One of the many takeaways from the Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) Steering Committee, held in April 2017 at Atlanta Friends Meeting, was the opportunity to witness other Friends’ actions. Friend Geeta Jyothi McGahey’s tabletop display on climate justice caught my eye. You may notice that the display included a basket with pamphlets (see photo). I took one and am sharing it here so that we can see how other Friends are caring for the Earth.
Geeta created the tabletop display and the trifold pamphlet on behalf of Celo Friends Meeting, an unprogrammed Meeting in Burnsville, North Carolina, where she is a member. The pamphlet draws on the Meeting’s testimonies and provides links to other resources including Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW).
I was drawn particularly to the photograph from the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in the pamphlet. There were several news articles regarding the impacts of the hurricane on low-income and minority communities that I followed. One is particular was the City of Lumberton in Robeson County, North Carolina. Anthropogenic decisions and nature combined to make this one the most devastated areas after the hurricane and flooding.
According to the News & Observer, the Jacob Swamp district, part of the Lumber River Basin, goes through Lumberton and includes a 2.8-mile dike system and about 18 miles of canals. The dike merges with the base of Interstate 95 at Lumberton. By 10 October, three days after Hurricane Matthew, the Lumber River at downtown Lumberton was approximately 22 feet, nine feet above flood stage.
The News & Observer estimates that nearly seven percent of Lumberton’s population, one of the State’s most diverse: 40 percent white, 37 percent black and 13 percent Native American, mostly Lumbee Indian, was impacted. Lumberton’s per capita income is estimated at $ 17,528, and more than one-third of its population is estimated to live in poverty.
This is but one example of the impacts of how weather and anthropogenic actions are placing minority and low-income communities at the forefront of climate change.
Geeta also made available a Word version of her pamphlet, suggesting that other Friends edit by putting any website from Monthly Meetings, Worship Groups, or Yearly Meetings, including using local pictures and different quotes.
I am looking forward to working with Warren Hoskins to develop a piece on sunny day flooding in South Florida and low-income communities. Please share your examples of the impacts of climate change from your area. I look forward to working with you, too!
Please join me in thanking Geeta Jyothi McGahey for caring and sharing!
—Beverly Ward, SEYM Field Secretary for Earthcare