbon from the atmosphere and reducing emissions

Feb 19: Session 6

Video recording for this session

Facilitators – Anna Maria and Steven Johnson

Feb 26: Session 7

Video recording for this session

We’ll be acknowledging the destructiveness of agriculture in the past and present and looking at ways farming can heal our world and communities.  I will draw on my work growing vegetables on my farm (Friendly Neighbor Gardens) and how Lee Good raises animals (Cedar Heights Farm) in our community.

Facilitator – Stefan Hess

We’ll be drawing on material covered in Drawdown pp. 39-74. and Regeneration pp. 50-53, 68-74, 95-115, 130-133, 156-158, 171-191, 217-219

Mar 12: Session 9

Video recording for this session

Facilitators – Brent Finnigan, Earl Zimmerman 

Residential buildings consumed about 16% of the energy in the U.S. in 2021. Reducing energy consumption in buildings is crucial in the fight against global warming.
1. What is the impact of housing density on our carbon footprint per household? Brent Finnegan will be sharing what he’s learned about how zoning affects the carbon footprint of local residents.
2. What is the impact of residential buildings on our carbon footprint? Earl Zimmerman will be sharing about what he’s learned about energy smart buildings.

  • Regeneration, “Buildings” pp. 151-155
  • Drawdown, “Buildings and Cities” pp. 83-103.

See also Brent’s article in the Harrisonburg Citizen and Vishaan Chakrabarti Ted Talk: A vision of sustainable housing for all of humanity

Mar 19: Session 10

Video recording for this session

Panel – Nancy Heisey, Ben Wyse, Micah Buckwalter, Randall Reichenbach
Facilitator – Doug Graber Neufeld

This week we continue by looking at transportation. A panel of four speakers will tell us their stories of grappling with living in a world that is so dependent on carbon-intensive transportation.  What do these stories say about our options for creating a world with transportation options that are healthy and equitable?  Come with your questions and ideas on flying, driving, biking, walking…and all the other ways of getting around.

Pedal Power! Bikes as Life-giving Transportation: Ben Wyse on Wild Honey Collective podcast

Estimate your emissions from transport on the Regeneration carbon calculator

Regeneration and Drawdown have various aspects of transportation in their solutions lists.  

See the Drawdown solutions list for where transportation solutions fall in the list of most effective actions. 

See this document to learn more about carbon and ecological footprints.

Tying it all together

Mar 26: Session 11

Video recording for this session

Objective: To provide some perspectives and tools to help us understand how we can become engaged in the public policy process for reducing climate change at the local, state, and national/international levels

Process: Rick Yoder will introduce a public policy framework and some actions we can take to influence climate policy. This will be followed by four speakers leaving time for comments, questions and conversation.

Kathy Yoder – will describe her work at Vine & Fig, including connecting local farmers with area food insecure populations and promoting school composting and gardens.  She will also talk about how this work relates to larger movements at state and national levels that engage policy makers.

Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer – vice-chair of Environmental Performance Standards Advisory Committee (EPSAC) which is a committee working with Hbg City Council to shift more of energy production to renewables (is an example of something that began with concerned individuals who didn’t say “my efforts don’t matter”)

Brent Finnegan – who has been on Hbg Planning Commission for 6 Years – and now chair – and how their work feeds into decision making for the City Council and how we can engage with local decision makers.

Tim Jost – who’s worked at the national level, not on climate change but on national health policy. So the issue is different but the process is the same. He will give us some ways in which we can engage with decision makers at the national level.

Document with resources for public policy

Spheres of Influence diagram

Advocating for local change powerpoint

Kathy Yoder’s powerpoint

Well, what can I do handout

EPSAC powerpoint

Public Policy and climate change powerpoint

  • The Ezra Klein Show podcast: conversation with Bill McKibben: 11/15/22
  • The Argument podcast: Got Climate Doom? Here’s What You Can Do to Actually Make a Difference, with Genevieve Guenther and David Wallace-Wells on what matters and doesn’t in your personal fight against climate change. Wednesday, November 10th, 2021
  • The American form of capitalism is not going to help us solve the climate crisis. For alternatives see:
    • Raworth, Kate, (2017), Donut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.
    • Speth, James Gustave and Courrier, Kathleen (ed), (2021) The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed Economy, Routledge 2021
  • Megan K. Seibert and William E. Rees. “Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition”. https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/14/15/4508. This is, for some people, a dystopian view of what is required to beat the climate crisis, and for others, an accurate view of what is required.
  • https://vaipl.org/ – Virginia Interfaith Power and Light: a faith-based organization that follows closely legislative activities in Virginia including an emphasis on climate change issues
  • https://thirdact.org/: a movement for people over 60 that is targeting big banks that are the biggest lenders to the fossil fuel industry
  • https://www.sunrisemovement.org/: a movement for people under 30
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby group: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/

League of Conservation Voters, https://www.lcv.org/

Apr 2: Session 12

Video for this session

Facilitators – Panel, facilitated by Brian Martin Burkholder

A few links mentioned during the class this week:
A number of “road diets” have been proposed for major roadways in Harrisonburg. Let city traffic engineers and policymakers know you want more bike lanes in Harrisonburg. 
Survey link: