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Sustainability - Facing the Future

Facing the Future

Friends can make a difference

Sustainability is living so that others can follow

This weekend was held at the

Quaker Settlement, Whanganui, 16 - 18 March 2012

This was a weekend of sharing, inspiration,
discussion and planning.
Speakers, workshops, worship.
Shared nationwide through video-conferencing



Jeanette Fitzsimons
Recent Co-leader of the Green Party


Bill Rosenberg
Economist and Director of Policy,
Council of Trade Unions


John Peet
Sustainable Aotearoa/NZ
Retired Lecturer in Chemical and Process
Engineering, University of Canterbury



Epistle from the Seminar


“Testimonies reflect the corporate beliefs of the Society, however much individual Quakers may interpret them differently.  They are not optional extras, but fruits that grow from the very tree of faith.” by Harvey Gillman.  This was one of the readings from ‘Quaker Faith and Practice’ with which our weekend began.

35 friends gathered at Whanganui Settlement to discuss Quaker responses to sustainability.  We had three guest speakers, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Bill Rosenberg and John Peet.  Jeanette alerted us to the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, using the image of a car racing towards a cliff while the passengers dispute whether to proceed in fifth or fourth gear.  Bill Rosenberg described current economic inequality and the relative decline in incomes of wage and salary earners with respect to overall incomes.  John Peet spoke about the steady state economy being based on values which are at odds with those of neo-classical economics.  The present ‘business as usual’ model is unsustainable.  The concept of sustainability that he and Katherine live by is “All people have their basic needs satisfied so that they can live with dignity in a healthy community with minimal adverse effects on the natural environment, now and in the future.”

We ran workshops on the economy, Coal Action, and community initiatives, in order to find where communal Quaker effort would be most effective.  At times we felt overwhelmed by the enormity of what is to be done.  But several promising ideas are being held for further development.  On Sunday morning Jeanette gave us advice, and opportunities through role plays, on ‘speaking Truth to power’ in our daily lives.  For example being questioned about sustainability at a dinner party.  We gained confidence while having fun.

Jimmy Green was the only Young Friend present.  He delivered a passionate presentation on the Generation Zero movement.  This is a movement of young people who will be the first generation to live through the serious impact of climate change.  “We will deal with it; we have no choice.” he said.

The experiment in video-conferencing had to be cancelled due to broadband limitations in Whanganui.  This situation will soon improve.  We were able to enjoy a presentation from Robert Howell in Canberra.

The Futures Committee, who organized the weekend, is heartened by the energy and commitment of this group of Friends. 

Resources: Exploring these resources below will enable you to see what was covered by this weekend

Organisation Papers (downloadable)
Invitation to Contribute,
Particpation in Video Conferencing,
Seminar Program,
Organising Committee

Quaker Papers
Beacons of Hope,
The Sustainability Challenge,
Sustainability Security Briefing,
Building Sustainability Briefing,
Sustainability Toolkit,
Llyn Richards - Topics,
Biochar handout - Llyn Richards,
Australian Quaker submission to Government

Regional Quaker papers: European links, UK links, US links

NZ Resources
Keep Coal in the Hole - Fitzsimons,
Coal Action Backgrounder,
Strong Sustainability for NZ - SANZ,
NZ Sustainability Links

Scenarios, Solutions
The Principles of Sustainability - Simon Dresner,
The Great Disruption - Paul Gilding,
Here on Earth - Tim Flannery,
Fleeing Vesusius (NZ Edition),
The Mondragon Corporation

Herman Daly,
Tim Jackson,
Challenge of Sustainability in the Financial Sector - Howell (downloadable)
Steady State Economy - comments

UN Programs
The UN Sustainability Story - Southon,
UN Sources

Business Initiatives
Business Initiatives

Registration Form: You can download the Registration Form, and further information.

Jeanette Fitzsimons Outline.doc34 KB
Bill Rosenberg Outline.doc57.5 KB
John Peet Outline.doc35 KB
Sustainability-Toolkit-Nov-11_0.pdf5.33 MB
Challenge of Sustainability for the Financial Sector - Howell.doc131.5 KB
Sustainability Action Links.doc30 KB
Organising Committee.doc33.5 KB
Fitzsimons - Keep coal in the hole.pdf670.61 KB
Coal Action Backgrounder.doc62.5 KB
2_Susy_action_links.doc29.5 KB
3_EU.doc22 KB
4_UK.doc29 KB
5_US.doc26 KB
6_Gilding.doc26.5 KB
7_Flannery.doc27.5 KB
8_Vesuvius.doc27.5 KB
9_1_Jackson_Social_Transformations.pdf205.22 KB
9_Jackson.doc32.5 KB
10_Daly.doc36 KB
11_Source_UN.doc28.5 KB
12_Mondragon.doc28.5 KB
13_Business.doc27 KB
14_Steady_State_Economy.doc26 KB
Biochar handout - Lyn Richards.doc114 KB
Quaker Futures Weekend - 4 Mar.doc32.5 KB
Asian Century Submission 2012.doc81.5 KB