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Share Your Vision: Help us with the next BeFriending Creation

2 years 3 months ago


How are you feeling right now?

We’ve heard from many that they are feeling overwhelmed and scared, but also engaged and fired-up.

How are we doing at Quaker Earthcare Witness? As a mostly volunteer organization, it could be easy for us to feel under-resourced in the face of the mounting challenges to our democracy, our communities, and our planet. Yet as a growing network of Friends across North America, we feel strong and motivated. Thank you.

In times of such turmoil, there is the likelihood of radical change—for better or for worse. We need to hold on to a vision of radical change for the better.

Together we must continue to engage in daily actions that protect the vulnerable and our earth while moving forward toward a world in right relationship with Creation.

What does that look like?

For the March/April issue of our newsletter, BeFriending Creation, we are asking you to ponder and answer this question and the questions below. We want to gather Friends’ voices and serve as a resource for sharing our collective wisdom. We also want our work this year to be grounded in the responses we receive, so please, respond and share widely.

We are looking for letters, articles (300–700 words), quotes, poems, and photographs that respond to the following queries:

• In the context of this current moment, what do the following words mean to you? “WE ARE CALLED to live in right relationship with all Creation, recognizing that the entire world is interconnected and is a manifestation of God.” (From QEW’s vision statement)

• How do we move toward that vision? What are you doing in your community?

• What can we offer as QEW? As Friends? What are you offering?

Help us by sharing your vision and adding your voice to this vital conversation. Send your work or any questions to by February 15th.

Thank you,

Shelley Tanenbaum and Hayley Hathaway

Picture of BFC front page

Read the new BeFriending Creation

2 years 3 months ago

Have you read the new BeFriending Creation?

2017's first issue leads with a call for a "more radical witness:" to take to heart the lessons learned from indigenous land and water protectors in 1993 in Vancouver and today at Standing Rock in North Dakota. We reflect on the dangerous side of environmental activism in the Global South while celebrating news about solar energy's lowered costs. We read about the "wood wide web" in a review of the new book "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben. We learn about QEW's plans for 2017. We welcome Beverly Ward, as Southeastern Yearly Meeting's new Field Secretary for Earthcare, and Hayley Hathaway, QEW's new Publications Coordinator. Click here to see more and download the PDF version.

Drawing to a close

3 years 3 months ago

January 27, 2016

The new constitution was approved with changes that were generated with concern for the carbon footprint of FWCC. The requirement in the constitution was for world gatherings to be held every three years, recently stretched to four years. The new constitution that was approved changes to requiring a world plenary at least every 10 years. Many tasks that had been assigned to the world plenary were reassigned to the Central Executive Committee so that the organization can function between world gatherings.

The Sustainability Consultation was expertly facilitated by Jonathan Woolley of the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) Geneva, Rachel Madenyika of QUNO New York, and Charlotte.

After a serious discussion as a large group of more than 50 for more than six hours, the facilitators worked with a writing group of young adult Friends. The final Minute was presented to the Meeting for Worship for Business on Tuesday, January 25th, and approved. As soon as the file gets to us on email, we will pass it on so it can be put up on the QEW website.

The focus is on what can we do and an annex gives specific examples generated by the group. There are specific requests to FWCC, to Yearly Meetings, and to monthly meetings or individual Friends. - by Judy Lumb

Consultations and personal stories

3 years 3 months ago

January 22, 2016

We have had our second of four Consultation on Sustainability meetings. The first session we broke into small groups and suggested what could be done at three levels: individual Friends, small groups of Friends, and yearly meetings. All suggestions were handed in on post-it notes, which were summarized today. I took photos of those summaries.

Then today we had a session as a whole where personal experience and further explanations were presented. The session was well clerked to make sure of contributions from a wide range of participants. Stories from youth were most impressive. A young woman from the Netherlands talked about how young folks she worked with decided they wanted sustainable food. They asked the direct server, who said he didn't have authority, they had to go to the CEO. They couldn't get an appointment, so they accosted him in his pub. He was nice and they had a long conversation which resulted in his agreeing to the change. But then they had to convince the procurer, whom was over three other sections, so they made the change in the whole company. In the worship-sharing that followed Mary Gilbert sang a wonderful Pete Seeger song about dying.

Arriving in Peru

3 years 3 months ago

January 20, 2016

We have arrived at Pisac, Peru, and are in the first plenary Business Section. Already there is considerable reference to the Kabarak Call. This is old news, but I missed it then. Last June (2015) FWCC divested from all fossil fuel investments. Since the work of FWCC necessarily involves international travel, there is considerable awareness of the carbon footprint. According to the current FWCC constution, face-to-face international meetings are required, originally every three years, now 3-5 years. Changes are proposed to give the Executive Committee more flexibility to hold these meetings only as often as 12 years. Among the Consultation Groups is one on Sustainability on Earth which is charged with making recommendations on further action in follow-up to the Kabarak Call. I will attend that group and report. I am quite pleased at how central the Kabarak Call is in these proceedings.

