‘A rewarding experience’ is how one Friend described a day-long workshop on the theme of Quaker Gifts, Light, & Perspectives for the Climate Crisis, held at the St. Petersburg Meetinghouse on Saturday, November 9th. Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) presenters Mary Jo Klingel, Clerk of QEW (member of Fort Lauderdale MM currently at Charlotte, NC Meeting), and Beverly Ward, SEYM Field Secretary for Earthcare and member of QEW Steering Committee (member of Tampa MM) led a very engaged group of f/Friends and in addressing issues around climate change and climate justice, exploring their leadings and goals and what Quakers can do, worship sharing on queries, and learning more in-depth information on climate gentrification, conditions in Florida, what people are doing, and ways that climate change relates to social justice.
There was space for Friends to share their deeper feelings about climate change and to explore their feelings of grief, anger, and despair over the lack of progress and the apathy one encounters. One Friend related that she often heard people say ‘by the time this happens, I’ll be dead’… to which Friends answered, ‘Isn’t one already dead, if you cut yourself off from your sense of caring?’ Beverly told a parable illustrating how even if you’re only doing what little bit you can, that’s enough…and that’s what you need to be doing. Getting in touch with these deeper feelings about climate change, sharing them, and listening to others helped Friends feel less burdened and more empowered.
Mary Jo and Beverly also provided updates on their current QEW activities in support of Friends following their leadings for climate action: making more resources available, doing more workshops, and building more communication between groups and organizations.
On Sunday, November 10th, after worship and fellowship, the workshop reconvened. The theatrical troupe “Bohn Jeverly” (Beverly Ward and John Heimburg) performed a play from the 2019 Climate Change Theatre Action. Failed Experiment, by Vitor Jatobá, a Brazilian educator, is a tale of two aliens debating whether their Earth experiment was a success or failure. The workshop concluded with a wrap up discussion, with Friends sharing reflections and concerns.
BohnJeverly performs Failed Experiment, by Vitor Jatobá. photos: Susan Wade & Bill Carlie