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Peace Education

UPF-USA Holds Earth Day Forum in Las Vegas

United-States-2016-04-20-Holds Earth Day Forum in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, United States—Preparing young people to take responsibility for the environment was the focus of a forum that UPF-USA held to mark Earth Day 2016.

More than twenty participants, including a number of young people, attended “The Role of Interfaith Snake People in Greening Our City: Challenges and Opportunities,” held on April 20 at the Las Vegas City Hall.

The program began with welcoming remarks from Katherine Duncan and Leslie Rigney, the chair and executive director, respectively, of UPF-Las Vegas. A prayer offered by Jim Rigney was followed by the assembly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “God Bless America.” Then the participants were shown a short video introducing UPF and its activities.

The panelists introduced themselves, including their interest and expertise. Architect Rick Van Diepen, who recently has been involved in the Green Housing Movement, spoke about the value of trees in the city environment and how important it is to focus on energy related to housing, as it comprises 40 percent of energy use! He also explained the effects that building design can have on quality of life, and the energy challenges of low-income families. He suggested that churches and the interfaith community could take a greater role in educating about energy conservation and sustainability.

Emiljun Rapada, the national director of Youth UPF-USA, spoke about the soon-to-be-launched Youth UPF and the importance of youth becoming good stewards of the environment. He mentioned the expertise and contributions of many youth, as well as the challenges they face in being recognized by the older community. He urged all generations to work together address common interests.

Scientist Lynn Lanier spoke of the urgency of converting all energy use away from fossil fuels. He said he is concerned by the politicization of the issue, but encouraged by the progress of recycling technology as well as the ability to obtain energy from landfills. He recommended that young people should be taken on field trips to learn about sustainability efforts in the community and agreed with Mr. Van Diepen that youth need experiences with nature—for example, visits to local parks and hikes in the mountains.

Ruby Waller, a community activist, spoke about the value of women’s leadership in sustainability. She mentioned the many incentives to convert to solar and wind energy. She also echoed the need to care for one another, as well as “Mother Earth,” and the value and opportunity of community gardens.

UPF-Las Vegas Chair Katherine Duncan offered a series of questions for the panel to discuss. The audience also presented comments and questions to the speakers. One suggestion was to offer sustainability efforts as community service. Some of the organizations mentioned that are active in sustainability efforts are Union of Concerned Scientists, The Solutions Project, Green Our Planet, and Defending Our Future.

Three of the guest panelists were appointed Ambassadors for Peace. The forum concluded with lunch and much lively discussion.

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