Unity with Nature report to Annual Session 2016

Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting,

Unity with Nature Committee’s function is to encourage, support, share, and bring forward Pacific Yearly Meeting [PYM] Friends’ concerns, witness, and leadings for Earthcare. Central to our concerns for the last many years is to slow and eventually stop global warming and its horrific proliferation of dire consequences for both humans and the whole ecosystem. Transitioning to sustainable living systems, net zero energy use, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, permaculture, acting locally, and a carbon free future are among the solutions that many Friends envision.

Continue reading “Unity with Nature report to Annual Session 2016”

Unity With Nature Committee Report to Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Session 2016 Walker Creek

June 15, 2016

Dear Friends of Pacific Yearly Meeting,

Unity with Nature’s committee’s function is to encourage, support, share, and bring forward Pacific Yearly Meeting [PYM] Friends’ concerns, witness, and leadings for Earthcare. Central to our concerns for the last many years is to slow and eventually stop global warming and its horrific proliferation of dire consequences for both humans and the whole ecosystem. Transitioning to sustainable living systems, net zero energy use, keeping fossil fuels in the ground, permaculture, acting locally, and a carbon free future are among the solutions that many Friends envision.

It has been a hopeful year of some progress. Several Friends from Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] and Quaker United Nations Offices [QUNO] both in NYC and Europe, including PYM member and Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] General Secretary, Shelley Tanenbaum attended the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015. Shelley (Strawberry Creek) will be here with us at Walker Creek. As one wit, George Monbiot, described the Paris COP 21 Climate Summit agreement, a historic first for the world’s nations to unite to slow and hopefully eventually stop climate change, “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster… The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.” According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (www.c2es.org), if the Nationally Determined Contributions [NDC] submitted so far by 188 countries were fully implemented; it would result in a warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius. The Climate Summit’s reaffirmation of the commitment to keep global warming to a 2 degrees Celsius over 1850 levels should keep 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground where they belong (see 350.org’s website for details). Many environmentalists feel that we really need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The big surprise at the summit agreed is that the goal in principle is 1.5 degrees. We are already almost a full degree Celsius over 1850 levels. To meet the moderate goal of holding to 2 degrees Celsius of warming means we need to take strong steps forward now.

We hope Friends in Pacific Yearly meeting can discern together what is needed and support each others leadings and actions to live our Earthcare testimony and save the Earth from turning to toast.

In the 2015-2016 cycle Unity with Nature committee [UwN] is down to only four active or semi-active members, which limits how much we can do. But all of our members are passionately engaged in caring for the Earth and working to stop climate change. We would welcome new members who want to help with our goals and tasks or who bring to UwN their own Earthcare and Sustainability-related leading or project for support and nurturance. We would especially welcome new members from Southern California Quarterly.

In previous years, we have had a weekend retreat to plan our year’s activities. This year we met and communicating in phone conference calls and emails. This worked well because we already knew one another.

We have continued with our usually activities of sponsoring interest groups at College Park Quarterly and PYM’s annual session, appointing and supporting the Quaker Earthcare Witness representatives, and bringing information to PYM such as the 2015 QEW suggestions embedded in its epistle, “The Three Challenges,” and the FWCC Pisac 2016 Sustainability Minute, similarly urging concrete actions.

Interest Groups

* This year at Walker Creek we are sponsoring the interest group [IG], “Environmental Justice: What are we called to do” led by Shelley Tanenbaum and Carl Magruder on Wednesday at 8 AM.

* We, along with QEW Reps are supporting Peace and Social Order Committee’s IG exploring the FWCC Pisac 2016 Sustainability Minute on Saturday immediately after dinner on Saturday.

* Instead of another IG, on Saturday at 8:30 PM we are offering an affinity group for meetings and individuals to share what they are doing to reduce dependence on fossil fuels as per our last annual session’s minute, “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). Sharings may also include actions and experience about reducing carbon footprints, divestment strategies, and earthcare in general. If there is interest, the Reducing Dependence on Fossil Fuels Affinity Group could continue on another evening.

