Friday, October 24, 2014

Renowned Bioneer and bio-benign designer Anna Edey to speak at Friends Meetinghouse, 15 Rutherford Place (15th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) in Manhattan, Sunday, October 26th 1pm.

New York Friends in Unity with Nature is pleased to present a slide talk by renowned Bioneer and bio-benign designer Anna Edey at Friends Meetinghouse, 15 Rutherford Place (15th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) in Manhattan on Sunday, October 26th at 1pm.

Anna's talk, Solviva SolarGreen Design - how to reduce CO2, tarsands, fracking, mountain-top-removal and other harm to near-zero, in ways that save money and improve security and quality of life, will especially explore how to speed toward that goal in NYC. This will be of interest to anyone desiring to bring forth Ecological Civilization and in transitioning to sustainable systems in solid waste management, electricity, transportation and food production in New York City and elsewhere.

Anna Edey is the creator of Solviva Bioshelter* in Martha’s Vineyard and has been called,
along with John Todd of New Alchemy Institute and Hunter Lovins of Natural Capitalism Solutions,
a “biological pioneer” — those who are imitating living systems to restore the web of life.

She is the author of Green Light at the End of the Tunnel: Learning the Art of Living Well Without Causing Harm to Our Planet and Ourselves, and Solviva: How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre, and Peace on Earth. Articles on her work have appeared in numerous periodicals including Organic Gardening. Her Solviva Bioshelter was also the subject of a segment on CNN.

Suggested Donation: $5

Duration: 45 minutes followed by discussion and Q & A.

We hope to see you there!

*About the name, Solviva: Solviva means 'Sun Life.' In the Swedish flower language, Anna explains,
SOLVIVA also means: "Hoppas! Det skall till slut bli som vi onskar,” — "Hope! It will finally become as we wish. "

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bidder 70: An Act of Conscience --This is what Hope, Patriotism and Love look like

Bidder 70, the documentary film about environmental hero Tim DeChristopher, is playing for a short time at the Quad cinema in Manhattan.

It is the only time and place this film is playing in the US. Its general distribution in the US depends on the success of its run in Manhattan, so please go see this extraordinarily inspirational film before it leaves on May 23rd!

Here's a brief synopsis:

In 2008, as President Bush tried to gift the energy and mining industries thousands of acres of pristine Utah land via a widely disputed federal auction, college student Tim DeChristopher decided to monkey-wrench the process. Bidding $1.7 million, he won 22,000 acres with no intention to pay or drill. For this astonishing (and successful) act of civil disobedience he was sent to federal prison. This film tells the story of a land activist and peaceful warrior whose patriotism and willingness to sacrifice have ignited the environmental movement.

And here is a quote from Tim DeChristopher:

“At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow.”

By the way, Tim received his BA in Economics. Now he's enrolled in Harvard Divinity School. The experience of his trial showed him the importance of human beings hanging onto their consciences as a prerequisite for a just and sustainable society. In the Q & A after the screening last night where Tim was present, he explained that in the pretrial, potential jurors were asked whether they could give a verdict without the use of their conscience. They would be passed over if they said no. Chillingly, virtually all of them said yes. And the rest is history -- Tim was convicted and spent two years in federal prison. And he saved 22,000 acres of pristine wilderness.

Tim is a powerful speaker, thinker and activist and an example and inspiration to us all. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see the film about his powerful and effective act of conscience.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Watch Bill Moyers interview with activist and ecologist, Sandra Steingraber:

The Toxic Assault on Our Children

And below, read Sandra Steingraber's Prepared Sentencing Statement for the Reading Town Court, April 17, 2013

Your Honor, I am not a lawyer. I am a biologist and a human being. I am also a mother of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old. I bring all these identities to your courtroom tonight.

I am guilty of an act of trespass. On March 18, I willfully stood on private property owned by the Inergy company and blocked access to a compressor station site that is being constructed in order to prepare explosive hydrocarbon gases, propane and butane, for storage in abandoned salt caverns that are located beside and beneath Seneca Lake.

