Dear Members, Attenders, and Supporters of Putney Friends Meeting,

I’m thrilled to invite you all to a very low-cost nonviolent direct action training workshop this Saturday, on December 1, from 9 am to 5 pm in the main Community Room at Antioch University New England, 40 Avon Street, Keene, NH. If you are interested, please send an RSVP email to me in the next few days, bring a bag lunch for yourself on Saturday, and, if at all possible, be prepared to make a $5 donation when you arrive in order to cover training materials and the travel expense of our two trainers. However, please know that no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

The two trainers leading this Saturday’s workshop are experienced members of the nonviolent action training committee of the SAGE Alliance, the year-old campaign of concerned citizens from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts working to support the State of Vermont in its efforts to decommission the aging and leaking Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor as soon as possible. The SAGE Alliance has recently focused on educational events and also trained people to participate at the two recent public hearings of Vermont’s Public Service Board.

But more citizen action is needed between now and next Fall when the Public Service Board will likely make its final decision about whether Vermont Yankee’s owners will receive a “Certificate of Public Good” to keep operating the reactor for another 20 years, or whether the corporation will have to shut the reactor down as planned and clean up the hazardous site in Vernon, Vermont, as long advocated by Vermont’s Senator, Governor, Attorney General, State Senate, Department of Public Service, and the many citizen’s groups in the tri-state area that make up the SAGE Alliance campaign.

Between now and the PSB’s decision in the Fall, the SAGE Alliance wants to train as many area people as possible to engage in creative, disciplined, and effective nonviolent public demonstrations–including well-organized acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. Many of us already have some experience with this as sixty New England Quakers held a meeting for worship at the gates of the reactor on September 23 and ten people at the action committed civil disobedience, including four people from Putney Friends Meeting. The goal in all this work is to keep this important regional issue in the public eye and influence the decisions of both the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation, which owns Vermont Yankee, and the three-member Public Service Board, which currently has the legal power to close Vermont Yankee if it determines that Entergy does not deserve a Certificate of Public Good.

Have you ever wanted to know more about how to effectively participate in a nonviolent citizen action campaign and deepen your skills to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience actions either as a participant or as a support person? Are you concerned about the proposed 20-year extension of Vermont Yankee’s operation beyond its original expiration date of March 21, 2012? Have you wanted to do more to act in unity with Putney Friends Meeting’s minute on supporting the citizens movement to close Vermont Yankee? If any of these three things are true for you, I would love to have you join us this Saturday, from 9 to 5, in Antioch University New England’s Community Room for this important civic engagement skill-building workshop.

This Saturday’s nonviolent direct action skills training workshop is co-sponsored by Nuke Free Antioch, Nuke Free Monadnock, and the Environmental Studies master’s concentration that I direct at Antioch in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability. The training workshop is open to the public, as well as any interested Antioch students, faculty, staff, and alumni, so please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone in the area that you think might be interested.

Also, please let me know if you have any further questions about this nonviolent direct action training opportunity, and please RSVP to me ASAP if you would like to reserve a slot at this Saturday’s training workshop.

All my best,

Steve Chase
Director of the Master’s Program Concentration in
Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability
Department of Environmental Studies
Antioch University New England
40 Avon Street, Keene, NH 03431
schase@antioch.edu; 603-283-2336 (office); 603-357-0718 (fax)

Here are some upcoming events sponsored by Putney Friends Meeting:

Nov. 24: 4:30 – 6:00 40 Day of Prayer Discernment Discussion, followed by a potluck

Nov. 25: Worship 8:30 & 10:30
9:30 Adult Study:
12:15 Healing Circle

Dec. 2: Worship 8:30 & 10:30
9:30 Steve Chase talking about his book: Letters to a Fellow Seeker
10:30 First Day School

Dec. 6: 7 pm. “Tipping Point –Age of the Oil Sands” Movie and discussion sponsored by Putney Friends Social Justice & Peace Committee. Free Will offering to cover expenses.

Dec. 8: Worship 8:30 & 10:30
9:30 – Adult Study

Dec. 12: PFM provides supper for the Overflow Shelter at the Baptist Church in Brattleboro – contact Sora Friedman to help.

