CO2 Pipeline Safety Meeting

A public meeting about carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline safety will be held in Des Moines on May 31st and June 1st. Register Here… to attend in person or remotely.

Although carbon capture and storage is a false solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is tremendous pressure from many sources to build these systems so companies can claim they are meeting requirements to reduce emissions.

This is a significant problem because the Biden administration is pushing carbon capture technology. As one example, the Biden-Harris Administration launched $2.6 billion funding programs to slash carbon emissions by advancing carbon capture demonstration projects and expanding regional pipeline networks to transport CO2 for permanent geologic storage or for conversion into valued end uses. The two programs are the Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program and the Carbon Dioxide Transport/Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) Program, which are funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Pipeline Safety

New carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline safety measures were announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on May 26, 2022[1]. PHMSA aims to strengthen its safety oversight of CO2 pipelines across the country and protect communities from dangerous pipeline failure.

Carbon pipeline ruptures or leaks can pose serious risks, as an explosive plume of CO2 gas can emerge, leading to asphyxiation of living beings and preventing combustion vehicles from starting to enable escape[4]. The world’s first CO2 pipeline explosion in Satartia, Mississippi, serves as a harrowing reminder of the potential dangers associated with carbon pipelines.


One topic will be dispersion modeling of carbon dioxide from a pipeline rupture.

Modelling of accidental releases from a high pressure CO2 pipelines by Menso Molaga, Corina Damb, 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license

Meeting Information

Meeting Information
StartsMay 31, 2023 at 8:00 AM CT
EndsJun  1, 2023 at 5:00 PM CT
LocationDes Moines Marriott Downtown in Des Moines, Iowa.
Virtual InformationTo be announced
On-Line RegistrationRegister Here…
Purpose & SummaryThe purpose of the two-day CO2 Public Meeting is to inform rulemaking decisions, by discussing key topics such as public awareness, emergency response and effective communication with emergency responders and the public, dispersion modeling, safety measures to address other constituents besides CO2 in CO2 Pipelines, leak detection and reporting, and Geohazards. The CO2 meeting will be webcast for those who cannot attend in person.


This public public meeting and forum on carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline safety is entitled: “CO2 Public Meeting 2023.” The public meeting will serve as an opportunity for pipeline stakeholders to help inform pipeline safety-related rulemaking decisions and share information surrounding CO2 pipeline safety. Key stakeholders include the public, states, tribal governments, other federal agencies, industry, and international regulators and/or organizations. Key topics are expected to include:

  • Safety expectations for pipeline operators.
  • General state of CO2 pipeline infrastructure – current mileage and forecasts.
  • Federal and state jurisdictions and authorities.
  • Public awareness, engagement, and emergency notification.
  • Emergency equipment, training, and response.
  • Dispersion modeling.
  • Safety measures to address other constituents besides CO2 in CO2 pipelines.
  • Leak detection and reporting.
  • Geohazards.
  • Conversion to service.
  • Environmental justice.

Anticipated speakers/participants are expected to include:

  • Public advocacy groups.
  • Pipeline operators.
  • Federal regulators.
  • Tribal governments.
  • States through the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR).
  • Other U.S. government agencies.
  • International governments or other international organizations.
  • Others from academia, emergency response community and industry.

DATES: The CO2 Public Meeting 2023 will be held on May 31–June 1, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (CT). Anyone who would like to attend the public meeting must register by May 12, 2023. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other aids, are asked to notify PHMSA no later than May 12, 2023.

ADDRESSES: This public meeting and forum will be held in person and via webcast. The agenda and instructions on how to attend will be published once they are finalized on the following public meeting registration page:

PRESENTATIONS: Presentations will be available on the meeting website and on the E-gov website,, at docket number PHMSA-2023-0013, no later than 30 days following the meeting.SUBMITTING COMMENTS:
You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. PHMSA-2023-0013, by any of the following methods:

  • E-Gov Web: This site allows the public to enter comments on any Federal Register notice issued by any agency. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Docket Management System: U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, D.C. 20590–0001.
  • Hand Delivery: DOT Docket Management System: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

Fax: 202-493-2251. The Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation will not issue confirmation notices for faxed comments.