* Instead of an experiential walk, opening the senses, and Worship in Unity with Nature IG this year during the day, we are supporting the outdoor worship in nature before breakfast. We hope you can join us.

Appointments

We appoint the PYM representatives to Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW], the continent wide organizations to bring forward Friends’ concerns for the Earth and for Climate Change.
They are:

2 representatives serving 2-year terms, appointed by Unity with Nature Committee.

2017 Rick Herbert, Strawberry Creek (2014)
2018 Catya de Neergaard, Berkeley (2014)
2018 Meagan Fischer, Chico (2016)

Note: UwN’s plan is that the 3 Reps will share (take turns) with the full funding currently provided for 2 Reps for the 2 QEW steering committees yearly. UwN will help the unfunded Rep find alternate funding sources. This plan meets with the approval of QEW’s general secretary. UwN trusts that PYM is OK with this plan.

Muriel Strand, Sacramento MM, is UwN’s appointee to the Earthlight Board.

Fundraising, Mini Grants, and other Nuts and Bolts

* We deeply appreciate your participation in the carbon-offset education and fundraising project in this year’s and last’s year’s PYM registration. Another education and fundraising project from last year that we hope to repeat is the dime-a-gallon project. Thank you all – meetings and individuals – who contributed to UwN’s special project’s funds. Among other things, the UwN special projects fund supports the UwN Mini-Grant program. It could also be for special young Friends (under 30) scholarships to environmental actions or conferences.

* We hope you can visit UwN’s and QEW’s table in Maple for free tri-folds and other offerings and projects.

* We are planning to bring out the new round of mini-grant applications in the near future.

* After we re-wrote our charter and goals (Proposed Unity with Nature Charter, October 2014) using the 2005 Charter from PYM as a template, Presiding Clerk Diego Navarro suggested we send it to Nominating Committee for review and possible approval. This we have done and look forward to Nominating Committee’s feedback.

* Having a PYM maintained list of monthly meeting worship group email addresses available online or by email, would be a big help in communicating with monthly meetings and worship groups.

* Please see our March 2016 report to Representative’s Committee March for more information on our activities this year.

Gratefully submitted,

Catya de Neergaard
Clerk, Unity with Nature Committee

Recommendations for all Friends from the QEW Sustainability: Faith and Action Working Group

April 25, Ann Arbor, Michigan

To Friends Everywhere: The Sustainability: Faith and Action Working Group of Quaker Earthcare Witness developed some challenges,which are recommendations for Friends’ Churches and Meetings throughout North America. We ask local Friends’ fellowships and Yearly Meetings to prayerfully examine these challenges and to explore ways to act upon part or all of them. These are suggested actions to encourage Friends to set an example of active service in behalf of the many free gifts that we receive from God’s Creation. We encourage these actions as a witness to those outside of our Churches and Meetings.

I. Challenges at Home

A) We ask all Meetings that have land to landscape with native plantings that promote natural ecosystems. An important beginning to this ministry would be to establish a patch of native plants favored by pollinators and other beneficial insects. Given that in a transition to a carbon-free future we need to grow locally, have urban gardens, and be prepared to feed ourselves, we recommend inclusion of edible native plants in the Meeting’s landscape. QEW will provide instructions and suggested links on our website.

B) We ask that all Friends’ Houses of Worship, (which are able to in their locality) shift from non-renewable to renewable electricity suppliers by 2016, that we may serve as models and examples, showing our willingness to welcome the transition to a low carbon world. All Friends are encouraged to do the same. Your local power company may offer the ability to buy energy from renewable sources. This is also possible through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). By switching to solar or wind, many meetings could eventually redirect their resources away from utility bills to immediate needs and other projects that further Kingdom work.

