Cambridge Quaker Earthcare Witness (CQEW) works to deepen awareness of our spiritual and physical unity with nature through a ministry of education (forums, speakers, readings, and discussions), activities (hikes, nature walks, and local earth-healing projects), and nurturing community.
The land was famished. In the year 2020 crops were thin and parking lots lay empty. Rivers were polluted; oceans choked with plastic.
Friends were few. The Meetinghouse was closed, whereas even in the coldest months of 2019 on any given Sunday as many as 200 Friends flocked on Sundays to Cambridge Meeting. Many Quaker folx discussed transgender and queer rights, how to protect youth and the houseless, the military seeping into schools and businesses. For years many prayers and heated discussions crescendoed about climate. We were in a covenant with God who promised us future generations and a land of milk and honey.
Staying in Tune
In Dec 2020 FMC took up the New England YM Call to respond to triple despairs of Social, Economic and Climate Justice. The COVID pandemic, the enslavement of BIPOC, the ceaseless war and rampage since 1620 gripped our minds. We were in Egypt. The pharaohs were legion, the systems that enslaved us sat heavy.
FMC weighed the ponderous task of Climate Justice. Urgent exchanges about Earth Care or climate crisis changed to Climate Emergence and extreme habitat loss., US Govt was opening up mining and other ways to extract fuel. By the end of 2020 more of us recognized that the climate like a rushing river breaking through dams constitutes an emergency.
Families and children stayed huddled in their pods in the winter 2021. The COVID virus kept us excruciatingly separate. Meetings for worship online were popular and as frost pervaded our windowsills many of us clutched our loneliness, shed tears, and even cried out in deep turmoil. FMC did not agree that the earth is dying. * We were petrified, our feet frozen. Despair and confusion tripped us. As a Meeting we did not form a cohesive muscular group focused on climate justice.
We are hobbled by our white-centered solutions. McKibben cannot save us. Menakem, Houske, LaDuke, AOC, Kimmerer, Hawkins, Thunberg cannot rescue us–not even our beloved Wendell Berry can save us. We have looked for salvation from climate destruction outside of our community. How easy it is to hope for a messiah to evade our communal angst.
Quakers work in community. At Cambridge we called four meetings for climate justice discernment in 2021. The world has reached 420 PPM of carbon. In worship we intently listened to the inner guide so as not to fall off the cliff. We feared the worst is coming. Destruction of the planet is imminent, yet spiritual forces are at work. Quakers worked in faith knowing the danger of the worst fires, floods and droughts brings opportunity. In order to face a colossal challenge, we had to pray with all our might. Swanky smart ideas can’t hold wisdom.
We know these are apocalyptic times, and our faith tells us at night God gives us a pillar of fire. As Spring returned this year (fist bump to Gaia!), we saw faithfulness. Hope, is an action when referring to Climate Justice. Lo! the actions at FMC had not hibernated. At the vernal equinox possibility shone. Steady, incremental change was alive in
The New Story Group recognizing new Truth as science and faith are interconnected.
Friends making art. With exhibits of weaving, photography, painting and quilting, FMC reflects our one love, the creation as the first gospel.
Friends linking racial healing and climate healing. FMC worship on the sidewalk outside of Raytheon, industrial wing of Pentagon.
The truth is that the military obliterates People of Color. In worship the sky that covers us, also covers Raytheon workers, we pray over the conundrum that our government kills indigenous people in USA, Asia, Africa and Latinx countries. The climate, military and social toll impacts Brown and Black people horribly. How can we not see that the US military is the largest corporation that poisons our planet?
We have expanded programs at FMC in 3 ways:
Carbon tax groups. These Friends meet together to discern where best their individually private tax money should go.
Organizing street actions with drama (red rebel march with XR; hundreds of shoes at city hall lined up as victims; lock-downs at Line 3; to stop dire pipelines)
Weekly worship for purpose of grief of the Planet, laced with new songs and vocal prayers. Grief is an action and allows for revelation. Many worship in grief with Wampanoags at the Day of Mourning in Plymouth.
My small part in Boston-area Actions to Stop Expanding Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
I participated in an environmental justice action last week trying to stop the dangerous fossil fuel expansion by Enbridge. Skip made a wonderful and beautiful video of the action. Minga and Jonathan also came. I discouraged some other Quakers from our Meeting from attending because I thought the weather could put their health at risk. I was glad to feel able to go.
This is the third campaign against Enbridge in which I’ve taken part.
