Articles & News

Webinar Recording: Creating sanctuary policies in cities and schools

American Friends Service Committee - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:33am

Watch our Sanctuary Everywhere webinar to learn about successful efforts to establish sanctuary policies in cities and schools.

Learn from folks who have run successful campaigns to make more welcoming spaces in schools, both for immigrants targeted by ICE and those targeted by other law enforcement, and in cities.

Presenters include:

Categories: Articles & News

Faith, hope, charity

American Friends Service Committee - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 10:22am
Greensboro News and Record logo Photo: AFSC/ News Source: Greensboro News & Record
Categories: Articles & News

Writing Opp: What Are Quaker Values Anyway? (Due 2/5)

Friends Journal - Fri, 01/05/2018 - 12:44pm

This is the third installment of a new feature in which we ask you, our friendly readers, to help crowdsource future articles. We know there are plenty of Quakers who only need a little nudge to share their ideas with a wider audience. If you know anyone who should write about Quakers values and institutional branding, please share this with them!

 

It’s safe to assume we all know that “Quaker” is a brand, most famously one for a division of PepsiCo that specializes in oatmeal and sugary breakfast cereals. The story goes that one day in 1877, Henry D. Seymour, the owner of a small oat mill in Ravenna, Ohio, read the entry for Quakers in an encyclopedia. He “decided that the qualities described—integrity, honesty, purity—provided an appropriate identity for his company’s oat product.”

Those same qualities continue to hold a brand appeal, and not just for oats. We’ve got Quaker schools, retirement communities, investment services, advocacy groups. We even have Quaker magazines and websites.

And here we come to an insider secret: there’s really no legal bond tying together all of the institutions bearing the Friends/Quaker name. The United States has no national body of Friends, and even local institutions like schools are only sometimes formally under the care of a monthly meeting.

There’s really nothing holding together all of this Quaker branding. All we have is something we call “Quaker values.” What are they? Sometimes we invoke the mnemonic SPICES—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship—but these are really a bit of dodge. Just about everyone will say they like peace and integrity. You can sell a lot of Cap’n Crunch cereal with “Quaker values.”

But yet there really are some bonds: shared values which bend and fold and sometimes even break. The values of Quaker-branded organizations sometimes differ from those held by the donors funding them. Sometimes we lean a little too hard on the branding of “Quaker values” to market our services to non-Quakers.

The Religious Society of Friends has been negotiating the ambiguity of structures without clear central authority since the beginning of our movement in the seventeenth century. How are we doing it today? When do we insist on Quakers making up staffing or boards? How do we challenge Quaker-branded institutions when they act in ways that don’t match our values? How do we build bridges with organizations which want to once more connect with their Quaker heritage?

Here’s our description for our May issue, “What Are Quaker Values Anyway?”

If there’s a Quaker brand, then “Quaker values” is its most common pitch. What do we mean when we use the term for Quaker institutions and the ministries of our meetinghouses and churches? Is it anything deeper than the “SPICES” testimonies? Due February 5, 2018.

Join the conversation and write something for us by February 5, 2018:

Friendsjournal.org/submissions

We’re always looking for new voices and perspectives from our community. Is there a side of the story you think isn’t being told or heard among Friends? Contact me with questions or ideas at martink@friendsjournal.org.

The post Writing Opp: What Are Quaker Values Anyway? (Due 2/5) appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

January Full Issue Access

Friends Journal - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 2:00am
Members can download the full PDF or read any article online (see links below). Features: “Farm and Community” by Craig Jensen; “Being Vegetarian is a Climate Issue” by Lynn Fitz-Hugh; “Simple Living Beyond the Thrift Store” by Philip Harnden; “Releasing One Another for Faithfulness” by Marcelle Martin. Poetry: “So Far So Safe” by E.K🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News

The Roots of Our Lifestyles

Friends Journal - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 1:45am

 

“Live simply so that others may simply live.” Variations on this aphorism appear in multiple articles in this issue on Quaker Lifestyles.  The phrase appears on bumpers throughout meetinghouse parking lots.

Being a curious person, I decided to track down the saying. Google results are rather predictably scattershot. Depending on whom who you believe, it was coined by bell hooks, Mother Teresa, Aristotle, Elizabeth Ann Seton, or Mohandas Gandhi (on the Internet pretty much every pithy quote is eventually attributed to Gandhi).

