Quakers and Sustainability

About what Quakerism as a way of life and movement can contribute to transition through social turbulence created by energy scarcity, climate change, and social injustice.


20121005 Thanksgiving Weekend

Last post here was 2008, much has changed in me, much has stayed the same in the world. The economy, environment and energy apocalyptic scenarios are still pending, either pushed out of view by the press and politicos, or scrambled into confusion by naysayers and technophiles.  I was convinced starting in 2004 that we had precious little time as a species responsible for the degradation of the biosphere and extinction of multitudes of lifeforms, to make major changes. It seems we have pushed the can down the road a bit further. The crash will be steeper.

I'm still on the farm, enjoying it more, spending less time with people than with animals. I enjoy my twice daily walk to the pasture to milk my cows. I pause often to gaze at the geese on the pond, so graceful and alert. I admire the wheat I planted in two little one acre paddocks, coming up lush this fall. I smile when I think of the hay in the barn where the cats play.

A recent discovery in my local bookstore, Bryan Prince Bookseller, is Macnamara's People and Permaculture book. It offers a synthesis of many themes in my life including Dave Meier's Accelerated Learning, Ken Wilber's Integral Consciousness, the ICA's community building methods, and yes, Quakerism, though not stated as such. This book has the potential to be a rekindling for me as it paints an integration I had not even imagined among all my searching. And it reminds me, permaculture is about a mindset of abundance not scarcity; I had forgotten that too.

Living with a painful awareness of the cumulative and ongoing damage to environment is like running a race with a grain sack on your back and hobbles. It's hard to keep up any momentum. That's what I find. But along comes a book or an idea that breaks through, pierces the case-hardened angry resignation that my research has concocted.

I still think there's no way humanity will make the changes necessary in  my liftime to avert mass die-off, much painful suffering, and immense collateral damage visited on all other living creatures among us. But the option still exists to live as though there is a future worthy of the name. Hence I plan to build a greenhouse for woody plant propagation, rebuild the woodshed for food storage and sales, plant more fruit trees, dig another pond, add chinampas-style canals and pennisulas for growing drought prone crops, experiment with 'rotational grazing' of chickens in the greenhouse, get the sheep bred, learn to raise turkeys, etc.