Housing problem as spiritual problem III: Earthcare

The San Francisco Chronicle today had a story, "Central Valley housing boom plays role in the big heat, experts say/Larger new homes also increase state's demand for energy" by Patrick Hoge.

California's growth patterns -- the migration to hot inland regions, construction of big new homes and paving of open space -- are contributing both to increasing temperatures and record demand for electricity.

Experts say development choices can play a large role in making hot weather even hotter.

"People usually talk of greenhouse gases. What's forgotten is what we've actually done to the surface of the planet," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

"I call it extreme makeover warming."

Full story here.

I've posted about related matters before, here and here.

As an apartment dweller in urban San Francisco, I wonder how our family could have a smaller footprint on the earth. And yet the fact is, by choosing to live here, we've already reduced our footprint signficantly. Have we sacrificed enough? Maybe not, but we've done part of our share.
- - - -
The boys and I had a tremendous time last Sunday afternoon, tramping around in the none-too-wild environs of McCoppin Square (here are the trees and here is the playground) and the corner of Lincoln High School. I've been inspired by Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He talks about the importance of open space that has a variety of terrain, from grass to bushes to trees. That's exactly how McCoppin is designed, and I'm grateful to live so close to it.

Plus this added bonus feature: The local branch library is located in one corner of the park. How cool is that?!? Shoutouts to my big sister the librarian and to Aj!)
- - - -
I have a note to myself to write a blog entry about all the time the boys and I spent playing tag or "crack the whip" on the big lawn at Pacific Lutheran University during FGC Gathering. Running barefoot on the grass was also inspired by Louv's book. Anyway, I may not get to writing a full post, so I'll just say that these young Friends had a great time playing with my boys (one of them visible in that shot) and a few other kids, after the kids had been tossing ice around following the big picnic dinner on the lawn. It was a beautiful evening, in all ways. (Thank you, Lord, for most this amazing day.)
- - - -
Sue McAllister quoted me in the San Jose Mercury News last week, in a story about how the Bay Area is not producing enough new homes for the people who live here. I was talking about the positive efforts happening in San Mateo County, where I work. The Merc article is here, though you may have to register to read it.

Maybe I should start a housing-related blog, "Where Canst Thou Live?"
- - - -
If you're a registered voter in California, in November you must vote YES on Proposition 1c, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006. Last coy hyperlink here.


Prayers for Pacific Yearly Meeting

Dear Friends,

I'm going to send this to adults who have registered for Pacific Yearly Meeting. How lame is this, I'm posting to the blog before I actually email out this request! [Lord, have mercy on me, a fool.]

We’re looking forward to a great time with our program this year, "It Takes a Meeting to Raise a Quaker II: The Sequel." Once again we will use the loose framework of "SPICES" (simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, sustainability) to explore Quaker values -- and the Source of those values.

I’m writing now to ask for your help in one of two possible ways:

» Teaching: We are still a few slots short of a full teaching team. Please consider if this may be your year to share your gifts with our youngest Friends! Inquire with me or Susan Nickerson. If you think you could teach only part of the week, let us know that, too, and if we can match you with someone who has the opposite scheduling needs, we will consider it. [Lord, Peggy prayed for a real Quaker and got a descendant of Isaac Penington; Lord, send us some teachers, whether professional or inspired amateurs!]

» Volunteering: Here is a great and refreshing opportunity to get to know our youngest Friends through a few hours of painting, playing, singing, even napping! Please do sign up for a slot or two or three to help lighten your spirit and remind you that life is good and the world is a beautiful place! There’s just something about the new eyes of children that wakes us up to the wonder of our own lives. [Lord, we were so blessed with volunteers last year, may we be so again this year.]

If you’re a committee clerk, please consider whether there’s something of your committee work you could share. [Lord, help us to bring our own light and love to these our children. May we also keep in mind all children, not just our own, and especially those who need some extra comfort. I'll just remind you about what Aj said over here, but you knew that already.]

May boundless grace and showers of blessings be upon you! Journey safely.*

Chris M., for the
Pacific Yearly Meeting Children's Program Committee

* Okay, so I'm probably not going to add the references to other blogs in my email. And I'm not going to write out the prayers either. That's just what I'll be muttering under my breath as I hit "send."


Quaker Bus and Train Co.

It's time for Friends to form the Quaker Bus and Train Co.

This idea is inspired by Lisa H.'s mention of Green Tortoise bus as an alternative to Amtrak or Greyhound.

