Author Archives: Sherief Hassan

Supporting the International Work of Quakers

Friends Word Committee logo

The Quaker World Relations Committee (QWRC)  works to make connections between British Quakers and those in other parts of the world.

The Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) group helps bridge Quaker understanding and unity by bringing cultures and Quaker traditions together.  During the pandemic FWCC’s events and information sharing have enabled many British Quakers to connect and worship with Friends across the world.

While QWRC works to expand the experience of Friends by bringing people together from other countries and exposing Friends to Quaker practice in Britain, FWCC does the same for Friends across the world. FWCC presents the face of Friends at the global level through the World Council of Churches, Christian World Communions, the Quaker United Nations Offices, and other faith-based engagement.

FWCC and QWRC worked together to start the FWCC Sustainability Program which has grown to bring our awareness of climate issues in different parts of the world.  Recent Young Adult Friends’ webinars have helped gather their voice to motivate us all to respect all of God’s creation, articulating how we can each be involved in creating climate justice.

We anticipate the next World Plenary Meeting in Southern Africa Yearly Meeting in 2024, preceded by a World Gathering of Young Friends.  During this remarkable opportunity to gather together for worship and fellowship and learning, we will hear about Friends’ experience of apartheid and inequality, gathering an appreciation of this deeply divisive time, re-imagining a new way of being in the world.  Bringing issues of sustainability and equality to the global conversation is very important to British Friends, as we expand our awareness of what it is like for our Quaker brothers and sisters.

FWCC and its small staff depends on Quaker contributions for organizational stability.  During the coronavirus, it is more important than ever that Friends continue to support FWCC’s vital function of strengthening the Religious Society of Friends.  FWCC is grateful for Friends’ ongoing support, which includes a generous annual grant from Britain Yearly Meeting.

Quakers meet in Kenya

FWRC meet in Kenya, 2012. Photo by Trish Carn

You can give directly to the FWCC Co-op Account: 650 10116 00; Sort Code 089061

You can give through the World Office web site: http://fwcc.world/about-fwcc/donate

You can set up a regular amount through your bank.

Gift aid accepted if we have your address.  UK Registered Charity 211647

Thank you for making a financial contribution to the growth and sustainability of FWCC and the Religious Society of Friends.  On behalf of the Quaker World Relations Committee and FWCC, we thank you.

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East Meets West – Music Making in the Meeting House

The wonderful acoustic qualities of our 18 Century  Meeting House hall were put to good use by a local duo, Clare O’Connell and Eleanor Turner. They set up a music studio to record their latest album. It sounds amazing.

 

 

The whole performance will be aired online on 2nd May 2021:

Clare writes,

Join us for a evocative and uplifting mix of of delicate and nuanced Eastern inspired classical music arranged and performed by Eleanor Turner (harp) and Clare O’Connell (cello) at the Quaker Meeting House in Hemel Hempstead.

The programme includes new arrangements of Pagodes by Debussy, Laideronette by Ravel, two Gnossienes by Eric Satie, an improvised Raag by Eleanor Turner and Ravi Shankar’s Sonata for cello and harp.

Book at www.behindthemirror.org

 

Clare selected the Meeting House for its acoustic qualities.  We hope to resume our musical programme soon! If you are an acoustic  musical artist who would like to perform in a very special space, with an appreciative audience please get in touch.

We also welcome enquiries from musicians interested in recording.  Contact our premises and hiring team

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Join our Woodlands for All Lunchtime Lobby in Hemel Hempstead, April 22 2021

Woodlands for All logo

Join an environmental lobby to local politicians on 22 April 2021, 12.30 – 2.15pm

Listen to fantastic speakers and show your support for our demands for investment in woodlands for all. Woodlands must be part of the planned expansion* of our beautiful town.

We are asking Mike Penning to help us change the law to make it a legal requirement for woodlands to be nurtured and protected. Join us and other passionate believers in the power of trees, woods and forests to improve our lives. People,  place and planet working in harmony.

Register on Eventbrite – it is free. 

Woodland for all event poster

 

 

We are working in collaboration with:

Hope for the Future

Carey Baptist Church

Green Alliance

Woodland Trust

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Dennis Furnell

*See Dacorum Local Plan  – 2020 to 2038

For more information, contact us!

