4 Asks: Recommendations for All Friends
If you’ve been fortunate enough to attend Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania, you’ll remember all of the amazing trees planted there over many years. Caring for these acres as people studied Quaker testimony together was a strong part of the stewardship of nature—a nature freely offering its gifts to people. Fifteen people came to the two meetings of the “Sustainability: Faith and Action Working Group” held during the October 2014 QEW meeting. We were a motley group: an activist with Earth Quaker Action Team, a farmer, a writer, a guerilla gardener, a teacher, several retired old women (I can phrase it this way because I, Paula, was the oldest), a biologist, a businessman, a doctor. We all love the earth and want to work in its service, knowing that it has sustained us all our lives.
A Friend from the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had inspired us earlier with the moral argument for divesting from fossil fuels, and several young people had shared the cloud forest habitat restoration work they did in Mexico, learning about and working for the land. We were sharing with each other the work we were doing in divesting from fossil fuels, in putting solar on our meeting houses, in retrofitting homes, in giving presentations explaining the impact of the exponential increase in populations, in planting native plants that could interact with pollinators and other insects who are the backbone of our entire food system, in creating edible gardens where once there had been useless lawns.
How could we expand our efforts? After a period of discernment we settled on four distinct recommendations that we call the “4 Asks.” In October, we presented them to the entire QEW meeting. It was too late for formal approval, but it has been going around as much as possible. This April we will ask for formal approval to send the document as an Epistle to all Yearly Meetings. We hope to expand the QEW website greatly with information and stories as we all work on this. Keep your eye out as this material gets posted. We hope that you will join us. We hope that you will “Discern what form of witness will most effectively make visible our deep commitment to protecting the commonwealth of life now and in the future.”
To Friends Everywhere,
The Sustainability, Faith and Action Working Group of Quaker Earthcare Witness developed Four Asks which are recommendations for Friends Churches and Meetings throughout North America. We ask local Friends fellowships and Yearly Meetings to prayerfully examine the Four Asks and to explore ways to act upon part or all of them. These are suggested actions to encourage Friends to set an example of active service in behalf of the many free gifts that we receive from God’s Creation. We encourage these actions as a witness to those outside of our Churches and Meetings.
Recommendations for all Friends
from the QEW Sustainability, Faith, and Action Working Group
October 5, 2014, Pendle Hill
1. We ask that all Yearly and Monthly Meetings address the moral dimension of investments in fossil fuels and consider reinvestment options that reflect your Meeting’s value. The call for divestment includes freezing any new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves and committing to shift any current fossil fuel investments over the next 5 years to investments which better reflect Friends’ testimonies. As many Meetings do not hold investments, consider a Minute in support of divestment as well as holding discussions about how individuals can divest. To see the Minute written by Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting in California, visit http://www.quakerearthcare.org/article/strawberry-creek-monthly-meeting-minute-climate-change-and-divestment.
2. We ask that all Friends’ Houses of Worship (Meeting Houses) surrounded by grass begin their ministry to beneficial insects by planting a patch of native pollinator plants, followed by a gradual transition to edible plantings. QEW will provide instructions and resources on their website. Visit the Xerces Society and Plant.Grow.Fly for information on native habitats and what to plant in your region.
3. We ask that all Friends’ Houses of Worship (which are able to in their locality) shift from non-renewable to renewable electricity suppliers by 2016, that we may serve as models and examples, showing our willingness to welcome the transition to a low carbon world. All Friends are encouraged to do the same. Your local power company may offer the ability to buy energy from renewable sources. This is also possible through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). By switching to solar or wind, many meetings could eventually redirect their resources away from utility bills to immediate needs and other projects that further Kingdom work.
4. Given that the United States is one of the largest carbon polluters and given that the EPA has proposed a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, and given that each state will be required to craft their own plan to meet the new emissions standards by 2016, we call on Meetings to develop a plan of action to encourage their state to hold the highest possible standard to address the risks of climate change, protect our health and environment now and for future generations.
· Identify your state’s current climate change plan.
· Compare it to the 100% renewable plan proposed by the Solutions Project.
· Identify and reach out to other faith and community partners.
· Create the space for dialogue and negotiation with policy makers.
· Prepare a minute of support for the state plan which reflects the urgent need to lower carbon
· Discern what form of witness will most effectively make visible our deep commitment to protecting the commonwealth of life now and in the future.
Blessings and peace to all,
The Sustainability, Faith and Action Working Group
Quaker Earthcare Witness