To the community of Putney, our Town, State and Federal elected officials and other Towns taking up the work of understanding systemic racism.
In Jan 2016, the Putney Friends Meeting (Quakers) agreed to hang a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the Meetinghouse. We also agreed that we wanted to become a body that is actively involved to make our Quaker Meeting and our community as a whole, active participants in the change that needs to happen to become more anti-racist.
Part of that understanding is that white people in our congregation and community need to learn the history and impact of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, continuing disparites in opportunities for housing and education and mass incarceration of african americans, as a result of white american denial and indifference. We need to understand how the resultant white privilege is not simply a matter of individual acts of blatant violence, but in fact the truth that unwittingly all white people have inherited systemic racism. It shows up for all white people, and it is our responsibility to work on intimate understanding of how that system of racism plays out all the time in our interactions with people of color.
On September 2, Steffen Gillom, President of the Windham County NAACP, attended a Select Board meeting in Putney. That meeting, like all public meetings, was recorded and broadcast by Brattleboro Community Television (BCTV). Watching this meeting is a great example of a person of color speaking up about systemic racist activity that he had experienced. It took great courage for him to address a room of white people about behavior that white people find difficult to acknowledge, because of the enormous discomfort it provokes in themselves.
The outcomes of that meeting for Putney were profound. White participants were able to:
We see it as helpful and educational as white people, to invite feedback from people of color to point out racist comments, acts etc, such as Steffen gave us all at our Select Board meeting.
Members of Putney Friends Meeting continue to be troubled by, and wrestle with, white supremacy. Our congregation has undertaken reading racial healing
material (anti-racism) material, sharing with other Friends Meetings taking up this work, and participating in local groups working for justice and addressing systemic racism.
Putney Friends Meeting will do the following:
We appreciate that mistakes are essential to learning, and the real question is how we are creating a trusting enough Town, where honest feedback from people of color can be heard, believed and responded to by our largely white community. This is for all of us.
Welcome to Putney Mutual Aid!
We are a group of community members working to coordinate neighbor-to-neighbor support in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
We help match needs and offerings for things like essential rides, food, grocery pickups, caring for loved ones, organizing neighborhood groups, meals, masks, donations and more.
DO YOU NEED HELP? CAN YOU OFFER HELP?
Please go to our CONFIDENTIAL Needs and Offerings Form. A small team of Mutual Aid volunteers will receive your requests and offers and match you behind the scenes. Please know that this team is committed to your privacy and your name will not be shared other than with the volunteer(s) and community organizations who will be supporting you.
DO YOU WANT INFORMATION ABOUT PUTNEY AND VERMONT-SPECIFIC RESOURCES?
Please go to our Putney Mutual Aid Resource Sheet.
DO YOU NEED INFORMATION ON STAYING SAFE WHILE HELPING NEIGHBORS?
To reduce transmission of COVID-19, the State of Vermont has asked us to stay at home and keep social distance of 6 feet. If we go out of the house, we are asked to wear a mask, maintain distance, avoid going into anyone’s home, and wash our hands before and after. Volunteers are being asked to follow Neighborly Best Practices for Helping During COVID-19 to keep everyone safe and healthy.
DO YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY OR VERY URGENT CONCERN?
Please call Tom Goddard, the Putney Emergency Director. You can reach him through the fire station hotline – 802-387-4372. If you can’t get through, please call 911.
FIND OUT ABOUT PUTNEY FOODSHELF RESOURCES HERE
Foodshelf open hours, resources related to food insecurity
FIND OUT ABOUT PUTNEY COMMUNITY CARES RESOURCES HERE
Meals on Wheels, essential rides, small grants, help with applications and more
PUTNEY MUTUAL AID TEAM (and growing – join us!)
Ruby McAdoo, Jaime Contois, Cor Trowbridge
Support and Advisory Team
Ellen Strong and Hannah Pick (Putney Foodshelf), Kathleen Duich, Sarah Armour-Jones, Abd Rababah, Kate Kelly (Putney Community Cares), Laura Chapman (Putney Selectboard), Mike Mrowicki and Nader Hashim (State Representatives)
Neighborhood Point Person Team
Chris Ellis, Elizabeth Christie, Elizabeth Bissell, Maria and Ward Ogden, Nancy Shepherd, Amber Paris, Michael Hornsby, Amanda Perez, Jorika Stockwell, Gerrit Bollin, Ruby McAdoo, Jaime Contois, Betsy Hallett , Maggie Smith, Alison Mott, Sheila Garrett, Dierdre Kelley and growing
• • •
This is a grassroots effort, organized around a value for self-organizing community systems. Please feel empowered to take part.
