Local Climate Leadership: Davia Rivka

Posted by on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Davia Rivka is a certified life coach, author of Up to Something Big: Stories That Inspire Change, and a climate change warrior working with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL is a nonpartisan nonprofit grassroots organization working on advocating national policies to address climate change.

How did you get started in climate work?

In 1985, I started working for RESULTS, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that focuses on ending poverty. RESULTS is the organization on which CCL was modeled, training volunteers how to use their voices in our democracy. In 2007, Marshall Saunders, also a RESULTS volunteer, founded Citizens’ Climate Lobby. I joined CCL in 2011, bringing fifteen years of experience from my work with RESULTS.

When I first started working with CCL, talking to members of Congress about climate change was challenging. There was a lot of denial and disinterest. Much has changed for the better since 2011. CCL is single issue focused. Our goal is the enactment of revenue neutral federal legislation that puts a fee on carbon. To insure success, CCL volunteers around the country network and form alliances with community, big and small business, and religious leaders from left, right and center. After doing so, CCL communicates these buy-ins to Congress members.

What is the scope of your work at Temple Israel of Hollywood?

Temple Israel has a very strong and focused social justice task force, led by Rabbi Jocee Hudson and Heidi Siegel. The three primary areas of focus are: hunger and homelessness, gun violence, and prison reform. When I joined the task force, I started making noise about how we needed to also focus on climate change. We held a participatory, informative, action event last May. I look forward to even greater focus on this work.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing a book about how climate change has become my spiritual practice. Until the book launches, you’ll find great stories on my blog.

How do Jewish values connect to climate change?

That’s a big question. Check out a recent blogpost that I wrote in September during the Jewish High Holydays.

The short answer is: repair the Earth (world), give back to your communities, and make the world a better place by making yourself a better person.

How are you reaching out to Jewish communities?

CCL has a Jewish Action Team that focuses on developing Jewish climate leadership with lay and clergy across the country. Jews played a very central role during the civil rights movement. We want to see that same courageous commitment around climate change action. Rabbis are busy. Lay people in congregations need to take the lead, making it impossible for rabbis to ignore this conversation. Ask your rabbi to give a sermon on climate change. To hold an event. Their voices have power and can reach a wider audience.

Do you find your work challenging?

I am a relationship person. I enjoy communicating to people in person, looking at them in the eyes and understanding that we are all working toward building a better future. A few years ago, five of us met with the staffer in Washington D.C. Her boss was a member of Congress from Kentucky. We could have had a fight on our hands. But we were curious and respectful, completely disarming the staffer. A thoughtful and exploratory conversation left us all feeling hopeful.

What would make your job easier?

If we all learned how to listen with open hearts! And were better able to recognize that we’re all in this together.

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

  1. A carbon fee and dividend piece of legislation that is introduced to Congress by very powerful Democrat and Republican members, in the exact same language that CCL has been working toward.
  2. 100 members of Congress join the Climate Solutions Caucus.
  3. I go to a writing retreat in a beautiful setting, with a gaggle of other interesting writers—and someone else cooks amazing food!
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