The Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) was established in 2003 inspired by Kenneth Boulding’s Quaker Studies on Human Betterment and his call for a research institute focused on the future. QIF has sponsored a series of collaborative research projects, including an annual Summer Research Seminar, and published research findings in thirteen books <quakerinstitute.org>. In cognizance of humanity’s (and our planet’s) current climate emergency, QIF’s Board of Trustees recently approved an inspiring epistle using the following language: “As the world has gone from climate change to climate crisis to climate emergency, we, the QIF Board of Trustees, find that climate change affects every aspect of our work. The time in which nations and citizens of the world can yet act to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is rapidly vanishing. In the spirit of Quaker tradition, we have prepared this epistle in the hope that it may inspire Friends in solidarity with truth seeking and in their discernment on witness and action.”
Magpie is the Barrydale based art collective by artists and social entrepreneurs Scott B. Hart and Shane A. Petzer. Working in their studio and gallery in the Western Cape of South Africa, Scott and Shane produce art, craft and bespoke creations centred around their commitment to “meaningful commercial and social entrepreneurism, integrated with environmental concern.”
During the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, Magpie developed a new project on the Quaker Peace Dove. The collective ran online making workshops in collaboration with Cape Western Monthly Meeting, during which Friends joined together via Zoom to create “#QuakerPeaceDoves” using a template created by Magpie. The doves are made of recycled milk bottles, hence the title of the series: “Turn Your Lockdown Trash Into Art.” Shane writes that the doves were conceptualised as:
“a unifiying symbol around peace and environmental/climate justice concerns [and provide] an example of how we can use art as a social tool.”
The workshops also created an online space for Friends to gather and share during the pandemic, an opportunity that was important for the artists who have long been involved in creating work that places social concern and community at its heart. For more information, and contact details visit http://www.magpieartcollective.com. Images of the work featured above can also be seen via Magpie’s social media channels.
In the second part of a series of contributions, Friend Kees Nieuwerth is sharing a paper on the European Green Deal. The paper is a contribution to the Conference of European Churches’ Thematic Report on the topic.
Kees is a member of the Board of the European Ecumenical Peace Movement Church and Peace, which is a partner organization of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) based in Brussels. CEC brings together 114 churches from different traditions and across Europe “for dialogue, advocacy, and joint action.”
The shared paper was written by Kees as part of the CEC working group on Economic and Ecological Justice and a Sustainable Future, which he also moderates. The CEC working group is in the process of developing an critical analysis of the European Green Deal from the churches’ perspective. This paper is therefore a contribution from the author to this work in progress which –it is hoped- will result in an document for dialogue with the European institutions and the member churches of CEC entitled ‘From a Green Deal to a Green Economy – Inspired by Green Theology.’
The author is a member of Netherlands Yearly Meeting. Read his previous contribution to the Resource Hub here.
Foto showing the Gross Moss habitat at 1250m altitude. One of the former drainage trenches runs through the picture. Draining the water from the moor by this and other trenches has been blocked through numerous man-made dams perpendicular to the canal (visible in the foto). The resulting water filled basins will “spawn” regrowth of moss plants and, overall, the slow restoration of the moor.
A group of Friends in Zurich, Switzerland have recently become involved in sponsoring a local renaturation project. The group is currently making regular small contributions to the Swiss NGO Myclimate, which is working to restore highland moors in the east of Switzerland. These big marshlands have a major carbon storage potential, which goes untapped unless the moor is “rewetted” following peat extraction or agricultural usage. Myclimate and other NGOs have been gathering financial backing so that this restoration project can take place.
A member of the group, Thomas Gorr, is also involved in his capacity as a biologist, mapping the progress of renaturation through regular visits of the area and by protocoling the ensuing changes in the plant cover and the inhabiting pool of animal species. Thomas writes that by “renaturing (rewetting) moors both a highly effective carbon fixation is fostered and the biodiversity of very rare specialist species (plants and animals alike) will also benefit. In contrast, dried moors (the state moors are usually in across countries of central Europe), act more as a carbon source than as carbon sequestration habitat.”
Friend Kees Nieuwerth has recently shared a paper on The UN Sustainable Development Goals, Peace and the Churches available here. The paper offers insight into a joint meeting of German Mennonites, German Quakers and Church and Peace at the Thomashof held in 2018, reflecting on the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of just peace and issues a call for ecological and economic justice. An extract from the paper reads:
[The SDG Agenda] can only work if there is a transformation of the dominant economic model in the direction of what the WCC calls ‘An Economy of Life for All’ for us to be able to really pursue sustainability. After all, ignoring the constraints put on us by the planetary limits is not in keeping with the Gospel option for the poor and vulnerable or the care for creation.
