On My Own
By David C.
Since my illness last fall, I have relied on others to watch over me and make sure I don’t fall, but when Quaker Earthcare Witness scheduled their fall meetings at the Quaker retreat center at Pendle Hill, I felt ready to strike out on my own. All went well. I had a direct flight to Philadelphia and a taxi to Pendle Hill. The biggest challenge for me was walking up hill and down to the main lodge for meals three times each day.
It was great meeting in person again. QEW’s outreach is done through working groups and each one had been meeting on its own for four years. Now that we were back in person, the groups could meet together for “cross pollination.” I work with Mini-Grants which makes grants to Quaker Meetings for projects that expand environmental efficiency or awareness. As we met with other groups, ideas flowed and we got to know each other far better than we could in little squares on Zoom. For my group that meant our grant program is better known throughout QEW and we learned what the rest of QEW wanted from us. Donations to the Mini-Grant program had risen dramatically during the pandemic and grants have begun going not only to North American Quaker Meetings, but also overseas: tree planting programs to several yearly meetings in eastern Africa, as well as projects in Boliva, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
This is a year of transition for QEW as it passes the torch to a new generation. We had a
big party Saturday to say good-bye to Shelley Tanenbuam after ten years as General
Secretary. Friday, the new General Secretary, Keith Runyan, also from California, introduced himself to us and during the conference we had a chance to meet our new Communications Director, Miche McCall, a recent graduate of Earlham.
There was also a lot of personal learning for me going on. Early on, Roy T. asked –when I looked tired – if I needed a ride from the meeting building to the dining hall. Yes, was the answer – and much appreciated. I also had a room with a private bath.
From Philadelphia, I rode Amtrak to Hartford on the same train Ruah S. was taking home to Burlington VT. I never would have made it on the train without her help and I have realized that I really cannot travel alone. In Hartford, the conductor carried my suitcase to the exit and handed it to my son and Matthew took over from there.
And so, there are many lessons to be learned throughout our lives. The Mini-Grant program helps Meetings cope with the need to address climate change at the local level with resources that aren’t available to them alone. And personally, I learned that you are never on ‘your own.’