Fossil Fuel Zombies on Parade

CAAV members paraded as Fossil Fuel Zombies for the Carnival de Resistance Power Down/ Lift Up! parade in downtown Harrisonburg on September 19, 2013. This is the story of the fossil fuel zombies:

zombie comic
This picture was created by Rebecca Laura for CAAV.

CAAV chairperson Les Grady joined representatives of the New Community Project,  the International Festival, Friends of Shenandoah Mountain and Occupy Harrisonburg with the delivery of this public witness statement at Court Square following the parade:

Climate scientists tell us that only a limited amount of carbon dioxide can be added to the atmosphere if we are to keep global warming within safe levels.  If we continue with “business as usual” we will reach that limit in 15 years.  Scientists also tell us that the more carbon dioxide we add, the warmer Earth will be.  A warmer Earth will have more severe weather, with negative impacts on agriculture, ecosystems, and people.  A warmer Earth will have more disease, more famines, and more conflict.  A warmer Earth will have a higher sea level, with adverse effects on coastal communities and the people in them.  There are no positives associated with a warmer Earth!  The only way to limit the warming is to limit carbon dioxide emissions.  The only way to limit emissions is to stop bringing long-dead plants and animals, fossil fuel zombies, back to life.   Instead, we must leave them in the ground!  We must switch to alternative energy systems.  This will not be easy.  This cannot be done overnight.  But, it must be done.  We must start now.  This is the transformation we are called upon to make.  Keep fossil fuel zombies in the ground!

Fossil Fuel ZombiesIMG_0732 (Copy)
“On the steps of the Courthouse …Les spoke of the urgent necessity to leave the fossil fuels in the ground and not allow Big Oil to reanimate them.  At which point we zombies disrobed, planted an RIP tombstone on the zombie remains and left flowers.” – Joni Grady

Find more photos of the fossil fuel zombies taken by Diana Woodall in this Picasa web album:

Fossil Fuel Zombies on Parade Sept. 19, 2013

Eastern Mennonite University’s Chris Edwards documented some of the Carnival’s 10 days of activities in Harrisonburg here.

JMU’s Lifelong Learning Institute Class on Climate Change this Fall

five Cs updatedDelve deeper into the issues surrounding our human population’s foremost challenge! Sign up for this class taught by CAAV’s steering committee chairperson Les Grady.

F13B11 – The Five C’s of Climate Change: Causes, Consequences,Communication, Conflict, and Choices

Thursdays, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
October 17, 24, 31; November 7, 14
Room 201, National College, 1515 Country Club Rd., Harrisonburg

Description: Global temperatures are increasing, ice is melting, sea level is rising, and weather patterns are shifting and becoming more erratic.  Climate change is the greatest challenge ever faced by humankind, yet the response to it has been inconsistent with the probable consequences.  We will explore why by first examining what science tells us about the causes and how our collective response can shape the impacts on both human and natural systems.  We will then examine how our personal values and reaction to alarm influence our individual responses to the message science is sending, leading to possible conflict.  Finally, we will investigate potential solutions to the problem of climate change and ways they might be implemented.
Instructor:  Leslie Grady Jr., draws from his long career as an environmental engineer and scientist in academia and industry, and from years of climate change study, to offer clear, graphic explanations and insights into the “Five C’s of Climate Change.”  Since moving to Harrisonburg in 2010, he has been an active member of the speakers’ bureau of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley.

Find registration information here.

Find our facebook event page for this here.


five cs cover slideThe Five C’s of Climate Change class slides

October 17 class slides are here: Oct 17 – Causes – 6 slides per page

October 24 class slides are here: Oct 24 – Causes – Continued – 6 slides per page

October 31 class slides are here: Oct 31 – Consequences – 6 slides per page

November 7 class slides are here: Nov 7 – Conflict and Communication – 6 slides per page

November 14 class slides are here: Nov 14 – Choices – 6 slides per page

Christian Science Monitor on-line article: Energy efficiency: How the Internet can lower your electric bill

(to make slides larger on your screen, pressing the “Ctrl” key and “+/=” key simultaneously may help)