In my field of environmental health, the word trespass has meaning. Toxic trespass refers to involuntary human exposure to a chemical or other pollutant. It is a contamination without consent. It is my belief, as a biologist, that Inergy     is guilty of toxic trespass. Inergy has been out of compliance with EPA regulations every quarter for the past three years. In spite of this, Inergy applied for, and has received, from the state of New York a permit to discharge, every day, an additional 44,000 pounds of chloride into Seneca Lake.That’s 22 tons a day. That’s 8000 tons a year. Seneca Lake is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Those industrial discharges trespass into the bodies of those who drink it.

Additionally, Inergy’s planned 60-foot flare stack will release hazardous air pollutants, including ozone precursors, as will the fleets of diesel trucks hauling propane. This kind of air pollution is linked to heart attack and stroke risk, preterm birth, and asthma in children. Thus does Inergy trespass into our air and lungs. I see this as a real danger to my 11-year-old son, who has a history of asthma. We live 15 miles to the east—directly downwind—from this facility.

Inergy’s plans to industrialize the lakeshore will bring 24/7 light and noise pollution into a tranquil community. These forms of trespass also have health consequences, including increased risk for breast cancer and elevated blood pressure.

And because Inergy is building out infrastructure for the storage and transportation of greenhouse gases obtained by fracturing shale, Inergy trespasses into our climate and contributes to its ongoing destablization at a time when the best science show us that we need to be rapidly moving away from fossil fuels of all kinds.

Lastly, the risk of catastrophic accidents from the storage of liquefied petroleum gases in salt caverns is real. It has happened in at least 10 previous occasions. The 14-acre sinkhole in Belle Rose, Louisiana, which is now making headlines, was caused by a collapsed salt cavern. It sent crude oil gushing up into surface water and natural gas into     groundwater.

As a biologist, I have submitted expert comments and petitions about Inergy’s application for permits to both the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, I am hampered in my efforts to judge the structural soundness of the salt caverns because the company that owns them insists that the scientific research that documents the history of these caverns—at least one of which sits on a fault line—is a trade secret.

Your honor, how can geological history become proprietary information? Without access to data, how can any member of the public evaluate the risks we are being compelled to endure by the repurposing of salt caverns into giant underground cigarette lighters?

In closing, my actions were taken to protest the trespass of Inergy into our air, water, bodies, safety, and security. My small, peaceful act of trespass was intended to prevent a much larger, and possibly violent one.

The people of Bellrose, Lousiana, are now facing relocation after the catastrophic collapse of the salt cavern there. Family homes are being abandoned. And the signs on the front lawns of the empty houses read, “No trespassing.”

To bring attention to such hazards for the Finger Lakes–and for the act of protecting water, which is life itself–I trespassed. It was an act of civil disobedience. For that, and because I have deep respect for the rule of law, which Inergy company does not, I am willing to go to jail.

Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized


Bill Moyers, April 17, 2013: Sandra Steingraber on Taking Action

Ithaca Journal April 17, 2013: Schuyler County protesters get 15 days in jail: Members of ‘Seneca Lake 12′ blocked Inergy entrance

Shreveport Times, April 17, 2013: Schuyler County protesters get 15 days in jail: Members of ‘Seneca Lake 12′ blocked     Inergy entrance

Corning Leader, April 17, 2013: Inergy protesters refuse to pay fines, head to jail

Rolling Stone, April 11, 2013 : The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Sandra Steingraber: The Toxic Avenger

The Auburn Citizen, April 4, 2013: Letter     to the editor: Environment can’t cope with hydrofracking

Star Gazzette, March 22, 2013: Energy firm wants more space in Schuyler to store gases: Inergy also wants to build LPG facility in Schuyler County

AlterNet March 21, 2013: Renowned Science Writer Sandra Steingraber Puts Her Body On the Line to Defend Against Fracking

The Ithacan March 21, 2013: Locals Protest Gas Storage Facility March 20, 2013: 12 arrested at Inergy; Protesters rally

Orion Magazine Blog March 19, 2013: Seneca 12 Block Gas Facility; Sandra Steingraber Arrested