Dec. 13: 7 pm “ Silent Voices” a movie regarding migrant workers. At the Brooks Memorial Library.

Dec. 15 10:30: Gingerbread house making at the Meetinghouse

Dec. 16: Worship 8:30 & 10:30
First Day School 10:30
Cookie Exchange at 11:30
Business Meeting at 12:15

On Thursday evening, December 6, at 7pm, Putney Friends Meeting’s Social Justice and Peace Committee will be sponsoring a showing of Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands, an hour and a half visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.


In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy. What no one expected was that a tiny Native community downriver from Canada’s oil sands would reach out to the world, and be heard.

Directed by Edmonton filmmakers Tom Radford and Niobe Thompson of Clearwater Media, and hosted by Dr. David Suzuki, this special presentation of The Nature of Things goes behind the headlines to reveal how a groundbreaking new research project triggered a tipping point for the Alberta oil sands.

For years, residents of the northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan, down the Athabasca River from the oil sands, have been plagued by rare forms of cancer. They were concerned that toxins from oil sands production might be to blame. Industry and government, meanwhile, claimed production in the oil sands contributed zero pollution to the Athabasca River.

But in 2010, new and independent research measured pollution in waters flowing through the oil sands and discovered higher-than-expected levels of toxins, including arsenic, lead and mercury, coming from industrial plants. Leading the research was renowned freshwater scientist Dr. David Schindler. At the same time, the leaders of tiny Fort Chipewyan took their battle to the boardrooms of global oil companies, demanding change.

Leading the campaign was Dene Elder Francois Paulette, whose battles with Ottawa a generation ago launched the era of modern land claims. From New York, to Copenhagen, to Oslo, to the oil sands themselves, our camera followed Paulette on his relentless search for allies. When he finally enlisted the support of Avatar director James Cameron, Paulette created a storm of controversy for the Alberta’s oil sands industry.

By the end of 2010, Schindler’s alarming discovery of toxic pollution and the media attention Cameron’s visit had raised was putting federal and provincial environmental policy under serious pressure. Separate reports by Canada’s Auditor General, the Royal Society of Canada, and a panel of experts appointed by then Environment Minister Jim Prentice revealed a decade of incompetent pollution monitoring, paid for by industry, in Alberta’s oil sands.

The documentary’s climax shows how Professor Schindler’s research findings, and the determination of Fort Chipewyan residents, led to change. In December 2010, the special scientific review by the high-level federal panel declared environmental monitoring standards in the oil sands seriously flawed. In a dramatic reversal of their previous position, both the Federal and Alberta governments announced steps to improve their pollution monitoring. The age of innocence for the oil sands is over.

Tipping Point was directed by Niobe Thompson and Tom Radford for Clearwater Media in association with CBC-TV. A theatrical version of the documentary, narrated by Sigourney Weaver, is now playing in film festivals around the world.

On the evening of Wednesday, November 7, over 250 members of the public from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts packed the elementary school gym in Vernon, Vermont, for the first of two public hearings held by Vermont’s three-member Public Service Board. The topic at hand was whether the Public Service Board should grant the Entergy Corporation a “Certificate of Public Good” that would legally authorize the company to run the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor in Vernon for twenty more years past the original 40-year license period, which ended on March 21, 2012. Given Putney Friends Meeting’s continuing witness against the ongoing operation of this aging reactor, I went to see if I could speak at the hearing.

What happened next is in some dispute. According to the Brattleboro Reformer, “Supporters of the continued operation of Vermont Yankee outnumbered opponents by a margin of three-to-one at Wednesday night’s Public Service Board hearing in Vernon.” This same story was reprinted in the Rutland Herald, picked by the Associated Press, and quoted on NHPR later Thursday night. Yet, this was not my experience.

