Category Archives: Witness

Information or articles related to Quaker witness

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.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance


Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm (EDT)

  • Around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ), 227 North Willard Way (please wear a mask and social distance)

There has been a tradition of Friends and others to take time to remember the dropping of the first atomic bombs in 1945 on Hiroshima (August 6) and on Nagasaki Japan (August 9) with a silent vigil around the Peace Pole in front of the Friends Center for Racial Justice (FCRJ). This year marks the 75th anniversary of these bombings. This is a vigil of mindfulness and remembrance of the thousands of persons who were killed 75 years ago at the instant of the blasts, those who later died from their injuries, and those who suffered from their injuries. 

We are proceeding with plans to vigil together in a blended manner. Some Friends will meet in person around the Peace Pole at the FCRJ and socially distance so that those in attendance can feel safe while being apart and wearing a mask.  Some Friends will join via Zoom (link below). If you plan on attending this Vigil in person, please e-mail Elizabeth Schneider to reserve a seat.