Ithaca Journal March 19, 2013: Protest, arrests, at gas facilities in Schuyler County

Star Gazette March 19, 2013: Protests, arrests at gas facilities in Schuyler County

WBNG 12 March 19, 2013: Several Arrested at Watkins Glen Protest

YNN March 19, 2013: Group Rallies Against Proposed LPG Storage Facility Near Seneca Lake

WETM18 March 19, 2013: Protesters Rally Against Southern Tier Propane Storage

Common Dreams March 18, 2013: Fracking Protestors Arrested Blocking Dirty ‘Inergy’ Site

Protecting Our Water March 18, 2013: Breaking: Arrests at Blockade of “Dirty Inergy” Facility at Watkins Glen, as Protestors Protect Finger Lakes

Corning Leader March 18, 2013: 12 Activists Arrested at LPG Facility Protest

Ecowatch March 18, 2013: 12 Arrested Blockading Controversial Fracking Infrastructure

Innovation Trail March 18, 2013: Protesters arrested at gas storage site in Finger Lakes

The Leader March 18, 2013: 12 activists arrested at LPG facility protest

Corning Leader March 16, 2013: Group to rally against Inergy Plans


Three Local Residents Sent to Jail for Defending Their Homes and Families

More than 150 people packed the Town of Reading (NY) Court on Wednesday, April 17 to witness what they believe is a shocking miscarriage of justice.

Three members of a group dubbed the “Seneca Lake 12” — massage therapist Melissa Chapman of Schuyler County, farm owner Michael Dineen of Seneca County, and Sandra Steingraber, PhD, author, biologist, and distinguished scholar at Ithaca College — were sentenced to jail terms for their resistance to the heavy industrialization of the peaceful rural region they call home.

“What has happened to civil society?” asked a stunned Helen Savich when she saw her hero Sandra Steingraber hauled off to jail.

On March 18, Steingraber and 10 fellow residents of the Seneca Lake region, in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, blockaded a gas compressor station site run by Missouri-based Inergy, LLP, on Seneca Lake. They did so to demonstrate their opposition to Inergy’s planned heavy industrialization of the Finger Lakes region, renowned for its natural beauty, vineyards, and tourism- and agriculture-based economy.

Inergy’s gas storage and transportation project in the Town of Reading, right on Seneca Lake, threatens the water supply for 100,000 people.

All 11 protesters, along with a legal liaison, were arrested and charged with trespassing.

On April 17, Judge Raymond Berry of the Town of Reading imposed a fine of $375 for trespassing for Chipman, Dineen, and Steingraber, the three people appearing that evening. All three refused to pay (their statements are attached), and the judge ordered that each spend 15 days in jail.

“I think this is an unusually harsh sentence,” said Maura Stephens of the Coalition to Protect New York, “as it forces working people to give up income, lose time working on the land in this critical springtime, and sacrifice time with their families.”

Supporters of the defendants were shocked at the judgment, and concerned for the health and safety of their friends being sentenced to jail.

“Sandra was sobbing and hugging her family and us in that room off the hallway,” said Jan Quarles, wife of Michael Dineen. “I've never seen Sandra break down like that before, and I've known her for a very long time.”

Dr. Steingraber is respected worldwide for her scientific knowledge, eloquence, and commitment to everyone’s right to clean water, air, and secure food supply.

“If even someone of Sandra’s stature and fame can be thrown into jail because of her reasonable and deeply held convictions, can there be justice for any one of us?” asked Jack Ossont, a fellow Seneca Lake 12 protester who had appeared in court two weeks earlier with two fellow defendants. Ossont and others paid their imposed $375 fine with the help of community supporters.

Steingraber, Dineen, and Chipman are in jail now, but fellow activists will be holding vigils each evening from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at their places of incarceration. The vigils will continue until they are released. Steingraber is a featured guest on an upcoming episode of PBS’s Moyers & Company; see a short video here.

The Finger Lakes CleanWaters Initiative, Inc.

