The realities of climate change, deepening social and economic injustice and a spiritually bereft culture challenge New England Friends to find new relevance, listening to the Living Spirit in worship, action and witness. Join us for a Mid-Year Gathering on Saturday, March 31, to explore what we may be called to do. We will be meeting from 8:30am to 8pm at St Andrews Episcopal Church, Wellesley, MA around the theme of “Integrity In A Time Of Change.”

We will start with an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium session customized for Quakers, led by Steve Chase (Putney MM) and other New England Quakers. We will then move into structured small group discussions about ways we can move forward together. This will help build an important bridge between our 2011 and 2012 Sessions. A children’s program will also be available on-site.

Check neym.org/midyear for online registration information on February 1. There will be a $30 charge per adult. No charge for children. Overnight hospitality with area Friends may be available upon request

Contact Jeff Hipp at the NEYM Office (508-754-6760/neym@neym.org) for further information. For more information on Awakening the Dreamer, visit www.awakeningthedreamer.org.

Friday February 10th through Sunday the 12th Young Adult Friends (nursing babies too!) are invited to Snowshoe, Cross Country Ski, Chop Wood, Cook, do a Service Project, and PLAY.

Saratoga Friends Meeting is excited to encourage a gathering of Young Adult Friends to share a nature experience at Camp Little Notch (744 Sly Pond Road Fort Ann NY 12827).

Why at Camp Little Notch you ask? Camp Little Notch exists to “provide opportunities for all people to practice living in harmony with nature, each other, and themselves” as per their mission statement. Saratoga’s beloved attender Jo Lum is on their board.

On a Monthly meeting level there is a concern for and energy to welcome spirit to Quaker experience. Many people who find them selves in the CYF age range are hungry to be together to be active in the world and in their local communities; this is a time to do that. Let’s be present with one another and intentionally spend time with nature, with preparing our meals, searching for how the divine moves each of us, and playing in the snow or mud depending.

Friends are asked to prepare for a camping like experience with wood heated buildings and no running water. Dress warmly and pack accordingly (warm sleeping bags and pads) or ask to borrow anything you need, there’s plenty to share. We’ll need to hike in (if there’s lots of snow it’ll be on snowshoes, pulling gear that isn’t in backpacks on sleds), so if you have snowshoes, toboggans, etc, please bring them. And if you don’t have them, let us know so we can bring enough extras.

If led, please bring a nourishing item for a stone soup. Please make us aware of any food allergies (food will be vegetarian). If you can, plan to also make a donation to the cost of the food.

Rides or Carpooling from Saratoga??? You can take the bus or train to Saratoga and we’ll pick you up!

Please let Rebekah know that you are coming by e-mailing her at
rebekahrrice@gmail.com so that she can pack enough food!

With great joy,
Saratoga Friends Monthly Meeting

Putney Friends Meeting recently wrote and published a strong and moving Minute in support of the closure of Vermont Yankee. At the recommendation of our Social Justice and Peace Committee, we also had Laurel Green from Safe and Green meet with Business Meeting in January. If there is anyone looking to actively engage or to form an affinity group for the campaign to close Vermont Yankee, please feel free to contact Laurel for more information.

Laurel’s Notes for VY Talk at Putney Friends Meeting for Business, Jan. 15, 2012

First off,  thank you for Minute. Thank you, too, to each person who has participated in the series of daily vigils at the gates of the reactor called Countdown to Closure – a third of the folks at the Nuke Free New Year’s vigil were from Putney Friends Meeting.

Steps Individual or the Meeting as a Whole do to “take up our stewardship commitment.”

  • Write letters to the editor and send them to your legislators. Commit to writing one letter about why you as a Quaker want to see the reactor closed and decommissioned.
  • Model voluntary simplicity by spending one day a week without using electricity – someone I met suggested “Watt-less Wednesdays” as a form of boycott. The Catholic Bishops of Japan have called for immediate closure of all 54 reactors in their country. In their missive they recognized there will be a “gap” in available electricity and so have called on all their fellow citizens to adapt a lifestyle away from excessive dependence on nuclear energy. This is a kind to “taking away the occasion of all wars.”
  • Make friends with one person who’s livelihood depends on VY. Hear their story and tell them why you want to see the reactor closed.
  • Sign up and organize a C2C vigil with friends, family, co-workers, yoga or book group. One friend joined me and was shocked to find out the reactor was so close to her home in Brattleboro. Take photos or videos to post on the web. Pray about it, talk about it, write about it.
  • A speaker from the Safe and Green Campaign would be willing to come with me to a educational session here after Meeting to present an overview of the history of protest at VY, the court case that is pending, possible actions by the network of grassroots organizations working to close the reactor, about forming an affinity group for such action and the trainings available for people who decide to take direct action and commit civil disobedience.
  • If someone is interested in taking part in Non-Violent Direct Action/Civil Disobedience and would like to find an Affinity Group to join please call Laurel at 275-4646.
  • A day long training for Non-violent Direct Action could be scheduled for anyone interested and it could be sponsored by the Meeting.