  • Instructions: Identify Docket No. PHMSA-2023-0013 at the beginning of your comments. If you submit your comments by mail, please submit two copies. If you wish to receive confirmation that PHMSA received your comments, you must include a self-addressed stamped postcard. Internet users may submit comments at:
  • Note: All comments received are posted without edits to, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
  • Confidential Business Information: Confidential Business Information (CBI) is commercial or financial information that is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner. Under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), CBI is exempt from public disclosure. If your comments in response to this notice contain commercial or financial information that is customarily treated as private, that you actually treat as private, and is relevant or responsive to this notice, it is important that you clearly designate the submitted comments as CBI. Pursuant to 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 190.343, you may ask PHMSA to provide confidential treatment to information you give the agency by taking the following steps: (1) mark each page of the original document submission containing CBI as “Confidential;” (2) send PHMSA a copy of the original document with the CBI deleted along with the original, unaltered document; and (3) explain why the information you are submitting is CBI. Submissions containing CBI should be sent to Max Kieba, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, DOT: PHMSA – PHP-40, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. Any commentary PHMSA receives that is not specifically designated as CBI will be placed in the public docket.
  • Privacy Act: DOT may solicit comments from the public regarding certain general notices. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at
  • Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to Follow the online instructions for accessing the dockets. Alternatively, you may review the documents in person at the street address listed above.


Max Kieba, Director, Program Development, by phone at 202-420-9169 or via e-mail at max.kieba @

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:The mission of PHMSA is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy products and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. This meeting is a follow-up to PHMSA’s May 2022 press release announcing new safety measures to protect Americans from carbon dioxide pipeline failures after the Satartia, Mississippi, incident (, and the December 2022 public meeting that discussed several topics, including some aspects of calculating potential impact radii for CO2 pipeline releases. PHMSA also received a letter from the Pipeline Safety Trust on February 17, 2023 (Docket No. PHMSA-2022-0125), formally requesting that PHMSA hold a public meeting on CO2 pipeline safety and the announced rulemaking under RIN 2137-AF60.

Public Participation: The meeting and forum will be open to the public. Members of the public who wish to attend must register on the meeting website, including their names and organization affiliation. PHMSA is committed to providing all participants with equal access to these meetings. If you need disability accommodations, please contact Janice Morgan by e-mail at janice.morgan @

PHMSA is not always able to publish a notice in the Federal Register quickly enough to provide timely notification of last-minute changes that impact scheduled meetings. Therefore, individuals should check the meeting website listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice or contact Janice Morgan by phone at 202-815-4705 or via e-mail at janice.morgan @ regarding any possible changes.

PHMSA invites public participation and public comment on the topics addressed in this public meeting and forum. Please review the ADDRESSES section of this notice for information on how to submit written comments.

Agenda Summary: This CO2 Safety Public Meeting is to help inform pipeline safety-related rulemaking decisions and provide a venue for information exchange among key

stakeholders including the public, states, tribal governments, other federal agencies, industry, and international colleagues.

Mainstream and Margins

Are you part of the mainstream, or on the margins?

Reference is often made to marginalized groups or peoples. My friend Jed Walsh recently wrote, “I’m tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo, and hoping to find other places to practice faith and spirituality where I can feel more aligned with others.

I hadn’t thought of myself in terms of being on the margins until I read that. Quakers are usually on the margins of society, almost by default. But Jed brought into focus that he and I are on the margins of Quakerism today.

The Mainstream and Margins exercise below might be helpful for those in the mainstream to learn about those of us on the margins and what our concerns are.

Thus mainstream/margin invites curiosity and flexibility, asking the question what is going on in this group now. Organizers then make thoughtful choices about when a mainstream needs assistance in recognizing and re-negotiating its relationship with one of its margins.

One of the great things about Mutual Aid is the intense focus on preventing hierarchies, with the intent to prevent anyone from being marginalized.

The following describes the Mainstream and Margins exercise.

The goals of the exercise are:

  • To assist participants to identify with both marginal and mainstream roles that they play in society.
  • To boost awareness of the oppressive characteristics of the mainstream role.
  • To gain hope through identifying how they can support social change while in a mainstream role.
  • To practice the skills of an ally.