II. Regional and State Challenges

We ask regional Meetings to develop a plan of action to encourage their state or province to hold the highest possible standard to address the risks of climate change and protect our health and environment now and for future generations. We know that the United States and Canada are two of largest carbon polluters and that the US-EPA has proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. Each US state will be required to craft its own plan to meet the new emissions standards by 2016

· Identify your state or province’s current climate change plan.

· Compare it to the 100% renewable plan proposed by the Solutions Project

· Identify and reach out to other faith and community partners

· Create the space for dialogue and negotiation with policy makers

· Prepare a minute of support for the state plan which reflects the urgent need to lower carbon pollution.

· Discern what form of witness will most effectively make visible our deep commitment to protecting the commonwealth of life now and in the future

III. National and International Challenges

We ask that all Yearly and Monthly Meetings address the moral dimension of investments in fossil fuels and consider reinvestment options that reflect your Meetings’ values. This call for divestment includes freezing any new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves and committing to shift any current fossil fuel investments over the next 5 years to investments that better reflect Friends’ testimonies. As many Meetings do not hold investments, consider a Minute in support of divestment as well as holding discussions about how individuals can divest. To see the Minute written by Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting in California, visit http://www.quakerearthcare.org/article/strawberry-creek-monthly-meeting-minute-climate-change-and-divestment

Blessings and peace to all

UwN mission statement and proposed charter revision Oct 2015

Appendix A

Note: this proposed Charter from PacYM was revised by Unity with Nature Committee on 10/25/2014. It is based on UwN’s 2005 Charter from PacYM.

Unity with Nature Committee’s Charter from Pacific Yearly Meeting

This committee acts on behalf of Yearly Meeting on spiritual concerns related to the environment. It strives to keep alive in the consciences of Friends the spirituality of and the kinship with all creation. It has the function to educate, inform, inspire, and give Witness about earth care and the environment.

The Committee may have several subcommittees such as:

  1. Sustainability,
  2. Service projects and internships,
  3. Nature experiences and outings,
  4. Education and interest groups.

The committee has nine members, serving three-year overlapping terms, with three members appointed annually. Two Pacific Yearly Meeting [PYM] representatives to the national Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] (formerly named “Friends Committee on Unity with Nature”) are members ex-officio, if not already members of PYM’s Unity with Nature Committee.

Tasks

  • Appoints PYM’s representatives to QEW
  • Supports publications such as Earthlight Magazine and QEW newsletter.
  • Encourages and supports QEW and other Friends’ environmental initiatives such as Friends Committee on National Legislation [FCNL], Friends Committee on Legislation in California [FCL-CA], and Quaker Institute for the Future [QIF].
  • Nominates candidates for Earthlight’s Board of Directors
  • Provides means for communications among PYM Friends concerned about the environment and with Friends similarly concerned nationally and internationally
  • Proposes and conducts interest groups and nature-oriented worship at Quarterly and Yearly Meeting sessions.
  • Encourages change toward sustainable lifestyles by Meetings and their members and attenders.
  • Raises funds to further its work.

Goals

Goals and Projects may include:

  • Sponsoring an internship program for Young Friends
  • Responding to queries such as recommendations for books and other educational materials related to care of the earth
  • Proactive educational programs such as the mini-grant program
  • Proactive educational and fundraising programs such as the dime a gallon carbon credit program
  • Seasoning concerns arising out of Witness, we nurture the process of taking those concerns towards a minute at annual session.

UNW report to PYM AS 2015

Greetings, Friends,

Much of UWN’s activity since the 2014 annual gathering has been described in our Report to Representative Committee.

We are presenting two proposals to plenary. The first is signing ”Facing the Challenge of Climate Change: A shared statement by Quaker groups” which was developed by QEW, QUNO, and FCNL. At of early June, at least five PYM monthly meetings have joined their voices to this inspiring statement of Unity. The five meetings are Palo Alto Friends Meeting, Sacramento Friends Meeting, Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting, Humboldt Friends Meeting, and Honolulu Monthly Meeting. The statement will be available on our PYM website and on our information table at annual session.