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Friends launch an online lobby for trees and woodlands in Hemel Hempstead

Woo

Hemel Hempstead Quakers have teamed up with Carey Baptist Church and Hope for the Future to campaign for tree planting in Hemel Hempstead. Quakers worldwide view climate change as a peace and justice concern. They seek to transform the human activities which feed environmental crises unprecedented in human history, including the rate of species extinction, ocean acidification, soil erosion, chemical pollution and the rate of rising global temperature.

Woodland areas are an attractive and well loved feature in Hemel Hempstead

What’s it about

We believe there is an existential threat to the character of Hemel Hempstead as a woodland town

There is a planned development of 13,000 houses to the North and East of the town.

As a matter of fairness, any expansion of Hemel Hempstead should offer equal access to woodland areas and open spaces to new residents,  preserving our own cherished resources and extending them to improve biodiversity and ecology of any new areas of housing.

We would like to invite local people who are passionate about

  • tree planting in Hemel Hempstead
  • woodland conservation
  • the importance of trees in combatting climate change and air pollution
  • the social impact of trees on mental and physical health of residents

Commitment 

  • 1 – 2 hour online lobby to the local MP in March 2021
  • Online training sessions provided by HFTF experts

Training 

  • Training and Planning  via Zoom sessions.
    25 January 3.00pm
    23 February 3.00pm

All residents of Dacorum who support this lobby are welcome to join irrespective of their beliefs. Please note it is not a lobby against housebuilding. Interested to find out more?  Contact us

Further information

Information about the plan for 10,000+ new homes in Hemel Hempstead: https://dacorumlocalplan.consultation.ai/resources/assets/pdf/DBC_VE_Summary_Local_Plan_2020.pdf

Information about a separate plan for 3000 + new homes in ‘East Hemel’ (land owned by St Albans District Council) https://easthemel.co.uk/

The Carey Baptist Eco Church in Hemel Hempstead https://www.careybaptisthemel.org.uk/ecochurch/

“We must not become complacent. Whether your preferred candidate won or not,  our MPs must be held accountable to the promises they made about climate action during the election period”
Hope for the Future 

 

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Celebrate!  Nuclear Ban Treaty Zoom Event Friday, 22 January 2021, 7 – 9 pm

We encourage all Friends, attenders and visitors to celebrate the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty which comes into international law on 22 Jan.

Here are some actions

  1. Join a web event organised by Cambridge Quakers on Friday 22 January 2021

Inspired work, begun by a small group of concerned people in Melbourne Australia, and taken forward by peace campaigners from around the world, has produced the  International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN,

This campaign won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Join us on Zoom to hear the story, find out more about the Treaty,  and what you might do to: pressure the UK government to scale back its weapons,  put a stop to the manufacture of nuclear arms.  Entry to the event is free.  Just sign up with https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nuclear-weapons-now-banned-a-step-towards-peace-tickets-133129105739

More information from: Cambridgeshire Quakers: hanmorrow@icloud.com

2. Support the Treaty by displaying a window poster

Quakers in Britain have designed a number of downloadable posters which you can put in your home windows on 22 January.

Please download from this page about  Quakers national action on nuclear treaty

Our local action on Trident

So far, the UK government is refusing to engage with the Treaty. Quakers in Britain are urging the government to sign up to the Treaty and not to boycott it.

 

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Speaking Truth to Power – Follow up blog #1 How does reduced financial inequality lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions?

At our recent event, The Climate Emergency in Dacorum – How You Can Speak Truth to Power there was debate on the questions posed by the climate justice movement.

Some citizens felt that reducing inequality between richer and poorer nations would simply result in a greater output of emissions as countries achieved higher levels of production. 

This is a complex issue so we were pleased to receive the following thoughtful and informed letter from a Quaker at Luton meeting, Colin Hall, who is also the secretary of the Bedford Climate Forum. 

 

Dear Friends at Hemel Hempstead

Many thanks for organising this event on Climate Emergency, and to Rebecca Woo for leading it.  Action on climate the environmental crisis is so utterly important, yet it seems to figure so little in current UK government planning, as far as we can tell.  Thanks too for the links and follow up material from Rebecca.

