An interactive open house will be held in New Paltz this Sunday, September 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Church. The event, “Be Wise … Winterize,” is sponsored by Interfaith Earth Action of New Paltz in partnership with Rupco, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition and the New Paltz Repair Café. Admission is free.
“It’s about doing what we can to make our environmental footprint smaller,” says Jim O’Dowd of Interfaith Earth Action (IEA). The coalition of individuals from diverse faith backgrounds formed the group in order to address local environmental issues through grassroots action.
The groups are sponsoring the open house because they’re looking for the best ways to have meaningful impact, O’Dowd says. “We would like people to be aware of how much fossil fuel they’re using in their lives and how they can conserve those resources.”
The open house will offer the opportunity to sign up for a free home-energy audit from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Nyserda), valued at $250. “It’s a ceiling-to-basement kind of thing,” explains O’Dowd. “Home heating is one of the biggest uses most people have of fossil fuels. By some simple efficiencies you can really cut down on that and save money at the same time.”
Presentations will be given on energy-efficient insulation, lighting and window-sealing. A number of do-it-yourself solutions for saving money and reducing energy consumption will be offered. Hands-on demonstrations will include one on the use of spray-foam insulation, another on weather stripping, and a third on boiler upgrades. Homeowner and institutional options for heating and electricity will be covered.
“And just for the fun of it,” says O’Dowd, “we’re planning a mini-fashion show. One way to be more energy-efficient in the winter is to just put a sweater on.”
Homemade refreshments will be available and childcare offered during the event, with a variety of activities planned for kids that include a “take-apart” table sponsored by Repair Café that fosters the idea of fixing items rather than disposing of them.
Care of the environment is an important moral and spiritual issue, O’Dowd says.
The members of Interfaith Earth Action are inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical, which addressed global environmental deterioration. Released during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris last fall, it reads in part, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all …. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
The group’s members represent a considerable array of houses of worship that include the Reformed Church of New Paltz, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jewish Congregation of New Paltz, St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Paltz Friends Meeting, New Paltz United Methodist Church, Kol Hai Hudson Valley Jewish Renewal, Budding Flower (Buddhist) Sangha, Bahai’s of Hudson Valley, Schaghticoke First Nations, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills and Wallkill Reformed Church.
The group also works in partnership with non-faith-based organizations including New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. And in addition to reaching across the religious spectrum, the group seeks to cross the political divide, as well. “The environment is not a partisan issue,” O’Dowd says. “This is not a liberal issue. What’s happening today with our environment is a real crisis.”
St. Joseph’s Church is at 34 South Chestnut Street in New Paltz. Attendees to “Be Wise … Winterize” are welcome to just stop in, says O’Dowd. For information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.