The second proposal is a minute advocating divestment of fossil fuel energy stocks as a strategy for slowing climate change. We are aware of at least two PYM monthly meetings, Strawberry Creek and Sacramento, who have come to Unity on a divestment statement or minute. We understand from Treasurer Roy Allen that

“PYM has no investments in fossil fuel companies, either directly or indirectly. Our investments at Friends Fiduciary are in their Green Fund.” So, we will be asking for a statement of unity to the effect that “PYM has no investments in fossil fuel companies and will not be making any investments in fossil fuel companies in the foreseeable future. We urge other Quaker groups to consider doing the same, taking, if necessary, up to five years to do so. We further encourage individuals to consider divesting their own portfolios of fossil fuels.”

Our offer, of developing an optional DIY carbon tax as part of the 2015 annual gathering registration process, was accepted by Representative Committee. We thank the Registrar for including this in the online procedure. Friends were able to select the tax they felt to be appropriate for them, based on approximate estimates of CO2 (typically several hundred pounds) generated by individuals’ travel for annual gathering. These funds will be used for Earthcare purposes according to UWN committee unity.

We received no responses to our invitations to apply for a 2015 UWN mini-grant. We share a report on the outcome of our 2014 mini-grant to Casa de los Amigos in support of their rainwater storage system, on our information table this week. Friends can also find there other Earthcare information and homemade items for those wishing to donate to future mini-grants and other UWN efforts.

We are very excited that Jose Aguto, FCNL’s Legislative Secretary of Sustainable Energy and Environment Program, is joining us this year and will give a plenary talk on Friday at 3:30 PM.  UWN is sponsoring an interest group given by Jose Aguto called, ‘The Climate Change Challenge: Legislative Possibilities and Earthcare Action’ – on Wednesday right after lunch. We hope that his advice and counsel is inspiring and useful to Friends.

We offer two other interest groups this year:

  • Walking the Land: Listening to Nature, Tuesday 1:30pmGetting to know the flora and fauna of Walker Creek while opening our senses and centering down into our bodies, a part of nature. Through directed experiment to centering in silence, we Worship in Unity with Nature.
  • Greening the Meeting, Greening Our Lives: Discerning and Living Our Earthcare Testimony, Saturday at 8am

    A presentation about levels of sustainability will be followed by queries and discussion about what we may be called to do, individually and collectively. Queries will include the ‘Three Challenges’ developed recently by QEW’s Sustainability, Faith, and Action Working Group, as well as reports from participants about what they and their meetings have already accomplished, and their hopes for the future.

Our mission statement and proposed charter revision of October 25, 2014 will be posted on our PYM website. We are in unity that the two PYM representatives to QEW are also ex officio members of Unity with Nature Committee.  We thank PYM for supporting the work of QEW—the unfolding of the Earthcare testimony—by continuing to support PYM’s two representatives to attend the twice yearly QEW conferences.

We are dedicated to continue giving support for and information about living our felt Earthcare testimony.

We sponsored Interest Groups at College Park Quarterly Meeting.  At spring quarterly at Ben Lomond, Robin Keeler and Cedar Selenite presented exploring embodiment in nature using non-violent communication processes.

As outgoing co-clerks, we devoutly hope that PYM will seek discernment about how the committee can best support Friends’ future Earthcare ideas and sustainability goals.

Friends who are interested in Earthcare may be interested in the fall conference of Quaker Earthcare Witness [QEW] – Thursday October 22nd to Sunday 25th at beautiful Ben Lomond Quaker Center which is open to all.  Friends are especially encouraged to come on Saturday the 24th for a day of inspiring speakers, workshops, and worship in Unity with Nature.  On Wednesday the 21st and the morning of the 22nd, QEW is planning some hands-on projects for wise stewardship of the land.

