With a spiritual eye, I can see that while material goods are gone once given, spiritual treasures are not lost but are expanded when given. Gratitude begets gratitude. Kindness begets kindness. Joy begets joy. A simple smile begets a smile. All this whether or not the person near me responds in kind. When I am grateful, respectful, kind, loving in the world around me, the spiritually healing presence of Light settles in. The little expressions of gratitude, respectfulness, kindness or caring are magnified, sanctified by the Divine, and all around are blessed in the Light.
PUTNEY FRIENDS MEETING CALLED MEETING TENTH MONTH 3RD, 2021
A called meeting coordinated by Quakers Wrestling with White Supremacy addressed our meeting’s relationship to people in our community with ties to the Native Americans who lived on the land now occupied by our meeting. People of the Sokoki community of the Abenaki nation lived in the part of the Connecticut Valley where Putney now lies, but had mostly departed from this land before people of European (mostly English) descent started to settle here in the mid-1700s. The system of land ownership which we now follow dates from that occupation.
Friends agree that we are called to deepen our understanding of the people who lived on this land before we came to it. We ought not to burden Native people to explain this to us.
We understand that this concern is not limited to our particular local story. The need to understand the people who have lived in the Americas for millennia is widely defined.
We strive for understanding of why we are called to acknowledge our relationship to indigenous peoples … of what our right relationship to our indigenous fellow members of the community is … and of what the future of this conversation should be. We seek a deeper understanding of what indigenous people would like us to contribute.
We understand that our own perception of our relationship to the land is challenged here. We hear from our indigenous neighbors a sense that the land is not ours. We are of the land. How do we respond to that challenge? What do we have to learn?
“We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity; it is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same, and do deny and bear our testimony against all strife, and wars, and contentions … Treason, treachery, and false dealing we do utterly deny; false dealing, surmising, or plotting against any creature upon the face of the earth, and speak the truth in plainness, and singleness of heart.” ~Margaret Fell, June 1660
Putney Friends Meeting is deeply distraught by the criminal invasion of our capital building on January 6, 2021.
We denounce the violence to our democracy, the loss of life and the threat to the lives of our legislators. We endeavor to model the testimonies of truth and integrity as we struggle to understand and to actively respond during this dark time in our country.
Minute 2021:01:01: Denouncement of political violence approved by Putney Monthly Meeting 1-17-21
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:
Admit their own moments of unintended racism.
Invite one another into conversation and study about systemic racism, at a time when talking openly about race is still almost impossible for white people to do.
Challenge one another to step up our game, to examine closely how people of color are treated in our Town, and how to begin to recognize how micro-agressions are currently and actively experienced here.
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 will join in the community with continual work on systemic racism by supporting conversations and action that do just that.
We will participate in Town wide book groups.
We will support the Equity and Inclusion Committee.
We encourage the Select Board to take up active anti racism training as a model of getting educated about how systemic racism works in Vermont.
We will encourage our membership to join the September 27 Black Lives Matter street painting in Putney.
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.
After successful fundraising campaign, CASP to support two new asylum seekers
BELLOWS FALLS—In spite of the restrictions imposed on its fundraising efforts by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Asylum Seekers Project (CASP) was able to raise more than $11,000 from its sup- porters all over the country.
“We ran an online StartSomeGood campaign in July that reached 83 folks all over the country, with roughly 30 percent of our donations coming from out of this area,” Dempster Leech, the campaign’s chief bandleader, said in a news release. “It’s a testament to peer-to-peer fundraising and our supporters’ understanding of how this pandemic is affecting our work that we actually raised more than last year.”
As a result of this year’s suc- cess, Leech says CASP has com- mitted to taking on two new asylum seekers.
A nonprofit founded in 2016, CASP provides material and moral support to those seeking asylum from violence and pov- erty in their home countries by finding host families for them, helping with food and other daily needs, assisting them in navigat- ing the asylum claim process, and helping them achieve even- tual independence as they pro- ceed through the process.
CASP supports 14 individu- als from Mexico, Cuba, and Honduras in the Windham County area.
CASP supporters Dale Kondracki and Alan Fowler created a three-minute video for the project that ran on the StartSomeGood website and fea- tured CASP founder and former executive director Steve Crofter and its new executive director, Kate Paarlberg-Kvam, discuss- ing CASP’s mission and vision for the future.
As part of the campaign, a raffle of donated gift certifi- cates was held. Winners were Leda Schientaub, $50 from Woodzels by Wetzels; Francie Marbury, $100 from Village Square Booksellers; and John Bohannon, $200 from Chris Sherwin of Sherwin Art Glass.
Further information about CASP and its work can be founded at caspvt.org.
Thursday, Aug 6 and Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 mark the 75 year anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan . Hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives as a result of these bombings, which were not necessary to end World War ll because the Japanese government was attempting to surrender. However, the U.S. went ahead anyway with the bombings to gain an advantage over the Soviet Union in the newly emerging Cold War.
There will be a vigil on both days at the Wells Fountain (adjacent to the library) in Brattleboro, Vermont – to call attention to these atrocities. All are welcome to attend. Please bring your own sign if possible. We will be wearing masks and social distancing. Vigil times are:
Thursday, Aug 6 and Sunday, Aug 9 from 4:30-6:30pm
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?
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.
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.
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.
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