They put the Quaker statement climate change, the one with all the quaker signatures, in the booklet of conference documents. My first thought was that we didn't need to get the translation done if FWCC was doing it. Then I took a closer look and recognized a font. I had forgotten that I had sent FWCC the matching layouts I did of the English and Spanish. --Judy Lumb

Shelley at COP21

Saturday, December 12

3 years 5 months ago

Note: QEW General Secretary Shelley Tanenbaum traveled to Paris to participate in the historic COP21 Climate talks. This blog compiles her posts (organized with the most recent post at the top of the blog).

[Post 4 of 4 for the day, listed from latest to earliest posts]

12DECEMBRE 2015 – This is an in-the-moment account of Saturday night’s global agreement on climate.
Dignitaries assembling – Main hall is packed, plus overflow an equally large hall is packed, plus several side rooms. On the screen (I’m in the large overflow room), close-ups of happy looking folks – a good sign? Kerry, Gore, McKenna, Fabius, delegates taking photos, laughing Chinese, Kerry talking to Chinese delegates, Gore taking a selfie, Mary Robinson chatting with Gore and Kerry, laughing with them. But are the Saudis and Indians looking equally ready to make history?

People in my hall laugh to see dignitaries taking cell photos of each other. Uh-oh, looks like a delegation still going over the text and another delegation looks somber – are these bad signs? This is like reading tea leaves.

More delay – almost an hour after we were supposed to get started. Not much sign of action at the front table. No more happy people arriving, just lots of tense waiting. Nervous chatter and wifi that keeps cutting out from rooms packed with delegates and observers.

Sara and Eileen text me that they are holding Meeting for Worship at Place To Be in Paris on behalf of all of us at the COP, well really, all of us everywhere. Lindsey and I, in separate halls, texting back and forth.

Finally, after nearly 2 hours of waiting, we are starting the proceedings. We hear from the UN Secretariat’s executive secretary general with a long list of typos and technical correction – after all, this recent text was prepared by diplomats and staff working on several all-nighters over the past week.

President of the COP, Laurent Fabius, lets us know that he will take comments later. He asks for objections and immediately gavels approval! Huh, did that just happen? Cheers erupt, hugs, clapping, tears.

First to comment is the delegation from South Africa. They proudly refer to this current round of negotiations starting in Durbin, comment a bit on pre- and post- 2020 goals and targets, and conclude with Nelson Mandela : “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have not faltered. I have discovered that after climbing that great hill, there are many hills to climb. I have stopped to take a rest, but I dare not linger for my long walk is not over.”

Nearly all comments from delegations praise French diplomatic skill in reaching out to all parties and addressing all concerns to the extent possible with an agreement including 186 countries – almost tout le monde. Nearly all mention the remarkable collegial atmosphere of the past 2 weeks, with delegates working tirelessly (multiple all-nighters), listening deeply, responding sincerely.

The most poignant comment is from the delegate from Santa Lucia, speaking on behalf of island nations. He emotionally relates that this is the first COP where their concerns have been heard and addressed.

Nicaragua is up next, objecting to several elements in the agreement, including the hasty approval. They say financing is not adequate to make serious inroads into deep de-carbonization in developing countries – everyone in fact knows this but they also know it is the best that can be done this year at COP. Nicaragua also objects to stripping future generations of legal claims on compensation from historic use. But their objections are referred to a “report” in the euphoria of creating an “historic” international agreement.

The Paris Agreement includes a 5-year review and a ratcheting process to systematically lower emissions while holding up the goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. It is understood that current commitments are inadequate and will likely result in a temperature rise of 3 degrees C, so stronger commitments will have to be made during the 5-year reviews. It would have been better, of course, to set more ambitious emissions goals now.

Some of the comments from delegations:

  • EU—France has united the world. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we have to act…This is what the world expects of us.
  • China—The Paris agreement is a critical step…It is a marvelous agreement that belongs to our generation (Fabius thanks China for their extraordinary effort)
  • India—quoting Gandhi, “We should care for a world we will not see”
  • Venezuela—The preamble is revolutionary – we are in support of gender equity, generational equity, climate justice, rights of Mother Earth, human rights…Paris is a city of Light and Hope
  • Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN—This agreement is the floor, not the ceiling…What was once unthinkable has now become unstoppable
  • Ecuador—We do not negotiate with life..Living Well (Buen Vivir) is our national strategy…Paris is a good start… Life isn’t business and it doesn’t come with a price.
  • President Hollande, France—You have done it…later starts a standing ovation to Al Gore
  • Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC—She is the only person to thank civil society, and specifically praises the 400,000 strong Peoples Climate March in NYC last September for demonstrating public will to act on climate change.