We are honored to have had the privilege of this service.

Thank you.
Respectfully submitted by:

  • Muriel Strand, co-clerk

    Sacramento Meeting

  • Catya de Neergaard, co-clerk

    Strawberry Creek Meeting

DIY Voluntary Carbon Tax Information Sheet

Pacific Yearly Meeting Representative Committee, at its February, 2015, meeting, accepted Unity with Nature Committee’s proposal to offer a Voluntary Carbon Tax on travel to and from annual session. Your voluntary tax donation will be added to your registration total and then routed to the Unity with Nature Special Projects Fund.

We thank you for taking the time to consider what amends may be appropriate for generating a given amount of CO2.

Each gallon of gasoline burned generates about 20 pounds of CO2. Although a gallon now costs between $3-$4, to pay a person to generate that amount of work would cost about $800 in the USA. So when you buy gas, every dollar you spend is equivalent to about 6 lb of CO2.

Friends are invited to select the approximate amount of CO2 that is generated by your expected travel, and select an amount such as a penny per pound of CO2, or you can simply decide on an amount that feels appropriate to you and your situation.

Free Carbon Footprint Calculator

You can look at this online carbon footprint calculator for your exact trip which covers not only most forms of travel, but also carbon generation in other lifestyle aspects.  This site prefers one to sign up which makes the calculations more accurate.

<https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx>

Here are some typical round-trip CO2 footprints:

A passenger car driving to Walker Creek from:

  • Northern CA: 200 lb
  • From Southern CA: 700 lb
  • From Central CA: 400 lb
  • From SFO to Walker Creek: 100 lb

One passenger by air from:

  • LAX to SFO: 300 lb
  • SAN to SFO: 400 lb
  • HI/MX to SFO: 1 ton

One passenger by train from:

  • LA to SF: 240 lb
  • San Diego to SF: 300 lb

Thank you for your caring actions for the Earth

(updated July 20, 2018)

Minute On Climate Change and Divestment from Fossil Fuels – Strawberry Creek Meeting

Climate change is a real and urgent threat to humanity’s current way of life. As Quakers, we see it as imperative that governments must take immediate action to curb climate change. When governments are unwilling to take swift action, then we turn to divestment as a way to make our concerns heard.

Divestment from fossil fuel stocks calls for a halt in profiting from the destruction of the earth that fossil fuel emissions create. Divesting is congruent with our testimonies of peace, equality, community, and simplicity since climate change will sow the seeds of
war, poverty, and injustice.

While Strawberry Creek holds no stock of any kind, we recommend the divestment of fossil fuel stocks or funds by all Quaker bodies, including Friends Fiduciary, and we commit to not buying any fossil fuel stocks and funds in the future.

Fossil fuel companies have not been responsive quickly enough to shareholder advocacy and they make clear that they will keep on taking oil, gas and coal from the earth, even if it warms the earth more than two degrees centigrade, a rise that scientists have agreed we must not go above. We applaud Friends Fiduciary for recently establishing a green fund, but we request that they divest from all fossil fuels in their portfolio.

Divestment makes way for reinvestment in green, sustainable energy causes and in thriving local economies. We recognize that our lifestyle contributes to climate change any time we consume fossil fuels. While we are all currently dependent on fossil fuels, we hope to see more affordable, efficient choices in the future to use water, wind and solar energy to power our lives. We would like fossil fuel companies to stop blocking legislation that would slow climate change, to stop receiving governmental subsidies, and to become transparent in their funding of political candidates.

Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting approved an Earthcare testimony in 2010 which reinforced our commitment to stewardship of the earth. In part it says, “We feel a sense of urgency to bring our lives into right relationship with the community of life on earth. We are called to be faithful to continuing revelation in these matters…”

We urge Meetings and other Quaker bodies to divest as a needed tactic in an effort to contain climate change.

