The Friends Committee on Unity with Nature Center

The FCUN Center at this year’s Gathering drew many Friends for reading, video viewing, meetings, and informal discussions of current ecological issues. A new display this year was on the Earth Charter’s 16 principles for a sustainable future, which FCUN endorsed last year at its annual meeting. Other displays included FCUN’s witness on population concerns, FCUN’s sustainable agriculture project in Costa Rica, and guidelines for starting a local Unity with Nature group.

The center also became a focal point of discussion during the controversy over the university’s initial use of paper plates and plastic utensils in the dining room. (The food service explained that it was short-handed during the summer.) That so many Gathering participants were aroused to resist this needless waste of nonrenewable resources was very heartening—something that might have gone unnoticed in years past. With FCUN support, Friends were able to persuade university food service management to switch quickly to reusables for the rest of the Gathering.

Because of the center’s limited space this year, most of the FCUN-sponsored special interest groups were held in other university facilities. There were lessons on how to be effective in contacting government and corporate decision-makers on ecological issues. There were lively discussions on the ecological implications of the New Cosmology and of current population trends. There was a large entourage for the annual FCUN-sponsored tree-identification walk through the university’s arboretum. Others filled classrooms to hear inspiring lectures about technological breakthroughs in the efficient use of energy and how to transform our ecological concerns into action. The large attendance at most of these presentations showed that FCUN’s Earthcare witness continues to broaden and deepen as a concern among Friends.

—Louis Cox