“The whole eco system is connected and we are a part of it!”
— Patricia Finley, co-clerk of the Eco-Justice Collaborative
Q: Why was the Eco-Justice Collaborative formed?
The Eco-Justice Collaborative (EJC) has been in many forms since 1988. It began as the Environmental Working Group (EWG); in 1993, there was a renewed desire and commitment to elevate the EWG after a young person, during Annual Sessions, shared their experience of having nightmares about the future of our planet. A husband-and-wife team, Ed Dreby and Margaret Mansfield, foundational in creating EJC, doubled their efforts in visiting 50+ meetings encouraging other Quakers to get involved. Then in 2009, the Environmental Working Group became the Eco-Justice Collaborative which focused on lifting leaders with environmental expertise and interest to support each other’s projects.
At Annual Sessions 2021, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting approved a second yearly meeting witness around climate change. Each local meeting, quarterly meeting, and worship group would strive to effect change and incorporate the work set forth in the road map in their communities. The plan committed to five key areas including: activism, education, finance, reducing carbon footprint, mourning loss, and instilling hope.
Essentially, our Eco-Justice Collaborative was formed to recognize what has been lost, what cannot be regained and even what cannot be stopped at this point and help us recognize the interconnection of the ecological systems of our planet. Eco-Justice is working to honor the leader in all of us and the work that we’re doing to save our planet.
Q: What has the Eco-Justice Collaborative found to be the most urgent climate crisis concerns in the past two years?
We know that Quakers all over the country manage huge amounts of lands and for us, encouraging our community of Quaker landowners to increase biodiversity, as opposed to just maintaining lawns, is a huge priority. And, what I mean by making our lands more biodiverse is we must plant more vegetation for native insects, birds and animals that exist here to feed on. This contributes to a healthy habitat.
The second priority is making more of the community aware of how to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which is a cooperative between several Northeastern states, including Pennsylvania, to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. With Humans destroying habitat at an alarming rate, there’s a third concern worth mentioning which is to encourage people to pay attention to how things connect. The whole eco system is connected and we are a part of it!
Q: What should meetings, families and individuals be thinking about in terms of climate change and our response to it?
EJC is a small group of 12 individuals, so we could certainly use support from individuals to help us to organize and connect. Essentially, we are looking for more people and young people to get involved so we can effectively share the “good work” various meetinghouses are doing in our community.
For families, we have a program called Friendly Households which we designed a decade ago. We’d like more meetings to host Friendly Households potluck events. The program was started in Old Haverford Meeting, and each month hosts a potluck for families and Eco-Justice leaders to discuss and educate Quakers and friends on climate, ecological crises, environmental racism and taking action. In the past, we’ve discussed the use of food and the biosphere, and while individual contribution is great work, it’s not enough; we must address the systems that are failing together.
Meetinghouses can support by hosting EJC webinars and watch parties and encourage others to join in support of Eco-Justice events and initiatives.
Q: How can Friends get more involved in activism with the Eco-Justice Collaborative (EJC) and when is the next opportunity to connect with this witness?
We are proud to have an amazing team of supporters including my colleague, Ruth Darlington, co-clerk of EJC, as well as a host of thought leaders, including a professional forester, a physicist, energy expert, an economist, green sacred spaces champions, agriculture expert, and food usage educators; it is important for EJC to engage with people from diverse backgrounds, especially young people. Let’s work as an individual and with your family at the household level, as well as at the community level in meetings to address these pressing issues around planetary destruction and climate change. To be effective, every one of us must work together and seek to honor the work being done. Connect with meetings or consider getting involved as a climate steward by expressing interest.
This past March, PYM hosted the Eco-Justice Thread Gathering which explored unprecedented opportunities to mitigate climate disruption. We recorded the gathering – and encourage Friends to watch this informative presentation discussing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which provides tax credits, rebates, grants, and other incentives, as well as supports clean transportation and energy in our homes, meetings, and under-resourced communities.
The next opportunity to engage this witness will be during the Collaborative Fair on July 29th, during Annual Sessions. There will be an event that will include highlighting all the collaboratives and the good work being done every day.
“If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.”
— African Proverb