Approximately 35 people gathered to raise our voices together in song at the first climate vigil in northeast TN on Nov. 14th near ETSU in Johnson City. The event was co-sponsored by the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO) at ETSU, TN-IPL, the Green Interfaith Network, Inc. (GINI), and the Environmental Studies minor at ETSU.
The group stood near the new benches at the corner of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway on the edge of campus as the sun set, listening intently to prayers that were offered and joining in song and solidarity with others who understand the significance of human action (and inaction) as it affects the climate. Prayers were offered by Rev. Dr. Tim Ross, pastor of Hopwood Memorial Christian Church and by Dr. Mohamed Alzoubi, President of the Muslim Community of North East Tennessee (MCNET).
Several people brought instruments to accompany the group in a series of well-known songs that were selected for the first Earth Choir songbook. Emily Bidgood and Steve Church played their guitars and led the vocals. Following the final song, a minute of silence was offered, with candles held high, for personal reflection on our individual and collective impacts on the environment, our society, and the Earth.
The “Earth Choir” is the brainchild of Louise Gorenflo, a dedicated member of the TN-IPL Steering Committee from Crossville, TN. A similar program was presented in Knoxville on Nov. 18th, where Louise and others offered prayers and reflections to open the hearts and minds of those in attendance to the reality of climate change.
In response to that reality, TN-IPL is pressing TVA to adopt a 1% energy efficiency standard, which will reduce the need for additional power plants and enable TVA to close the oldest and dirtiest of the plants in its fleet.
More climate vigils are being planned for the greater Knoxville area and the TriCities region. Watch for further announcements in the new year!