On March 27, 2021, during Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Continuing Sessions, Friends united to come under the weight of climate change and eco-justice as a Yearly Meeting Witness. They recognized that while approving such a Witness was an important step forward, a specific plan of action is required. The Climate Change Sprint is drafting a plan to be presented to PYM Annual Sessions 2021 this summer.
The Climate Change Sprint members are Robert Greene, Bill Cozzens, Ruth Darlington, Pat Finley, .O, Kathryn Metzker, Christy Tavernelli, and Shelly Xia (Liyiran). The action plan created by the members recommends focus on education, activism, carbon footprint, finances, and mourning loss, and instilling hope.
News of the Climate Change Sprint
- The sprint has met every Saturday for the last six weeks.
- It’s prepared the first draft of a document that speaks to the work they are charged with and shared it with the Quaker Life Council.
- It is preparing the next draft currently.
Here is the outline of what it includes:
- Section 1 discusses the spiritual and moral foundations of committing to a climate change witness.
- Section 2 of this report notes the history of response to climate change by the Yearly Meeting and its members.
- Section 3 discusses the full scope of activities that Friends are called to make in response to this existential crisis.
- Section 4 identifies specific commitments for all parts of our Yearly Meeting community: the Yearly Meeting as a whole body, the quarterly & monthly meetings, and individuals & households.
It recommends five particular areas to focus our action in:
- Carbon Footprint
- Mourning Loss and Instilling Hope
It recommends actions related to these five action areas for:
- The yearly meeting
- Monthly and quarterly meetings and PYM groups
- Individuals and households
The plan is for the document to be shared with PYM Friends at least a week before Sessions and for it to be discussed and possibly approved at Sessions.
It recognizes that there are a number of people and groups that are in a position to provide support and activity on each of the five action areas in our yearly meeting:
- PYM Friends, meetings, and groups
- A burgeoning Climate Action Network which facilitates connection within PYM to mobilize action
- Resource Friends, two of whom are already named
- The Eco-Justice Collaborative
It is working on identifying how we hold ourselves accountable and who the leadership for this yearly meeting-wide ministry are.
Hopes and Dreams of the Climate Change Sprint
The first day the members of the sprint came together and met one another they each responded to the query: What would make your heart sing as an outcome of the Climate Change Sprint’s work?
.O: Longing for us to remember we are tender-hearted. Our hearts are responsive.
Robert: Whenever there’s a policy decision on environmental issues, policy-makers know where Quakers stand.
Pat: We come to see the Yearly Meeting as a village in which we work and play together.
Christy: Each quarter of PYM joins the efforts of a direct action campaign. The Yearly Meeting could have a big impact on PA, MD, DE, and NJ advocacy – for instance, increasing renewable requirements. Down the line being able to witness to other Quakers: “We made this commitment and here’s what each meeting has done.”
Bill: A few years from now, being able to see that we have helped move the needle in our respective states.
Christie: Echoing Pat – hoping for a feeling of joy within our Yearly Meeting.
Shelly: That this group’s contribution would mean more meetings committed to this cause, and more members within every meeting making personal commitments.
Kathryn: Each meeting and each quarter having a connection to this issue. Normalizing actions to help the environment – from plastic utensils up. That this would be taken for granted and reflected in our shared actions.
Ruth: That people who carry the work of eco-justice aren’t seen as outliers but are celebrated, supported, and appreciated as carrying out this vital ministry.
News of the Eco-Justice Collaborative
The Eco-Justice Collaborative of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting meets each month to discuss their ongoing work for social and environmental justice. The following is an update on the work done by the collaborative written by Pat Finely and Ruth Darlington.
The Eco-Justice Collaborative is growing and we now number 18. As we grow, we are reorganizing into sub-groups working on diverse projects while each person collaborates with and supports each other’s projects. EJC Friends have talents and expertise in areas such as clean energy, economics, communications, advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, community organizing, and policy.
Since the Yearly Meeting has come under the weight of climate change and climate justice as a YM priority/witness, we have been working with the PYM leadership and the climate change sprint to develop a process and map to demonstrate the ways that the members can realize useful ways to commit to the work of mitigation of climate change as it manifests in the future and resilience and adaptation to present and unfolding conditions.
A major focus of our work is to find ways to connect, communicate, educate, and convene Friends who want to work with us. We connect through our Traveling Ministry on financial drivers of climate change, and presentations on multiple climate and justice issues. In the last two years, our webinars have been an effective tool to convene Friends, provide education, and build community. Our newsletter and event alerts are now published by PYM and reach a larger number of Friends.
We are dabbling in social media when we can and have opened a Facebook page with over 160 likes and post to it several times a week. During the pandemic, our Traveling Ministry visited MMs online, providing education on the growth dilemma and the financial drivers of climate change and inequality. We developed an EJC presentation which has been presented at FWCC, QEW, two meetings, and one Quarter. This past year there has been an intensive effort to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We embarked on educational campaigns, with webinars, newsletter stories, and alerts. Additionally, we distributed letters of support for RGGI to the PA governor, signed by twenty meetings. When needed we published calls to contact representatives in our monthly newsletter.
Webinars we produced, recorded, and made available online are:
- Connections between Immigration and Climate Change
- Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) & Community Solar
- The Climate Justice Work of Five Monthly Meetings in PYM
- A Critique of Michael Moore’s Film on Climate Justice Organizations
- Green Investing November 16, 2020
- Why the Crises We Face Make Financial Reform Essential
- A Clean Energy Future: How We Get there at the Local Level
And though no recording is available we produced a webinar on Project Drawdown, the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the Pachamama Alliance. A member of the collaborative gives workshops on Project Drawdown and Pachamama when asked.
Since January 2020, EJC has been working intensively with the PYM leadership, council clerks, general secretary, PYM clerks, and now the Climate sprint. We have contacted most of the MMs and we know that at least twenty MMs have approved our minute to make the climate crisis a meeting-wide concern. We are finding ways to be more effective advocates at the local/township, state, and national levels. Since our last report, we have created a compendium of written materials and resources to support our climate minute. We are eager to participate in the climate witness as we go forward.
Image Credits: David Alberto Carmona Coto, Pexels