The actual tally of speakers was that 39 members of the public, most of them employees at Vermont Yankee, spoke in favor of granting the 40-year old reactor a twenty-year extension. In opposition, 34 members of the public, none of whom worked for the company, spoke against granting the extension on the reactor’s operational life. This hardly seems like a three-to-one ratio to me. Five other people also signed up to give testimony at the hearing, but were not able to speak because time ran out. Thankfully, these people will have another chance to be heard-—as will other concerned citizens, including interested members of our Meeting–at the Public Service Board’s second public hearing on November 19th. (For more information, go to the Vermont Public Service Board’s website at http://psb.vermont.gov/calendar/7862/public2.)

As it was, I was one of the 73 citizens who got to speak at the hearing. While I spoke in opposition to the continued operation of the reactor, I was also deeply moved by the testimony offered by many of the plant’s workers and their family members. These are good, dedicated, and hardworking people who understandably want to protect their jobs. I was particularly impressed with one young man, a Keene High student whose dad works at the reactor. This teenager was thoughtful, prepared, and eloquent. I laughed when his mom walked up to the microphone next to give her testimony and started by saying, “That’s my boy.” She had every right to be proud of her son, who stood up for his dad’s job and their family’s livelihood in clear, personal, and moving terms. The loss of over 600 jobs, especially in this economy, has to be factored into the Public Service Board’s decision.

During my two minutes at the podium, I also acknowledged that NASA climate scientist James Hansen might well be right that we will need some modern, fourth generation nuclear energy plants to help transition us away from our dangerous, fossil fuel economy in the next decade or two. Yet, I pointed out that this does not mean that it makes good public policy sense to keep an aging, leaking, and frequently malfunctioning nuclear reactor operating for the next twenty years. Even the pro-industry Nuclear Regulatory Commission admits that Vermont Yankee has the “least robust” design in the entire fleet of US nuclear reactors. It has a second generation design at best.

An even bigger problem, and one not addressed by any of the VY supporters at the hearing, is that the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation has simply not established itself as a good corporate neighbor that deserves the public trust, reliably serves the public interest, or respects the people and government of Vermont. The ten years that Entergy has owned the Vermont Yankee reactor have been ten years of corporate lies, misinformation, cover-ups, deferred maintenance, broken agreements, underpaid taxes, state law violations, and expensive lawsuits that harass the state of Vermont for trying to represent its people and decide Vermont’s energy future democratically.

It is for this reason that giving the Entergy Corporation a Certificate of Public Good is opposed by Vermont’s Governor, its Attorney General, its Department of Public Service, and its State Senate, which expressed its opinion in a 26 to 4 vote as far back as 2010. Even the Republican candidate for Governor who just lost his election bid against Peter Shumlin—and who supports nuclear power in principle—joined the twenty-five other Vermont Senators in 2010 to oppose giving Entergy a Certificate of Public Good. As Randy Brock put it before the vote, “The dissembling, the prevarication, the lack of candor have been striking, and there’s not enough time to be able to correct that through management changes or through the kinds of things we had hoped with time, we could resolve.”

I couldn’t have said it any better. Entergy is not a reliable corporation that deserves a Certificate of Public Good. For more information on how to demonstrate against the continued operation of VY in Montpelior on November 17 or offer short testimony at the next interactive TV public hearing at many towns around Vermont on November 19, please contact me at schase@antioch.edu.

Steve Chase is a member of Putney Friends Meeting and a professor of environmental studies at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Katy.

Looking For Volunteer Projects To Help With Windham County’s Ongoing Recovery From Hurricane Irene?
Check Out These Opportunities.

WESTGATE HOUSING, WEST BRATTLEBORO
Help remove and dispose of boxes onto the curb for an elderly woman. 2-4 volunteers needed for 1-3 hours; no Saturdays. (case ID: MT)

GLEN PARK, WEST BRATTLEBORO
Staple insulation and vapor barrier under mobile home. 1 volunteer, 2 hours; needs to be okay with crawling in small, dirty crawl space. (case ID: GP1)

GLEN PARK, WEST BRATTLEBORO
Remove small silt pile on mobile home slab and taken it to the dump (WSWMD); client is getting a new mobile home this week and needs the silt removed before the new home can be placed. 2-4 volunteers, 2-3 hours; own truck a plus, weekday or Sat. morning to accommodate dump hours. (case ID: GP2)