Coalition to Protect New York

 Quotes from the Seneca Lake 12

"I would rather eat bread and water now than have no bread and toxic water later! "    Melissa Chipman, Hector, NY

"This is a sacred place, with sacred stories to be kept preserved. It’s not for Inergy to come and dig up the landscape and store more poisons in old, unsafe salt caverns."     Margie Rogers, Elmira, NY

"We cannot put our trust, our health, or our economy's future in the hands of a company that is indifferent to its impact on the health and welfare of a region such as the Heart of the Finger Lakes."      Jim Borra, Hector, NY

"The Seneca Lake 12 are the salt of the earth; a growing community that believes the Inergy Corporation gas storage project is a suicidal course, not the renewable energy future essential to the survival of our children and theirs.”     Jack Ossont, Himrod, NY

"I do not take this step lightly. My wife and I have a small farm in Seneca County. We grow organic grains and maintain a large garden we use to feed our and our daughter’s families. Our garden is irrigated with lake water. I believe the Inergy gas storage complex will, at best, damage the community, and has the potential to do catastrophic damage. Important information has been kept from the public with the DEC’s cooperation. I do this to attempt to protect the community when all other means have failed. I blocked the entrance to the Inergy gas storage facility because I believe that the institutions who, by law and purpose, are required to protect the people and the environment from harm can no longer be relied on to do so."     Michael Dineen, Ovid, NY

Saturday, February 9, 2013

On Faith and Fracking - new ten minute film

An important new video is now available for viewing featuring members of various faith groups speaking out against hydrofracking.

We ask other faith leaders in NY to speak out, and cause those who value their faith but support gas drilling to re-examine their position.

The link to the film is

We want to get the film out as widely as possible in advance of any action the Governor might take next week. If you know of anyone in NY who would be interested in seeing this film - and especially those who might also ask their faith leaders to weigh in with Governor Cuomo - we would appreciate it very much if you could pass along the link.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Quakers oppose hydrofracking in New York State and beyond
Urge political representatives to prohibit the practice

[November 28, 2012; New York, NY]  New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (commonly called Quakers) formally opposed the practice of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF, hydrofracking, or fracking) at its Fall Sessions in Old Chatham, New York, on November 11, 2012. New York Yearly Meeting is the denominational organization of Quakers in New York State, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut.

The organization called upon political representatives to prohibit fracking in New York State, stating that the practice is “inconsistent with our faith and practices, which include a commitment to integrity, community, equality, and care of God’s creation.” It expressed its support for legislation and incentives that support renewable and sustainable energy, protect people and the environment, and foster a positive economy. The Yearly Meeting directed its clerk (presiding officer) and general secretary (staff executive) to communicate its stand to elected officials, other Quaker organizations and other faith communities, relevant environmental organizations, and the press. Finally, it asked its members to examine their own lives to find ways to reduce their need for fossil fuel energy and to consider joining in non-violent protest actions against fracking.

Full text of New York Yearly Meeting’s minute (formal statement of conscience) on fracking:

New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) has considered the potential consequences of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (also known as HVHF, horizontal hydrofracking, or fracking) in New York State. We oppose hydrofracking in New York State and beyond. We urge our political representatives to prohibit the practice of HVHF in New York State. As Quakers, we experience the Divine through loving and truthful relationships with all people and all creation. After extensive efforts to inform ourselves about fracking we have concluded that it is inconsistent with our faith and practices, which include a commitment to integrity, community, equality, and care of God’s creation. We observe that the natural gas industry and government agencies have placed financial gain over the health of our communities and the environment. We see no legitimate reason to exempt hydrofracking from existing laws protecting water, air, land, and health, as is currently the case. In other states where horizontal hydrofracking has been performed, it has resulted in the loss of vast amounts of fresh water, the release of toxins into the environment, damage to communities, and cost to the taxpayers.
We support legislation and incentives that promote research, development, and use of renewable and sustainable energy; support local farms and farmers; protect the air and water; enforce accountability for industries that risk environmental harm; and create economic policies that promote work for New York State residents that they can do in good conscience. We urge all citizens to thoughtfully consider the long-term effects of hydrofracking on the water, land, local economy, infrastructure, services, and the community as a whole. We are encouraged by the many communities coming together to seek a way forward based on truth and respect. We are called to stand against fracking, and invite others to join us in opposition to this practice.