You can reach us directly at PutneyVTMutualAid@gmail.com
|Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PutneyVTMutualAid|
May 18, 2020
Across New England, people are talking about “re-opening”. After much anticipation in the media, today the State of Massachusetts released guidelines (here) for houses of worship as some public health restrictions are being lifted.
While other states in our region are moving on their own timelines, events seem to be unfolding quickly in many of the places New England Quakers call home.
The Massachusetts safety standards, informed by what is now known about the coronavirus, mean that in-person worship will look quite different, will be limited in numbers of people permitted to gather, and will require extensive and frequent sanitation.
In response to the announcement, the Massachusetts Council of Churches (of which New England Yearly Meeting is a member) issued a public statement (here) reminding church leaders that:
“Churches are designed to be places of healing, not sources of sickness. We receive these new minimum safety standards from the state with much concern for those people most at risk in our churches and our communities….just because congregations may return to their buildings does not mean they should.”
It’s clear from these unfolding events that although many people are understandably eager to gather in person again, there will be no going back to the way things were. We can only move forward on the path before us now; we can only respond to the invitation before us.
Fresh Pond (Cambridge, MA) Friend Kristina Keefe-Perry shares her sense of how we might move into the future together:
To go back to “normal” means to accept structures that are built on exploitation and inequity. And so we keep on walking forward. That doesn’t mean that we can’t mourn the loss of a world we’ve known…while we do it, we have to look towards building a world that’s reflective, truly reflective, of God’s kingdom.
As we look forward toward what’s ahead in our lives and the lives of our Meetings over the coming months, what helps you to listen? What is the Inner Guide saying? What does looking toward a world more aligned with God’s dream for us mean for you, in this moment?
Regardless of where we live, we are moving into this unknown future together. And the choices we make—alone and as communities—matter more than ever.
Read on for updates.
New Resources for Friends Serving Their Meetings
In response to requests for support with decision-making as some restrictions are lifted, which we heard on our Tuesday evening check-ins with local Meeting leaders, we have created this new page on our website with nuts-and-bolts resources and tools for reflection.
We hope this will be helpful to Friends across New England and beyond as we consider the challenging decisions of this moment.
An Update on Annual Sessions: From your suggestions, extended dates announced
First, thank you to the many Friends who have reached out to the Summer 2020 Programming team via this digital suggestion box with hopes, ideas, and questions related to re-envisioning Annual Sessions for this summer.
We want you to know that we are reviewing with care and prayerful attention all of the insights that you are sharing with us. Many of your contributions align with the creative discussions our small group is already engaged in, while others are great new suggestions we had not thought about. So thank you for all that you offer!While we are still mourning the loss of the in-person aspect of our annual gathering, we are deeply encouraged by the enthusiasm and clarity we’ve heard from Friends.
From your many responses and reflections in the suggestion box, we want to reflect a number of themes:
A desire to connect emotionally and spiritually with the wider body of Friends across New EnglandThat Friends hope this will be an opportunity to make Sessions more accessible to those who need to work, or have caregiving responsibilitiesAcknowledgment that not all Friends have access to web- or internet-based contentKeen awareness that “Zoom fatigue” is real, and that Friends do not want to spend long stretches of time at their computersThe central importance of opportunities for small group connection That Friends yearn to connect “beyond the screen”–though postal mail, over the phone, via simultaneous prayer, or, if possible given the public health situation, in small physically-distant localized groupsThe need to hold over non-essential decision making until Friends are able to be with each other in personThe desire to allow space for grieving, and also for joy, celebration, and fellowshipThe yearning for “peer” spaces for mutual support among those with shared experiences and needs in this time, especially for youth, young adults, and parents
Supported by your feedback, we have become clear to extend the dates of Annual Sessions 2020.
We’re excited to announce that programming will begin on Saturday, August 1, and will conclude on Sunday, August 9.
This means that this year Sessions will include two weekends—and the week in between. A Wednesday Sabbath day, without programming, will offer further time for prayer, exercise, and refreshment. We hope this extended schedule will allow for a more spacious experience, with breaks between digital activities, an alternation of youth and adult programming, and plenty of offerings on evenings and weekends for Friends who will be working during this time.
Please continue to submit hopes, ideas, and questions related to Sessions in the digital suggestion box here.
In the coming weeks, we will be sharing a more formal invitation to Sessions, an announcement of registration, and more schedule specifics about how Friends can participate in the re-envisioned, physically-distant Sessions experience this summer. As we all move forward in preparation, we want to especially emphasize our appreciation for the loving, faithful work that so many of you have offered in helping our annual gatherings to be possible in years past.
