Category Archives: Newsletter articles

The Amazing New York Climate Bill

Letter from Earthcare

The spirit is leading the many thoughtful people in New York through the difficulties of shaping one of the most progressive policies in the union in regards to climate change.  We in Ithaca Monthly Meeting, who advocate stewardship and respect for the Earth, can only be very excited and encouraged by the historic clean energy transition now underway, unfolding largely unnoticed by numerous people until recently.

The driver for this transition is the 2019 NY Climate Act – official name: the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.  This bill sets the most ambitious goals in the nation for emissions reduction – 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and then to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.   Not only are these goals impressive, but also the commitments made to achieve them will be enforceable and written into law.

The methods and processes set into motion by this bill have been painstaking and deliberate.   The bill authorized a ”Climate Action Council” to be formed by a diverse set on NY Departments, people, and organizations, representing a political spectrum of opinions from multiple sectors of the economy – renewable energy, transportation, fuels, buildings, agriculture, and waste sectors – to come up with the policies and actions to make the climate goals happen.    Over the past 2 years the Council has been formed and has been working on how and what to implement.  Just this past December they completed a draft “Scoping Plan,” which is now open for a 120 day period of public comment.  See:

https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2021-Announcements/2021-12-30-Climate-Action-Council-Releases-Draft-Scoping-Plan-for-Public-Comment

The “Scoping Plan” is a huge financial commitment, but at this point funding is unclear, especially since federal aid from the “Build Back Better” legislation has collapsed. Both a tax on the rich and a carbon tax have been proposed. Like all such large projects projected into the future many of its figures are based on estimates and unknowns. Practically minded accounting people are asking for more transparency, which is entirely understandable and important, yet how do you estimate what climate inaction will cost NYC or what affect the bill itself will have on the economy?  Even the authors of the “Scoping Plan” admit this aspect needs more work, and it will be one of the major talking points in the public hearings ahead.

Expectations are that moving from fossil fuels will initially raise costs and money will have to be transferred to those who cannot afford to meet them.  Expectations are also to create 160,000 new jobs – as well as lose some old ones.  Economic justice is a serious consideration of the bill and there a requirement to direct at least 35-40% of the program’s benefits to historically disadvantaged communities

The Climate Action Council and it’s advisory panels include two people from the Ithaca area: Bob Howarth, Ecologist & Earth system scientist from Cornell, and Suzanne Hunt, a strategist and a seventh gen­er­a­tion farm and Finger Lakes winery owner.  Suzanne serves on one of the advisory panels to the CAC, “The Agriculture and Forestry Advisory Panel”.   The new proposed laws will require updated accounting for methane emissions, a strong driver of atmospheric warming. That updated accounting was recommended based on Howarth’s research. There are seven advisory panels covering everything from energy efficiency to land use to waste, as well as a “Just Transition Working Group”.

Looking into the “Scoping Plan” and trying to understand it requires some investment in time, but the impact on New York (it will set into a motion a whole shift in energy use to electric vehicles, heating pumps, and off-shore wind energy, for one) is so great that it is well worth your time.

Earthcare will be reporting occasionally as this bill progresses.  A few links and sources of education:

Supporting Federal Recognition for the Traditional Gayogoho:no Community

At IMM’s Peace and Social Justice Committee meeting on Sunday, August 15, we discussed a recent article from the Finger Lakes Times about Gayogoho:no (Cayuga*) people again living on their traditional lands around Cayuga Lake, and their interactions with the Seneca County Board of Supervisors (link below). We are deeply concerned about violence instigated by the federally-recognized Cayuga chief, Clint Halftown, against traditional Gayogoho:no living in Seneca Falls. However the article describes an inspiring development at the August 10 meeting of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

*Cayuga is the English spelling of Gayogoho:no, the Nation’s name in the Gayogoho:no language. Like the Finger Lakes Times, this article uses Gayogoho:no to refer to the traditional community and governance, and “Cayuga Nation” to refer to the organization headed by Clint Halftown, recognized as the sole chief by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), but not by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s Council of Chiefs. Each of the Haudenosaunee nations has multiple clan chiefs, or sachems, who are selected and guided by the clan mothers.