CAAV Members Attend Biden Rally in Richmond 6/29/13

CAAV at Biden Rally 6.29.13
CAAV members Carl Droms, Charlie Strickler, Adrie Voors, Cathy Strickler, Dennis Atwood and April Moore all contributed to the rally organized by CCAN and

Press Release from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network 6/29/13:

Keystone XL Activists Greet Vice President Biden in Richmond

Richmond, VA — As Vice President Biden arrived in Richmond tonight to address a Democratic Party of Virginia fundraiser, climate activists greeted him with one message: “No Keystone XL pipeline.” Biden, who will deliver the keynote speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, was met by anti-pipeline yard signs on his route to the Convention Center and his motorcade drove directly past about 70 climate activists lining the streets outside of the venue. Protesters called on the Obama administration to reject the tar sands oil pipeline in order to protect Virginians from rising seas, extreme weather and other intensifying climate change impacts.

Photos from the event can be accessed at

President Obama committed in a major speech this week to reject the Keystone XL pipeline if it will increase the carbon emissions causing climate change, which the nation’s leading climate scientists conclude it will. President Obama’s speech arrived on the heels of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine’s announcement that he’s opposed to the pipeline, published in a Washington Post op-ed on June 21. As Senator Kaine’s car drove into the event tonight, he gave a friendly wave to the activists.

“Folks in Norfolk and Virginia Beach are already seeing the effects of climate change at their doorsteps. Rising temperatures cause rising seas and more severe storms to flood coastal homes and small businesses,” said Keith Thirion, Virginia Field Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Burning through more and more polluting sources of energy, like Canada’s tar sands, will only increase the risks for coastal Virginia.”

Carrying banners that read, “Virginians Against the Keystone XL Pipeline,” and chanting, “Joe Biden raise your voice, reaffirm your keystone choice,” the rallyers worked to grab the Vice President’s attention as his motorcade drove into downtown. Several local citizens spoke at the rally, calling on Vice President Biden to reaffirm a comment he shared with a Keystone XL fighter at a South Carolina fish fry when he replied to her question regarding his stance on the pipeline, “I’m with you, but, I’m in the minority.”

Young Democrats inside the dinner also voiced their disapproval of the pipeline by wearing “No KXL” buttons.

April Moore, a local activist who spoke at the rally, highlighted the significance of the event: “President Obama just made a commitment to us this week that if Keystone will contribute to climate change, he will reject it. We are here today to make sure the Administration knows that the pipeline would have disastrous effects on our climate, especially here in Virginia. We hope Vice President Biden will bring back our message to the White House: Virginians want to stop the Keystone pipeline.”

Over the last two years, Virginians have contributed to the national movement to stop Keystone XL pipeline by holding more than a dozen events highlighting the climate risks the commonwealth faces. The fight against the pipeline has energized millions of Americans who see the issue as a test of the Obama administration’s commitment to dealing with the climate crisis. For the past several months, activists have met President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Kerry at nearly all of their public events and demanded that the President keep his promises on climate change by rejecting the permit for the pipeline.

Saturday’s rally was organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Energy Action Coalition, and

Cathy beside another rally participant
Cathy beside another rally participant
Carl and April at Biden Rally 6.29.13
Carl and April take a turn on the “pipeline”
Dennis and April at Biden Rally
Dennis and April

Walk For Our Grandchildren

Tipping Point (2013 Walk For Our Grandchildren) from Jay Mallin on Vimeo.

Featured in this video, CAAV founder Cathy Strickler participated in the 60 mile Walk For Our Grandchildren from Harpers Ferry, WV to the White House July 22- 27.


walk.2CAAV members Cathy and Charlie Strickler will be among the 100 concerned climate activists walking 60 miles from Harpers Ferry, W.V. to the White House July 22-27 “to tell President Obama and other policy makers that enough is enough. We must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground. We demand climate action now! ” Please consider joining them for all 6 days or any single day of the walk.

from Greg with the Walk For Our Grandchildren organizing group:

I admit it’s a bit odd. Climate change is daunting—rising temperatures, extreme weather, powerful political and economic forces which work against finding solutions—and I’m proposing to do something about this by taking a walk? It wouldn’t surprise me to have someone point and laugh, but there’s more going on with this Walk For Our Grandchildren than meets the eye.