We, the task group of Witness Coordinating Committee charged with creating this minute, suggest the following actions:

We ask that the NYYM clerk and general secretary disseminate this minute widely through press releases, letters to our elected officials, to other yearly meetings and other Quaker organizations.
We charge our representatives to the New York and New Jersey Council of Churches to bring this concern to those bodies, and to advocate for those bodies getting under the weight of this concern.
We urge Friends to examine our own lives to discern the seeds that might inadvertently support the practice of fracking, and, to the degree possible, do what we can to limit or eliminate those seeds.
We ask Friends to prayerfully consider adding their names to the list of people, started in part by Friends, who have made a public commitment to join with others to engage in non-violent acts of protest, as their conscience leads them.  The link to this list is as follows:

About New York Yearly Meeting
New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is the denominational organization comprised of the Quaker meetings (congregations) in New York State, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut. It was first established in 1695 and has met every year since 1696 to consider the work laid upon it by God’s Holy Spirit. For more information about the Yearly Meeting, visit the New York Yearly Meeting website,

New York Yearly Meeting
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)  
15 Rutherford Place
New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212 673-5750

Steven Davison
Director of Communications
New York Yearly Meeting
212 673-5750 Tel
212 673-2285 Fax

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Will You Wake?

                                                  When Will You Wake?
                                             Angela Manno, Fifteenth Street Meeting
                            Written originally for Spark, New York Yearly Meeting News
                                          The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Much has already been written about the danger, destructiveness and morally untenable practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Most Friends would agree it’s time to stop such practices that are violating the Earth and switch to sustainable sources of energy—wind, water, and solar. Yet after all we have learned about the ill effects of extreme extraction, from an outright assault on our democracy, freedom of speech, property rights, human and ecological health, and the beauty and integrity of the natural world, Friends for the most part are still sitting on the sidelines.

Therefore I have chosen to address a troubling question:

What is the source of Friends’ failure to take corporate action on behalf of the planet? Why are Friends still so reluctant to take a stand in the face of the literal evisceration and shattering of our larger body—the Earth—through hydraulic fracturing?

I have pondered this state of affairs for many years, from my participation in the School of the Spirit Quaker Ministry program from 2006 to 2008, where I was one of two voices crying in the wilderness, to the current onslaught of extreme extraction sweeping this country and threatening our beautiful state of New York, to my very backyard in New York City’s Greenwich Village, where plans to install a 32-foot-high pressure pipeline to deliver radioactive fracked natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to our homes and businesses, have been progressing almost completely unnoticed and without resistance.

The answer is not in a lack of knowledge. Friends are quite cognizant of the problems. The list serve of Quaker Earthcare Witness is an endless stream of news on the coming ravages of climate change, overpopulation, genetic engineering, hydrofracking, tar sands strip mining, etc.

Albert Einstein said, “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” Why, then, do so many Friends continue to shirk this grave responsibility?

To unblock the floodgates to action, we must first examine our unconscious fears and the errors in our thinking.

In my search for some answers, I have found that the most likely causes for inaction—both Quaker and non-Quaker—can be explained in the writings of Quaker activist George Lakey and eco-theologian Thomas Berry.

As a result of my investigation into these two seminal thinkers, and as I search my own heart, I have come to believe that the failure among the majority of Friends to take action beyond our personal realms (what George Lakey calls “earning Quaker merit badges by personal lifestyle choices rather than asking how much difference one is making in the movement’s struggle for macro-level change”) is due to our fundamental confusion about our true identity as Homo sapiens (a cosmological question) and in the unconscious limitations imposed by Friends’ respective social class (the domain of social science).