MOUNTAIN VIEW PARK, WEST BRATTLEBORO
Help move some belongings and a cord of wood for client moving from flood-damaged home to new location in Mountain View Park. 4-5 volunteers, 6 hours; own truck a plus. (case ID: MP)

STARK RD, BRATTLEBORO
LTRC has previously assisted with debris clean-up and mold remediation. Final help needed removing damaged freezer from basement and taking it to the dump. 2-4 volunteers, 1 hour, weekday or Sat. morning to accommodate dump hours; own truck a plus. (case ID: AS)

WHITINGHAM
Spread stone to repair washed out driveway. 2-4 volunteers, 2-4 hours. (case ID: GC)

EAST DOVER
Client’s chimney was damaged from Irene flooding. LTRC is contracting mason to replace the chimney, and volunteers are needed to help clean debris from old chimney demolition. 2 volunteers, 4-5 hours. (case ID: KT)

For more information, or to volunteer, please contact Laura Schairbaum, Volunteer Coordinator, at laura.sevt.iltrc@gmail.com, or (802) 257-4011.

Southeastern Vermont Long-Term Recovery Committee (SEVT-LTRC)
c/o United Way of Windham County, 28 Vernon St., Suite 312, Brattleboro, VT 05301

This just in from Darah Kehnemuyi, Putney Friends Meeting’s representative on the Brattleboro Interfaith Clergy association. Please share widely.

CelebrateMercy
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(424) 235-3278

For Immediate Release

For the first 13 years of his mission, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers were exposed to demeaning abuse, mockery and torture on a daily basis in Mecca. Not only did he resist violence, he did not even return an insult with another insult. At one point in Mecca, his enemies twisted his name to call him ‘Mudhammam’ (The Loathsome) instead of ‘Muhammad’ which deeply offended his followers. But the Prophet calmly comforted them by stating, “Doesn’t it astonish you how God protects me from the Quraish’s abusing and cursing? They abuse Mudhammam and curse Mudhammam while I am Muhammad.” [Source: Bukhari]

On Tuesday, September 11, extremists in Libya and Egypt reacted to an obscure film which attempts to insult the Prophet Muhammad with profane inaccuracies. But their reaction, which included vandalism and the murder of innocent civilians, completely contradicts the character and message of our beloved Prophet. In a famous Islamic tradition, he stated: “It is not allowed to cause harm to others nor to return harm for harm.” The Quran teaches us that we cannot blame or punish a person for the crime of another and instructs believers to “disagree with them in the most courteous way.”

CelebrateMercy Founder Tarek El-Messidi stated, “When lies are spread about our Prophet, we simply respond with the truth. And the most effective response is to embody his merciful character on a daily basis. Violence and vandalism carried out in his name are more offensive than the content of any film. The Quran tells us that the Prophet is praised by God and His Angels; even a million films cannot threaten his status as the Best of all Creation nor his love in our hearts.”

In response to the crimes carried out in the Prophet’s name, CelebrateMercy will soon launch a letter-writing campaign to the families of the innocents killed in Libya. We will also release more videos this week about the Prophet’s life and character to remind us and others why we love our Prophet, peace be upon him.

Dear Friends,

We want to update you on our plans for the Quaker worship under the care of Burlington Meeting (VT), at the main gate of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant on Governor Hunt Road in Vernon, Vermont, on First Day, 9-23-12, at 1 pm.This religious witness will go forward regardless of the weather.

We request that all who plan to participate in this worshipful witness gather at the Putney Friends Meetinghouse that morning at 11:00 am for a discussion of basic logistics and ground rules, and final discussion based on our previous dialogues with Chief Sebert of the Vernon Police Department and Patrick Ryan, Head of Security for the plant.At that meeting you will also meet the Quaker elders, identified with arm bands, who will serve as monitors during the worship and aftermath.

We ask that no signs be carried; there will be one banner identifying us as under the care of Burlington Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.We also suggest that Friends may want to carry snacks or a sandwich and something to drink, as the plant is in a rural area with no stores or restaurants.Food can be bought prior to the 11 am meeting at the Putney Coop.There are portapotties including a wheelchair accessible one at the Vernon Town Beach about a quarter of a mile away from the gate.There will be a car available to shuttle those who need it.