I used to be isolated. I’d sit in front of a computer screen and read scientists’ predictions about the consequences of carbon pollution and I’d feel so low, not just because the predictions were depressing, but also because it seemed no one was paying attention. It was difficult to talk about, to be that guy who brought it up to friends and family, at work or at church. Good, otherwise emotionally healthy people have filters in place to screen the stuff that is depressing or scary, and especially if they feel like there’s nothing they can do about it, anyway. For a long time, climate change was simply getting caught in the filters.

But that’s been changing. At some point in the last few years I feel like the tiny little trickle of awareness I had about the enormity of the climate challenge became one tributary to a gathering river of people. These folks aren’t just worried or wringing their hands, either. Like any good river, they’re moving. We’re taking action. I’ve even learned how to do it myself and it’s actually not so hard. You just empty your hands, setting aside a few parts of your life for a moment to ready yourself for work that needs doing. Then you think about what you love and want to protect, you roll up your sleeves, and you wade in.

I’ll be walking on this Walk with one of the things I love, my fourteen year old daughter, Anna. She and my son, Will, are reason enough to make any sacrifice I need to make in order to know they’ll live lives safe from catastrophic climate disruption. But the reasons I’ll walk don’t end there. I’m a public school teacher who just completed his first year in the classroom. Unlike my own kids who’ve grown up with a daddy who rambles at the dinner table about Keeling curves and ocean acidification, my students are as yet largely and blissfully unaware of such things. And I don’t begrudge them that. I love it when they shyly tell me of their dreams of becoming a marine biologist, a nurse, or a chaplain. It didn’t take many days in my new job for me to realize that the least part of my calling is teaching them algebra. My real job is leaving them a world in which such dreams as they have can still come true.

Here, to me, is the meaning of this Walk:  it’s not about what will be said by us, or about us, or how someone important will pay attention and do what we ask with respect to the Keystone XL, or how our voices may get lost in the clamor of the moment. It’s that I’m marking a moment in my personal history when my intentions began to align themselves with my knowledge and my convictions. It’s about marking a larger historical moment, based not on wishful thinking but rather on mounting evidence, that a critical mass of my fellow citizens are on a similar path. Protest is a word that doesn’t even begin to capture the seriousness of my intent. I am walking because I mean to leave behind a time when I was the willing and pliant accomplice to corporate ecocide. I and those I’ll be walking with intend much more than what our sweaty, sunburned faces will suggest we’re capable of.  Using the proven power of nonviolence in action, we aim to dismantle those institutions and petty, profit-grubbing kingdoms which entertain such insanity as part of their agenda.

We’re not fools. We know it won’t happen on July 27, 2013 when we reach the White House. But our journey doesn’t end at the White House. Yet neither will it extend far into some far flung, quasi-mythical future of human perfection. Because we understand somewhat the physics of greenhouse gases on a warming planet, we also understand the rules of this game. Like the fossil fuel mega-corporations which are the principal architects of our climatic ruin, we know we’ll be going all in. Win or lose, we’ll be laying down our cards very soon. So that’s why I’m walking. I’m building the hand that we’re going to play.


walk meetingHello All,

As climate activists, it’s easy to feel hopeless in the face of reality.  The saving grace is that we don’t know what future developments will be and how they will affect the climate crisis.  Our job is to push the public into activism, just like us.  To do that we need to increase the strength of our work.

There is a place and plan where we can do this.  You may have already heard of the Walk for Our Grandchildren that is planned for July 22nd-27th, going from Harpers Ferry to DC, 60 miles. (A small group will have already walked from Camp David to Harpers Ferry but that leg of the walk can’t easily accommodate a large number of hikers).

This event is being sponsored by CCAN and and is very well organized with lots of support built in.  CAAV thought it would be helpful to have a local meeting of those who like the idea but who are wondering if the logistics are too complicated and so might decide not to attempt it.

By getting together we can all look at the plan and see how we may want to participate and possibly team up with others for a one or more day hike.  Even one day will help swell the numbers.

Gandhi had his 240-mile salt march to the sea in 1930 for Indian independence from Britain.  This event is for energy independence from the strangle hold the fossil fuel companies have on our grandchildren.

The Walk for our Grandchildren organizational meeting will be Tuesday, July 2nd at the Massanutten Regional Library, downtown Harrisonburg at 7:00 PM.