***Resources about Nuclear Power ***

Safe and Green Campaign website: The Safe & Green Campaign is an urgent, grassroots-people-powered effort to close Entergy Nuclear’s Vermont Yankee facility and replace it through conservation, efficiency and renewable solutions—Moving us towards a truly “Safe and Green” energy future. email: safeandgreencampaign@gmail.com

Fairewinds Associates  website: Short video reports explaining in layman’s terms about the continuing disaster at Fukushima presented by Arnie Gundersen

Citizens Awareness Network (CAN) website:  A sister organization working to close Vermont Yankee

Beyond Nuclear website:  A larger view on ending nuclear power and nuclear weapons

For more information, call Laurel Green at 802-275-4646 or email her.

“Friendly 8’s” are a chance to get to know people from Meeting better through small group dinners of approximately 8 individuals each–hence the name! You can meet at a host’s home, someone else’s home, the meetinghouse, or even a restaurant.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Folks who are interested sign up on the Meetinghouse bulletin board (individually, as a couple, as a family) by the date publicized.
Step 2: Fellowship Committee will organize and publicize the groups, confirming a host for each one.
Step 3: The host for each group confirms the date, location, and who will bring what for that group.
Step 4: Each group has dinner together whenever they decided, folks meet new F/friends, and everyone enjoys an evening of fellowship, expanding their Quaker community circle even further.
Step 5: We do it again a second time, with folks being arranged in different groups to encourage more getting-to-know-each-other.

The details:

A sign-up sheet is now (or will shortly be) posted on the Meetinghouse bulletin board. You can also e-mail your information to Sora Friedman. Please sign up by February 13 for the first round of gatherings. The groups will be posted on the bulletin board and publicized via e-mail later that week. Also, please be sure to note if you are willing to serve as a host; would like to be in a group with kids, without kids, or if you are open to either; and if you or anyone in your family have dietary restrictions that others should know about.

What does the host do?

The host’s responsibilities include finding out when folks in their group are available, confirming the site (their home, someone else’s home, the Meetinghouse, someplace else), and coordinating the menu. It really doesn’t take a long time; it’s just a matter of making a few phone calls. Hosts do NOT provide all the food; they just help coordinate.

Miscellaneous information:

If your group is going to get together at the Meetinghouse, be sure to confirm availability first on the calendar to make sure that it is available. Sign-up sheets for the second round of Friendy 8’s will be posted in later February.

Contact Sora Friedman or anyone on the Fellowship Committee with any questions.

Putney Friends Meeting member Steve Chase will be co-facilitating a community interfaith conversation at St. James Episcopal Church in Keene on “Climate Change, Faith, and Action” this Sunday (January 8) from 1 to 3 pm in the church’s Common Room. This event is co-sponsored by the Transition Keene Task Force, the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church, and the St. James Episcopal Church, where Steve has given a guest sermon and led an adult education session before. Steve will be co-facilitating this event with Polly Chandler, the director of the Green MBA program at Antioch University New England and a member at St. James.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, you can call Steve Chase at 603-357-2626 or send him an email.

I was pleased to read the Brattleboro Reformer’s January 2, 2012 article “NH Group Says Vermont Yankee’s Days Are Numbered.” The only thing I would add is that the Nuke Free Monadnock’s New Year’s Eve party at Vermont Yankee also included participants from Massachusetts and Vermont. In fact, eleven of the nearly 30 participants were members or attenders of Putney Friends Meeting.

This high-level of PFM participation was an outgrowth of Meeting’s decision in November that it “firmly supports the Vermont state government’s efforts to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by March 21, 2012.” In that same minuted decision, our congregation also added, “we call on all our members and attenders to consider joining the citizen’s movement working to enforce the people’s will on this matter, up to and including nonviolent protest and civil disobedience.” That’s just what eleven Putney Quakers did on New Year’s Eve.