I have been thinking about the vital concept of climate justice and in particular the searching question asked about whether reduced financial inequality (desirable in itself) would actually lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions, i.e. as suggested, would not the poor produce more GHG as they become richer?

I can think of various related reasons to be hopeful that greater financial equality if enacted could help to address climate catastrophe – there may be many others:

  1. More equal societies do better in many key respects, one of which is greater environmental awareness.
  2. Now is not forever.  Great financial equality could lead to different values and mindset that in turn might lead to changed behaviour.  Rather than competing one with another, we might think and act more with and for others, and the whole world at large, with a greater sense of both service and connection with our neighbours and indeed the whole world.  Thus, becoming somewhat richer might not mean that we would behave like the present over-consuming rich.
  3. Related to this the “converge and contract” model, often used at UN level, outlines relations between richer and poorer countries, but is also applicable within societies.  Poor countries must first of all be brought up to an acceptable level of wealth, then all countries can agree to rein in environmentally destructive practices, including those based on fossil-fuels.
  4. The Earth can no longer afford the rich.  Huge current inequality means that the rich are inherently dangerous, often committed to an extractive economic, world-endangering system and status quo, with the connections and influence to maintain it in their own interests because of their wealth (OXFAM Report).  Redistribution from rich to poor could weaken this power that threatens democracy, as well as life on earth.  By “the rich” we can mean both very wealthy individuals and very powerful corporations within the whole system of financialised capitalism. 
  5. A carbon fee (or tax) and dividend could help both to reduce financial inequality and promote carbon savings.  In this scheme, fossil fuels are taxed as close to source as possible.  The revenue raised is repaid to all citizens equally as a dividend.  The rich use carbon resources proportionally far more than average or poorer members of society (e.g they fly much more), and so they pay higher carbon fees. The overall effect is to redistribute from rich to poorer.  Fossil fuels and goods that contain them become more expensive as the tax is included in prices, discouraging consumption of them.   An advantage claimed for carbon tax and dividend is that it will secure “buy-in” for action on climate emergency from most people.  To be effective it must be charged at a high rate as soon as possible in order to provide a kind of basic income (or ingredient of it) and to reduce carbon consumption sufficiently. 

However, we should support the compelling concept of climate justice as an end in itself because it is morally right.  It has been framed in a related manner in terms of Human Rights by the Quaker United Nations Office.  See:  https://quno.org/sites/default/files/resources/QUNO_A%20Negotiators%20Toolkit_May%202018_SPREADS.pdf 

We should argue for a universal system of climate justice that includes future generations (we are stealing from the yet unborn) and rights for all species of life on Earth, together with ecocide as a crime in national and international law, as proposed by the recent French Citizens Convention. https://www.conventioncitoyennepourleclimat.fr/en/

As Quakers, we aim to build the republic of heaven on Earth, no less.

In Friendship

Colin

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Speaking Truth to Power: A dozen ways forward for the environment in Dacorum

 

Our first ever online Climate Justice event took place on 17 September 2020. We were delighted to host this event with 27 registrants from a wide spectrum of climate allies in Dacorum. 

They shared their ideas and experiences of trying to influence local government about critical environmental issues. It was great to have so many well informed and expert participants. 

We all learned a great deal from our host speaker and climate advocate, Rebecca Woo, who is keyed into all the very latest thinking and action on climate justice in the UK and round the world.

Workshop Output

Everyone pledged to take steps to learn more or take action.  Here are a dozen things, large and small people committed to:

    1. Try to find and join a local group relevant to my area of concern, and try to put aside time to engage with it at defined times every month.
    2. Engage more with councillors. 
    3. Finish Sunnyside Rural Trust’s environmental action plan
    4. Check and progress Dacorum Environmental Forum Steering Group action to send Climate Change letter to someone at Dacorum Boro Council.
    5. More networking with like minded people
    6. Identify potential allies more systematically.
    7. Put the anniversary of the climate emergency declaration of Dacorum Borough and Herts County Councils in my calendar and check their progress against stated intentions.
    8. Discuss next steps with Dacorum Environmental Forum in view of presentation
    9. Encourage councillors to reach out to developers in positive green routes in all housing development.
    10. How to try to get local authorities to insist on better standards of insulation in newly built houses. Also in existing houses.
    11. Share ideas from this meeting with Watford Quaker Climate Justice group to help us shape our next actions. 
    12. Try to find out the exact trail of recycled goods from the home to their final destination.