We hope you can come.  Many of us marched in Harrisonburg when Sen. Warner was here.  Now it’s time to take all the energy we have to march to Washington, many steps in an even longer journey.

Find more details about the walk including route and registration information here.

Following the meeting, please join us as we cross the street to watch a 16 minute segment of the movie A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet at Clementine’s Ruby’s Lounge. We look forward to finding some inspiration in this short review of the climate change movement and how far it has come.

With gratitude,

Legislative and Elections Committee


Request for Original Art Reflecting Climate Chaos

photo by Jason Lenhart/ DN-R
photo by Jason Lenhart/ DN-R

Candace Sipos covered Art <=> Climate Chaos: the Artist’s Response for the Daily-News Record on November 7, 2013, here: DNRonline _ Climate Chaos.


Mail Art
John Bell’s “Shadow of Doubt”, Mail Art, and Joni Grady’s “UK Meteorological Office Calls Emergency Meeting”
Feather in His Cap
Janet Lee Wright’s “Feather in His Cap”

Ralph Bolgiano stands in front of the electric boxes on his house that connect 17 rooftop solar panels to the grid. He and his wife, Chris Bolgiano, local environmentalist and self-proclaimed “Mildly Amusing Nature Writer,” went 100% solar in 2008. Nine sealed lead acid batteries in the basement provide power when the grid goes down. (Go solar!) (The title refers to both a literal and figurative description.) – Janet Lee Wright

little log
Bonnie Stutzman’s “Unbuttonwood”, along with pieces by Jordan Kennedy, Lynda Bostrom, and Les Grady
Les Grady's fused glass "Atmosphere"
Les Grady’s fused glass “Atmosphere”

This piece was patterned after a NASA image of sunset over Earth taken from the International Space Station in 2008 (

Earth’s atmosphere is seen against the cold, dark void of space. The lower, lighter layer is the troposphere, where we live. It is 10 miles high and is where the greenhouse lies that regulates Earth’s temperature. Without that greenhouse, the average temperature on Earth would be 0°F, hardly a welcoming place for life. Because water vapor is responsible for about half of the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide plays a critical role by regulating the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, thereby preventing the greenhouse from collapsing. However, as the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increases, the greenhouse effect becomes stronger and Earth gets warmer.

The motivation for this piece was to remind us just how thin our atmosphere is.  We truly live in a tiny bubble that protects us from space. As we emit more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere we run the risk of raising Earth’s temperature above the optimal zone in which civilization developed.  I hope all viewing this piece will realize just how fragile our home on earth is. – Les Grady


Thanks to everyone who submitted artwork!

Come to the opening at Ruby’s on Friday, November 1 from 4-6 PM!


call for entriesDriven by man’s overuse of fossil fuels, the world’s climate is changing in many ways.  When you as an artist read about floods, drought, huge wildfires, record-breaking heat, or ocean acidification, and see the devastation wrought on the natural world, as well as on human life, as it comes over television and the internet, how does it impact you?  Do you try to envision a better future; do you mourn what’s lost? And how do you respond through your art?

These are the two-way questions that the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is asking you to address in your entries for                 ART ↔ CLIMATE CHAOS                            – an art exhibit at Clementine Café‘s downstairs Ruby’s Lounge for the month of November 2013.  Personal reactions to the threat of climate chaos are often emotional, and are an essential component of what we learn and wish to pass on to others. Art can convey our emotional responses to this crisis, and we invite you to submit your original work to provoke the viewer as well and raise awareness.

All entries are welcome, but space is limited. CAAV Show organizers will accept up to 30 entries depending on the size of the works. Art pieces should be able to hang flat against the wall.

To enter a piece for Art ↔ Climate Chaos:

1. Submit up to three pictures of your original art work, its dimensions, and your contact information by October 10th to:

  • Lynn Smith ( if you have a Mac computer) at tracksmith[at],
  • Joni Grady at jonigrad[at] or
  • Cathy Strickler at 1225 Hillcrest Dr., Harrisonburg, VA 22801.

2. If your work is accepted you will be notified by October 17th.

3.  All artwork must be ready to hang from wire or other something similar: all photographs and drawings must be matted and framed and have a hanging system attached; paintings on stretched canvas or other medium should have wire or other hanging system attached.