From the April 15, 1978 issue of Friends Journal.

Fortunately the prolific American etymologist Barry Popik turned his attention to “Live simply so that others may simply live”  and traced it to a Franciscan order that ran a peace center in Milwaukee in 1974. He also followed its outward progression but must not have had access to Friends Journal archives. A short news piece in these pages shows that bumper stickers with the phrase were being sold by Friends at Goose Creek Meeting in Lincoln, Virginia, starting in 1976. Franciscans might have coined the phrase but Friends sent it across the country at 55 miles per hour.

It’s a beautiful sentiment for Friends. What does it mean to live simply? How do we combine conflicting paths of simplicity? How do we make sure our actions don’t just feed our egos but instead really helping others to live?

 

Here, in this issue, are some remarkable stories of Friends who have taken up the challenge of these queries. They all consciously build on past decades of Quaker experiments to create lives that are consciously simple, inherently just, and filled with community.

But what’s also remarkable is the evolving depth of our experience. There are no “Five steps to live simply” here—no feel-good strategies that don’t particularly help others. These stories are about digging roots.

Sometimes literally digging roots: Craig Jenson’s story starts off the issue. He and his wife felt a call to the land. They now farm the New Hampshire property that housed The Meeting School for over 50 years. They have helped build a community that lives and works together in the gardens and houses on the property.

Marcelle Martin has put down roots across many communities in a search for a lifestyle that combines simple living and community while freeing her for Quaker ministry. From North Philadelphia to Richmond, Indiana, to Chester, Pennsylvania, the peripatetic course of her travels has helped bridge some of these far-flung communities.

Lynn Fitz-Hugh urges Friends to more widely adopt one of the few personal lifestyle options that does actually have an outsized effect on the health of the planet’s climate. She argues the case of vegetarianism with humility, and acknowledges the layers of guilt that can make this a fraught subject. I’m glad she also shares her own shifting adherence, as it shows the human and family dynamics of diet changes.

The big-picture view here comes from Philip Harnden. He punctures some bubbles but for a worthy cause: how can we merge simple living practices with collective work for wider systemic change?

It is in this query, I think, that the spirituality of the personal merges with the activism of the political. One of the hallmarks of our religious community is the balance between individual and group, between spiritual and earthly. What Quaker lifestyles have you been led to adopt?
In Friendship,
Martin Kelley

The post The Roots of Our Lifestyles appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Farm and Community

Friends Journal - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 1:35am

Photos courtesy of the author.

 

We had our first frost of the season last night. It’s the first of October and we live in New England, so I’m not complaining. We’ve had warm and easy weather for the past few weeks, but I’m always checking the mid-range forecast this time of year, watching for frost. We spent most of Saturday getting ready: covering what we could, bringing in peppers and eggplant, and processing the tomatoes and basil that wouldn’t keep until our next community-supported agriculture (CSA) pickup. This morning before worship, I fed my two goats and then walked the gardens. We lost a few of the tender flowers and herbs, but the frost was light and I expect most crops to recover.

My wife, Megan, and I live on a small vegetable farm in southern New Hampshire that we call Sun Moon Farm. We’re both 37 years old, and today is our sixth wedding anniversary. We have a son named Fox, who will be three in February. From June through October, our farm feeds 100 families, and life is busy and hard and good. Over a 20-week season, year after year, we develop strong relationships with our community of customers. As a CSA farm, we intentionally invest in these relationships because we believe that community—like our food—can help to make a place resilient and sustainable and that these are traits that all of us need to be developing.

In the winter months the farm is much quieter. We harvest hardy greens and herbs from our greenhouse and sell roots and alliums from the root cellar. But most of our winter work is planning for the next spring and summer. Megan makes the planting plan and orders the seeds. I take longer morning walks with Fox and the goats and have more time to read books and finish craft projects. We’ll start the first seeds in February and start opening gardens in March or April. By May we’ll have a crew working long days with us.

Our crew works and lives with us, so when the farm is busy, our house is busy. Every year we hire two farm interns, usually college students. We share our home year-round with a friend who has worked with us for a few seasons now, and this year we also housed a farm- and community-interested Quaker couple for the summer. Our work week begins early on Monday with a gathering worship, a chance for each of us to “check in,” and time to talk about the needs of the house and farm. Cooking for lunches and childcare for Fox are always part of the work week’s responsibilities to be divvied up.