We'll drive around in biodiesel fueled, comfortable, plain and even rather Spartan vehicles, highlighting the net carbon neutrality of the fuel...

We can have big billboards on the side, evangelizing both about meeting for worship AND right sharing of world resources, war is not the answer, and the like.

It will have a large foot-shaped hood ornament, symbolizing our ecological footprint.

Trains will have to be an afterthought, for the next generation. The cost of the infrastructure is just too darn high. Bus rapid transit is a more efficient investment for short-haul trips, anyway.

Let's save the world -- one bus at a time!


More Quaker Blogger Photos

You've seen the evening Quaker blogger gathering in Newberg, Ore. on Gregg's and Aj's blogs. Now here's one from the afternoon get-together the same afternoon in early July:

That's Johan Maurer, Robin, me, and Gregg.

I uploaded a couple more photos to Flickr here. Includes one cute bonus photo of two Blogger Kids!

I think I got the photos into the "Quakers" group, too.

Updated 7/18: Fixed the overly wide photo and linked it to my Flickr page.


Introducing QUIB

Today I am proposing a new acronym to be added to the Quaker alphabet soup:

Quakers United in Blogging: QUIB!

Come one, come all ye faithful bloggers, do!

No doubt some snarky observers may wish to rename it as the Society for Quakers United in Blogging, SQUIB, in honor of non-magical people born to magical parents in the Harry Potter books.

When we are moved to include Podcasters, we shall become SQUIB-Pod.

Some day of course we will have to consider merging with Quakers United in Publishing. I will not pretend to know what the acronym of that organization should be. :)

* * *

On a more serious note, I believe bloggers may be eligible/welcome to join QUIP. Martin Kelley has participated in QUIP and you can find his book, The Quaker Ranter Reader at the QUIP book and media center.

Of course, you can also buy Martin's book through his blog or Quaker Books of FGC. I bought my copy from the FGC Gathering bookstore while Martin was there and had him autograph it. Thanks, Martin!

Epistles to Friends

In my workshop at Friends General Conference, “Finding Ourselves in the Bible,” we had the task of writing an epistle. I addressed mine to the participants of Max Hansen’s workshop on the Blessed Community in the Epistle of James (participants including Robin M. and Martin Kelley, among others). It was a classroom assignment that sparked a good lunchtime conversation with Max (thanks, Max!).

In closing worship during our workshop, I dreamed of writing the following epistles:

> To Sacred Harp Singers:

> To World Gathering of Young Friends attenders:

> To Quaker Bloggers:

What is the common thread? People who are searching their spiritual tradition and taking it seriously and engaging in a high-maintenance, high-performance religion. Perhaps in the case of the singers, it’s not about religion of the lyrics, but about the power and the beauty that comes through, and they are not scared of that power nor of the language used to express it. Hallelujah!

To whom would you write your epistle?


Impressions from FGC -- a week ago!

I didn't have internet access at Friends General Conference, and didn't have time to blog while in Newberg, Ore. (Thanks, Gregg!) There's a lot of stuff stored up in a lot of us bloggers who were at FGC. I predict it's going to come streaming out over the next few weeks as people have a chance to reflect and process the experiences.

Fortunately, I did have a chance to type up some reflections while at FGC (which they call "the Gathering," but I think of it as a conference). I'm posting it here pretty much as it first came out.
- - - -
So I’m at my first Friends General Conference Gathering, here at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. I’m sitting on the porch of the University Center, where Friends are singing shape-note songs from the Sacred Harp. Singers include Quaker bloggers Linda (Boundless Stores of Grace) and Paul L. (Showers of Blessings). [Note: I joined in after finishing this post, and sang for three afternoons straight! Woo-hoo!]

Last night, Martin Kelley (Quaker Ranter), Liz Opp (The Good Raised Up), and my own dear Robin M. (What Canst Thou Say?) provided a wonderful opportunity for discussion and worship during their interest group, “On Fire! Renewing Quakerism through a Convergence of Friends.”

It was inspired. And inspiring.

Afterwards, I couldn’t get to sleep. I had picked up the boys at their programs and put them to bed in our room so Robin could hang out with her co-organizers and others who had gone to the World Gathering of Young Friends or the Young Friends Connections interest groups. After the boys were finally asleep around 9:45 pm, I took out the laptop and, with a flashlight on my four pages of handwritten notes, turned them into 3.5 pages of typed notes!

Martin has posted about this HERE and shared some photos HERE.