Chief Sebert has offered to let us park at the Vernon Town Offices parking lot and along the road behind it.There is no parking at the local school.Both are also within walking distance of the plant gate.We will also be able to have an appointed transport person to drive anyone with health needs from the parking area to the gate and back.Directions to both Putney Meetinghouse and the plant in Vernon are attached to this letter.

At approximately 12:45 pm we will walk prayerfully in single file, in silence, from the parking area to a designated place at the beginning of the plant driveway and form a circle to continue our standing worship.Please bring a light-weight chair with you if you are unable to stand for the worship period, which will last somewhere between a half hour and one hour, and the booking time after, approximately 30 minutes.

We have had many questions about the issue of civil disobedience.The meeting for worship, which is the primary focus of this religious witness, is being held in a mutually agreed upon spot on the edge of the plant’s property, and participation in the worship will not incur arrest.There are a few of us who feel we are called to leave the circle during worship, to duck under a rope and continue our worship further inside the plant grounds, about 15 – 20 feet from the first circle.We will form a smaller circle there and continue in worship.We ask that the initial circle continue to hold the worship, while some go inside the grounds.We will then be asked to leave and if we do not, we will be charged with trespassing and be arrested.The police will walk with us to a small house next to the driveway where our paperwork will be completed, and we will then be released on our own recognizance and allowed to leave.We will not be handcuffed.We ask that the circle hold us in worship while we are being booked, until we come back and join you.No one is under any pressure to either go inside or remain outside, nor do Friends need to decide that before we gather.

We would be grateful if Friends who are coming for this witness will let us know your approximate numbers and your home meeting or church at the email or phone number below.We also urge you to carpool if possible.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Prayerfully,

Jane Van Landingham

Earthquakers, under the care of

Burlington Friends Meeting

Email:betsyandjane@gmavt.net

Phone:802-434-7114

Emergency contact phone for that day only:802-734-8449

*Directions to Putney Friends Meetinghouse:*Take exit 4 off of I – 91.Go north on Route 5 for about a mile.The Meetinghouse will be on your left.

*Directions from the Meetinghouse to Vernon Town Offices:*From Putney Meetinghouse, take Route 5 South, through the downtown of Brattleboro, onto 142 South.In Vernon, continue onto Governor Hunt Road.The Town Offices are on the right.The time is about 25 minutes.

At the end of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Summer Sessions this Sunday, it was announced that Steve Chase’s new Quaker Press book, Letters To A Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction To The Quaker Way was chosen as the coming year’s selection for PYM’s “One Book, One Yearly Meeting” program.

As noted on PYM’s website, “One Book, One Yearly Meeting is an opportunity for meetings, quarters and Friends of all ages to connect and grow in the Spirit through one shared experience. Each year a book is chosen which reflects the theme of our Annual Sessions. Friends are invited to read the book individually or with their meeting over the next year. An accompanying curriculum provides support for going deeper into the book.” The website also says that more information for ideas about how Quaker meetings can promote discussing the new selection will be posted soon.

Steve Chase reacted to the news this weekend by saying, “I am touched that this book, which seemed to write itself this Spring, is now being viewed as such a valuable tool to help spark discussion of our different faith journey’s within all the meetings in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.”

In its promotional literature, Quaker Press of Friends General Conference describes the book this way: “In seven letters to a fictional correspondent, Steve Chase describes his spiritual journey among Friends. The writer, a member of the Quaker Quest travel team, introduces the Quaker way to a newcomer in language that is personal and gentle, while offering powerful inspiration through his own stories. Written as an invitation to inquirers, Letters to a Fellow Seeker will also stimulate discussion among longtime Friends about how we experience and remain true to our Quaker faith.”

A second printing of the book has also already been ordered by the publisher. Paper copies and ebook versions can now be ordered online at Quaker Books, the bookstore of Friends General Conference.