For many months, Clint Halftown had not been willing to meet with the Board of Supervisors to discuss the destruction and violence Halftown ordered in February of 2020 against the Gayogoho:no community. (More recently, he has been threatening eviction of Gayogoho:no families renting homes owned by the Cayuga government.)

In spite of being frustrated by Halftown’s lack of cooperation, the Board of Supervisors had not reached out to the Gayogoho:no community, on the assumption that they could only interact with the BIA-approved chief. However Bear Clan Sachem Sam George and a group of traditional Gayogoho:no people showed up at the August 10 meeting, and respectfully asked to be able to speak. Sachem Sam George explained how their governance works both within each Haudenosaunee nation and among all Six Nations via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Chiefs; the commitment to peaceful cooperation between the Haudenosaunee and European Americans embodied by the Two Row Wampum belt; and thus why traditional Gayogoho:no leaders are more appropriate for the BIA and the Seneca County Board of Supervisors to be working with. 

The Board of Supervisors decided to write a letter to Deb Haaland, the US Secretary of the Interior, which administers the BIA, and to two key BIA staff. From the Finger Lakes TImes: “While Seneca County explained that they would not ‘pick and choose’ who they believe rightfully represents the Nation, supervisors insist it’s clear that the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ leadership’s commitment to fairness and cultural values ‘offers our communities a better path forward to understanding and a positive model for the future.’”  

The Peace and Social Justice Committee concluded that Friends wanting to support the non-violent traditional leadership could write postcards or letters to Secretary of the Interior Debra Ann Haaland and to key BIA staff in support of recognizing traditional Gayogoho:no sovereignty rather than Clint Halfown. 

Debra Anne Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20240

Darryl LaCounte, Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs
MS-4606, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 202

Kimberly Bouchard, Eastern Regional Office
Bureau of Indian Affairs, 545 Marriott Drive Suite 700, Nashville, Tennessee 37214

Since our meeting, an on-line petition by a group of allies has also been started: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/rescind-bia-recognition-of-halftown-recognize-the-gayogohon-council-of-chiefs-instead?source=direct_link&=&ltclid=febfe14a-48f7-44ab-9128-e9b5fc12f995

Because this article has not been reviewed or approved by any Gayogoho:no people, any errors, inaccuracies or omissions are mine alone. I wrote it based on coverage from the Finger Lakes Times and email updates by allies working with the Gayogoho:no community. For more general background, I am learning from programs given by Gayogoho:no and Onondaga elders and educators offered by NOON (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, a group of allies associated with the Syracuse Peace Council) and by the Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center in Liverpool. –Margaret McCasland

RESOURCES:

Finger Lakes Times stories:

–Story about Sachem Sam George’s presentation to the Seneca County Board of Supervisors: https://www.fingerlakes1.com/2021/08/11/there-is-no-negotiating-with-halftown/

–Update on the letter written by the Seneca County Board of Supervisors to Sec. of the Interior Deb Haaland, which includes an overview of events since the February 2020 destruction of Gayogoho:no community buildings:

–Background on the February 2020 destruction of buildings built by traditional Cayugas and the aftermath:

Background on the Haudenosaunee:

Because of the genocide and disruption caused by European and then United States governments, bands from each of the six Haudenosaunee Nations are based in Canada as well as in various parts of the US. https://www.haudenosauneeconfederacy.com/who-we-are/

The Onondaga Nation, which lost much of their land but is still based on part of their original territory, remain the home of the Confederacy’s “central fire.”   

The Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center is a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Heritage Center focused on telling the story of the native peoples of central New York. The history is told through the lens of the Onondaga Nation and covers topics such as Creation, European Contact, The Great Law of Peace, and more. The Onondagas, or People of the Hills, are the keepers of the Central Fire and are the spiritual and political center of the Haudenosaunee. Skä•noñh is an Onondaga welcoming greeting meaning “Peace and Wellness.”   https://www.skanonhcenter.org/about-the-center

Allies:

http://peacecouncil.net/noon

Cayuga SHARE (not currently active except as a listserve): To sign up for the listserv, please contact the list manager, Karen Edelstein, at karen.edelstein@gmail.com

Project Abundance Germinates

Raised garden beds at the corner of Third and Madison Streets

If you’ve attended Meeting for Worship in person at our Third Street Meetinghouse, or just been past there recently you probably noticed several raised garden beds installed on the tree lawn and along the fence. What you’re seeing is the beginning of Project Abundance. Thanks in part to a mini-grant from Sustainable Tompkins, Ithaca Monthly Meeting’s Earthcare Committee has launched Project Abundance to “make real the sense of abundance nature offers us – and incorporate the sacredness of nature and the miracle of growth more within neighborhood communities and within our own congregations” (from the grant application). Food and flowers growing in the raised beds will be available for anyone in the neighborhood to pick and use for free.

