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Climate Change & Flagstaff Meeting

Published: May 29, 2020


Flagstaff Meeting’s Adult Education Committee recently held two Zoom webinars on climate change, to explore actions we might take individually and as a Meeting. Our motivation to do this came out of having to cancel the annual retreat and public event we had planned around Paula Palmer’s presentation on Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Since there was an existing Quaker Minute on climate change that came out of last year’s IMYM, and as a Meeting we had participated in an Interfaith statement to Flagstaff City Council last January, and both Sam Meier and myself had recently completed the Sustainability Leaders training through the City of Flagstaff’s Sustainability Department, we believed there might be sufficient interest among Meeting attenders to take a deeper look at what actions we might take on climate change. Sam has worked closely with Dr. Stefan Sommer, Director of Education at NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research; he welcomed the opportunity to meet with us and give a condensed version of his Sustainability 101 course. Stefan joined us for both webinars, along with around nine folks from the Meeting attending each event.

Both events generated a rich and vigorous exchange of ideas and questions on a wide range of topics from an equally wide range of perspectives. It has been fascinating for me, and I expect most of the participants, to see this conversation unfold and begin to lead us to action. It is a complicated and potentially terrifying topic, and one that has at times left many of us emotionally, intellectually, and even spiritually overwhelmed. I am extremely grateful to know that we have dedicated, patient, and compassionate mentors in Sam and Dr. Stefan, and several wonderful people in the Sustainability Leaders program and Sustainability Department, to guide us in this journey.

In our follow up Zoom meeting, there was recognition that many members of the Meeting have areas of expertise, activism, and interest that we might utilize more effectively.  We also learned to have an appreciation for the fact that we are not all coming from the same “culture” (which may refer to several things – age, geographic origin, and gender being only a few).  Understanding this about ourselves and each other only enriches our process.

A member shared an insight at Meeting recently – that we can choose joy over despair. We can choose love over fear, and we may have to make that choice a hundred times a day. Speaking for myself, I chose to take the Sustainability Leaders class in the hope that I would find more information that was hopeful and empowering than depressing and frightening.  I am happy and grateful to report that it was an incredibly positive experience. I try to hold to the belief that we do the next right thing simply because it is the next right thing and not because we have an expectation that the problem will be resolved. I expect that our efforts to discover what that thing is, collectively and individually, are going to be beautifully slow and bumpy and that’s just fine. In the next few weeks the Education Committee will continue to work on finding ways to provide guidance and we will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I highly recommend a book titled, Active Hope – How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. For a Youtube intro, here is one of several possible links:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdn-KZLJunM 

My sincere thanks to everyone who has participated so far and offered so much faith, love, support, and enthusiasm. I feel energized and inspired to help keep us moving forward. Thank you all!


from David Bonnell, Flagstaff Meeting (5/15/2020)