Approved July 13, 2014

2013 AS Report Unity With Nature

[Download]

[Web version]

2013 Report to Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Session

Unity With Nature Committee

Unity With Nature Committee’s annual retreat was in January 2013. We were very fortunate to be invited back to Susan Swanstrom’s delightful Russian River retreat house. We enjoyed happy fellowship, thoughtful conversations, and forest hiking.

UWN received reports back from recipients of mini-grants. Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City installed a water-conserving urinal. Central Cost Meeting organized a community service day and built a shed for the Tenbrook community garden. Redding Meeting gifted several trees and seeds to the Sequoia School Community Garden. Longer summaries are appended below this report.

UWN co-sponsored the First Annual Quaker Oaks Spring Youth Work Camp, which combined service with learning about farming and sustainability. Quaker Oaks farm is just east of Visalia on the road to Sequoia National Park, and just southwest of a nature preserve. This Friend learned that the San Joaquin valley used to be a paradise before they rearranged the water.

Quaker Oaks farm is a hospitable place—home to Visalia meeting, the Unitarians, local Wukchumni tribal events, several families, and various gardens and orchards. Campers were honored with (and accepted) an invitation to join members of the local Wukchumni tribe in their sacred sweat lodge ceremony.

We invited applications for 2013 mini-grants, and have decided to award grants to all three applicants, Sierra Friends Center, Redding Friends Meeting, and Casa de los Amigos.

UWN seeks Friends, particularly young Friends, thoughts and ideas about how we can best minister to Friends in Pacific Yearly Meeting on the concern of Earthcare. An uncertain future of climate change approaches day by day, and right action is sometimes unclear, at other times daunting.

Friends’ traditional advocacy for peace and social sustainability must be integrated with ecological sustainability. A healthy world is required for healthy people. But as ecological sustainability dwindles, social sustainability inevitably will too. A planet that is being daily and widely abused simply loses carrying capacity.

The ecological emergency we face is a very slow emergency, and many other important concerns are more immediate. Embedded, trapped, in our fossil-fuel addiction, do-able changes seem marginal but abstention seems radical and practically impossible.

But we know humanity doesn’t need fossil fuels to survive. And we know that fossil fuels continue to reduce carrying capacity. We are called to work together to thoughtfully choose new ways—and traditional ways—of meeting our needs: clean air and water, healthy food, comfy shelter, and plenty of sleep and exercise. Success will require radical change.

 

Reports of PYM UWN Earthcare 2012 Mini-grant Outcomes

Casa de los Amigos, Mexico City

Casa de los Amigos’ Environmental Concerns Committee received a mini-grant to help purchase a flash boiler to heat water for a women’s dormitory and two bathrooms. However, shortly after their grant was awarded, a Meeting attender donated a smaller flash boiler. Thus, the folks at Casa de los Amigos decided to get a waterless urinal instead. Basically, the urine drains by gravity without requiring flushing, although only the simplest models don’t also have a trap to contain odors. The liquid (and often proprietary) oil and water in the trap apparently require flushing and replacement every several months.

 

Casa de los Amigos’ water use is an ongoing concern, and Friends there continue to seek even more water conservation.

 

Central Coast Meeting, San Luis Obispo

Central Coast Meeting received a mini-grant to build a shed for the Tenbrook Community Garden. Construction of the shed and also some transplanting were accomplished on a sunny Sunday as part of a work party that included local residents and the urban gardening organizations One Cool Earth and the Cal Poly Permaculture Club. The work was preceded by worship at a nearby park and followed by a potluck feast for all.

Central Coast Friends hope to build long-term relationships with Tenbrook gardeners.

 

Redding Meeting

The Redding Meeting received a mini-grant to buy a lemon, lime, and kiwi plants, as well as many seeds, all the Meeting’s ongoing support of the Sequoia School Community Garden that was started by attender Millie Milhous who taught at the school for many years. Teachers report that they use the garden to help teach a wide variety of subjects.