BYM PSCC Networking Day

BYM PSCC Networking Day  9/11/2010

Present: Bill Mims, Mel Snyder (Langley Hill), John Ferrell, Sam Stayton, Donelda Stayton, Polly Scott (Patapsco), Betsy Meyer, Myra Wolcott, Roger Wolcott, John Salzberg (Sandy Spring), Margaret Stambaugh (Gettysburg), Alexander Barnes (Adelphi), Cynthia (Cy) Merriwether-deVries (State College), Michael Conklin, Anna Melton, Joe Izzo, Debby Churchman, Patty Murphy, Malachy Kilbride (FMW), Rich Thayer, Maria Brown (Stony Run), Phil Favero, Pat Schenck, Kit Hanley (Annapolis), Jim Wagner (Frederick), Brad Ogilvie (William Penn House).

Special gratitude to the hospitality of Sandy Spring Friends Meeting

Meeting convened in silence at 10:15AM after an hour of fellowship, bagels and coffee.

Speaker Nathan Harrington spoke about his journey into public education and developing an intentional community in southeast DC. 

Nathan told us his story, which is a fascinating account of a young man willing to witness his truths in his life, even when it is difficult, or uncomfortable.  He began with a description of a visit to a hospital ER, where after hours, he was not treated at all, and left to seek care elsewhere.  He said he “battled with the American health care system, and lost.”

This led to an examination of the disparities between the two sides in the Washington, DC area:  Those who are white and affluent, and those who are black and poor.

After finishing university, Nathan returned to the DC area to try to find a teaching job.  The only one he could find was in a DC school, where he quickly found that he was not qualified.  His lack of understanding of inner city black culture made so difficult for him to relate to his students, that he simply could not continue as a teacher there.  He learned, for example, that respect has to be earned there—it is not granted with a job title.

This led to several more teaching jobs in the P.G. county area.  He became a student of the trends in urban education.  He identified them as:

  • A focus on remedying the “achievement gap
  • A focus on standardized tests
  • Authoritarian, top down management
  • A tendency to blame the problems on teachers, and unions.

Nathan talked at length of what he learned in his several years of teaching in difficult situations, and how it led him to appreciate the Dorothy Day statement regarding comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.  It led him to eventually purchase a house in Congress Heights, a formerly all white, and now all black neighborhood, east of the Anacostia River.  His purpose in doing this was to intentially “re-integrate” this neighborhood.  He is intentially getting to know his neighbors, by reaching out to them, giving them food from his garden, and being present in the neighborhood.  He is disturbed by the disconnect he sees between his housemates (mostly white) and the other residents of the neighborhood.

Monthly Meeting Reports

Adelphi – evaluates requests for funding; is involved with PG County Peace and Justice coalition.

Annapolis – Involved in running the Peace and Justice Center, including two projects:

  • Short-term: raised funds and facilitated bringing Israel/Palestinian groups together around water rights.
  • Long-term: create AVP/Annapolis.  To date, 80 people have been involved in trainings.
  • Kit Hanley has been involved in AVP work in prisons.
  • Holding a “Day of Peace Vigil” on 9/21/10, 6:30-9PM

Frederick – “All over the map”; looking at things from the perspective that the current system within which we live is “unsustainable”.  Participated in “Sustainability: Awakening the Dream”, focusing on environmental sustainability.  A Friend from Sandy Spring MM mentioned that H-Res 1553, a bill currently in congress, would give Israel the ok to use force against Iraq, and Rep. Bartlett (who represents Frederick) has co-signed the bill.  Frederick attender Kathy Ruud has also been actively involved in developing both writing and workshops around the “polarization of language”.

Friends Meeting of Washington –

  • There will be a Peace and Social Justice concert November 5, 7PM, consisting of 2 folk duos.
  • Karen Grisez had passed on information about the program “Right Sharing of World Resources”, which led to discussion about the importance of this program in providing opportunities for women in poor regions of the world to start businesses.
  • Copies of the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is sponsored by the Network of Spiritual Progressives / TIKKUN, are available from Joe Izzo (of Friends Meeting of Washington) at jizzo@wwc.org or (202) 425-0496. This amendment was developed by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gable through two conferences of the N.S.P., to block the influence of corporations in the political process after the Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Citizens United, which allows corporations to spend as much money as they wish in the political / electoral process. Please ask your Senators and Representatives to support this Amendment

Gettysburg – calls itself the “Peace and Social Action” committee.  Among the activities:

  • Sending letters to Obama
  • Every 3rd Saturday participating in a prayer vigil at the Gettysburg Center
  • Participated in and supported the Peace Camp in June
  • Participated in letter and pledge campaigns against the development of casinos in Gettysburg
  • Members also went to the Joan Baez concert

Homewood/Stony Run – experimenting with working together as a joint “peace/social order” committee, including developing a name for the committee.  For the immediate future, the committee is looking holistically the extent they want to and can function as:

  • A nurturing source for individuals to follow their leadings in peace/social order
  • A source for education and as a conscience for the Monthly Meetings
  • A body that can take collective action
  • A support and coordinator/collaborator of similar efforts

Langley Hill – committee is referred to as the “Peace and International Outreach Committee.  Activities include:

  • Friend Mel Snyder participated in the recent Triennial gathering in Kenya
  • Co-sponsor of the Peace Award Scholarships given to local high school students
  • Co-sponsor of the weekly prayer vigil at the US Capitol Building (NOTE: volunteers are needed for this)
  • Active involvement with Council on American/Islamic Relations (www.cair.org), developing a deeper understanding of The Quran.

Patapsco –

  • Developed a Mental Health ministry to support the local mental health hospital (i.e. a shoe drive for patients, while also organizing a community education/awareness/public policy event for the community, held Sept. 12.  It was mentioned that Maryland is one of 8 states in the country that does not have “post-hospitalization counseling” programs. An original skit about the legacy of Quakers and Mental Health will be performed. A recommended website for more information about this issue: www.mindsontheedge.org,
  • Active in Prison Ministry in Hagerstown which has been a “powerful lesson in forgiveness”
  • Involved in foodbank collections
  • Active in “Citizens Against State Executions”

Sandy Spring –

  • Holds the Lee Stern Peace Awards at 12 schools.
  • Held an Israeli/Palestinian program on April 10, 2010, celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Ramallah Friends School.
  • On September 26 will host 2 speakers talking about the National Solidarity Movement
  • Submitted a letter to Obama denouncing the Israeli flotilla attack earlier this year.  This letter was adopted by Interim Meeting

State College –

  • Participating in Christmas bell-ringing held by the interfaith council.  This at times has come to be viewed as an “anti-Salvation Army” holiday bell-ringing, but is not intended as such.
  • Been participating in AVP programs in local prisons
  • State College has greater diversity than many Friends meetings.  It was mentioned that “diversity” is achieved when we live in partnership in community.

William Penn House

  • Holds Workcamps that create opportunities for participants to explore their own gifts in making a difference, and in seeing how so many of the issues of peace and justice are interconnected
  • Will continue to promote that all Meetings within BYM have a message encouraging all members to get tested for HIV as a witness that HIV effects all people
  • Brad Ogilvie will work with BYM central office to develop web-presence for the work of this committee

The committee will meet again at Interim Meeting, October 16, at Richmond Friends Meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 3:10 PM.

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