4. Deliver your art to the home of:                                                                                      Cathy and Charlie Strickler                                                                                               1225 Hillcrest Dr., Harrisonburg, VA 22801                                                                  between Thursday, October 24 and Sunday, October 27.

Include with your artwork:

  • Your signed Liability Waiver below – (click for stand alone page to print)
  • A label attached to the work which includes:
    • your name
    • the title of the piece,
    • the medium used, and
    • the price if you intend to offer it for sale. Selling art is between you and the purchaser, so please include contact information on the label for customers’ convenience.
  • A brief statement relating your work to the theme of the show.

5. Installation of the art by CAAV and the juror will take place on Monday, October 28 from 12 noon -4 PM . It will be taken down on Monday, December 2.  You may pick up your art at Clementine between 10 AM and 12 noon on December 2, or pick it up from the Stricklers’ home after this time.

exhibit invitationOpening reception for the Show is on Friday, November 1 from 4-6 PM (please note this time change from the original 5-7 PM time). You are invited! Please invite others to attend!

If you have any questions about this Show and/or this information, please contact:

  • Lynn Smith at 540-746-8183 or tracksmith[at] or
  • Joni Grady at 864-350-8972 or jonigrad[at]


Liability Waiver:
While Clementine does everything they can to best preserve your piece(s) and to keep guests from tampering with artwork, neither they nor the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley are responsible for theft or damage to your artwork during the month long show.  We will work to avoid this scenario and ensure all work is securely hung and lies flat on the wall.  We or Clementine will contact you immediately if any of your pieces need attention.

By signing below you agree that to this waiver of responsibility for Clementine and the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley.

Artist Name:___________________________________________
Artist Signature:________________________________________
Date Signed:__________________


A printable trifold version of this information is available here (outside) and here (inside).

Check out CAAV member and passionate Mail Artist Judith Hollowood’s call for Climate Chaos mail art through her newly launched Climate Change Mail Art blog. “If you’re worried about climate change and you make mail art, this blog is for you. If you’re worried about climate change and are curious about mail art, it’s for you, too.” This is a fun way to contribute to the ART ↔ CLIMATE CHAOS  show! Premieres “Do The Math” Film on Earth Night

Do The Math film trailer
Join us for a Sunday, April 21, 7pm free showing of this film at the Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalist Building, 4101 Rawley Pike. Light refreshments available at 6:30.

On Sunday, April 21st — what they’re calling “Earth Night” — will premiere a film about their work and growing movement.

Featuring and named after the big tour conducted across the country last fall, Do the Math is a 42-minute documentary about the rising movement to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis and challenge the fossil fuel industry … an inspiring, beautiful, and fast-paced story that shows the power of the growing climate movement.

On the night of April 21st, people will gather in hundreds of living rooms and libraries across the country for the premiere of the movie.

Be in that number here in Harrisonburg, Sunday, April 21, 7PM!

In the Unitarian Universalist Building, 4101 Rawley Pike, Harrisonburg

Meet and join other interested people to find out the facts that will answer your questions and support your thinking into action! Our numbers are growing and we want you to be a part of our movement. Come at 6:30 for a social with light snacks.  Do the Math screening is at 7 PM. At 8 PM there will be a 30 minute live streaming panel of climate experts from New York City. Together we find strength and comfort and build trust. FREE

location of HUU
click on the image to find directions with Google maps

April 21st is one day before the end of the State Department’s public comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline — comments will be collected and submitted.

Courageous Leadership: Civil Disobedience and Climate Disruption

tar sands action 2013
photo by Chesapeake Climate Action Network

A community forum preceding the screening of Bidder 70 at CST on Earth Day

Who: Sponsored by the Virginia Sierra Club’s Shenandoah group, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, and iMatter: Kids vs Global Warming.  Special guest speaker will be Allison Chin, President of the Board of the National Sierra Club.

What: A panel discussion held in conjunction with the showing of Bidder 70.  The film follows Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student, who on December 19, 2008, in a dazzling act of civil disobedience, derailed the outgoing Bush administration’s illegal Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction.  The panel will address the history of civil disobedience in the United States in general, and the reasons for its recent adoption by protestors against the forces behind global warming, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar sands crude oil and mountain top removal coal mining.