The originating purpose of Project Abundance, which Earthcare discussed in fall of 2020, was to get past the narrowing and diminishing mindset of the Trump presidency and the pandemic.  When they began researching how to implement the idea they discovered an already existing network of neighborhood raised garden beds in the Northside neighborhood, ranging from a park near the Science Center, to Conley Park, to a permaculture park near the Cascadilla Creek. Leading this effort was Josh Dolan of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Solidarity Gardens, a network of area gardeners.   Earthcare looked for ways to plug into this network and expand on their vision.  

Members of the Earthcare Committee reached out to the Northside Neighborhood via their listserv and solicited thoughts on what to grow in these raised garden beds. Suggestions included greens (kale, collard greens, chard, lettuce), herbs (thyme, basil, parsley) and flowers (calendulas, zinnias, lavender). The aim of the project is to encourage a sense of abundance and delight in growing food and flowers. In addition, Earthcare wants to see if we can create a model that other religious organizations can adopt.

Earthcare Committee hopes this physical and practical example will expand love of nature and a concern with the human destruction of nature within Ithaca Meeting.  They also hope to create a further connection between Ithaca Meeting and members of the Earthcare Committee, and the Northside neighborhood. The committee hopes this project will blur those boundaries between our Meeting and the neighborhood, and enhance Quaker ideas of the Spirit in everyone and everything.

The project is led by Betsy Keokosky and involves the work of several Friends in our Meeting, including Margaret McCasland, Jim Grant, Miguel Piery, Steve Soblick. If you would like to help with this project, get in touch with Betsy.

UN: Nuclear Weapons Illegal as well as Immoral

— Garry Thomas

At his sentencing on October 15, in Federal Court in Brunswick, Georgia, Kings Bay Plowshares activist Patrick O’Neill told Judge Lisa Godbey Wood: “This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable.”

Just days later, on October 24, Honduras became the 50th nation to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, this the threshold that was required in order for the treaty to become international law. The law requires signatories never “to develop, test, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It is important that the treaty calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons rather than merely their non-proliferation. Plowshares activists, who have long felt the United States’ possession of a nuclear arsenal to be illegal as well as immoral, will soon have the backing of the United Nations.  The treaty goes into effect on January 22, 2021.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its “ground-breaking efforts” to achieve this very treaty to prohibit such weapons. Local Back from the Brink activists brought Dr. Ira Helfand, a member of ICAN’s International Steering Committee and co-chair of the International Physicians for Social Responsibility to Ithaca in March 2019. He ended his presentation at St John’s Episcopal Church saying, “It is not helpful to think, as a large percentage of the US population does, ‘In my heart I don’t believe it can happen here,’ and then go about our daily lives. That is what happened during the Holocaust ‘when it did happen here’.” Since his Ithaca visit, Helfand has added his name to the global petition to drop the charges against the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 alongside more than 100 other notables.

Ira Helfand commended Back from the Brink as the type of initiative that is required, saying “It is parallel to the Green New Deal in importance.” Four states and 50 cities and towns in the US, including the City of Ithaca (2018) and the Town of Lansing (2019), have adopted resolutions supporting Back from the Brink’s policy solutions: renounce first use; end sole authority of the president to order a nuclear attack; end hair-trigger alert; cancel enhanced weapons’ development; and press more nations to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Significantly, none of the countries possessing nuclear weapons – the US, Russia, UK, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – have signed the treaty. However, in a statement following Honduras’ becoming a signatory, ICAN said: “States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon-producing companies.”

Our work is not done.

This article was first published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Magnificat, the Ithaca Catholic Worker community newsletter.