We are pleased that the representatives of so many local organisations felt reinvigorated in their commitment to preserving our precious ecosystem. 

To get involved in supporting them, please visit their websites and contact their representatives:

Boxmoor Trust

Dacorum Environmental Forum

Halsey Field Wildlife Site

Plastic Free Tring 

Sunnyside Rural Trust 

Herts County Council – (represented at the event by William Wyatt-Lowe, Hemel Hempstead) 

 Extinction Rebellion Dacorum 

We are grateful to Rebecca Woo, Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator, Quaker Peace and Social Witness for her detailed presentation. 

Useful guides for speaking to people in power:

Community wealth building:

Community municipal bonds or investment:

Other links and groups Rebecca mentioned:

  • The amazing 4Cs project
  • The work the New Economics Foundation is doing on the modelling for a minimum income guarantee
  • The work student-led group Rethinking Economics is doing to build a better understanding of economics in the classroom
  • The 3.5% rule (Erica Chenoweth – Harvard)
  • The Build Back Better campaign, which provides an invaluable opportunity to ensure your climate action reflects recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting point for this is their website (in the slides) but you’re also welcome to look at the Build Back Better Briefing for Quakers.
  • The role of young people and indigenous peoples in creating more caring and sustainable society:   Meera Ghani’s words in Oxfam’s ‘Climate Justice: Feminist Journeys’ Zine 

 

If you have any questions about the slides or content please contact us using our contact page

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Getting ready for Apple Day

We are busy collecting apples off our two trees ready for pressing on Apple Day, 29 September.

There has been a bumper crop this year, but the apples are falling very early so we are wrapping them carefully to keep them fresh.

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300 years of Quakers in Hemel Hempstead: Our Pilgrimage to the old Quaker burial ground

We are delighted to be celebrating three hundred years since the establishment of the Quaker Meeting House and burial ground in Hemel Hempstead in 1718.

Easter Pilgrimage to the Old Burial Ground at Wood End, April 2018

Our first celebration was a pilgrimage to the site of the former meeting house and burial ground on the outskirts of town. Friends braved the cold, wet weather of an April Easter Monday. We stood silently on the patch of ground where it is believed the earliest Quakers are buried. The graves are unmarked. The site is in a field adjacent to the boundary between Dacorum and St Albans.

We travelled to Wood End by minibus.

Friends stood in silence on the site of the unmarked graves.

A team of Friends walked back to the Meeting House down the Nicky Line.

We were all looking forward to a cuppa …

There was a delicious spread waiting for us at the meeting house.

 

 

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Gilbert hits the floor at a hundred

gilberts 100 copyLocal artist Gilbert Rigg celebrated his 100th birthday on 1 November with a party and art exhibition at the local Quaker Meeting House in the Old Town. He was joined by around 40 friends and family from Hemel Hempstead and beyond.

Gilbert has lived in Hemel for 62 years. He was imprisoned for being a conscientious objector and then joined the Quakers after the second world war. He started painting in his teens and has used his art to express his feelings on contemporary issues. Subjects include artificial intelligence, celebrity culture, nuclear weapons, the arms trade and most recently, the futility of war. These subjects are juxtaposed against the pastoral backdrop of the Chiltern countryside.IMG_9518

In 2013 a sale of his work raised £500 for the Hospice of St. Francis in Berkhamsted.

Gilbert said this to the Quaker meeting on Sunday: “I have lived adventurously.”

For his photo, he refused to stand in front of the group but instead chose to sit on the floor with younger members of the meeting.

Gilbert’s story is one of several told in a short book by local Quaker, Audrey Pitchforth entitled ‘Faith into Action‘ which details the lives of several Quaker conscientious objectors from Hemel Hempstead meeting .

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