Last week I was the street medic, a useful role because it was on the hottest day (100°) of the hottest June in Boston. Most of our group was outside in the heat and humidity. I helped one person with heat exhaustion and the rest providing cool water, electrolytes, and snacks. What became an unplanned occupation for 24 hours included a smaller number who were prepared to be arrested inside the headquarters along with many others holding vigil outside on the cement. I was able to stay into the evening and came back the next day. Many grey-haired folks were on the front lines – one woman was 88 years old – working together with very young folks. I felt lifted up by the activists around me.
A few years ago I was arrested for lying on a pipe laid under a street in West Roxbury to try to stop Enbridge (formerly Spectra) from building a gas compressor station next to an active stone quarry where they regularly dynamite and which is surrounded by houses. The police who arrested me thanked us because many of them had homes near the quarry. In Feb. 2020 I was arrested at another large action when a small group of us snuck onto the construction site of another gas compressor station, this one in Weymouth in an even more dangerous location – surrounded by oil tanks, low income communities, and maybe on top of thousands of gallons of leaked diesel fuel. I supported a native woman who locked herself to a bulldozer. I didn’t risk much in either arrest: they have my mug shot and fingerprints, I spent time in a holding cell, made bail, dealt with the court, and charges were dropped. However, both compressors have been built; the second one has reportedly already had 7 major methane gas leaks in only a year, four of them serious enough to temporarily shut it down. Now we are trying to get them permanently shut down, so those actions were just small pieces of longer-term campaigns.
We are now also trying to stop the construction of a new tar sands pipeline “Line 3” on native treaty land in Minnesota, where 500 sometimes violent arrests have already occurred. Line 3 is a proposed pipeline expansion to bring nearly a million barrels of tar sands per day from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Line 3 would violate the treaty rights of Anishinaabe peoples and nations in its path, and contribute more to climate change than Minnesota’s entire economy. Enbridge is draining dry lakes and rivers of the Mississippi headwaters during severe drought for its drilling.
Given all the heat deaths in June, and that (according to Biden’s climate leaders summit) we are still on the path to increase worldwide temperatures by 4°, I would hope that we can persuade decision makers to stop these dangerous projects. Next week will be a critical time to pressure the corporations providing loans and insurance to Enbridge. I understand that loan renewal dates are later this month. Money managers for the likes of Citi, Wells Fargo and Liberty Mutual will have to decide whether they think projects that cause Ecocide are still a good investment. We hope to drain the money to stop Enbridge from draining our children’s future.
Thank you for reading about my part of a much larger story. I look forward to hearing Minga’s stories from her arrest to stop Line 3. Please also look at Wen’s excellent article in The Nation. He was a main organizer for last week’s action and can explain better than I can the fight to stop the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure: https://www.thenation.com/article/environment/enbridge-line3-pipeline-weymouth/
Join the Extinction Rebellion Red Rebel Brigade Action in Cambridge
On Sunday, May 2, Gwen Noyes and Sandy Sweetnam processed along Riverbend Park with the Red Rebel Brigade of Extinction Rebellion. We began at the Weeks Footbridge and wended our way among those on the riverbank to the park at the Kennedy School and then back. The goal of Extinction Rebellion is to wake people up to the immediacy of the climate emergency through street theatre and nonviolent direct action. The Rebels evoke emotions—grief, fear, anger, love—reaching to hearts directly.”
To learn more about Extinction Rebellion and ways to get involved in their work, contact Gwen, Sandy, and Skip Schiel (who volunteers with the organization in other ways) by emailing email@example.com.
Welcome to the new “Tips for Climate Action”! As part of the new Climate Justice group, an arm of the Peace & Social Justice committee, my leading is to illuminate further steps in recycling! I will be highlighting a tip or two a month to share ideas and outside organizations that are taking an extra step in diminishing our carbon footprint! This is also another “Forum” for people to PARTICIPATE and share what they have done or organizations they have found that are participating in helping our planet survive. Have a recycling or environmental tip you would like to share? Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org! We will include your name, with permission, when your tip is shared! Earth Day is EVERY Day! Thank you!
Hello climate conscious crew!
Spring is a great time to clean up and recycle while doing other chores and beautifying our abodes.
Want to start your own seeds? You can spend plenty on “starter kits” OR you can reuse/ repurpose your egg cartons. Plastic ones will need to have holes poked in the bottom for drainage or the cardboard ones can be planted right in the ground once your plants have sprung to sufficient size. Cut the flat top from the egg-shaped bottom. Then add soil to the egg holders to plant seeds. Put the flat bottom under the egg-shaped crates to make the two pieces sturdier. Ordering lots of stuff online? Got stuck with Styrofoam? Break it up into small chunks and use it for drainage at the bottom of large flowerpots. Or use plastic milk gallon jugs filled with water. It will cost less to fill the pots with soil. Most annuals don’t need soil more than 6-12” deep to grown in. The milk gallons will be heavy. The Styrofoam will make the containers much lighter weight in case you need to move them around on a patio. And… once the small fertilizer and grass seed bags are opened, put what’s left over in large, plastic food containers: old protein powder containers, 40 oz containers for nuts, anything with a screw top that was originally designed to keep its original food content dry. Your lawn and planting supplements will be safer in storage.
