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Seeking Right Relationship with Our Earth

Shelley Tanenbaum serves as clerk of Quaker Earthcare Witness and Quaker Institute for the Future.  She is a member of Strawberry Creek Meeting in Berkeley, CA. Shelley and her husband run a consulting company, ENVAIR, which conducts research on regional air quality trends, with an emphasis on ozone and particulates.

On Consumption (May 2013)

Forging a Relationship with Self

When I was a child, I craved quiet places where I could be alone with my feelings. Sometimes I would go along the side of the house where camellia and pomegranate grew or down the stone steps to a small orchard under a tangerine tree in full fruit. Later in life, when I was old enough to be trusted, I would venture to a meadow and lie down in the tall grasses or climb high in a tree. Each of these places offered an essential opportunity to experience my inner being. [pullquote]Children have access to this “still small voice” in nature, preferably alone, where they can connect with their dreams and harness themselves for disappointment, which will surely come in life.[/pullquote]

On Place (May 2022)

Information Technology for Our Testimonies

Information technology can and should be part of Friends’ work.

On Tech (July 2024)

Voluntary Poverty Has to Be a Choice

I have read quite a few articles recently about “green” living, reducing footprints, and sustainability. None of them have mentioned one of the greatest ways of creating positive change in the world. Voluntary poverty is a far more fundamental and effective way to decrease consumption and impact, while increasing human connection and improving life all around. Our family of four lives on about $7000 a year, and our lives are more enjoyable, fuller, richer, healthier, and more interesting to us than the life we see being lived in the mainstream economy. This is nothing new of course; sages and mystics have been sharing the joys of voluntary poverty and simplicity for eons. But voluntary poverty is rarely seen as a positive lifestyle choice in modern-day America.

On Money (November 2015)

Water Camp

On January 12, 2019, Western Friend conducted an interview with several members of the Quaker Oaks Farm (QOF) community. Located in the Central Valley of California, Quaker Oaks Farm is an environmental and cultural learning center that is supported by Visalia Friends Meeting. Since 2013, QOF has hosted annual service-learning camps, which have brought together youth and adults from Wukchumni, Mexican-American, and Quaker communities in the Central Valley and beyond.

On Water (March 2019)

The Lure of Mount Madonna

The week of July 29 – August 3, 2013, will see PYM Friends returning to Mount Madonna near Watsonville for the sixth annual gathering we will hold there. Many Friends view the Mt. Madonna Center, with its spectacular view of Monterey Bay, as the most eye-pleasing site at which we have gathered, while others consider it problematic due to the fairly steep hillside terrain, which is adorned with religious iconography.  Moreover, unlike college campuses and other conference centers, Mt. Madonna Center requires us to interact with a faith community different from ours, as it is owned and staffed by an intentional yoga community, guided by the spiritual discipline of Ashtanga Yoga.  The community requires that food consumed on site be strictly vegetarian, which some Friends find challenging if not intolerable.

On Power (March 2013)

Building a Moral Economy from the Ground Up

Whether entailing the use of money or other resources, economic transactions allow us the means of subsistence just as they tempt us to excess. It would do us well to remember that the etymological origins of the word “economy” are from the Greek meaning of “managing the household.” A moral economy would be one that manages the “household” of our planet to emphasize mutual care, community health, and a society of sufficiency and sustainability.

On Money (November 2015)

A Cuba Testimony

Growing up, I was taught to live by and hold high the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. But I also always felt the influence of another important testimony – Environmental Caretaking. While this testimony may fall under several of the traditional Quaker testimonies listed above, it also holds a power strong enough to stand on its own. It is important that we as humans – and we as Quakers – live up to these principles and standards. What this means for me in terms of Environmental Caretaking is this: When we begin to see the environment as that Eternal Source sustaining all, we must in turn learn to understand it, and to give back and support the Earth to the best of our abilities.

On Countries (January 2016)