Boaz Matlack, a criminal justice activist and former Camp Dark Waters counselor, joins Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee for a conversation about working with law enforcement, school districts, F/friends and neighbors to address racial justice issues in our communities. Click here to join the conversation on Thursday, March 11 at 7:30 pm, or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting #815 8781 6369.
The Anti-Racism Committee of Moorestown Friends Meeting seeks to identify political and legislative priorities to support anti-racism. Given the Meeting’s roots in NJ farming, one obvious area of interest is agriculture. The committee acknowledges the systemic racism that permeates agriculture and farming in the United States. US Senator Cory Booker has taken note of the relative paucity of Black-owned farmland not just in NJ but throughout our nation. The direct connection between discriminatory practices of the USDA and the status of Black farmers was first documented by government-sponsored reports in 1997. The discrimination primarily took the shape of denying Black farmers timely access to government loans which caused Black farmers to lose their farms. The 2002 Farm Bill and the 2018 Farm Bill signaled progressive efforts to address this discrimination. While some progress has been made, e.g., an increase in the number of Black farmers and the acreage of Black farms, more is needed as the average farm income of Black-operated farms in 2017 was 40% of that of white-operated farms. To address this gap, the Justice for Black Farmers Act, co-sponsored by Senator Booker in late 2020, seeks to provide land grants to Black farmers.
On the recommendation of Member Pete Small, several committee members met for a tour of Free Haven Farm in early November 2020. We fell in love with the owners, the kale, and the fire sauce. Established in 2017, Free Haven Farms is a Black-owned farm in Lawnside, NJ. Its owners are Cynthia (Moorestown Friends School, 1997) and Micaiah Hall. The Halls are passionate about their mission of sustainability and attainability. To that end, Free Haven Farm produces much more than produce – farm tours, ag workshops, soil testing, garden consultation, a science camp for kids, and yoga and capoeira angola (Brazilian martial art) classes. Mr. Hall is the former Farm Director of Mill Creek Farm in Philadelphia. Dr. Cynthia Hall is an environmental geochemist and Associate Professor at West Chester University. Their farm reflects their interest in building bridges into the community through healthy food and food education for those with limited access to both.
Please join the Moorestown Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee on Thursday, February 25 at 7:30 pm by Zoom for a conversation with Cynthia and Micaiah Hall. Click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting #873 3565 8140.
Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee sponsors Let’s Talk with Karen Reiner and Meredith Butts, President and Vice President of Moorestown’s MooreUnity, about the group’s efforts “to raise awareness of divisive forces in our community and promote inclusion by building bridges across those divides.” Reiner and Butts formed MooreUnity after KKK materials were distributed in Cinnaminson and a Jewish community center in Cherry Hill received a bomb threat. Their efforts and experience are relevant far beyond Moorestown. To join the conversation, click here, or phone 646-558-8656 and enter meeting ID 815 8781 6369.
Sarah Willie-LeBreton’s article, “Out of the silvery silence: The prophetic call of Black Lives Matter” was just published on the website of the American Friends Service Committee.
Sarah is a sociologist who teaches at Swarthmore College and a member of Providence Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. She lives in Media with her family.
It’s a commonly proclaimed sentiment among Quaker adults: youth are a vital part of our Meetings. However, as children become teens they often drift away from Monthly Meeting communities, much to the discouragement of First Day teachers and other adult attenders! In order to keep teens relating to Meeting, adults need to figure out what works for young people in personal interactions, in First Day school curricula, and in Meeting activities and adapt our practices to create space that feels compelling to them. Below are advices addressing the topic of teen retention for Monthly Meetings. These were gathered from discussions that took place at the “Keep ‘Em Coming!” workshop from PYM’s February 2011 We Can Do It Day, in which participants considered feedback from some of PYM’s Young Friends and Young Adult Friends and shared the best practices of their own meetings.
Highlight and support opportunities for young Quakers to be together. Meeting adults can announce opportunities for youth organized by the Quarter or Yearly Meeting or at Quaker camps, as well as assist teens in planning their own times together, like movie nights, or an overnight service project. Additionally, Meetings can be generous with resources to assist teens in attending Quaker youth activities. Offering rides and funds, as well as chaperoning or being a Friendly Adult Presence help a lot.
Celebrate the youth in your Meeting and let them experience your support. Talk about their activities and accomplishments that take place outside of meeting during announcements or in the newsletter. Attend their games, performances, graduations, plays, and make sure they know you were there to see them.
Share yourself with youth. Strike up a genuine conversation and invite their thoughts. Try being a little silly or vulnerable. Opportunities for this kind of sharing can arise if Meetings intentionally plan inter-generational activity times – potlucks, maintenance and play days, dances, Santa’s workshops, etc.
Cover topics relevant to their life experience in First Day school. If Meeting is a place where teens can discuss and get consistent support for whatever is going on in their lives – whether it be questions about fitting in, drugs, sex, or relationships- than they will probably feel invested in continuing engagement with the Meeting.
Take the spiritual depth and possibility of youth seriously by asking and listening to their opinions on matters of spiritual import to the Meeting and by giving them the full benefit of Quaker Process, including Clearness Committees (for membership or another purpose, like perhaps what to do after high school).
Provide opportunities for youth empowerment through leadership. Teens are fully capable of fulfilling a variety of responsibilities, and having some may help them feel more invested and engaged. Some ways that Meetings could offer that are by giving teens a role in the rise of Meeting process (leading songs, etc.), inviting them to committee work that might interest them, or by suggesting that they have their own committee focused around a topic of their choice (for instance, different forms of fun and creative service to the Meeting or the world).
Engage with technology. Real and important expressions of life and community building are happening on the Internet, as well as fun and exciting worldly interests- that’s why youth think all the gadgets to access it are cool! If individual adults and Meetings as a whole can engage with these forms of communication and community building, Meeting may feel more relevant and accessible to teens. For instance, interaction through Facebook is sometimes more likely to get a young person’s attention and response than mail, email, or phone calls.
Stay in touch when they graduate. It’s always important for young people to know that Meeting adults care for them, and that doesn’t change when they leave high school. Meeting adults’ efforts to reach out and express care when teens have left home can have a grounding effect that makes returning to Meeting on breaks or visits home more appealing.