Category Archives: Uncategorised

Woodlands for all update

Our Woodlands for All project is continuing to grow.  At a steering meeting the week after our public event, which took place on 22 April on Zoom our agreed actions were .

  1. Organise group knowledge sharing and research around understanding the Dacorum Local Strategic Plan
  2. Work on mapping Hemel Hempstead’s existing woodland and tree cover 
  3. Decide on specifics of approach and key points to raise with Dacorum Council when our next meeting is arranged

We have made significant progress on point two and are about to launch a new website, called Woodland Towns  designed by group member Sherief Hassan, and Hemel Quakers clerk, Mermie Karger

We are contacting everyone who was involved up til now to get involved in a project to map woodlands, and the development areas immediately being targeted by Property Developers around Dacorum and the that of the local plan which aims to build 30,000 plus houses around Hemel alone.

There will be a series of meetings on Zoom on Thursday nights at 8.00 pm to prepare the website for a launch during big Green Week . This is a massive feat of organisation if it can be done. If you would like to help us and get involved in  the mapping project email : woodlandsforall @woodlandtowns.org.uk

This is a fun project and volunteers can spend as much or as little time as they like on mapping, but beware, as Mermie says “Its addictive”!

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Rebelling for Climate Justice

Sue Hampton, Quaker climate change protester from Berkhamsted,  caused some ‘good trouble’ in Harpenden this  weekend.  This is what happened when she did a sit down protest. Read her story on her blog.

Author Sue’s book about her experiences as a Quaker in the Extinction Rebellion movement is her best-seller. You can order Rebelling for Life off her website: 

Quakers are committed to become a low carbon community. Because of this, we are taking action for climate justice and the economic transformation needed to achieve it.

Find out what that means on the British Quakers website.

 

 

 

 

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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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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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Hemel Quakers Celebrate the Light with other Faiths and Denominations

Light…

Mermie Karger is a member of Hemel Hempstead Local Quaker Meeting. She took photos of the countryside around Hemel Hempstead and edited this video for sharing with the Dacorum Interfaith Network’s end of year celebration held on Zoom in December 2020.

In the manner of Quaker silent worship, the video proceeds slowly, allowing reflection.

 

These are the spoken words:

We celebrate the Light which is sacred in all people ~ God, the light within, a universal goodness, love.

We worship in silence, listening to that Light within each of us, sometimes spoken, often not.

Our belief that the light of love is at the centre of existence, that all human life is of equal worth, and that each person is unique leads Quakers to ‘live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.

Our belief that everyone is equal inspires us to try to change the systems that cause injustice and that stop us being genuine communities.

Living according to the deepest truths of the light of love means speaking the truth at all times. As we are guided by integrity, so we expect to see it in public life.

The light of love is in the Earth and all of its creatures. We campaign for climate and energy justice, and for an economy that is clean and fair to all. The light of love means living simply and celebrating what really matters: the people around us, the natural world, our experience of stillness.

We are the Light of the world and our role is to touch the world with that Light.

…and sound

At our Christmas meeting for worship on 20 December we listened to a beautiful recording ‘The mystery of Christmas’, narrated by Jane Levy. Thanks to our Friend, Jonathan Kempster, who produced this for churches around Berkhamsted. It can be enjoyed here:

 

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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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Difficult questions in a time of change

Shrubs in flower

A beautiful image from our Quaker Meeting House garden.

During a pandemic with no end in sight, and as the effects of climate change continue, it’s not an easy time in our lives.

Yet even as we ’stay at home’ or ’stay alert’, there’s important work we can do.

We, as a Meeting, have already decided to confront the challenge of climate change.

We seek clean energy, clean air, clean water, in a safe habitat for humans and wildlife alike.

Far-reaching changes in energy generation, green space, transportation, housing, food distribution, even jobs, education, and health care will be necessary to achieve the goal.

 

Quaker Advices and Queries 34:

‘Remember your responsibilities as a citizen for the conduct of local, national, and international affairs.

Do not shrink from the time and effort your involvement may demand.’

Do we, as a Meeting and as individuals, have the resolve, and the caring, to work among ourselves and with officials and residents of Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum Borough to rise to meet the challenge of climate change together?

During our recent online meeting for worship,  we shared feelings about climate change and our responses to this question.

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News from the Garden

Spring has sprung. Enjoy these lovely photos taken by Roger.

 

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Coronavirus and Meeting for Worship: Update

We have decided to suspend Meeting for Worship for the foreseeable future in the light of the government’s advice about avoiding all non-essential contact, especially for those in vulnerable groups, which includes all aged over 70.

This evening we have received a message from Friends House that this is their advice too.  Here is part of what they said:

We advise meetings not to gather in person while the current social distancing guidance is in force.  Current guidance is that everyone should avoid all large gatherings and any gatherings in smaller places (such as cinemas, restaurants, pubs).  Government statements have made clear that religious gatherings are included in this category.  Many faiths and denominations have announced they will cease public acts of worship.”

They note that meetings will need to think about how they maintain their community when they are not meeting face to face, and how important it is to stay in touch by other means, e.g. over the phone.  We will certainly be trying to maintain contact with everyone by phone and email.

We will also be looking at possibilities for using IT to create “virtual” meetings for those who would like to try this.  Friends House has some information on this and is actively working on how they can support meetings.  Some Friends might like to set aside time for silent reflection at home, especially on a Sunday morning, knowing that some other Friends will be doing the same and will be with them in spirit.

How long it will be before we can restart Meeting for Worship, we don’t know.  But even if we are not able to meet on a Sunday, let us continue to support each other in spirit and in practical ways until the situation improves.

Wishing you all good health,

In Friendship,

Kathy

Kathy Lazenbatt

Clerk, Hemel Hempstead Local Quaker Meeting

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People Not Borders – a local charity for refugee support

I am me picture book - quilted heart and wordsFront cover of Sue Hampton’s ‘I Am Me’, a picture book sold to support young refugees, illustrated by Hemel Hempstead artist, Paula Watkins.Our charity for May and June will be People Not Borders, one of whose Trustees, Sue Hampton of Berkhamsted Quaker meeting, will address the meeting briefly on 19th May to inform us about the charity’s work. Find out more about the latest appeals for support for refugees. https://www.peoplenotborders.org/appeals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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