I am tremendously pleased by 16 year old Greta Thunberg’s decision to travel to the United States via a zero carbon sailboat instead of taking an airplane from Sweden. “This is a fight across borders.”
Asked what she would miss about being in the ocean, the teen reminisced about the quiet. “To sit for hours and just stare at the ocean, not doing anything, that was great,” Thunberg said. “And of course to be in the wilderness, the ocean, and see the beauty of it.”A teen activist refused to take a gas-guzzling plane to a U.N. summit. She just arrived by boat to cheers, by Morgan Krakow and Michael Brice-Saddler , Washington Post, August 28, 2019.
There is no environmental integrity in flying from one climate conference to another as many have done.
Many of you know I lived my adult life in Indianapolis without a car of my own. Living without a car shaped so many part of my life, including running, photography, activism and spirituality. Having retired and moved to a small town in Iowa to help my mother has created real challenges, conflicts and anguish as I work to use a car as little as possible. I will move to a place where I can live without a car as soon as possible.
There are obviously transportation challenges in rural areas and small towns without public transit systems.
Last year my Scattergood Friends School classmates Dan Mott and Steve Maxwell rode their bicycles across the United States.
One thing my small, rural Quaker meeting, Bear Creek realized we could do was encourage more use of bicycles, since many members lived close to the meetinghouse just north of Earlham, Iowa. And encourage Friends in urban meetings to use bicycles when possible.
The Minute we wrote, and that was approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative) was referred to as a Minute on “Ethical Transportation”.
Ethical TransportationMinute approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2017
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.