Last spring, Cynthia Black from Eugene Friends Meeting published an article in Extra! Extra! – Western Friend’s email newsletter – which described a project being organized by British Friends at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England. Called “The Loving Earth Project,” it invited Friends to reflect on persons or places they love that are endangered by climate breakdown and then express their love and concern by creating 12” x 12” fabric art panels. Friends from around the world have responded to this call, and the Loving Earth exhibit has grown to include over four hundred panels. This is the story of how the project has inspired Friends in the Sacramento Friends Meeting and how you can help to bring an exhibition of Loving Earth panels to the US in 2023.
Reports of climate change destruction come at us almost daily and seem increasingly dire. For many people, this news brings only feelings of hopelessness and despair. And we don’t want to hear more doom and gloom. Many books and articles about climate change say that one of the best ways for people to shake off despair and take action is for them to remember the love they have for a particular place. The Loving Earth Project sounded like it was following that advice and sounded like something positive.
The article in Extra! Extra! inspired members of the Eco-Spirituality Committee of the Sacramento Friends Meeting to plan a second-hour workshop on Loving Earth for the meeting. The workshop took place on a Sunday following Meeting for Worship and began with the guided meditation described on the Loving Earth website. The meditation presents participants with three queries:
1. What or whom do you love that’s in danger because of environmental breakdown? (This could be someone in danger because of drought, famine, flooding, or other extreme weather. It could be a whole community. Or it could be a place threatened by drought, flooding, wildfires, or erosion. It could be one of the million species currently facing the threat of extinction.)
2. How do your actions or lifestyle contribute to the threat? What is needed to reduce the risk of harm?
3. What can you do to help?
After the guided meditation and worship sharing, each person received a cloth panel cut to the appropriate size, a simple instruction sheet, and various art materials to take home and use to complete their panels. The Project asks that panel creators write a short statement explaining why the object, place, or creature represented in their panel is precious, why it is endangered, and what they plan to do about it. In a few weeks, we received eight surprisingly different and creative panels from our participants. We sent our contributions off to the UK for inclusion in the Loving Earth exhibition at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26).
Now Loving Earth panels are touring the world. Sacramento Friends will be coordinating and hosting exhibits in California during April 2023. We hope to place the exhibit on the state capitol grounds where legislators and staff will have an opportunity to see it as they enter the building. We’re also planning to find other venues that will give as many people as possible a chance to see and experience the ways that people around the world are expressing their commitment to protect the planet they cherish.
The Loving Earth Project will be on tour until the end of 2023. For information on how you can bring this important exhibition to your area or contribute your own panels, visit the Loving Earth website: https://lovingearth-project.uk. You can also connect with the project over Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you are located in the Pacific Yearly Meeting and would like to host a display in your area, please contact Klara East at differenteast9[at]yahoo[dot]com or Cindy Fowler at cindyfowler1[at]gmail[dot]com. ~~~
Klara East and Cindy Fowler are members of the Eco-Spirituality Committee of the Sacramento Friends Meeting (PacYM).
Images of fabric panels and accompanying texts below are samples from the “Gallery” page of the Loving Earth Project’s website and are shared here with permission. All fabric panels and texts are published anonymously. (https://lovingearth-project.uk)