Reflections on the Vanguard’s Big Climate Problem Walk

Over the course of the five days and forty miles, 300 people joined us on the Vanguard’s Big Climate Problem Walk. In the month since, we’ve been integrating what we learned on the walk and using that time together to energize us for the next chapter of the Vanguard S.O.S. campaign. We’re happy to share the reflections of two of our walk participants, Marcelle and JJ, below.

Marcelle wrote:

“On a lovely spring day, Earth Day, we drove forty minutes from our home in Chester, one of the poorest cities in Pennsylvania, to the headquarters of Vanguard, a company that manages more than $7 trillion in financial assets. In the lovely blooming semi-rural areas we passed through on our way to Vanguard’s headquarters, the idea of catastrophic climate change seemed remote. Yet Chester, one of the poorest cities in Pennsylvania, is the location of one of the two largest incinerators in the U.S. Run by Covanta and financed by Vanguard investments, this massive incinerator, the dirtiest in the country, burns trash trucked in from numerous cities and states up and down the East Coast. In the past, Covanta has found it easier to pay fines for violating the law rather than to install all the legally required filters. They pump toxins such as lead, mercury, and arsenic into air over the city, where rates of asthma, heart disease and cancer are high, diseases with a known connection to breathing toxic particulate matter.

My husband and I are concerned not only about this dangerous pollution where we live, but also about the environmental racism involved in locating such an incinerator in a poor city that is 70% black. And more than that, we are seeking and praying to find our role in facing the challenges that threaten all life on Earth. How does God want us to live and act in this time of climate crisis? How can we help transform a culture that is headed toward disaster?

So we traveled to the Vanguard headquarters in lovely Malvern, PA, a place of multi-million-dollar homes, and joined 150 other people for an inter-faith demonstration to plead with the company to use its enormous financial power to help turn around the climate disaster being fueled by their support of the fossil fuel industry and other dangerous investments.”

Read more at Marcelle’s blog, A Whole Heart 

Photo by Marcelle Martin

And JJ wrote:

“As a Vanguard customer myself, I had never drawn the connection between my investment returns and the environmental and human impacts of things like, say, that giant incinerator over in Chester that burns Philly’s trash (and much of NY’s) within a short distance of our Chester neighbor’s front porches.

The team from EQAT was drawing that line directly, with their bodies, by leading a five day march all the way from that incinerator in Chester, up through Philadelphia, and out to Malvern, where Vanguard is headquartered.

How can we shift our investments away from industries that amplify climate risk? How can financial power be wielded to steer corporations towards more responsible behavior? How can everyday workers’ savings be used in ways that will allow them a retirement in a habitable environment?”

Read more at JJ Tiziou’s website

Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou

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