The HIPL Community Gathered to Listen to our Keynote Speaker, Rahul Durai.

On October 10th, we gathered together under the picnic pavilion and black walnut canopy of Teter Retreat and Organic Farm in Noblesville, Indiana on the traditional homeland of the Miami people, who long cared for and cultivated the forests and rivers of Indiana. We gathered as a united statewide faith community concerned about climate change and environmental degradation in Indiana and beyond. Our Faith Climate Summit revolved around the theme of a just transition and explored the question: how do we understand, envision, and create a future that moves from extractive to regenerative and sustainable systems and leaves no one behind?

In the pursuit of answers to that question, we heard from HIPL’s Interim Executive Director, Dori Chandler who set the stage for our conversation. She made the bold appeal for us to interrogate the ways in which environmental and social vulnerability are connected, saying that, “There is a strong connection, a correlation even, between those most affected by the climate crisis and those least advantaged in other ways in our society… For all our benefit, we want to move away from resource extraction, consumerism, and exploitation.”

With that acknowledgement, Dori brought up our keynote speaker as we enjoyed specialty dishes from Black Leaf Vegan food truck and Brics ice cream. The keynote was delivered by Rahul Durai, a co-founder and climate organizer at the youth-led campaign, Confront the Climate Crisis. Rahul pointed us in the direction of hope that the power of the people can enact change from the ground up. He boldly concluded his speech by saying:

We are the movement that is fighting for the future of Indiana’s economy. We are the movement that is fighting for the lives of our people. We are the movement that is being led by young people across our state. We are the movement that has Indiana’s faith communities on our side. And, we are the movement that has some of the strongest grassroots people power that we have ever seen in Indiana history.

Rahul’s words ring true. As a community of different faiths coming from diverse communities spanning the range of urban to rural and liberal to conservative, we had gathered together under the common conviction to care for creation and for our neighbors. Our unique diversity and collective organizing power is undeniable.

Following this convicting keynote, I had the privilege of moderating our panel conversation that featured a diverse array of speakers including Sherri Duggar, Dr. Phil Sakimoto, Rev. Carlos Perkins, and Joe Bowling. Our conversation wound back and forth between agriculture, science, faith, and collective action. However, a strong consensus emerged from the panel on a critical component of climate action: community. The root of change really lies in community relationships of trust and care. Out of these meaningful relationships, we can mobilize our communities to act in the pursuit of a just transition and a sustainable future.

To conclude our summit, we had the opportunity to participate in that call to build community through activities and conversation together. During that time, I witnessed the buzzing energy of a community galvanized to continue learning from each other and acting together in the pursuit of a just and sustainable future. From my perspective, it was the best illumination of the road ahead towards a just transition in Indiana.