On harvest days—twice a week—Megan is up before 4 o’clock to start baking bread, and I’m in the field with the rest of the crew by 5:30. Other days are easier, but all farm days are long, and many are physically taxing. We grow good food here. It is quiet work that often allows me to talk to friends about climate chaos or comic books, conversations that often continue on the porch when we’re sharing lunch. These conversations make a day’s work lighter or put purpose to our lives. My work is simple and honorable. I like that it keeps me close to home and family. But good work isn’t always easy work. I know that when I choose this life, I’m also choosing the strain and insecurity of depending on my body’s work for a living and that I’ll feel frustrated, anxious, and sometimes resentful when I think about money, work, security, and justice.

Our property has been continuously farmed since the 1780s and was home to The Meeting School from 1957 until it closed in 2011. Megan and I met here when we were both working for the school, and we were still working here when the school closed. With friends, we were able to purchase this property and began planning a small, intentional neighborhood that we call South of Monadnock. Our family and our farm share a commitment to South of Monadnock’s mission:

To live well together in a way that supports and challenges us to live into our best selves, collectively and individually. We are working towards a positive vision for the future and honoring this property’s history by building authentic community consistent with Quaker practices and principles that prioritizes purposeful, joyful living; peace work; place-based education; and Earth stewardship, including diverse, sustainable agriculture and wild-space conservation.

Right now we are only three families (and, of course, big gardens, a few animals, and a rambling spread of hayfields and lively woods) with faith that other lively, purposeful people will heed their own calling to eventually fill all six households on this old property.

A lot of my Quaker identity is rooted in the decision that I made with my wife to settle here, continue farming on this land, and build a community. We recognized that a good life is possible here for us, our family, and our human and nonhuman neighbors. There is opportunity for real work, honest relationships, and an authentic experience of the natural world. We meet our needs simply and closely. I’ve wanted other things, but when I really opened myself to hearing what I am called to do, the decision to stay here felt clear. “Just as a tree cannot bear fruit if it is often transplanted, so neither can a man bear fruit if he frequently changes his abode” (adapted from Verba Seniorum, a collection of third and fourth century writings from Christian ascetic communities). Megan and I met here and were married here. We grew our farm and had a son. Working for peace is spirit-led work that begins at home, and home for me is here.

I believe that good farming, like good teaching, is long-term activism. Farming and teaching are both optimistic vocations: they assume not only that there can be a future for humans on this planet, but that there should be and that our work can make that future world better. Good farmers work hard to build and balance their soils. We value the complex, often unseen, web of life all around us, allowing for sustainable yields over a very long time. I believe that this is a good, actionable metaphor for Quaker peace work, too. A good onion harvest this season won’t end a war, but providing access to healthy food healthfully grown—and the nourishing relationships that often accompany it—may be part of the foundation for the world we want. Work towards this aim might ultimately subvert the causes of war and continuing conflicts. Farming and community are an active yes to peace, and I believe that living a yes is a very strong way to say no to war.

Participation in rural life can be lonely, and the work of farming can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. An isolated life could set me in ruts or into self-pleasing patterns as easily as it could keep me rightly aimed toward peace. So I know that my life and farm need to be grounded by the joys, challenges, and accountability of community. Living in close, committed relationship with other people is one of the most radical acts of love and peace that we can make in our lives. At South of Monadnock, we are building a community where that sort of commitment isn’t just made to a husband, wife, or child but to our neighbors as well. That is a powerful commitment. We won’t all be farmers—and need not be—but we should all live fully engaged lives, and we should bring what we learn home to our community. Together we can divest ourselves of the seeds of war and continue building a more peaceful world.

 

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Categories: Articles & News

Being Vegetarian is a Climate Issue

Friends Journal - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 1:30am
© hiroshiteshigawara   I would like to make the case for Quakers becoming vegetarian. Quakers at one point wore black, white, and gray clothing so that they would not support a market for dyed clothing, because the dyeing process was so carcinogenic that those working in the industry died young. Quakers also, over a process of many years, came to unity in the🔒 Friends Journal Member? Sign in here!
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Categories: Articles & News
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