When: Before the 9:00 PM showing of Bidder 70:  7:30 – 8:40 PM
Introductions by moderator, Les Grady
7:35-7:55 PM Allison Chin, President of the Board of Directors of Sierra Club
7:55-8:00 PM  iMatter youth climate activist Grant Serrels
8:00-8:10 climate and mountain top removal activist Lara Mack
8:10-8:40 Q&A, moderated by Les Grady, Chairman of Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
8:40-9:00 Break and networking.

Where: Court Square Theater, 61 Graham St., Harrisonburg

Cost: Included with $6.00 admission to film showing

Why:  After endless and unsuccessful lobbying, demonstrations, and marches, many climate activists have begun to wonder if civil disobedience is the only way to get the attention of legislators and a public too distracted by other matters both large and small and reluctant to make necessary changes. In the long list of historic reasons for civil disobedience in the US, which range from an unjust tax on tea to slavery and Jim Crow laws, civilization-killing climate change looms larger than all the rest.  The stakes are too high and the time for action too short.

Questions?  Contacts:    Ralph Grove, Sierra Club, 540-433-1323
Joni Grady, CAAV, 540-209-9198
Cathy Strickler, CAAV, 540-434-8690
Valerie Serrels, iMatter,  540-405-9201

Find this event on facebook here.

The Daily News Record’s Candace Sipos reported on this forum in an April 26, 2013 article: Environmental Panel Discusses Civil Disobedience, JMU Alumna One of 12 Arrested in Protest  A DNR subscription is necessary to view this article.


Downtown Harrisonburg Rally against the Keystone Pipeline

CAAV collaborated with, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Kids vs. Global Warming/ iMatter Campaign and other local groups to stage a public rally around Senator Warner’s visit to Harrisonburg on Wednesday, March 27. WHSV rally video

On March 22, 62 Senators, including Virginia’s Mark Warner, voted for a resolution supporting construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Sen. Warner chose to stand with the oil industry, rather than the thousands of Virginians that have worked so hard to stop this project. In CAAV chairperson Les Grady’s words, we urge Sen. Warner to: “Please think again about your decision and help us work to reduce CO2 emissions before we condemn our children and grandchildren to a much less hospitable world.”

The Daily News Record‘s Alex Rohr covered the downtown march and meeting with Warner’s chief of staff Luke Albee:

Time Is Melting Away

Pipeline Protesters Crash Visitor’s Party To ‘Hold Him Accountable’

Daily News Record   Posted: March 28, 2013


Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., discusses environmental matters with protesters along Harrisonburg’s Main Street on Wednesday. The protest focused on the Keystone XL pipeline, but the 70 or so people who rallied during Warner’s visit to the Friendly City regarded it as just the centerpiece for broader environmental concerns. (Photos by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., discusses environmental matters with protesters along Harrisonburg’s Main Street on Wednesday. The protest focused on the Keystone XL pipeline, but the 70 or so people who rallied during Warner’s visit to the Friendly City regarded it as just the centerpiece for broader environmental concerns. (Photos by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — A long row of signs, banners, flags and hand-held windmills wound around in circles on Main Street Wednesday afternoon, waving to get the attention of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who was meeting with entrepreneurs in downtown Harrisonburg.

“We’re here today to make sure that we can reach Warner and hold him accountable for his actions supporting the pipeline,” said Emily Heffling, Virginia campus organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

By actions, Heffling meant Warner’s vote on a nonbinding budget amendment made by the Senate on Friday expressing support for the Keystone XL pipeline. The resolution passed easily on a 62-37 vote.

The proposed $5.3 billion pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through America’s heartland to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Hey, Senator Warner, the planet’s getting warmer,” the protesters chanted as they marched, one dressed in a polar bear costume with a sign that read “Time is melting away.”

When a coalition of 22 Virginia residents visited Warner’s office to lobby against the pipeline before the vote, they were told they’d receive a response within a week, said Heffling and Kara Dodson of

This statement was not confirmed with Warner’s representatives.

“He didn’t [respond] …  so we’re back,” Heffling said. “And we’ll keep coming back until he rejects the pipeline.”

And they came back with muscle.

