I previously described recent work by my Quaker meeting, Bear Creek, related to trying to reduce the use of fossil fuel transportation in a rural setting.
The meeting approved a Minute (statement) of their views on this. As I mentioned yesterday, I have just returned from our annual meetings of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), where I spent most of my time working with our Peace and Social Concerns Committee. One of the things we considered there was the Minute Bear Creek Friends had approved, and then sent to the Yearly Meeting to see if the entire Yearly Meeting approved supporting these ideas, as well.
As is often the case, the language in the original Minute was changed, since the original included some things that were specific to Bear Creek meeting. With those changes the following Minute was approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).
Radically reducing fossil fuel use has long been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). A previously approved Minute urged us to reduce our use of personal automobiles. We have continued to be challenged by the design of our communities that makes this difficult. This is even more challenging in rural areas. But our environmental crisis means we must find ways to address this issue quickly.
Friends are encouraged to challenge themselves and to simplify their lives in ways that can enhance their spiritual environmental integrity. One of our meetings uses the term “ethical transportation,” which is a helpful way to be mindful of this.
Long term, we need to encourage ways to make our communities “walkable”, and to expand public transportation systems. These will require major changes in infrastructure and urban planning.
Carpooling and community shared vehicles would help. We can develop ways to coordinate neighbors needing to travel to shop for food, attend meetings, visit doctors, etc. We could explore using existing school buses or shared vehicles to provide intercity transportation.
One immediately available step would be to promote the use of bicycles as a visible witness for non-fossil fuel transportation. Friends may forget how easy and fun it can be to travel miles on bicycles. Neighbors seeing families riding their bicycles to Quaker meetings would have an impact on community awareness. This is a way for our children to be involved in this shared witness. We should encourage the expansion of bicycle lanes and paths. We can repair and recycle unused bicycles, and make them available to those who have the need.