As we pivot to a new format for this year’s gathering, we are building on a strong foundation thanks to the many, many gifts that you have offered, your time and talents, to help make New England Yearly Meeting Sessions a vibrant and Spirit-filled experience.With love and care, and in faith,
The Ad Hoc Working Group on Summer Programming 2020Elizabeth Hacala, Events Coordinator
Rebecca Leuchak, Sessions Committee Clerk
Bruce Neumann, Presiding Clerk
Nia Thomas, Quaker Practice & Leadership Facilitator
Noah Merrill, Yearly Meeting SecretaryUpcoming Opportunities for Sustenance and
Connection *for newcomers*: Quaker Sampler Workshop, May 23
Quaker retreat center Powell House offers this one-day series designed for new Quakers and the Quaker-curious to learn more about Quakerism. Learn more here. *for young adults*: Continuing Revolution Online, June 5-9
Pendle Hill’s annual conference for Friends ages 18-35, this year offered online with a focus on conflict transformation. More information here.
*new*: Experience Playing in the Light Workshop, June 10 at 7pm Come learn about Godly Play and Faith & Play, an experiential, Montessori-inspired approach to religious education designed for children ages 3–12. Facilitated by Faith & Play co-creator Melinda Wenner-Bradley. Learn more and register here.
*ongoing*: Weekly Check-in for Meeting Leaders, Tuesdays at 7pm
Connect with other New England Friends serving in leadership roles in their local meeting as we respond to the needs of Friends in this pandemic together. More information here.
*ongoing*: Weekly Parents Tea-and-Chat, Thursdays at 8pm
Join Youth Retreat Coordinator Gretchen Baker-Smith and Quaker Parenting Initiative Founder Harriet Heath for weekly drop-in conversations about parenting in these times. More information here.
*for lamentation and prayer for our world*: Day of Mourning, May 25, sunset vigil Join Friends in Chicago and across the world to mourn the losses of all of Earth’s children in this time. At sunset wherever you are, light a candle and, if it is safe for you, step outside to be seen by your neighbors in a witness of prayer for the world. Learn more here.
To see a full list of events for Friends in New England, visit our events calendar In the promise of what’s possible, and until we meet again,
Nia Thomas, Quaker Practice and Leadership Facilitator
Noah Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary
Groundworks needs your help now more than ever. Groundworks staff is working around the clock to provide the best protection and support for the people they serve. This creates an unprecedented financial challenge for Groundworks to house and feed their clients and keep them safe.
The Seasonal Overflow Shelter was closed and everyone was moved into motel rooms to allow for isolation. This effort was very successful, resulting in only one known homeless person in Brattleboro, and this person did not want to move into one of the motels. Foodworks, the food shelf and part of Groundworks, has moved to a delivery model, mobilizing volunteers and working to source enough food to deliver to anyone with need in our community. Since the start of the pandemic, the demand for food has doubled.
Foodworks is accepting in kind donations, in particular of items listed on the website. However, monetary donations have the largest impact. For each $25 raised, Foodworks can provide a family of five with items for two weeks due to being able to take advantage of wholesale prices.
Please consider making a donation to Groundworks. Currently, all gifts up to a total of $5,000 are matched by a generous donor.
For detailed information please see: https://mailchi.mp/6812b271af35/heres-the-latest-news-from-groundworks?fbclid=IwAR3ItPOPR3rn3hKLuT1TTY72oJtAxcIOymHP2FfA29EVZzwKcUsK7rdxLtk
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s okay to be fearful.
It’s okay to have a sense of unreality.
It’s okay not to be able to function normally.
Those feelings don’t have to be denied—in fact they need to be embraced. Whenever we have feelings which shake up our world, we have to be willing to enter into them. When we have the courage to do so, instead of trying to find ways around them, not only are we accompanied by Spirit every step of the way, but we are able to move through those feelings to a new sense of peace and safety, a new sense and trust in that which is unchanging.
– Maggie Edmondson, Winthrop Center (ME) Friends Church.
Read the rest of Maggie’s message, “To Bless the Space Between Us.”
We wrote our first update of this kind ten days ago. So much has happened since then.
The number of confirmed cases has risen. Time predictions have been extended. In the midst of this, Friends across New England have responded to changing circumstances with swiftness, creativity, and tenderness. You’re demonstrating deep care for our profound connectedness, and for the spiritual and physical health of Friends and neighbors.
This Tuesday evening, on the first of our weekly check-in calls with local Meeting leaders, we were joined by Friends from 23 meetings. As our Meetings have dealt with the loss of our accustomed way of gathering, you have found new ways to foster and manifest the resilience within and among us.
A growing number of meetings have made the leap into virtual worship, and, with it, have found that there are particular joys possible in this way of meeting—we appreciated Amesbury (MA) Friend Christine Green’s description of worshiping online for the first time, which you can read here.