The primary error in our thinking, it seems to me, lies in the misconception that we are somehow separate from or “above” the Earth and all its life. As I wrote once to explain “why I care” to a group of Westchester Friends, “If you consider yourself separate from the Earth, from Gaia, the being in whom we live and move and have our being, then confusion sets in when you see the Earth in peril. But if you feel yourself to be part of the organism, of the larger being called Earth, it is a matter of self-care to want to preserve the beauty and well-being of the planet.”

An excerpt from a Buddhist Ceremony for Ecological Regeneration illustrates this inseparability in a highly evocative manner:

    With heart and mind open, I see that there is no separation between my body and the body of the Earth. Every mineral in this flesh and bone has been stone and soil and it will be again. Looking into one calcium molecule in my bone, I can see that it used to be part of the body of a green leaf. Before that, it was part of the living soil in a garden. Long before that, it was a shell in the sea. I see the continuation of this calcium molecule in so many forms and now in my bone. I can see that the earth element in me will return to the soil and manifest as other forms of life in the future.

    …With tenderness and love I bring my awareness to the suffering that is present in this collective body. I see the mineral element that is stone becoming soil becoming vegetation becoming flesh and bone becoming soil again. I also see the suffering that is present in the mineral element. I see the toxins we have made creating sickness and cancer in living beings, and the pesticides and fertilizers poisoning the soil. I know that the suffering of the mineral element is my suffering. I  embrace this suffering with tenderness and love.

My query deepened: What is the source of this sense of separation that pervades our religious society and society at large, that keeps Friends mostly silent and immobile in the face of the poisoning of our planet? I noted that Friends were able to step up to the plate when the immorality of slavery finally became clear. What, then, makes the destruction of the Earth—the living host of all we know, the very source of the next breath we take—somehow less offensive in the eyes of Friends?

A major cause is species-centered narcissism, also known as anthropocentrism. In his Schumacher lecture “Every Being Has Rights,” Thomas Berry proclaimed that our love had become too narrow. “It has been narrowed to the human instead of including the whole of the universe, as it once was in the Christian teaching.”

We not only have our radical discontinuity with the rest of Creation to contend with. We are also, I have begun to learn, unconsciously bound by our class distinctions. In his article for the January–February 2012 Quaker Eco-bulletin, George Lakey writes that “middle class culture supports fitting in, being restrained. It was hard for nurses and teachers historically, to form unions, because they didn’t want to appear ‘unprofessional’ in the eyes of the world, since ‘professional’ is performed by appearing smooth and not making waves.…Quakers who stay in their middle class bubble guarantee the ineffectiveness of which they complain.”

To read his words was an awakening to me. I reached out to George to find out more. He explained that “no amount of consciousness-raising or discussion can ever take the place for Quakers of getting their bodies out of the chair and in motion, outside their comfort zone, taking a stand. One reason why a vigil is a waste of time for Quakers these days is that it is a ritual—the kind of ritual that early Friends scorned when they saw Anglicans doing it. Friends need to act, in situations of uncertainty, where they are slightly out of control, where nicely phrased locution is not the currency.”

In light of this new awareness, never having been a student of social science and belonging to the middle- to-owning class myself, it was interesting to consider my own resistance to nonviolent direct action. More burdensome, as a victim of child abuse, I had no desire to ever again be a victim of “the Man” by getting myself arrested and perhaps being helpless and abused with no way out. Yet I understood how facing my worst fears might redeem a lifetime of conflict avoidance. The answer, he told me, is to keep remembering, contradicting the message from my class background, “I am not alone. Others will help me.” 

In contrast to the middle-class tendency to shy away from conflict, early Friends embraced and cultivated it. They used conflict to create a stir, to bring injustice into the light. Friends can easily trace Quaker history to find myriad examples of conflict cultivation, from women’s suffrage, to civil rights, to the abolition of slavery.

This conflict aversion affects not only many Friends but middle class environmentalists as well, including the class of big name environmental organizations that veteran organizer Bill Moyer, author of Doing Democracy (a handbook of essential reading that maps the structure of successful social movements), calls “Professional Opposition Organizations.” George Lakey explains, “Even with the cliff edge of climate change staring middle class environmentalists in the face, most are reluctant to return to the strategy used in their biggest US victory, which they won against all odds, the 1970s nonviolent direct action campaign against nuclear power.”

