What is the Sustainability Testimony?
The Testimonies have not traditionally included Environmental Sustainability.
The ways Friends have approached life in general for many centuries has been a respectful and inclusive way of living. That respect is extended to all humans, creatures and life-sustaining elements of the earth.
This issue was not a Quaker concern in the early days because climate change, destruction of our planet, and the impending extinction of millions of species of animals and insects, was not an immediate threat.
Youth are leading the way. And Quaker youth are involved and in leadership roles.
Quaker climate activist Kallan Benson, was only 15 years old when this video was created in 2019. She joined world-renowned teen Swedish climate activsit Greta Thunberg in Washington, DC for the global climate strike week-long event from September 20-27, 2019.
Here’s Kallan a year earlier at 14 years old. Her fear and anxiety about her future as a woman and human on planet earth is heart-wrenching to watch.
We Will Follow the Lead of Youth
When it comes to Climate Activism, the Quaker tradition of “Eldering” is turned around. It is the youth who have the latest statistics and expertise, who recognize the urgency, and who are the role models.
Those of us who are Friends in our later years will join the direct action led by our youth as we are able. But mostly we will listen and will follow their direction. We support them in the ways we can. It’s humbling to give rides to Climate Justice Leaders who aren’t old enough to drive. They ride their bikes and often walk, but we’re happy to pick them up in our Prius to take them to a #ClimateStrike.
Natural Habitats Without Pesticides
We value and support organic farming and we don’t use chemicals or pesticides on the yard of our meetinghouse. “Lawns” are a fairly recent invention. The grass lawn has its origins in European aristocracy, where it was a status symbol. This brings us back to the Testimony of Equality. Having a lawn at all, and the level of perfection of one’s lawn can be an issue of class or status, but sometimes it’s simply a preference.
As one Amesbury Friend likes to say, “Dandelions Are People Too!” 🙂
Something that many don’t know is that lawns use a lot of resources and their maintenance results in a significant amount of pollution.
Yards Not Lawns
Here’s an excerpt from the article The Problem with Lawns from The Earth Institute at Columbia University:
“Today, American lawns occupy some 30-40 million acres of land. Lawnmowers to maintain them account for some 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution – probably more in urban areas. Each year more than 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled during the refilling of lawn and garden equipment—more than the oil that the Exxon Valdez spilled. Homeowners spend billions of dollars and typically use 10 times the amount of pesticide and fertilizers per acre on their lawns as farmers do on crops; the majority of these chemicals are wasted due to inappropriate timing and application. These chemicals then runoff and become a major source of water pollution. Last but not least, 30 to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used on lawns. Most of this water is also wasted due to poor timing and application.”
Timmon Milne Wallis wrote Disarming the Nuclear Argument a book that played a role in the successful July 2017 United Nations negotiations for a Nuclear Ban Treaty.
Timmon is a Quaker living in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Disarmament – Banning Nuclear Weapons
Nothing is more dangerous to sustaining life on earth than nuclear weapons. They are the deadliest of potential weapons of war, especially now that the nuclear weapons treaty between the United States and Russia has been abandoned.
Timmon Wallis’ book analyzes the cost, accident risk, and legality of nuclear weapons, and the absurdity of perpetuating nuclear weapons as “deterrence.” We decided to mention nuclear weapons here because of how deadly they are, but obviously, the work Quakers are doing to ban nuclear weapons also falls under our Peace Testimony.
Sustaining Life on Earth… is Not Simply About Cleaning Her Up
Social justice and equality are essential for environmental sustainability because they are essential for social sustainability.
Social Justice Engenders Planet Justice
Voter Registration in downtown Amesbury.
Protected Natural Resources
We love our rivers in this region around Amesbury, and we want to protect local waterways, beaches, forests, and wetlands.
Stand-Alone if You Must
Even if you’re the only one in the crowd who’s Going Green. There are kindred spirits in your area and you will find them.