Other meetings have worshiped in parking lots, established prayer partners, created phone trees, observed worship from their homes at a set hour, or used Zoom or phone to participate in small, mutually supportive Faithfulness Groups for shared spiritual nurture. In a time when much may feel frantic and reactive, we are grateful for the ways that Friends are learning to act boldly, responsively, discerningly, lovingly.
This is a time which calls each of us to prayerfully consider how we are led to act. And yet, it’s helpful to remember that we don’t all need to play every role.
We hope each of us will listen for the contribution that is ours to make. Our staff and volunteer leadership team, who have been hard at work these last two weeks, have been focusing on listening to the emerging needs of meetings and offering the most relevant supports we’re equipped to offer in response. We’re focusing on where we can make the most meaningful contribution, alongside so many others.
In the past week, this has included:
Regularly expanding the resources listed on our website that respond to the particular needs facing Meetings at this time.
We have recently added:
A virtual intervisation page listing opportunities to join worship virtually with other New England Friends. If your Meeting or worship group is not listed and would like to be, please contact Sara at email@example.com
An expanded tips and tools for virtual worship page, with creative ideas and best practices gleaned from local Meetings’ recent experiments
Heart-felt wisdom, fun and spiritually grounded activities, and resources for youth and families responding to new circumstances
A growing collection of resources for practical and pastoral care at this time, including links to daily spiritual practices suggested by New England Friends
Additional online opportunities for learning and connection, listed on our events calendar
Hosting the first of ongoing Tuesday evening check-ins with meeting leaders. Each Tuesday from 7:00–8:00 p.m., we will continue to host these calls as a space for sharing resources and mutual support. This week, we were joined by almost 40 Friends from 23 meetings. Click here for more information on how to participate, or reply to this email for help.
For those interested in more active engagement and information sharing, we’ve set up forums for discussion about virtual worship and pastoral/practical care for Friends and neighbors in these times, via Slack (an online discussion tool).
In addition to engaging with local meetings this week, we’ve also made some necessary decisions:
All in-person events sponsored by NEYM events are now moved to online, postponed, or canceled through April
While we are still actively preparing for Sessions as planned in August, we have begun contingency planning should our traditional Sessions not be possible
If you have questions about potential changes in the process of yearly meeting discernment coming to Sessions, or how your monthly meeting might participate, please contact Presiding Clerk Bruce Neumann at firstname.lastname@example.org. A more detailed update from Bruce will be sent to all local and quarterly meeting contacts in the coming days.
May you know and trust the loving embrace of the Spirit surrounding you, everywhere you find yourself. Keep in touch.
in faith and service,
Nia Thomas, Quaker Practice and Leadership Facilitator
Noah Merrill, Yearly Meeting Secretary
With a heavy heart we need to take the unprecedented step of closing Putney Friends Meetinghouse to all Meetings for Worship, renters and groups, due to concerns for safety related to the Coronavirus.
Ministry & Counsel committee is in the process of setting up opportunities for virtual Meetings for Worship by video and phone. The details for these opportunities will be made available when finalized.
Holding you all in the Light,
Roger Vincent Jasaitis
Clerk, Putney Friends Meeting
|Over the past few days, we have all become more attentive to the growing concerns over COVID19. The US Center for Disease Control urges everyone to take standard precautions by washing hands, covering coughs, and staying home when sick.
We hope we will not need to close our programs or limit our celebrations. We will be following the guidelines of our local and state officials in this regard.
|As a close community that invites connections, we reach out now to engage all our members in these simple, common-sense steps to ensure a lower risk environment:|
|1) If you are feeling unwell, even just with a cold, please stay home from Meeting, and other events at PFM. COVID 19 can appear very mild in some people, but the same mild virus in one person can result in a life-threatening problem for someone else. Please make thoughtful choices, keeping in mind the entire PFM community, when deciding if you or your children are healthy enough to attend an event. Stay home and keep others safe if you are unsure.
2) The most effective method to avoid contracting or spreading this virus is HAND WASHING. Please wash your hands well, using soap and water for 20 seconds, and be sure to dry them fully (viruses like wet surfaces more than dry ones). Be sure to cover coughs and sneezes.
3) For the time being, we’ll avoid handshakes and hugs at rise of Meeting and when greeting each other. Please join us in finding fun and creative ways to say hello, good morning and Peace without touching.
4) At events with food, we will be changing our habits to reduce chances of transmission. We ask that anyone preparing or serving food wear gloves.
5) If you are staying home from services or events because of illness, we want to know! Please contact the Clerk, Clerk of Ministry & Counsel or Pastoral Care Committee so we can check in with you and hold you in the Light in healing prayer.
Please reach out to us if you are in need of support in any way. Let’s care for each other with open hearts and covered coughs!