"Thinking Global Green" on Website

By Alan Burns
Think Global Green

Friend Alan Burns shares a reflection on his faithful path toward creating a dynamic website that he updates regularly with climate news from around the world, www.thinkglobalgreen.org.

Retracing the route to developing my website, www.thinkglobalgreen.org, (TGG being my shorthand) takes quite a few turns, but is based in the history of waiting for that small voice inside, and trusting in the messages. For me it began in the early 1980s, although the website didn’t go online until the end of 2008.

The actual creation of TGG commenced in 2006 while working on the Congressional campaign of Democratic candidate Bill Glass, though Bill would lose the election. 

First I need to return to 1983 when, after discovering Quakers two years before, I found myself in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I volunteered at the Peace and Justice Centre. I was soon asked to take over running the Centre, though I immediately turned down the invitation as the bursary from the Scottish Council of Churches was just £6 each week. I was already living on the breadline; the unemployment benefit was £21 a week, so declining the invitation seemed the only logical decision. That same night is when the inner voice urged me to say, "yes." Over what seemed like hours, the voice became incessant to say "yes" despite my logic saying it couldn’t be done. I couldn’t ethically accept this opportunity and still claim to be unemployed. I don’t know how others receive those messages, but for me it was more shouted than a quiet voice; I felt compelled to make the phone call to accept. Now I could at least sleep.

A week later, I visited Quaker House in London. There a chance meeting led me to be informed that if I could receive financial support from Edinburgh Meeting, they would assist and accept me as a Quaker Peace-worker. It fell into place, so I requested a further £10 a week.

This was the year that saw the International Fast for Life take place, when 14 people around the globe went on an open-ended fast to bring a halt to the nuclear arms race. I contemplated joining the fast, but then a second message said not to join, that I have something more important to do. That could have been being asked to take over as international coordinator as the fast came to a successful close in September 1983, maybe not—I was now accepting I had moved into a different way of believing. Several more pieces fell into place to allow me to accept that role, whether by coincidence or not, I had no idea.

Another chance meeting brought me to North Carolina in August 1984. A series of invitations to take lead positions with political and environmental activities led me to Bill Glass, the Congressional candidate, and the construction of TGG. I had become comfortable now accepting roles without the hesitation that would have caused negative responses prior to 1983—the small voice was always there assuring me not to be afraid, and that doors were still being opened.

It was never my intention to actually undertake the website; it began with my bringing Bill to consider renewable energy as a campaign issue. At that time it was not even on the radar of American politics. He already could manage web sites, so I thought I would simply gather the information since I had no idea how to even begin such an endeavor. Having set it up, he withdrew due to health issues and passed the task onto me. Where to even start? Green Party friends came to my aid, volunteering to create the technology and templates, and teach me how to post on pages. I was learning fast over the summer of 2008 and finally launched the site December 17. Since then it has been an almost daily task of researching events globally with my efforts to educate young people across the world of the threats facing future generations from global warming.

Alan Burns is a member of Charlotte Friends Meeting.