Environmental protesters prepare to march along Main Street as they make their statement about Sen. Mark Warner’s support of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Warner, D-Va., was in Harrisonburg for an entrepreneurs’ roundtable.
Environmental protesters prepare to march along Main Street as they make their statement about Sen. Mark Warner’s support of the Keystone XL pipeline project. Warner, D-Va., was in Harrisonburg for an entrepreneurs’ roundtable.

“The Keystone pipeline’s got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho,” the chanting continued.

About 70 protesters, including members of climate action groups Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, the Shenandoah Group of the Sierra Club, and Kids vs. Global Warming/iMatter Campaign, didn’t leave until they got a response from their senator.

When Warner pulled up in front of Ruby’s, the basement lounge below Clementine Restaurant on South Main Street, he talked with marchers for a few moments before going to the scheduled business roundtable with local entrepreneurs.

Warner said he voted for the amendment because of the results of an updated U.S. State Department environmental impact statement, which concluded the pipeline’s effect would be minimal because the oil sands would be developed with or without Keystone.

President Barack Obama denied a permit for  the pipeline’s construction in  January 2012, citing environmental concerns over the pipeline’s proposed route. He did sign an executive order allowing the southern portion of the pipe from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast to be built.

While Warner didn’t stay long to chat, he sent his chief of staff, Luke Albee, to talk with the protesters across the street at Massanutten Regional Library.

“I am your response,” said Albee, who listened to the concerns of a room filled with residents of Harrisonburg, Broadway, Mount Crawford, Penn Laird, Dayton, Grottoes, Bridgewater, Keezletown, Charlottesville and Richmond.

At their own roundtable discussion, albeit last-minute, protesters said their march was not just about this particular stretch of proposed oil pipeline, but about switching to sustainable forms of energy, including wind and solar.

“The Keystone XL pipeline is important for what it is and what it represents,” said Les Grady, part of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s organizing body. “We are so addicted to fossil fuels that there are no limits to where we will go in getting them.”

Grady explained that the tar sands oil is particularly unfriendly to the environment because of the energy required to make it usable.

One concern that protesters practically shouted at Albee was their accusation that the State Department study was performed by a business with financial ties to TransCanada, the company wanting to build the pipeline.

“It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse,” said Herbet Fitzel of Chester, who came to Harrisonburg as a volunteer with

In the wake of widespread social media protests against the pipeline, some people at Wednesday’s march said it was important to show up physically.

“Anybody can push a button,” said Annie Long who works at Little Grill. “I wanted to be in a physical body here.”

“You elect people and if you don’t push what you elected them for, then they have their own agenda,” said Elise Benusa, a JMU senior in the international studies program. “You can’t just sit back, complain about it, and not get your hands dirty.”

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or

View rally photos by CAAV steering committee member Pete Mahoney in this Picasa web album.

Warner Rally, March 27, 2013

Extreme weather: Who Plans, Who Pays?

April forum flyer.5
Everyone is invited to CAAV’s next FREE public forum!

On Thursday, April 11, at 6:00PM at the Massanutten Regional Library, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) invites the public to consider the necessity of regional planning for the increased likelihood of extreme weather brought on by climate disruption and the costs that result from both adaptation and inaction.

Over the past several years we’ve seen an increase in weather-related disasters, from named storms like Katrina and Sandy to widespread droughts, floods, and wildfires. While the direct connection to climate change can’t be proved in each instance, the trend toward more of the extreme weather events that climate scientists have predicted is being realized, along with a dramatic increase in claims on both private and federal insurance. In fact, the Government Accountability Office has for the first time included climate change in their annual High Risk Report, calling on Congress to limit the federal government’s fiscal exposure by better managing climate change risks.

The program will begin with a review of the GAO report by CAAV Chairman Les Grady and a short video illustrating the risks facing the Virginia coast from sea level rise and extreme storms. Following this, two experts representing local insurance and planning groups will address our increasing vulnerability to all the costs of severe weather and how we can all work together to create climate change resilience in the Valley.

Neal Menefee is President and CEO of the Rockingham Group of insurance companies whose predecessors have been insuring valley properties for over 150 years.
Rebecca Joyce is program administrator for Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission where cooperative solutions to problems are addressed through regional efforts and partnerships with local jurisdictions and other stakeholders.

