Let's Get Organized to Care for the Earth
How to develop a vital unity with nature or Earthcare group
To start a group, all you need are a few people in your Meeting or local area who are sympathetic to spiritually-based ecological work. You might start by showing a video, holding a discussion or worship, or having a vegetarian potluck supper, and sharing the recipes. You may form around a local issue or a more general alarm at the degradation of our environment and its toll on the human spirit.
The North American Quaker Earthcare Witness stands ready to help with resources (see below), ideas, and general encouragement, and consultation.
When your local group meets, we suggest that you try to include all four of the components described in this leaflet. These components seek to reflect an emphasis on both the inward and outward journey. It's not essential, however, to touch on everything at every meeting. It is easy to fall into busyness, focusing too much on projects and missing the desperately needed focus on changes in the human heart and consciousness.
- Walking Gently on the Earth: an Earthcare Checklist, by Jack Phillips
- Earthcare for Friends, A Study Guide for Individuals and Faith Communities, edited by Louis Cox, Ingrid Fabianson, Sandra Moon Farley, and Ruah Swennerfelt..
- Healing Ourselves and the Earth, by Elizabeth G. Watson
- BeFriending Creation, the bimonthly newsletter of Quaker Earthcare Witness.
- Caring for Creation: the Biblical Basis of Earthcare, by Lisa L. Gould
- A number of QEW pamphlets on population, energy, simplicity, living lightly in the city, and the spiritual dimension of Earthcare.
- A list of videos to borrow
- A list of books and study guides
These and other resources are available from the Quaker Earthcare Witness offices at 173-B N. Prospect St., Burlington, VT 05401-1607 USA. See Quaker Earthcare Book Store.
Celebrate the sanctity of Creation through worship, mediation, worship-sharing, song, dance, and exercises (such as the Cosmic Walk and the Council of All Beings) that move us to know ourselves as Earth beings in a world suffused with Divine Light.
Meditate on written accounts of revelations of the divine in nature (such as John Muir) and in the person (such as Meister Eckhart). Study the Bible and what it has to tell us about caring for the Earth and the human place in Creation. Study the wisdom of the Quaker heritage as it connects the spiritual life to our ecological setting. Central to Friends testimonies is that "there is that of God in everyone." FCUN challenges Friends to consider extending this concept to "that of God in everything." Explore the implications of this new revelation through worship and discussion.
Seek other sources of wisdom that nurture an understanding of the human relationship to Creation such as:
- The New Universe Story, a modern origin account of the 15-billion-year epic unfolding of the universe to its present state of beauty, diversity, and complexity. Many people have discovered it has vast implications to help us embrace our embeddedness in the Earth, and simultaneously find a place for full religious experience and inner leadings.
- Native American spirituality
- Zen Buddhism
- Deep Ecology
- Identify the gifts of group members so that all may contribute to the group and its work.
- Recognize that the well-being of the Earth is a fundamental religious concern.
There's a garden in our galaxy! And we are it!
—Mary Southard, CSJ
You may wish to:
- Encourage individuals in your group to reflect on articles, pamphlets, and books, followed by discussion in light of the Earth as a dynamic, sacred totality. Perhaps the group might all read an important book or article and discuss it. Videos are a source of valuable common experience. Use prepared study guides such as the Northwest Earth Institute's guides on simplicity, deep ecology, and bioregionalism see list of study guides).
- "Re-inhabit" the place where you live by engaging in activities that root you in the cycles of nature. Learn about your bioregion in such activities as nature walks, canoe trips, etc. that are fun and reveal the beauty of your particular region. To understand the human place in your bioregion, you might make field trips to areas key to the bioregion, such as the watershed(s) or the sources of food supply, and visit facilities for recycling garbage disposal and water treatment.
- Learn the natural and cultural history of your bioregion. Consider inviting local politicians, educators, and clergy persons to speak on bioregional issues.
- Communicate that the present exploitation of the Earth by human activity is causing fundamental disruptions of the natural processes on which all living beings, including the human, depend.
- Distribute announcements about pertinent conferences, as well as local and national events. Get involved in local and national political issues that affect the environment. This may include the impact of population growth, the toxic impact of chemicals, and the consequences of uncontrolled economic growth.
- Commit to bio-regional lifeway(s); share with the group personal decisions about lifeway changes that an individual or family has adopted. These may include, for example, changes in food choices, transportation, purchasing, energy use, food disposal by composting, landscaping, and waste disposal.
- Explore the "hidden teaching" in your household about our relationship to the natural world, e.g., do you pour toxic chemicals down the drain? If you change your own oil, what do you do with the old?
- Specifically design events with children to develop an identification with place, their ecosystem home, Scavenger hunts for natural objects are fun.
- Discuss specific ways in which individuals in your group are "witnessing" their leadings on Earthcare, and how others have responded to that witness. Discuss how you might support one another in your witness/work.
- Challenge yourselves to an increasingly more Earth-friendly lifeway, perhaps by setting a ceiling on consumption, as measured by reducing expenditures by a set percentage cumulatively each year, until a satisfactory low is reached.
- Discuss Earth-friendly ideas for holidays, vacations, parties, and recreation.
- Share with the group any individual leadings with regard to Earthcare and seek assistance from the group to find clearness about leadings.
You will find these life-giving:
- As you develop group projects, be sure to make consultation with nature part of your discernment process. Learn to listen and watch. This means cultivating a deep respect for all of nature, an appreciation for all life forms, for all the land. It means not seeing ourselves as guardians of the environment, but as part of the community of life.
- Identify common concerns and opportunities that help the Meeting/group sustain and enhance the diversity and vitality of our bio-region. Develop and carry out Meeting projects to act on these concerns.
- Join in local cleanups, not as a duty, but as an act of humility and joy. Bend to our parent/mother Earth, who sustains and nourishes us. Join the events and projects of other FUN groups and other environmental groups in your bioregion.
- Organize fairs, picnics, hikes, camping trips, and similar outings and celebrations for the Meeting. Seek as a community to reconnect with place.
- Conduct a Meeting House "eco-audit." Encourage other Meeting Friends to join in Meeting House and grounds projects that foster sustainable living.
- Discern how the Meeting as a whole can engage in the corporate witness for caring for the Earth. Support one another in carrying out that witness.