Sowing the Seeds for Corporate Climate Witness

Photo by

Fifteen members of our meeting community gathered last summer to notice what we love about the earth, share several things we each feel pleased about in our lives as we face environmental injustice and climate chaos, then consider ways we might stretch to respond even more faithfully and powerfully.

Those who came are already doing a wide span of activities—from recycling; to moving our households away from fossil-fuel reliance; to greening our investments; to participating with others in community projects; to lobbying our elected officials; to support of and leadership in Earth Quaker Action Team, a nonviolent climate justice group.

When one person lamented the seeming insignificance of the recycling she was doing, and blurted out a wish to “plant a forest in the ghetto,” we were on to the stretches. What might we do if we had more resources, more support, more courage? These responses, too, varied widely—from remembering to notice the wonders of the world around us; to being more open about our beliefs and values with our families; to transforming our burial ground into a community garden and arboretum; to greening our Quaker retirement communities and our meeting’s investments; to gathering support to pass statewide energy legislation.

As we moved toward closing, we noticed a shared energy around increasing city tree cover and moving our investments, with several people excited about working together in these areas. Individual “stretch” projects that had been named could now be supported by others more intentionally as well. I followed up in the next few days, with notes from our conversation to everybody, invitations to a few to lead the tree and investment clusters, and encouragement for all our efforts.

Reflection on our time together brought two new insights. First, the diversity of our situations, conditions, and interests made it clear that the possibility of one focused meeting-wide response to environmental justice and climate issues was unlikely. We were so scattered! And yet diversity is a quality we value in many parts of our lives; after all, homogeneity and monoculture are not our goals. Second, while having knowledge about climate science—or necessary public policy changes, or the critical features of a sustainable world—can be helpful, that knowledge in itself does not move us forward. Nor does sharing a common concern create change. That knowledge and concern have to be embodied.

This is the promise of opportunities like the one we had in that community climate conversation: to learn about, rejoice in, and claim each person’s contribution and efforts, each person’s joys and dreams. In a community that is actively reaching for corporate integrity, each seed falls on fertile ground, each new act that grows in that ground is valued and supported. With this recognition—this simple but profound naming—nothing is insignificant. Each impulse, each small step, each new connection can be joined to others, building into a corporate witness that grows steadily in Spirit-filled power and life.

Pamela Haines

Pamela Haines, a member of Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Meeting, has published widely on peacebuilding skills, faith, and economics. Her most recent books are The Promise of Right Relationship and Tending the Web: Poems of Connection. She is passionate about parenting, the earth, quilting, and repair of all kinds. Website:

1 thought on “Sowing the Seeds for Corporate Climate Witness

  1. Love creative thinking of planting a forest in a ghetto. Might be cheaper and easier for some to also plant trees in field, particularly one originally created by cutting down and removing trees. No need to panic yet, as the central bankers could simply raise interest rates to slow our global economy and emissions if current plans and investments fall short of needed goals, or we miscalculated.

    Investing in passive solar heating, plus a heat pump water heater for backup home heating, would cut significant fossil energy heating costs for the typical home in northern and middle states. Heat pumps for heat and AC in any state is far more energy efficient than standard heat or AC. Every little bit helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.