Our hope is that more and more faith communities in the tri-state area will also consider the issue of Vermont Yankee from a moral lens and join in the movement to support the State of Vermont’s effort to close this aging, accident-prone, and leaking plant, which is currently being led by a management team that has a very unreliable commitment to speaking truthfully to the public and to our public officials. As our Meeting pointed out in our minute, “Whether through weaponization, accident, or mismanagement, the destruction of human life and the degradation of nature has been, and continues to be, an ongoing consequence of the use of nuclear technology.”

Putney Friends also encourage other religious congregations and groups like the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Initiative to take a strong stand in support of the State of Vermont, and join or form affinity groups to take part in the SAGE Alliance’s ongoing campaign of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to close Vermont Yankee by the State of Vermont’s deadline of March 21, 2012. As we asserted in our November minute, “We are made to be an integral part of this wondrous Creation. Let us choose now to take up our stewardship commitment, fully accepting our responsibilities to care for our planet and its peoples. Let us choose now to join with other Friends, and all people of good will and understanding, to move forward through worship and through witness to accomplish our goals.”

Putney Friends Meeting has long sought divine wisdom around the often contentious issue of marriage equality for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Before the laws of the State of Vermont changed for the better, we agreed to take “illegal,” but spiritually-sound, gay and lesbian weddings and marriages under the care of our Meeting. After taking this first step toward greater faithfulness, we also began lobbying and speaking up for full marriage equality under Vermont state law. With that accomplished, we are now supporting the passage of the proposed federal Uniting American Families Act, which would stop the federal government from deporting foreign members of lesbian and gay binational marriages and relationships.

There is nothing abstract about our concern. Two beloved participants of our meeting are currently under threat from the US government. As Rachel Tiven wrote on the Immigration Equality’s blog, on December 13, “CNN broke the news that the Obama Administration has denied a green card for Frances Herbert’s spouse, Takako Ueda. In denying their request, the Administration has informed Takako that, “You are required to depart the United States within thirty (30) days from the date of this decision, or be subject to removal proceedings.” This would not happen if Frances and Takako were a heterosexual couple married under the laws of Vermont. It is now time to push for marriage equality at the federal level.

Our Meeting is thus asking for the help of all people of conscience who support equal rights and committed, loving relations. The first thing we ask is for people to urge the Obama Administration to stop the threats to deport Takako to Japan and fulfill her Green card request immediately. This would enable Frances and Takako to remain in the Vermont community they have made home in together for over ten years. So, please take a few minutes and call President Obama at (202) 456-1111. When the White House answers, tell them: “I am asking President Obama to keep Frances Herbert and her spouse, Takako Ueda, together. I’ve also learned that the Administration has denied their request for a green card. I support allowing lesbian and gay couples to stay together. Stop the separations, and stop denying green cards filed by lesbian and gay couples.”

Second, given that Frances and Takako are among thousands of binational lesbian and gay couples who are currently threatened with separation due to the discriminatory policies of the United States, we ask you to lobby for the passage of the Uniting American Families Act. One way to move this goal forward is to contact your US Senators and Representatives and ask them ask to support the Uniting American Families Act.

Please help us by also spreading the word by emailing this blog post to your friends, or using the share button below to post this request on Twitter or Facebook. Also, please have your workplaces, community groups, and religious congregations consider endorsing the Immigration Equality campaign. When you talk to people in the organizations you are a part of, you may also want to share with them this online FAQ sheet on the Uniting American Families Act.

Let’s make equality law in the New Year.

Here is an open invitation to a New Year’s Eve party to remember–and one that builds on PFM’s recent minute about nuclear power and the closing of Vermont Yankee!

Just 82 days before the scheduled closure of the Vermont Yankee plant, the New Hampshire-based Nuke Free Monadnock affinity group, co-founded by PFM member Steve Chase, is going to throw a one-hour, afternoon, New Year’s Eve bash at the gates of Vermont Yankee (546 Governor Hunt Road, Vernon, VT 05354). The party will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 pm on December 31st and is part of the SAGE Alliance‘s daily Countdown to Closure vigils at the plant.