The author is a member of Netherlands Yearly Meeting. He is also a member of the Board of the European Ecumenical Peace Movement Church and Peace.
Quakers in Loughborough, UK have published a Sustainability Handbook, advising Friends on lifestyle changes they can make to live more sustainably.
The project includes a range of approaches to sustainable living and contains contributions from almost every member of the meeting. It also includes a Resource section of tips on how to shop locally and sustainably in the surrounding areas. Friends’ reflections are accompanied by illustrations from artist Miriam Bean. Read below for some of the contributors’ experiences and reflections on producing the handbook and view the online version here. Requests for physical copies of the Handbook can be sent to Julian Rees.
“I was invited to a weekend at Bamford by members of Loughborough Quakers, to spend time reflecting on the environment and how we can each contribute positively to sustainable living. There have been many challenges to my thinking and lifestyle, but I really appreciate being able to share these with a group of like-minded Friends, especially as sustainability is becoming more and more prevalent in the news.” – John Bean
“I’ve seen sustainability issues as crucial since I joined Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in the 1970’s. I’ve been part of various groups including Living Witness in British Quakers, being founder member of Loughborough Transition, facilitator for Carbon Footprint Support Groups, and part of team who set up an Area Meeting One Planet Living Group a few years ago, now laid down. It’s been a particularly heartwarming time in my sustainability journey when Loughborough Meeting developed its active Sustainability Group. There had been previous attempts which withered after a short while. It is so affirming now to be part of a committed group, and with the Quaker ethos.” – Sue Meredith Velado
“The climate crisis is a huge and daunting issue and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by it. Working in a group with others to make changes, no matter how small, made me feel less helpless. Creating the Loughborough Sustainability Handbook was such an affirming experience because it brought the Meeting together in a shared project and made me feel we were making a difference.” – Julian Rees
We share with you an invitation for those based in the UK to join a “Journey to COP26” event organized by a group of Quakers in Britain on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th April. This community-based event offers an opportunity “for people of all faiths and none to join together remotely and share our belief in the sacredness of all life, ahead of the UN climate talks, COP26” by journeying to a place that is sacred to you and sharing it online.
The initiative puts awareness, understanding and action on climate change at the heart of the community response to COP26. The climate talks, which are scheduled to happen in Glasgow in November 2021, will play a crucial role in determining the global climate response over the coming decade. The organisers of the action, a small group of Quakers supported by Quaker Peace & Social Witness, write:
“This action is a way for us to strengthen our collective sense of purpose in protecting the Earth and all its inhabitants.
Your journey could be to your garden or local park, or a day long hike! If your sacred place is your own living room it could even be a spiritual or virtual journey. It could be taken as a group, perhaps with others from your meeting, or individually.
Anyone can participate in the Journey to COP26.”
If you want advice, support or ideas for what to do for your Journey to COP26, please get in touch! Email Oonagh Ryder, Activism Support Coordinator: email@example.com
Working together American Friends Service Committee, Britain Yearly Meeting, Friends Committee for National Legislation, Quaker Council for European Affairs and Quaker United Nations Office have developed a statement on migration drawing on Quaker foundations and work with migrants and on migration. The core of the statement says:
Rooted in our belief that there is that of the sacred in everyone, our spiritual leading to uphold the inherent value and agency of every human being, and our commitment to building a world without violence, we are heartbroken by migration policy that dehumanises some members of our human family on the basis of where they come from. We reject the notion that security for some can be achieved through means that use or result in violence and insecurity for others. We abhor the many forms of violence used in the management of migration and the effect current migration systems have in dividing our human family.
We are committed to working for a world where dignity and rights are upheld regardless of migration status and not on the basis of citizenship or perceived deservedness. Our faith calls us to work alone and with others for migration justice.
Friends from Victoria, Australia have been in touch to let us know about a newly launched climate network. The VRM Climate Action & Earthcare Network is part of the Victoria Regional Meeting of Friends. The Regional Meeting has about 330 members and attenders and is largely based in metropolitan Melbourne but with small meetings in regional areas.
Gerry Fahey, Co-Convenor of the VRM Climate Action and Earthcare Network wrote to let us know that the Network are taking part in the Greenfaith Sacred People, Sacred Earth campaign action. Greenfaith have organised an international statement that includes 10 demands calling for climate justice. This will be complemented by a day of local actions happening on 11th March 2021. Fahey commented, “The statement is strong and calls on governments and business to work towards real changes. It is at the core of a year on action in 2021 leading up to the COP26.”