As I see it, the Paris Agreement is certainly not the answer to our problems, nor is it the start. We are already well into a transition to carbon-free resources. Renewable energy and alternatives to current agricultural practices and other industrial processes are available and increasingly implemented every day. However, the agreement showcases an international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C and it provides a framework for establishing lower and lower emissions on a 5-year review cycle. This work needs to be done at multiple levels of our society – civil society, government and business. It was exhilarating to be a witness to this part of the process, to see total joy from delegates and observers, to give a needed boost to our transition to Buen Vivir.

There was nearly no mention of spiritual and lifestyle changes that will be a key ingredient to living sustainably, not just in regard to climate but also with regard to our relationship with the natural world. We can all celebrate today, then get to work tomorrow. Merci Beaucoup.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 [Post 3]

3 years 5 months ago

COP Paris agreement just approved - more details later - 12 December 2015 7:30 pm

Paris, Dec 12

Saturday, December 12, 2015 [Post 2]

3 years 5 months ago

Update Live from COP21 - mid-afternoon plenary delayed for two hours, presumably while the "parties" negotiate. The story seems to be that EU, USA, Island Nations and others at high risk, plus Canada, Australia are united to support the text released at 1:30 today. Holdouts appear to be China, India and Saudi Arabia seeking a weaker document.

The 1:30 text includes "well under 2.0 deg C and every effort to reach 1.5 dec C" as a limit to global warming and a 5 year review. Text available at unfccc website.

Picture shows delegates and observers reading the just released text about 2 hours ago.

Saturday, December 12, 2015 [Post 1]

3 years 5 months ago

[FIRST POST] Live from COP21, 12 December 2015 – In a 11:30-12:30 morning plenary (Paris time), President of the COP Laurent Fabius, President Hollande of France and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon announce that they will be releasing a proposed final text of a climate agreement by 1:30 (still being translated – when available you can download it on the website). They extoll delegates to join this “historic and ambitious document.” We’ve been told that the text i...s legally binding and will expect common but differentiated responsibility, that it upholds the principle of climate justice, that it holds up the goal of “well below 2.0 degrees C with the every attempt being made to hold temperature rise to 1.5, that it will provide for 5-year updates and financing will increase to at least $1 billion per year by 2020 with higher numbers expected after 2020. Laurent Fabius described how each nations has come to the conference with their own red lines – what they need to bring back to their people. However, he suggests that we we will leave with a universal agreement with a set of green lines – that the text is the best possible balance amongst countries. His eloquent speech included: “No one wants a repetition of Copenhagen…the planets are aligned … if we fail today how can we rebuild hope? … credibility of multinationalism is at stake … our children will not forgive us … none of us acting alone can be successful (Mandela) … the world is holding its breath.”

The “parties” (delegates) will reconvene in a plenary session at 3:45 PM.

Paris, Dec 10

Thursday, December 10

3 years 5 months ago

Thursday, December 10 at the COP – Another draft came out of the Committee of Paris tonight, another late night for delegates. As they quibble about “common but differentiated responsibility” and 1.5 or 2.0 degrees C, we all know that this boat has been launched. The specific number of 1.5 or 2.0 degrees C is aspirational – to date, specific commitments to achieve either of these goals are not on the table. At least the latest draft (released a few hours ago) acknowledges tha...t the pledges so far are way below what is needed to get to either of these goals, and requests parties to keep working on specific goals that could meet these targets. This acknowledgement is more than we’ve seen in earlier drafts. The political will to get specific about goals is missing in this COP, but the latest draft asks that the parties come up with something within 4-6 years (actual number is still a bit fuzzy). Aspirational goals of 1.5-2.0 degrees C have their place – at least these numbers are acknowledged and represent a global vision of what we hope to achieve.

The boat has been launched no matter what happens tomorrow at the COP – the technology already exists to transition to renewables, costs for renewables are plummeting, implementation models exist (California is leading the way, despite one huge exception – Governor Brown, why do you still support fracking?) and people all over the the world are waking up to the fact that a more harmonious relationship with nature is both good for the environment and good for our spiritual/emotional/physical well-being.

We in the faith community have a huge role to play in deepening our human relationship with the natural world. Go for a walk in the woods and take a few friends with you. Let yourself be led to the take the next step – you are joined by billions of people all over the world ready to take that step with you.


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