At this afternoon New Year’s Eve party, we will have music, sing-alongs, kazoos and funny hats, a sparkling cider and dixie cup toast to the State of Vermont for standing up to the Entergy Corporation on behalf of the people of this region, and a New Year’s style ball drop to ring in a nuke free new year with hope for more green collar jobs and renewable energy to come. We will also take time to share New Year’s Resolutions for what each us will do to create a safe and green energy future in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont in the coming year. The event is even being filmed by Robbie Leppzer, the maker of Seabrook 77, as part of his new documentary on the citizens movement to close VY and move toward a safe and green energy future in the region.

We would love to have people from Putney Friends Meeting join us for this party. So, please bring your friends and neighbors to Vernon, VT, next Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm as we celebrate the scheduled March 21, 2012 shut down of this aging and unreliable nuclear plant, which has the same design as the leaking reactors in Japan.

Parking for this unusual holiday bash is available at the municipal building just down the road from VY by the Vernon town offices and library. BTW, parking is not allowed at the elementary school across the street, so please do not park in that lot. Also, please carpool if you can Remember we want to transition to low-carbon, as well as nuke-free, future!

For more information, please contact PFM member Steve Chase.

P.S. Anyone who attends this party agrees to the following guidelines for being a “good guest.”

Nonviolent Action Code of Conduct

Our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward all we encounter in our actions.
We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction to violence.
We will not carry weapons.
We will neither be under the influence nor bring any non-prescribed drugs or alcohol.
We will neither bring dogs nor other animals, except for service animals.
During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
While affirming that people’s lives and safety are more important than property, we will not destroy or damage property.

Befriending Creation newsletter announces that New ‘Quakers in Transition’ Website Puts Friends In Solidarity With International Movement

The Befriending Creation article below by Steve Chase, a member of Putney Friends Meeting, talks about Quakers In Transition, a new online project sponsored by the Earthcare Ministries Committee of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. This article will also be reprinted in the January issue of Quaker Life. Please check out both Befriending Creation and Quakers In Transition.

We yearn for community that is intimately dependent on the earth, on our neighbors, and our own self-reliance to provide our basic needs, and allows us to see the consequences of our use of creation.

–From a Young Adult Friends gathering at Mount Toby (Mass.) Friends Meeting in 2011

This yearning is not new. Back in the mid-1600s, the early Quaker movement in England felt called by the Spirit of God to transform their world. Rejecting the imperial values of their day—which worshiped power, profits, prestige, and plundering above all—the Quaker Movement put forth an alternative vision of Beloved Community that was simple, just, peaceful, and sustainable. This vision was anchored in what George Fox described as Judaism’s and Christianity’s three great loves: 1) loving God with all one’s heart, soul, and strength; 2) loving our neighbors as ourselves; and 3) loving God’s good Earth by acting in “unity with Creation.”

Today, Quakers are still called–along with millions of other people around the globe–to foster a more spiritually fulfilling, socially just, and ecologically sustainable human presence on our planet. The urgency of this spiritual vocation is even growing stronger now as the world faces the unprecedented challenges of peak oil, climate change, and an increasingly dysfunctional global economy—concerns that groups like Quaker Earthcare Witness have been raising for over 20 years.

More and more of us are now awake and listening, and we want to do something positive and creative about all of this with our neighbors. We are increasingly focused on aiding a rapid and responsible transition from oil dependency to local resilience in our own communities—in solidarity with communities all around the world. This is leading more of us to become active participants in the global Transition movement where we live, work, or worship.

At the 2011 New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions, NEYM’s Earthcare Ministries Committee put forward an invitation for all Friends to join the global Transition Movement and engage with their neighbors in positive local efforts to:

* Dramatically reduce our overall energy use.

* Shift from unsafe and declining fossil fuel resources to safe and renewable energy sources.

*Enhance the heart and soul of what we love most about our communities—even as we face the end of the age of cheap and abundant oil.

* Relocalize our economies so our communities can increase the number of green-collar jobs and be better able to produce the vital goods and services we need to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

If you are a Friend who supports this agenda, go to <http://quakersintransition.wordpress.com>, a website offering resources, blog posts, and networking tools designed to help equip Quakers to join, organize, or develop local Transition Town initiatives.

Happily, we are not alone. Thousands of communities in countries all across the planet have started formal or informal local Transition efforts. Hundreds of these local transition initiatives have also begun connecting in larger national and international networks to learn from each other and inspire more experimentation and innovation. For a look at several of these networked transition communities in the United Kingdom and beyond, check out the 50-minute online video, “In Transition 1.0,” on the Introduction page of Quakers In Transition

For questions and comments, contact: Steve Chase or Ruah Swennerfelt”