Is there something, someone or somewhere that you know and love which is endangered by environmental break-down? How does your lifestyle contribute to that threat? What could you do, or are you doing, to help reduce that threat?
The Loving Earth Project, started by Friends in the UK and now expanding internationally, invites participants to explore these three questions. The community project “celebrates people, places, creatures and other things that we love but which are threatened by growing environmental breakdown.” It offers online resources and events to help guide through this exploration and welcomes contributions to its community textile project, which encourages participants to create a visual reflection of their response. These beautiful textile panels feature everything from wild flowers to school strikers to polar bears. The panels and accompanying texts form part of a traveling display, showcasing the many ways in which people find themselves connecting to climate crisis and the natural world. You can see some of them at https://lovingearth-project.uk/gallery/ ; they hope for a big display in Glasgow for COP 26 in November 2021 and to tour widely thereafter.
The project was initiated by members of the Quaker Arts Network in the UK, bearing in mind “the different ways in which Friends can hold spaces for the Spirit to act, including through the arts”. The Loving Earth Project is now run as a partnership involving QAN and Woodbrooke (which is focusing on offering opportunities for Quakers and Quaker groups to engage with the project), and also with a variety of other groups. Three of the Friends taking it forward are: Maud Grainger who works at Woodbrooke to support Quakers in their engagement with the climate crisis; Linda Murgatroyd who initiated the project and is based in London; and Sue Tyldesley, based in North Lancashire, a textile artist who uses creative embroidery.
Quakers in New Zealand have come together to release a call for action after COVID-19 focusing on the moral and spiritual imperative for transformational change. They reflects that “they were inspired in part by the words of George Monbiot about the power of stories.” The Call for Action has been widely shared around New Zealand, joining a range of voices calling for change following the pandemic.
QUNO joins other members of the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the UNFCCC in the organization of a 3-part online series on faith and climate action. The group welcomes members from different religious communities, alongside scientists and policymakers, to meet and share their visions for faith-based climate action over the next year. There will be sessions every Tuesday between October 27th and November 10th in the run up to what would have been COP26.
Jonathan Sprout, a member of Fallsington Monthly Meeting in the United States, and his company Force For Good, have released their first CD, Passions. Once a month, Force For Good will premiere a short film (available for free on YouTube). The 13 initial films were made with Quaker principles in mind and deal with gender and racial equality, climate change and renewable energy, the refugee crisis, sensible gun legislation, organic farming, hope, and grace. Each film is about five minutes long, wordless, and prayer/meditation-like. These films are designed to open hearts and minds and have helped prepare people for worship.
The United States-based Friends Fiduciary Corporation is a Quaker not-for-profit which provides socially responsible investment management for Friends meetings, schools and organizations and recently it announced it will divest from fossil fuel industries. In place of fossil portfolios, Friends Fiduciary will rigorously focus on companies leading the transition to a low carbon economy like clean technology, renewable energy and energy and energy conservation, clean water protection, environmental finance, and low carbon commerce.
FWCC, in collaboration with young Friends from around the world and across the Quaker branches, are hosting a series of 5 online workshops over 10 weeks. These sessions will be run by young Quakers for young Quakers through Friends World Committee for Consultation on 5 Saturdays between August 29 and October 24, 2020.
Each session will explore climate action, peace, and justice in relation to one of the five testimonies: Truth, Equality, Peace, Simplicity and Community. There will be a chance to hear from 2 – 3 speakers (who will be Young Friends from across the FWCC sections), to talk in zoom breakout rooms exploring the session’s theme, and a chance to gather and reflect on our discussions together.
Every year on June 5th the world celebrates World Environment Day. This year the theme is biodiversity, which is a core piece of any healthy environment. Currently we are losing species at the fastest rate ever in human history. The following is a useful resource explaining what biodiversity is, why it is under threat, and what are the direct actions you and I can take to help protect biodiversity.
Kwibuka Yearly Meeting in Burundi engages Friends and non-friends through a wide range of actions to encourage environmental protection and economic development. This happens through the “Christian Action in a World of Distress” Program. Some of the activities include teaching young vegetable farmers to make organic pesticides and fertilizer to prevent environmental degradation, how to transform non-biodegradable plastics into useful tools, and offer retreats to foster youth leadership in climate action. The group is also planning to open three new nurseries to help combat deforestation.
Friends World Committee for Consultation has created a Sustainability Resources list on their website, which includes reports from different meetings around the world, personal testimonies from Friends, and links to publications and podcasts from FWCC as well as other Quaker organizations such as QUNO and Quakers in Britain. FWCC also has an Instagram page where more information and narrative is shared.
Beverly Ward, the Southeastern Yearly Meeting Field Secretary for Earthcare, attended a “Peace Breakfast: an Interfaith gathering” at Valencia College in Orlando, United States. Faith leaders were asked to share touchstones—“a touchstone transcends any one religion, thought, or spiritual tradition and serves as a guide. These touchstones provide examples of specific prayers, passages or scripture, or inspirations from various sacred texts or philosophical writings associated with diverse traditions.” Those present were invited to present a touchstone about how humans are accountable to the care and protection of planet Earth.