Swords into Plowshares: “Nuclear Weapons, Illegal, Immoral”

By Garry Thomas

In the dark of night on April 4, 2018, seven anti-nuclear activists entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia, home to six Trident submarines to carry out a long-planned Plowshare’s action. It was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ithaca’s Clare Grady, a person of conscience and committed Catholic Worker like the others involved in the action, was one of the seven. She and the others cut their way through an anchor chain fence, poured their blood on an administration building, spray painted religious messages, and partially dismantled a monument to the Trident missile. And then awaited their arrest.

The protestors, which included Liz McAlister (80), widow of Phil Berrigan, and Martha Hennessy (64), granddaughter of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, called themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. They took their name from the words of the prophet Isaiah (2:4), who called upon “nations to beat their swords into plowshares and neither shall they learn war anymore.” These were “sacramental actions,” they said, necessitated by the “omnicidal nature” of the nuclear weapons stored at the naval base. The Trident nuclear submarines at the base carry missiles capable of delivering the equivalent of 3,600 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs. They wanted to put both the Tridents and nuclear weapons on trial.

Just days before the trial began in October 2019, US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood instructed the defendants that they would be able to discuss neither their religious beliefs nor the nuclear weapons stored at the base. Taking its direction from the judge, the prosecution said quite simply, “this is a case of what the defendants did, not why they did it.” A non-violent, faith-based action was basically reduced to a charge of trespass and vandalism. A jury, arguably not of their peers, found them all guilty as charged.

Sentencing had been scheduled for this past January, but has been delayed again and again primarily because of COVID. As of this writing, three have been sentenced over these past few months, two (including Liz McAlister, 17 months) essentially to time already served in jail, and Patrick O’Neill to a prison term of 14 months. Clare and the other three are presently scheduled to be sentenced to prison on November 12-13.

Interestingly, while the Kings Bay Plowshares activists were unable call on the likes of Daniel Ellsberg (The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, 2017) to speak in their defense, during sentencing Judge Wood has allowed those who have been sentenced thus far to present character witnesses and speak at length to their motivation, deeply rooted in their pacifism and Christian beliefs.

At his October 16 court appearance (which we could listen in on by phone), Patrick O’Neill, 64, the father of eight and grandfather to two, spoke with incredible feeling:

“It is simply indisputable that Trident is part of a system of U.S. war making that, if deployed, would spell death for millions, perhaps billions of people. Humanity will never abolish war if we live in such deep denial of what we have done, and what we might do to God´s Creation because of Trident. This court, by its refusal to consider the lawlessness of weapons of mass destruction, is essentially declaring the end of the world to be acceptable. If the Trident D-5 missiles are ever launched and millions of people die, one fact will remain clear: No laws were broken.” (Patrick O’Neill’s full sentencing statement deserves a full reading: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/2020/10/patrick-oneills-sentencing-statement/)

Over the years, Ithaca Monthly Meeting has been very supportive of the Ithaca Catholic Worker community, the Catholic Worker house on South Plain Street, the Peter De Mott Peace Trot and the Grady family. At the November business meeting, the Peace & Social Justice Committee will be recommending that $300 of its non-discretionary funds be donated this year to support the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The financial contributions, past and present, are meant to support Clare for costs incurred during her many months of house arrest and for her and others’ travel to Georgia. We also want our contribution to be seen as an expression of Friends’ support for the courageous action taken that day – and as an homage to our historic peace testimony and an affirmation in our belief in non-violence.

Letter from The Clerk

Dearest Friends,

At Farmington Scipio Regional Meeting’s Fall Gathering earlier this month, participants were asked to reflect on three queries:

1) What has changed since we wrote our State of the Meeting reports, and what may need to be changed?

2) How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.

3) Are there practical steps you hope Friends will commit to?

Attenders were divided into small groups according to their Monthly Meeting affiliation, with those from smaller Meetings paired with those from larger Meetings. Some of you may have already had a chance to read the report of the discussion that ensued compiled by Melanie-Claire Mallison and posted to the Ithaca Monthly Meeting listserve. The report is included in its entirety below for those of you that have not yet seen it.

For many months now, I have been considering ways to provide a framework for some conversations that are important to the spiritual health of our community. Though interwoven, clarifying our beliefs and practices, re-envisioning our community structures, and weighing our current needs for inreach and outreach are items at the top of this list. The report from Fall Gathering lifted up many of these threads, and, I hope, will offer the larger Meeting means of continuing the conversation together.