Have a recycling or environmental tip you would like to share? Send an email to Nancy Hewitt at email@example.com. We will include your name, with permission, when your tip is shared! Earth Day is EVERY Day! Thank you!
United Teen Equality Center
Our first organization to highlight is United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, MA. This company hires at risk youth and young adults with jobs in catering, running events, wood working products AND Mattress Recycling! Our trash yards are filling. Mattresses take up huge amounts of space. UTEC workers dissemble the entire mattress and box spring and recycle the wood, springs, cotton, batting and other materials! If you live in Cambridge, Lowell or Newburyport, UTEC has a contract with those cities and comes to your residence to pick up the mattress set for free! Call for an appointment, bring the mattress out to the curb by 7:00 am the morning you are scheduled. They do the rest! There are a dozen other towns that also, actively use UTEC. You can drop off your mattress set at your local DPW with those communities. You can also drop off at their Lawrence site for a reasonable fee. Check out the amazing job this non-profit is doing utec-mattress.org or call for an appointment at 978-856-3997. I have used this service already and am excited to see the award-winning work they are doing in teaching job skills, building leadership and stewardship training.
Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup
Monday, April 19 – Saturday, April 24, 2021
The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup builds on a national effort as part of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup®, which to date, has removed over 25 million pounds of trash from America’s waterways. From 2016 to 2019, the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup was recognized by American Rivers for the Most Pounds of Trash Collected and Most Volunteers Mobilized. Our cleanup brings together over 3,000 volunteers each year to pick up litter, remove invasive species and assist with park maintenance along all 80 miles of the Charles River. Residents are drawn to the popular Charles River Cleanup from a desire to give back to their community while enjoying the beauty and wildlife along the river.
A Carbon Tax Group is about 5-10 Friends who gather periodically each year to decide how to redirect personal money that has unfortunately been extracted carbon. Together the group decides on a program they are attracted to that does good justice work around restoring the environment. The pooled money is a message of how this Quaker group is helping mitigate climate change. On our own we:
Assess our energy footprint and decide what actions ( monthly/quarterly/yearly) you want to tax (calculate the $$ off set of car travel or eating food transported from far)
Meet together to check-in, support any changes, and to share how your family is doing with the current emergency.
Decide on a group to donate the aggregate of everyone’s personal taxing. Pray. Select who will contact the chosen group and make sure the donation is received.
Why is it a Quaker action group?
You agree to do something, it’s not just hand-wringing. The critical factor (secret sauce) is that the group meets, supports each other in any life changes around simplicity, shares ‘Ah ha’ moments, or supports each other during the climate crisis. Love is clear. No guilt-tripping, no one is failing to address the truth of climate change, and no overwhelming. We sit with wonder instead of despair, knowing each of us is visibly doing a small part. Remember the widow’s mite? This year the Carbon Tax Group has given over $1000 to 2 BIPOC groups – Greenroots in Chelsea MA and in northern CA. It’s so beautiful to know the money is going to stopping disasters and for saving lives. Quaker groups have formed all over New England. Here’s another source Voluntary Carbon Tax | Spirituality and Environmental Sustainability.
We’ll have an introductory meeting. We are open to Friends and friends of Friends. If you know of others who are interested, spread the word. I’ll invite them to the meeting. We are an open Society of Friends evangelizing justice (and mercy, plus hope). By May the first meeting of action to send off the money to offset your carbon tax.
For many of us, erratic weather patterns and warm temperatures of the summer are stark reminders of the reality of climate change. Cambridge Friends work for climate justice in myriad ways, individually and collectively, on levels recognized and invisible. As part of this work, this summer a number of people from our faith community joined with other local Boston area residents in ongoing protests of the West Roxbury lateral pipeline. Each person brought individual gifts to these actions, with some Friends from Cambridge participating in civil disobedience, others providing support to individuals risking arrest, and still others lending their creative talents to spread news of events through images and words.
A Quaker-led vigil was held on November 10, 2015, at the construction site of Spectra Energy’s high-pressure lateral gas pipeline in West Roxbury. We oppose development of infrastructure that will support continued use of fossil fuels. Six of us, from several Meetings, were arrested f