Truth, Beauty and Bicycles

This morning I received this message from Susanna Mattingly, the Sustainability Communication Officer for the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC):

I’m trying to select a few images that will represent Quakerism to faith groups all around the world. FWCC (as the body representing Quakers worldwide) has just joined a global multi-faith sustainable living initiative and we are creating ‘pledge cards’ for each faith, where inspirational Quaker text/quotes will be superimposed over significant images.

Since Quakers don’t have sacred places, people or statues like many faiths do it’s proving a bit tricky but I wondered if you would be willing for us to use one of the photos you sent me some months back, of a bicycle in front of what I think is Bear Creek meeting in Iowa.

This is the photo that Susanna is referring to:

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) bike_01

Bicycle for ethical transportation. Bear Creek Friends meetinghouse, Earlham, Iowa

The reason Susanna had this photo was because she had contacted Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) when she was creating case studies about what Quakers are doing regarding sustainability. You can see those case studies here:

IYMC screnshot

Higher resolution pamphlet available  here:

A higher resolution version of the pamphlet can be found here:

The bicycle photo was used to illustrate the Ethical Transportation Minute that was approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in 2017 (below). That Minute included the suggestion that Friends make more use of bicycles as an alternative to fossil fuel transportation.

Several other blog posts related to FWCC sustainability and Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s work can be found here:

The title of this post relates to the evening session we will have at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s annual sessions next week titled “Finding Truth and Beauty” in the photographs I will be sharing. This photo seems like a good example of that idea.

2017   Minute   Ethical Transportation

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.


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