At October’s Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business (October 11, 12:30pm via Zoom), Friends will have an opportunity for worship sharing regarding this report. We will set aside 20 minutes to re-read the report together and to offer ministry as to its contents. I highly recommend reading the report and giving it some time to season before joining us next week. Friends are also invited to share thoughts by emailing clerk@ithacamonthlymeeting.org.

In particular, please consider the following queries:

1) Do you feel the report captures the corporate experience of IMM at this time?

2) Where do you see the spirit moving in our Meeting or where have you seen it moving in the past?

3) What is missing from this report?

I look forward to our discussion.

Gina Varrichio, Clerk

Report to FSRM on the Reflections of the IMM Breakout Group


We were most inspired by the second query, “How do we recognize what is needed? Describe your sense of how Friends are called into community.”

In general, it is felt that Ithaca Monthly Meeting has lost its Spiritual foundation and call to work as a community within the Quaker testimony of Corporate Discernment. This is not related to the pandemic, but has been seen as a loss for more than a year. Instead, the Meeting feels like many individuals who come together to support each other’s individual leadings and gifts, and individual work. We long for more community leadings grounded in the Divine Presence, where the Light of each person is seen and acknowledged and loved, but corporate discernment is also honored and the vitality of the Meeting of a whole is addressed.

We have a sense of “dryness” spiritually, of being somehow stuck.

What seems to be missing is the Divine Presence and guidance. We can and DO much in the realm of social activism, but without surrendering to the Presence of God, our work does not come from a corporate foundation of Spirit, Light, and Peace.

An example of how Spirit DOES work within us is the time and intellectual energy put into deciding how outside group might be allowed to use our Meetinghouse and how much we would charge for that use, and when the report was given at Meeting for Business, Spirit moved us to toss out the report and minute that all are welcome to use the Meetinghouse for free.

To further the feeling of individuals gathering, some who are returning to the Meeting or are new to the Meeting find it hard to get to know folks and get to be known. They feel welcomed! But perhaps, not included.

Even so, Ithaca Monthly Meeting feels like a loving and beloved space. Even those who have created some trouble (and you know who you are), still feel loved and listened to and supported.

So our gifts do not always apply to the Meeting as a whole and to the world beyond our meetinghouse steps. Gifts may need to shift and grow, ergo, to rise up to corporate and community needs.

And again, those gifts must seek a Spiritual grounding.  Not just come from a sense of social responsibility or “trending concern” but deepen and seek a Spiritual emphasis and foundation for the work.

We must see and seek with Spiritual eyes.

One gift is our gift of numbers. We are a large meeting, which shows our vitality and community nourishment. Our ability to work together, to meet together, to show up, in large numbers, is a GIFT many Meetings do not have.

But. Big numbers also means lots of concerns and tasks, and we now meet in so many ways due to the pandemic, we are even more separated, so the tasks even more become the focus of the work – bringing us back again to the theme of a longing to once again be spiritually grounded, living from Light and Love.

On the internet: What it means to be a Quaker & covenant community

Friends, in this time away from face-to-face gathering, I’ve discovered some wonderful resources on the internet that have helped me think about what it means to be a Quaker and what it would mean to be a “covenant community.”

Let me share some links and very brief (and incomplete) statements about what they include. There are many more where these came from.

Open for Transformation — what it means to be a Quaker (click for video)
Swarthmore Lecture, Britain Yearly Meeting, 2014
Ben Pink Dandelion
In this prepared ministry, Pink Dandelion outlines the four aspects of being a Quaker:

  1. We can encounter the divine directly
  2. We’ve developed ways to understand that experience and to discern when it is happening (our group process of discernment)
  3. We have forms of worship that nurture that encounter, that sense of the Presence
  4. We live our lives in line with our testimony (he says we do not have a menu of testimonies but our lives are our testimony).

He goes on to talk about the role individualism and secularization in our culture have played in the form our Quakerism now takes. We seem to want to be what will be welcoming and comfortable for everyone. We leave it up to the individual to say what is Quaker and what is not. When asked what Quakers believe, we answer with “This is what I believe.” We have adopted the culture’s shift to individualism and secularism to our detriment. We are a group of Quakers. One isn’t a Quaker without a group surrounding that individual. Based on his title, Pink Dandelion makes the point that being Friends requires that we open ourselves to being transformed. And who we become transforms the world.

