Unity with Nature Committee’s Report to PYM’s Representative Committee 2016

March 4-6, 2016, at the Santa Monica Meeting House

Unity with Nature Committee [UwN] brought two concerns for consideration to AS 2015.

  1. PYM AS 2015 came to Unity that, “We hold a deep concern for over-reliance and investment in fossil fuels. We ask monthly meetings and individuals to engage in discernment on how to reduce their dependence and investment in fossil fuels. Meetings and individuals are asked to share their efforts with the greater community.” (Minute 2015-5)
  2. Annual Session followed Strawberry Creek [SC] and five other monthly meetings of PYM and came to Unity to endorse “Facing the Challenges of Climate Change, a Shared Statement by Quaker Groups” written by Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW], QUNO, and FCNL. Outgoing Presiding Clerk, Steven Smith, has sent our Yearly Meeting’s name to be added to the now long list of Friends’ organizations who are in Unity with this statement.


Since AS 2015, UwN has met four times in phone conferences and are seasoning the following issues.

People named to the committee both brand new and old who have no apparent interest in the committee and don’t respond at all to emails or calls. Despite nine names on our roster, we only have five active or semi-active members. This means that many of the former projects and activities of UwN either can’t be accomplished or put too much of a burden on a few people, potentially causing burn-out.
We ask that Nominating Committee [Nom Com] no longer feels obliged to fill out the UwN roster with names – unless they are people who understand the service of UwN and are really interested in serving. Having a name who never participates is useless, regardless of geographical considerations. We are giving Nom Com more information to give to prospect UwN members.

Towards a more robust and engaged committee, we came up with a number of ideas for recruitment and more communication, including using Facebook. We hope that more young Friends will join UwN.

We hope to have a Spring Retreat.


UwN Charter and membership

There is now a handout ‘blurb’ describing UwN membership. Coupled with our 2014 proposed Charter’s intentions, goals,and tasks, it makes a good packet to give to Nom Com and prospective members. We wish to present the 2014 proposed UwN Charter to appropriate channels for possible approval. For comparison, the 2005 UwN Charter, the 2009c UwN Statement, the 2014 Proposed UwN Charter,and 2016 blurb with further information are all up on the PYM website.

Reducing fossil fuel dependence for meetings and worship groups

We are planning to contact all MMs and WGs with the AS minute 2015-5, asking Friends, what they can say about reducing their dependence and investment in fossil fuels in order to share that at AS 2016.

Quarterly meeting interest groups

We sponsored an interest group at College Park Winter Quarterly on responses to the climate crisis, facilitated by Muriel Strand with 15 to 20 in attendance.

We are proposing the following three interest groups for AS 2016 at Walker Creek.

  • “How We are Living Our Earthcare Testimony Today” Bringing forward the Earthcare minute and endorsement approved by PYM Annual Session 2015, especially what we are doing to divest from fossil fuel energy companies.” There will be several presentations from Monthly Meetings, including Strawberry Creek, and time for further presentations and discussion.
    ~ facilitated by Catya de Neergaard and Shelley Tanenbaum
  • “Environmental Justice: ​What Are We Called to Do?”
    Environmental catastrophes almost always impact disadvantaged people disproportionately. Friends have traditionally been very active in promoting peace, equality and justice. At the intersection of peace, equality and earthcare, ​​what are we called to do to support environmental justice? We will explore how Friends are lifting up these concerns and taking action.
    ~ presented by Shelley Tanenbaum, general Secretary of Quaker Earthcare Witness
  • “Silent Worship in Unity with Nature: Walking the Land, Sitting, Opening, & Listening”
    Developing spiritual sensitivity in a natural setting in harmony with Nature as the expression of Divine Worship.
    ~ convened by Catya de Neergaard & Friends


We are distributing new Mini-Grant applications for the 2016 Mini-Grant Program with the following changes:

  • Adding support for young Friends (under 30) in their environmental ministry as a goal of the Mini-Grant program
  • Increasing the maximum grant per year to $300 and the max grant to $500 for travel expenses for young Friends (under 30) to attend environmental conferences and actions such as QEW or Environmental Justice or other such environmental ministry.
  • Lengthening the previous application deadline to Sept 30 this year.
  • Awards may be made as needed,i.e, if time sensitive for a ministry or planting.
  • We favor projects that include environmental action, consciousness raising, and innovative design. In response to the three challenges sent to all yearly meetings from QEW last Spring, we encourage native plantings, local food production, and solar panels.

Carbon offset tax

Last year Rep Com approved adding a choice to PYM registration of contributing to a voluntary carbon offset tax. This was both educational and a fundraiser for the UwN Special Projects Fund, raising $338 last year. Thank you for this support for the UwN Projects Fund and the the opportunity for us to reflect on the carbon footprint of various modalities of travel.


We ask that Finance Committee to continue to support the two QEW Reps by proposing a budget for the 2 QEW Representatives that cover travel to the two QEW steering committees a year. We ask $3200 for the QEW Reps line item budget in FY 16-17. In July, we are planning to stagger the two year terms of the QEW Reps. Rick Herbert and I deeply appreciate all QEW does to further our Earthcare testimony, carry concerns, and support Earthcare programing at PYM and its Monthly Meetings.

Our budgets for both UwN committee and QEW reps for this FY year are working well, thanks to the efforts of last year’s Finance Committee and frugality. The Unity with Nature Special Projects Fund has $1193, thanks to both the $338 from the ‘Carbon Offset Tax’ and to Palo Alto and other yearly meeting’s generous donations.

FWCC important Minute “Living Sustainability and Sustaining Life on Earth” was received via Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] and is appended to this report.

It is a privilege to work on this committee with so many visionary Friends willing to be God’s hands to save the planet.

Gratefully submitted,

Catya de Neergaard
Clerk of Unity with Nature Committee


These documents are appended to this reports from Unity with Nature Committee:

2005 UwN Charter from PYM approved
2009c UwN Description (approved by ?)
2014 UwN PROPOSED Charter from PYM – needs approval
2016 Blurb about what its like to be a member of UwN (just FYI)
FWCC Minute “Living Sustainability and Sustaining Life on Earth” January 2016