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A Year of Loving Earth

Klara East
On Seeds (November 2023)
Healing the World

What a year we’ve had with the Loving Earth Project here in Sacramento!

Early in 2022, several people from the Sacramento Friends Meeting decided to participate in the “Loving Earth Project,” which was created by a team of volunteers in Britain, under the auspices of the Quaker Arts Network (found at https://quakerarts.net).

The project invited Friends to create a 12” x 12” cloth panel to illustrate our personal responses to three questions: What person, place, or thing do you care about? How is climate change impacting it? and What will you do to protect it? Sacramento Friends created eight panels. We submitted the panels to UK Friends, joining hundreds of people who contributed panels from around the world.

The panels were first displayed at the United Nation’s 2021 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, known as “COP26.” After the summit, the Loving Earth Project issued a second invitation to “Friends everywhere” – to host a traveling Loving Earth exhibit during 2023. This would display some of the collected works and encourage others to share their stories and perspectives. The Sacramento Friends decided that California Quakers needed to step up and become one of those hosts. Our small group responded with a clear and unequivocal “Yes!”

We decided we would like to host the panels in April 2023 in honor of Earth Day. The Loving Earth team in the UK agreed to send us 110 panels for the whole month of April 2023. The planning began in earnest during 2022. We worked to find venues to display the panels. It was our goal to share the panels with people who might not already be engaged with climate concerns. Ultimately, we arranged to display the panels in Sacramento’s children’s museum, several local churches, an elementary school, a nearby nature preserve, and in our local tourist destination, Old Sacramento. We also arranged for displays in the nearby cities of Chico and Fresno. We planned for the culmination of the tour to be a display on Earth Day, April 22, 2023.

In mid-February, a big cardboard box from Britain arrived on our doorstep. It held stacks of beautiful, passionate stories told through fabric panels – intricately stitched, made of surprising scraps and found bits, including patterns and textures of every sort. Holding the panels and seeing firsthand the love invested in each person’s response to the project’s queries was profoundly moving. We felt no doubt that our meeting was following a Spirit-led decision, and we felt privileged to share the Loving Earth Project with as many people as possible.

As the exhibit was displayed at various locations throughout the month, we consistently heard comments such as, “I had no idea how different it would be to see the Loving Earth panels in person,” or “The stories and notes written by the panel makers are touching and true.” Nearly every location asked to keep the exhibit longer than the agreed-upon schedule.

Wherever the Loving Earth panels visited, we asked people to pause and consider the Project’s three questions: What person, place, or thing do you care about? How is climate change impacting it? What will you do to protect it? Then we invited them to respond by drawing or writing a personal reflection using cards and markers we provided. We hung these “heart cards” around the exhibit, so that everyone became part of the display, creating personal and community-wide expression of awareness and commitment to act.

On Earth Day weekend, in addition to our booth in Sacramento’s Earth Day celebration, the Unitarian Society devoted their entire Sunday service to a Loving Earth theme and invited us to speak. The panels were beautifully displayed on the walls of their sanctuary, so the congregation could walk around to see them then write or sketch personal responses. The exhibit also made appearances in May at the Museum of Northern California at Chico State University, Gateway Science Museum in Chico, and the Unitarian Church in Fresno, California.

Each venue came with unique challenges. Some hosts were concerned about being too political or were hesitant to navigate conversations in which people didn’t agree on the problem or possible solutions. Some had ready-to-go facilities for the exhibit and good experience handling such activities; others depended on us to do it all.

One of our most satisfying experiences came at the local elementary school where we had a constant stream of classes coming to see the panels. In two days, we had a chance to share our concerns and hopes with nearly 300 students and their teachers. We talked about California’s wildfires, droughts, honeybees, and other endangered critters. It was heartening to learn that many of the children were already informed and equally concerned.

The Loving Earth exhibit is now back in Europe, visiting more cities, but its impact in Sacramento Meeting continues. We are strengthening our personal commitments and deepening our knowledge of the climate issues we all face. As a meeting, we’re becoming a visible, active presence in the organizing and awareness-raising activities going on in our community and region. There are lively “what’s next?” discussions popping up throughout the meeting. More engagement with schools, perhaps? Lobbying at the state level on important environmental legislation? Demonstrating for corporate divestment from fossil fuel dependence?

Many thanks to the Sacramento Meeting’s Eco-Spirituality Committee, to the Friends who supported the work financially, and to planning committee members Hilary Burwell, Klara East, Billie Hamilton, Laurel Hollis, Sue McCullough-Sanden, Ani Stanleigh, Chris Shipman Mackey, and the coordinator of our project, Cindy Fowler.

Follow the continuing story of the Loving Earth Project at: https://lovingearth-project.uk/ ~~~

Klara East is a member of the Eco-Spirituality Committee of the Sacramento Friends Meeting (PacYM).

Photos are used by permission of Cindy Fowler.

Climate action earth care

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