Pink Dandelion says that as Quakers we need to retain our processes and change our structures as needed. He has interesting examples of how meetings have dealt with too many committees and not enough people (this section of his talk begins at 48 minutes). He describes cases in which having minimal committees resulted in everyone taking responsibility for what needs to be done.

I find these four aspects of being a Quaker helpful but find the fourth point about living our faith is not specific enough for me. Dunham, in the third resource below, summarizes what we are asked to do as “Attend to what love requires of you.” This guidance speaks to me.

Seeing Beyond Our Differences: Meeting as “Covenant Community (click for PDF)
Paper prepared for a 2008 Lancaster Meeting Retreat
Tom Gates

Gates talks about the difference between a covenant relationship which is open-ended and expansive and includes the transcendent versus a contract relationship which is limited and is often spelled out in explicit detail. He gives the example of marriage as a covenant relationship. Gates says the difference between Friends Meeting and other organizations we belong to is the difference between covenant and contract. He brings together the ideas of many authors to describe what Meeting as a covenant community would be. It is a detailed description.

This paper challenges me to imagine what a deep commitment to Meeting as Beloved Community might require of me. Lots to think about.

What It Means to be a Quaker (click for webpage)
Britain Yearly Meeting, 2012
Geoffrey Dunham

In this prepared ministry, Dunham writes from the point of view of one welcoming newcomers to a Meeting. He has found the statement, “Attend to what love requires of you,” to be a central source of guidance to being a Friend. Love is the essence of what it means to be a Quaker. Some newcomers say, “I’m attracted to you because you aren’t all Christians.” His response is, “No, it’s what we do that matters, not what we don’t do.” He reflects that “A large number [of Quakers] don’t find words like theist, Christian, Buddhist, universalist, nontheist helpful in expressing their most deeply held convictions.” “. . .the discipline of Quakerism [living the Quaker life] has become more of a defining factor in the lives of some of us than allegiance to a specifically Christian or other religious faith.

— Nancy Riffer

Amy Grace Mekeel

Earlier I have written about Friends from the past who had prominent roles in the founding and early history of IMM.  Additional Friends participated actively in the early years of IMM, but the last of these that I would highlight is Amy Grace Mekeel (1885-1976).  Amy Grace attended Westtown School and later received her BA in 1910 from Cornell University. After graduation, she taught at the Friends Boarding School, Barnesville, Ohio. She subsequently earned Masters and PhD degrees from Cornell and taught zoology at Cornell from 1917-1951.

Like the Woods and Olivers whom I wrote about previously, Amy Grace was a birthright member of the Hector Monthly Meeting; her ancestors founded that Meeting and she grew up in it.  But she later became active in the Ithaca Meeting, became its first treasurer, 1926-1934, and served as clerk from 1947-1950. Positions she held in IMM included Recording Clerk, Elder, Overseer, and serving on Nominating and Literature committees.

After retiring from Cornell, Amy Grace gave several local presentations on the history of the Hector Monthly Meeting and the founding of IMM, the splits that occurred among Quakers that affected Meetings in central New York, and descriptions of Quarterly Meetings held in this region.  She was the primary source for an article in the Ithaca Journal on July 19, 1958 by Lois O’Connor on these topics that also included photos of the Hector Meeting House and the original stove that was inside it. She was also a source for Quaker information on several internet sites.

Amy Grace did not marry. She lived much of her adult life with her sister, Mary Mekeel.  The Mekeel family homestead is located on Mekeel Road, which parallels the Perry City Road one north of where the Hector Meetinghouse is located.  Amy Grace, her sister Mary, and several other members of the Mekeel family are buried in the cemetery behind the Hector Meeting House.  

— Tom Brown, Meeting Historian

Which listserv do I use?

For many years, Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a listserv, hosted through Cornell. There also has been an email distribution list, managed by Marilyn Ray, commonly called “Marilyn’s List” used for content relating to peace and social justice. 

As a Meeting, we sometimes struggle with wanting to share information with our Meeting community while not inundating people with unwanted emails. When the Communications Committee was first formed, we heard from many Friends that one topic or tool they would like to see us work to improve is our listserv. Some of the frustrations with the old listserv are technical (messages sent from some types of email addresses don’t go through; unless you saved a message in your own email, there’s no way to find it again). Other concerns are about content. There is uncertainty regarding what types of messages are okay to send via the listserv. 

