The Travel and Witness Granting Group (TWGG) provides grants to support active service and witness by individuals following leadings of the Spirit.
The group has made fewer grants since March 2020 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on travel plans and gatherings. This decrease means that the group has more funds available for future grants, and therefore welcomes applications for creative ideas that involve connecting with other communities through travel or witness.
One fund in particular, the Pemberton Fund, has over $50,000 available for granting to PYM members and attenders traveling in Quaker service or under a religious concern recognized by their meeting, or under appointment by and on behalf of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
In the past year, Travel & Witness has reviewed their granting group guidelines and created an online application form to make their grantmaking process more straightforward. We invite you to read through their guidelines and consider if a grant from Travel & Witness could be right for you or someone you know.
Even amidst the pandemic, the granting group has continued to be able to support wonderful work and witness. The grant highlighted below exemplifies a type of witness that can be supported using funds from the Pemberton Fund.
Paige Menton’s Grant Report
Grant on which you are reporting
“I received a grant to travel to seven meetings to learn about the stewardship of their land. I left on September 3 and visited Lancaster Meeting. From there, I visited Third Haven Friends on September 5, Charlottesville Friends on September 7, Raleigh Friends on September 10, Celo Friends on September 12, Birmingham Friends on September 19, and Fairhope Friends on September 26. I returned to Gwynedd on October 2.”
Briefly describe the outcome of your project/travel
“My trip had a profound impact on my thinking about land stewardship at the meeting level, as well as at the individual, local, and state levels. I had rich conversations at each meeting I visited and met Quakers deeply committed to caring for the natural world in each place that welcomed me. Discussions focused on land stewardship sparked new ideas for several of the meeting communities, and there is strong interest in forming a network to continue reporting our progress, inspire each other, and share resources.
My goal in this trip was three-pronged. I hoped to learn about land stewardship at the seven meetings I visited, try my door-to-door experiment in my hometown, and better understand the ecology of the state that formed me. I feel like I succeeded in all three areas, even though my door-to-door encounters were not as illuminating as I had hoped they would be. The best things that I gained from this project were the friendships I have now made with individual members of each of these meetings and a deeply personal understanding of Alabama ecology that strengthens my resolve to preserve and restore as much land as I can.
With regard to my door-to-door experience, I asked the people I met to share a fond memory of the natural world. Over 3 days, I talked to 11 people around a lake and knocked on 60 doors, of which 44 had no one home or people who chose not to answer. I talked to 28 people in all, only 14 of whom were willing to answer my question (10 white, 3 black, one Asian). The others said they were too busy or could not think of something.
The best story that I collected was from a man building a fence around his backyard with his new dog, Levi, by his side. At first, he couldn’t think of a story, and then he said, “I had a man who pulled up here from Ohio and asked my permission to let him go into this pipe (points to creek and culvert in backyard). It goes across and all the way to Simpson. Then he let his kids out of the car and told them to go play in that pipe. I told him it’s full of spiders and snakes and I don’t know what all, and he said that was ok because he played in it all the time when he was a kid. I’ll never forget that.”
So what did I learn? On the one hand, this experiment was unsuccessful. It was not scientific. The method did not lend itself to probing deeply. A few of the people who said they were busy offered to email their responses when they had more time to think. They didn’t, but that was a nice gesture. In fact, all of my interactions were pleasant. No one slammed their door on me. The responses I received reflected a predictable range of anticipated themes. Maybe the surprising outcome was how unsurprising the answers were. They were not necessarily tied to this specific place, and indeed, only one of the people I talked to actually grew up in the same suburb I did. Everyone was from someplace else, just like so many other suburban neighborhoods.
At the same time, though, that one person living a few minutes from where he grew up shared the story about the guy from Ohio, and I was there knocking on his door just like the guy from Ohio. Walking door to door did not yield tremendous insights into human behavior, but it steeped me in mature oaks and pines, zoysia lawn, and brown-headed nuthatch twitter. It was a walking meditation down one sidewalk and up another. It grounded me in my earliest relationship to the natural world and inspired more questions about the larger context in which these neighborhoods are situated in Alabama.
I gave a slide presentation to the Plymouth community in a hybrid meeting on November 5, and I presented on Zoom on November 19 to members of Gwynedd and the meetings I visited. I was pleased that after each presentation, people commented on how they gained a new appreciation for Alabama’s biodiversity and beauty. I hope to share my presentation more widely for PYM and perhaps for SAYMA. In addition to the photo collection of Alabama natural highlights, the presentation includes photos of all the meetings visited, a summary of how meetings are currently handling land stewardship, and a list of opportunities for meeting communities to engage in land stewardship on their land and in their neighborhoods.
I deeply appreciate the grant that I received from the PYM Travel and Witness Granting Group. The trip would not have been possible without it. Thank you for your encouragement and support.”
The photo at the top is of Birmingham Friends Meeting in Alabama, with thanks to Paige for the photos and for the wonderful report.