Steve Chase is a member of Putney Friends Meeting, the educational director of the environmental studies master’s program in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability at Antioch University New England, a founder of the Transition Keene Task Force, a member of the Transition US Trainers Team, and a moderator of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends’ website Quakers In Transition.

From NEYM’s Webpage:

With joy and anticipation, Permanent Board will bring the name of Noah Baker Merrill to NEYM Annual Sessions in early August for approval as Yearly Meeting secretary, beginning January 1, 2013.

Noah and his wife Natalie are members of Putney (VT) Monthly Meeting, where Noah has been released* for service in the ministry. Noah already has a long history of service, ministry and listening intently to where and what he is being called. Noah has worked for the American Friends Service Committee in Providence, in Philadelphia and in Washington, filling a variety of roles including community organizing, policy advocacy and technology consulting. With Natalie he co-founded and was program director for Direct Aid Iraq, an organization devoted to advocacy and material support for Iraqi refugees.

Noah is a writer, with articles in Friends Journal, Quaker Life, Spirit Rising and other publications. He maintains a web page and blog. And he is a gifted vocal minister, both in unprogrammed worship and in prepared messages. Noah was selected to give the plenary message on behalf of the Section of the Americas at the recent Sixth World Conference of Friends. This fall he’ll be traveling in the ministry supporting Friends World Committee for Consultation’s theme: “Let the Living Waters Flow: Friends Serving God’s Purposes.”

Demonstrating his belief that Quakers hold an untapped power to create positive change, Noah is a founding board member of Quaker Voluntary Service, an organization seeking to orient young adult Friends toward lives committed to service and justice, grounded and sustained by their Quaker faith.

In conversation, Noah displays a remarkable breadth of knowledge including Quaker history and current practice around the world. And he brings a tender sensitivity to the spiritual needs of the individual, the monthly meeting, the quarter, and the Yearly Meeting. He has a remarkable depth of understanding of the issues and the potential of NEYM, and of the role that the Yearly Meeting Secretary plays in these issues.

Most of all, interactions with Noah demonstrate his quiet energy and his sense of connection to the living tradition of Quakerism, past and future, and to the vision that we can make a difference in the world. In Noah’s words: “My small part in this work is encouraging the life of the Spirit among Friends, helping us together … to live more fully into the promise that if we are faithful, we can be made channels of Love’s life-giving work.”

—Bruce Neumann, on behalf of the Yearly Meeting Secretary Search Committee

Search Committee: Deana Chase, James Grumbach, Dwight Lopes, Wendy Schlotterbeck, Jackie Stillwell, Donn Weinholz, Hannah Zwirner and Bruce Neumann, clerk.

*A Released Friend is one whose leading to carry out a particular ministry has met with approval from a Meeting which then promises to provide such support as would enable the Friend to follow that leading. In Noah’s case, he is released to speak, preach, write, lead workshops, and generally nurture the life of the Spirit.

At the recent Friends General Conference, two Quakers active in the Transition movement gave an hour-long interview with Northern Spirit Radio‘s Mark Helpsmeet. This interview focuses on the what and why of Ruah Swnnerfelt’s (Burlington Friends Meeting) and Steve Chase’s (Putney Friends Meeting) local organizing work to create more resilient communities in the face of the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and a dysfunctional global economy. It also explores how they see this community organizing work being related to the social testimonies of their Quaker faith. Ruah, the former director of Quaker Earthcare Witness, is active in the Transition Charlotte initiative and Steve, the director of Antioch University’s environmental studies master’s program in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability, is active in the Keene Transition movement. Steve is also the recent author of the Quaker Press book Letters To A Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction To The Quaker Way.

People can listen to the interview here. Feel free to forward the link to the interview to friends and contacts, and please encourage them to post comments about the radio show on the web site. This will have the effect of increasing the rating of the show in terms of favorites, helping to maintain its visibility on the site as time goes on, and offer interesting food for thought for other people who might consider listening to the hour-long program.

Steve and Ruah are also the coordinators of the online Quakers in Transition project of the Earthcare Ministries Committee of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. Enjoy this in-depth interview on links between Transition, faith, and action.