Right now, the Cornell listserv remains active, but the Communications Committee has been working on plans to transition from our old, Cornell-based listserv to a new listserv using a service called “groups.io”.

The groups.io listservs work much in the same way as we’re used to. Anyone who is a subscribed member of the listserv can send an email to one specific email address and that message then shows up in the email inbox of everyone else who is subscribed to the listserv. A feature of the new listserv that we really like is that the messages are also available to be read on a website, so there’s an easily accessible record of what’s been sent and a person can go back and search for a topic or message. 

Because some Friends only want to receive the bare minimum of email about the Meeting (just official events please!) while others want to share much more (from party invitations to poetry), we have set up three different lists in our groups.io account.  Each person can choose whether or not to receive email from each of the sub-lists.

The main, foundational list is Announcements (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io). This list is used to communicate about the official events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting and associated Quaker bodies (e.g. FSRM, NYYM, and FGC). Then there are two sub-groups:  Witness (witness@IMMRSF.groups.io) and Community (community@IMMRSF.groups.io). Everyone who joins any of the IMMRSF.groups.io lists is automatically a member of the Announcements list; it is the core or main group.  

How are the three lists to be used?

  • Announcements is only for news and events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting or wider Quaker bodies. Since this is the core list, we want to keep the focus narrow and specific. (This list most closely mirrors how we have used the Cornell listserv in the past.).
  • Witness is for messages related to Quaker testimonies or witness. This is where we can share information about social justice, peace witness, or Earthcare events, activities, or information.
  • Community is for sharing more general information, notices, questions, and happenings we want to share with our Meeting community. The purpose of the Community list is to build social connections among the members and attenders of IMM.

So which list do I use for what?

You may be thinking, “in theory this all sounds great, but I’m still confused. Where do I send my messages?” Here are some examples of the types of messages we tend to share over email, and which listserv would be most appropriate to use:

  • Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will happen soon, and the Clerk is asking for agenda items. Use the Announcements list.
  • I just read a beautiful poem or an inspirational essay and I think others would appreciate it. Use the Community list.
  • What if the essay I want to share is about how to be a conscientious objector? Use the Witness list.
  • There is some important legislation pending and we need Friends to contact our representatives and encourage them to do something. Use the Witness list.
  • I want to share an interesting article about recycling, or sanctuary, or prison reform. Use the Witness list.
  • Our IMM committee is hosting a program or workshop about recycling, sanctuary or prison reform. If the program or workshop is specifically a Quaker event, use the Announcements list. If the program is for the community at large, Witness is more appropriate.
  • We need Friends to help with Spring Gathering. Use the Announcements list.
  • I’m having a garage sale, participating in a fundraiser, or looking to borrow an item. Use the Community list.
  • FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) is hosting a program online about prison conditions. Since there is a specific event, and FCNL is a Quaker organization, use the Announcement list. 
  • We’re inviting everyone in Meeting to a Super Bowl party at our house! Use the Community list.
  • The latest issue of InfoShare is available online. Since Infoshare is a publication of New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM), the Announcements list is appropriate.

We hope Friends can discern the most appropriate destinations for their emails, and try to refrain from emailing more than one list in hopes of getting a larger audience. 

Getting too much email?

One of the nice things about the groups.io service is that it is easy to control the frequency of email delivery, even to the point where you get none at all. That is, a subscriber to the listserv can always visit the groups.io website to read the messages… even if they have chosen not to receive email delivery from the list!

We will cover more of the how-to about the groups.io listserv in a future newsletter.

What about the old list?

For now, the old listserv (IMMRSF-L@cornell) is still functioning. The Communications Committee hopes to move everyone to our new listserv (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io) within the next few months. We plan to bring a report about this to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in June.

What other email addresses are related to Meeting?

Friends might see references to ithacamonthlymeeting@gmail.com. That is the email for reserving space in the Third Street Meetinghouse. Messages sent to that email are only seen by the TSM scheduler. 

Email to the Clerk, Gina Varrichio, can be sent to clerk@ithacamonthlymeeting.org. Gina also tends to use this email to send official Meeting updates or info (such as agenda and reports for Business Meeting).