In recent times we’ve learned how a number of the most established environmental advocacy groups have compromised their standing, quite possibly to avoid the inevitable conflict that must emerge if we are to safeguard the Earth’s living systems from the ravages of tar sands strip mining, nuclear energy, hydraulic fracturing, deepwater drilling, mountaintop removal, and genetic engineering. The most recent example to come to public awareness is Sierra Club’s acceptance of $25 million from Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest gas drillers in the world. A further investigation of this capitulating trend can be found in the article published in The Nation last year, “The Wrong Kind of Green.”  We must all examine where we are unwilling to make waves, when our consciences dictate it’s time to move our bodies “out of the chair and in motion, outside [our] comfort zone, taking a stand.”

However, George offers us not only his critique but also uplifting solutions: “Brought up owning class? Great—bring the gifts (vision, big picture, aesthetics) often cultivated in the owning class, and let go of the isolation and need to control. Brought up middle class? Great—bring the gifts (optimism about making an individual difference, process skills, articulateness) and let go of both the obsession to fit in and conflict aversion. Brought up working class? Great—bring the gifts  (directness, passion and willingness to fight) and let go of the deference to ‘superiors’ and the old label of ‘ignorant.’” He assures us that though the cultural differences between middle class and working class people often keep us apart, there are already guidebooks helping us to learn to work together. He cites Betsy Leondar-Wright’s book Class Matters as abundant with quotes and anecdotes. He also tells us that Linda Stout, who comes from many generations of Quakers, now leads the organization Spirit in Action and that her book Bridging the Class Divide is a great source of inspiration. (For more about the gifts and limitations of class conditioning, you can view the 2011 William Penn Lecture by George Lakey at

There are many more resources for Friends. For more about the Quaker tradition of cultivating conflict, listen to George’s FGC 2011 plenary address “Conflict as a Gift of the Spirit,” where he discusses the specific power of conflict to transform and bring about positive change in our society. Another is “New Theory, Old Practice: Nonviolence and Quakers,” George Lakey’s Southeastern Yearly Meeting 2004 paper, which also discusses the most powerful (though slightly rusty) tool in the Quaker toolbox for social change. Then there’s the organization Training for Change and the online blog/journal Waging Nonviolence. Finally, there’s the amazing Global Nonviolent Database at Swarthmore College:

In the struggle for ecological justice, which is integral to human justice, we have now seen the victims’ faces. We see victims from 34 states across the US and around the world, animal stillbirths, destroyed land values, air pollution in Wyoming, the industrialization of the beloved landscape. Friends are needed in this struggle.

In closing, I leave you with the words and final query of Christopher Frye in his poem
“A Sleep of Prisoners”: 

The human heart can go the lengths of God
Cold and dark we may be......
But this is no winter now.
The frozen misery of centuries cracks, begins to thaw.
The thunder is the thunder of the flows, the thaw, the flood, the upstart spring.
Thank God our time is now.
When wrong comes up to face us everywhere, never to leave us.
The longest stride of soul folk ever took.
Affairs are now soul sized, the enterprise is exploration into God.
But what are you waiting for?
It takes so many thousand years to wake.
But will you wake? For pity's sake.

— Christopher Frye, A Sleep of Prisoners

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Regeneration of the Earth Ceremony

This Regeneration of the Earth Ceremony was written by Tim Ambrose Desmond and is reproduced here with permission. Might this be used in some way in your Meetings to sensitize Friends to our integral relationship with the Earth?

Touching the Earth for Ecological Regeneration

Touching the Earth, I open myself to this beautiful planet and all of the life that is here.