There will be time for discussion and questions at the end.

Forum Discusses Faith-Based Responses To Climate Change

forum panelists Ann Held, Ross Erb, Ehsan Ahmed, and Mark Piper
forum panelists Ann Held, Ross Erb, Ehsan Ahmed, and Mark Piper
reprinted with permission from the Daily News-Record
posted March 4, 2013
by Alex Rohr

HARRISONBURG — God made man, according to the Bible, and He gave him dominion
to till the Earth.

People the world over have used these words from the Bible’s first book, Genesis, to justify resource consumption, but some Harrisonburg clergy say these words have been

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley assembled two clergy members, a philosophy
professor, a representative of the Islamic faith and an audience of 65 recently to discuss
why and how mankind should respond to climate change. The event, titled “Can Ethics and Faith Guide our Responses to Climate Change?” was held at the Massanutten Regional Library in Harrisonburg.

The Rev. Ann Held of Trinity Presbyterian Church asserted that the confusion originates
from a few key misinterpretations of biblical text.

She said the word “dominion” or “radah” in Hebrew has been interpreted as “to have rule or to hold sway.”

“[It’s] not that we have dominion in that we own the Earth,” she said.

Held explained that radah refers to the point at the top of a plant’s root, or its “center of
strength.” It’s the point where one grabs a weed to uproot it cleanly from the ground, she
said. This in turn, Held said, means that the passage is really saying that man is supposed
to be the piece of creation that holds the Earth together.

The Rev. Ross Erb of Park View Mennonite Church furthered the semantic argument by
referring to how the word “till” has been interpreted to mean plow.

He said this interpretation has led to discretionless farming practices and soil depletion.

“That same word gets used throughout the scriptures and it’s really translated as ‘serve,’”
Erb said.

“So we are to serve this world,” Erb said. “For me that is an important twist on what God
has set us here to do.”

Held also talked about Jesus’ instructions to love your neighbor, adding that Jesus was not
talking about just the people next door.

“We are to be about interconnectedness,” she said, using the Holy Spirit as an illustration.

Thus, Christians are responsible for the “least of these,” as Jesus said in Mathew 25:40,
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for

Professor Ehsan Ahmed of the Islamic Association of the Shenandoah Valley explained
that developing nations are being hit the worst by the effects of global warming.

He noted the Republic of Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, whose president
has proposed relocating the country’s entire population as tides continue to rise.

Echoing Held’s interpretation of Christianity, Ahmed said that under Islam, “We’re
responsible for all the creations of God, which have lived or will live on this planet.”

And this responsibility, he said, extends to all one’s actions, big or small, intentional or not, including the actions of one’s society and culture.

Erb added that caring for the Earth should come down to love for God.

“We need to love with all of our being,” Erb said, explaining that Christians should show
their love by loving what God loves, which is all of creation.

“Part of creation care is using less,” Erb said. “What we believe is worth very little if we’re
not willing to put it into practice,” by taking action to at least decrease individual

And just to be sure the point got across, the alliance invited a philosophy professor to give
the pragmatic point of view.

Mark Piper, assistant professor of philosophy at James Madison University, explained with
applied ethics that people should take care of the planet, simply because it’s in their best

Under instrumental value theory, he said, Earth’s ecosystem has worth only in its relation to human interaction.

Humankind needs water and earth to survive, thrive and propagate.

So, Piper said, taking care of these resources is “conducive to our interests,” and thus
worth human devotion.

After outlining why people should protect Earth’s ecosystem, the group discussed how to
do so on micro and macro scales.

They suggested small adjustments, like simply consuming less food and buying fewer
products, something everyone can do.

But they argued that environmental issues have been pushed aside for short-term
economic gains on a societal scale and that these problems require a grander approach.
“Are you all in any of your churches discussing nonviolent civil disobedience?” Cathy
Strickler, who founded the local group, asked.

The answer was a resounding “no,” but alliance members said they had begun to speak
their voice in a public way.

Many had just returned from Washington, D.C., where they attended a climate rally
advocating against the Keystone XL pipeline that would connect oil fields in Canada with
refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Behavior has to change. People have to change,” Piper said. “People have to act

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or