Welcome to the coldest summer of the rest of our lives.
Looking at the weather for the next week, that’s a chilling realization that many of us are coming to. We have begged our elected officials to take action on the climate crisis and we have largely been ignored or offered tepid solutions that are too little, too late. That’s why the Whole Home Repairs Program that was passed through this year’s budget feels like such a breath of cool air for our communities! It’s a program developed through co-governance with Sen. Nikil Saval’s office and our members who are watching their electricity bills go up even as their homes are leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.
There are small things we can all do to make a difference in our homes and communities and we hope you join us for all of the piping hot events we’ve got going on!
We also hope you enjoyed all the terrible temperature puns throughout this section.
Ashleigh, Annie, Onah, Lev and the PA Stands Up team
What's happening in Pennsylvania?
Must be funny, in a rich man’s world: We saw an absolutely tremendous win in the PA State Budget for Whole Home Repairs a few weeks ago (and no, we won’t shut up about it.) The budget historically has left out the neediest communities and this year was an exception to the rule, but not entirely.
There's certainly a good amount of money for education where spending was increased by $1 billion. There was also $700 million squared away for other environmental projects throughout the next year. But as usual, with the good comes the bad. Private schools were given $125 million, there were significant corporate tax breaks, and $2 billion went to a mysterious rainy day fund.
We know that the significant wins we saw in this year’s budget didn’t happen by chance. They happened because people like you got together and demanded more for our communities. To invite more people on board, share this link for others to get involved!
Summer of Rage: We won’t be taking the recent SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade without a fight. Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a human right. It’s okay to be angry, heartbroken, fearful or whatever you may be feeling, but we want to channel this energy into action. PASU members across the state in Bethlehem, Lancaster, Reading, Philly, Scranton, and beyond members are coming together to process, strategize and mobilize to fight back. While abortion is *still* legal in the commonwealth, the GOP state legislators have made it abundantly clear that they want to change that, leaving so much of the future of reproductive rights in PA dependent on the November election. This weekend in Allentown, there was a Reproductive Rights Rally where people came out in 100 degree heat ready to engage and make change, and in Lancaster, over 100 people showed up virtually to talk about what we can do together. Make sure you don’t miss out on the next event near you!
Read my lips, no new torture chambers in prison: Dozens of volunteers gathered in Lehigh Valley last week to make a major push toward ending solitary confinement in Lehigh county! Despite the heat wave, we knocked doors, met people at the local pool, and visited street fairs to get hundreds of ballot signatures. We still have a long way to go but we’re getting amazing support from the community.
In Northeastern PA, our gang at NEPA Stands Up is also preparing for a giant push. Saturday July 30th come rain or extreme shine, we’ll send scads of volunteers to get this important initiative on the ballot, and have some burgers and dogs as well. RSVP here so we save you a toasted bun!
What's happening nationally?
Guns and ships, and so the planet shifts: When Parkland School shooting activist David Hogg said “This time is different,” he’s talking about how the gun violence conversation has changed drastically from thoughts and prayers to policy and action.
Had President Biden not contracted COVID from an overzealous rally attendee last week (stay masked, gang), he would have been in Wilkes-Barre to promote his new Safer Communities Act which would provide over $37 billion in public safety measures. Unfortunately, $13 billion of that money is earmarked to hire more police officers over the next 5 years. With so much of public safety burdens already falling on police departments, we know that the solution is not to fund more police, but divest in harmful solutions and invest in community led solutions that don’t involve law enforcement.
Part of that is already taking off with the new emergency number for mental health and suicide emergencies, 988. While it’s an easier number to remember, it only works if our communities have the infrastructure to send help without involving the police. Records are already showing that this is failing. Across our chapters, we’ve seen people stand up and say they’d rather have “Care Not Cops.” Join our chapter members to do the work to change it!
What's happening interdimensionally?
This I swear by the stars: This month NASA released the long awaited first images from the James Webb Telescope. The telescope was launched last year after years of planning and implementation and has the capability of using infrared light to take photos of events that occurred in our universe billions of years ago. If you would like to learn more about this wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey telescope, check out these amazing explainers on TikTok!
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