           With heart and mind open, I see that there is no separation between my body and the body of the Earth. Every mineral in this flesh and bone has been stone and soil and it will be again. Looking into one calcium molecule in my bone, I can see that it used to be part of the body of a green leaf. Before that, it was part of the living soil in a garden. Long before that, it was a shell in the sea. I see the continuation of this calcium molecule in so many forms and now in my bone. I can see that the earth element in me will return to the soil and manifest as other forms of life in the future.
            I know that every drop of my blood has been the rain, rivers and ocean, and it will be again. I can see that the life of a water molecule in my blood extending back to before the non-beginning. I can see the water I drank becoming part of my body. Looking back farther, I can see that water has been part of every river and every ocean since the beginning of the earth. I can see that the hydrogen and oxygen that make up this water have been in existence long before the earth formed. Although my blood feels so much like a part of “me,” I know it will continue in many forms forever.
            The air that gives life to every cell in my body has lived in trees and other animals and in the vast sky, and it will again. I see air element in me – the air that I can feel going in and out of my lungs and the air that is carried throughout my body keeping me alive. I know that this air is part of the vast ocean of the atmosphere moving in and out of all people, animals and plants and microorganisms. I see we are all breathing together.
           The warmth of my body is the warmth of the Sun. I see the Sun’s warmth radiating through space to the Earth and connecting with a green leaf. That leaf miraculously transforms the energy into sugar. As I take that leaf into my body, I transform the sugar back into warmth. I can see the Sun is alive in me.
            I can see clearly that the Earth is not my environment. It is my body and there is no separation.


Touching the Earth, I open myself to all of the suffering is present in the Earth.

             With heart and mind open, I see clearly that the Earth and I are one body. With tenderness and love I bring my awareness to the suffering that is present in this collective body. I see the mineral element that is stone becoming soil becoming vegetation becoming flesh and bone becoming soil again. I also see the suffering that is present in the mineral element. I see the toxins we have made creating sickness and cancer in living beings, and the pesticides and fertilizers poisoning the soil. I know that the suffering of the mineral element is my suffering. I embrace this suffering with tenderness and love.
            I see the water element. I see the ocean becoming cloud becoming rain becoming drinking water becoming blood and returning. I also see the suffering in the water element. I see thousands of children without clean water to drink, and the toxins that we have allowed to be released in streams, aquifers and oceans, and all of the suffering they cause. I know the suffering of the water element is my suffering. I embrace this suffering with tenderness and love.
            I see the air element. I see the one ocean of air circulating through all life and through the vast sky. I also see the suffering in the air element. I see pollution in the air and the sickness it causes. I know the suffering of the air element is my suffering. I embrace this suffering with tenderness and love. 
            I see the fire element. I see the energy of the sun warming the Earth, turning into sugars when it touches green leaves, and those leaves becoming my body. I see the heat in my body is the heat of the sun. I also see the suffering in the fire element. I see the ocean levels rising, the polar caps melting and all of the destruction caused by global climate change. I know the suffering of the air element is my suffering. I embrace this suffering with tenderness and love.


Touching the Earth, I open myself to the enormous capacity for healing that is present in the ancestors and in the Earth.

            With heart and mind open, I see the Earth herself as a living body. I see her capacity to adapt and heal herself. I know that she is strong and that she has a miraculous capacity to transform a toxin into a resource in the same way I can transform suffering into compassion.
I can see the Earth billions of years ago when she was covered with single celled organisms that only could breathe carbon dioxide. These single celled organisms produced oxygen as a waste and the increasing amount of oxygen in the atmosphere threatened to end life on Earth. I see that in that moment, the Earth began to manifest new single celled organisms that breathe oxygen and restored the balance in the atmosphere. 
            I see that this creativity is still alive in the Earth and in human beings. I know that all of the solutions to our environmental problems already exist. I know that my ancestors have discovered ways of harnessing the power of the wind and sun and water to provide for all of our needs. I see intentional community, Permaculture food forests, electric trains, and compassionate conflict resolution. I also see my own capacity to embrace suffering with mindfulness and love, transforming it into compassion.
            Looking deeply, I see that all that is needed for global healing is present within me and all around me. I feel immense gratitude for this miraculous power of transformation.


"From the eyesight proceeds another eyesight and from the hearing proceeds another hearing and from the voice proceeds another voice eternally curious of the harmony of things" - Walt Whitman