Activist and nonviolence trainer Daniel Hunter has come up with a helpful exercise called Mainstream and Margins. This is great for activist groups because it doesn’t rely on jargon or overly complicated theories, so it can be used in groups with a diversity of viewpoints or education levels. It also overcomes the mistake of presenting relatively static identity characteristics like age, gender, or religion as though they automatically explain group dynamics. Note, though, that the exercise is challenging and so is best done with a skilled facilitator.

No matter how homogeneous a group or an organization believes itself to be, a careful look shows that some characteristics are marginalized. A group known for vigorous and noisy debates has some quiet members. An organization which believes itself to be bureaucratically efficient has a couple of members who would love to cut corners. A solemn and highly disciplined group includes a few who, out of sight, love to party. The mainstream of a group sets the tone, sets the communication style, and gets to have its own preferences accepted by the margins. Awareness of this dynamic creates choice points for organizers and facilitators who may or may not cooperate with the system. …

Rather than viewing oppression as static (i.e. this group is always oppressed), organizers and activists can be aware of the complexities of this unique group. E.g. while society oppresses women in the larger society, an activist group might have a mainstream of women who unintentionally marginalize non-women in the group. …

Thus mainstream/margin invites curiosity and flexibility, asking the question what is going on in this group now. Organizers then make thoughtful choices about when a mainstream needs assistance in recognizing and re-negotiating its relationship with one of its margins. The mainstream is not about numbers—but it is about who has their interest recognized. So, for example, even in a group where most of the group has chronic medical conditions, the norm might be: we don’t acknowledge our conditions. …

Instead of making value judgments about how oblivious the mainstream is, accept it as one accepts the law of gravity. Then go ahead and assist the margins to express themselves and assist the mainstream to hear them.

Instead of a checklist of diversity items to look for—e.g. race, class, gender, sexual orientation—you can look freshly at each group to see how is mainstream behavior playing out.

The exercise, then, is about what is normal and accepted within a group and what is marginalized. All groups will marginalize behaviours and ideas, and that can be beneficial (e.g. respect is mainstream, screaming at each other is marginalized) so long as it’s done with enough communication and space given to know what the margins are and to hear from them. For conversations about the mainstream and margins to go well, groups need to create conditions of enough safety and trust that people feel able and ready to speak up.

Being a Quaker, Being an Activist by Canadian Friends Service Committee, 2023

“Mainstream and Margin,” Training for Change,

Daniel Hunter, “Mainstream/Margin in Groups: A Practical Approach to AntiOppression Work,” Training for Change, 2009,

We invented this in response to trainers asking us: what do you do with a group that is genuinely clueless about its racism (sexism/homophobia/etc.)? We found it works with low-consciousness groups and has tremendous value for experienced activist groups, too.

Training for Change

Spiritual Transition

Writing these blog posts can be difficult. It can be hard to discern what to write. To listen to the silence is a spiritual practice. And I most often write about spiritual matters, which are difficult to put into words.

Then publish what is written on the Internet for anyone in the world to read. That was intimidating at first. But after a while, you find you don’t usually get much response, positive or negative.

Perhaps the most difficult is writing things likely to upset or hurt people you care about. But I try to discern/speak/write the truth as I understand it to the best of my ability.

Religious and faith groups that have existed for a long time have often done things and/or held beliefs that resulted in injustice. For example, there is the doctrine of a “just war.” Of the Christian Crusades. Or the Doctrine of Discovery (1452) that specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian territories and peoples.

These and many other injustices occurred because White Christians had significant political influence. And were involved in the theft of land from and subjugation of many Indigenous peoples. These injustices persist because White supremacy and oppression continue.

It is common to be most critical of those we look to be examples of our beliefs. I was raised in Quaker communities, where there is great emphasis on living our lives consistent with our beliefs. I’ve been led to see most White Quakers are failing to achieve that.

One way Quakers work for justice is to refuse to participate in organizations that are involved in unjust work. That sometimes involves boycotting products or services from such companies. Or refusing to invest in or work for such organizations.

It is much more difficult to divorce oneself from systems of injustice we live in. For example, it is difficult to live without a car in today’s sprawling cities and towns, or in rural areas. These assaults on Mother Earth are environmental injustice. I refused to have a car because of this. That began in 1970. Yet, in all the time since, I was unable to convince other Quakers to give up their cars. This was a source of ongoing tension with Quakers. It is haunting to know that if our society had embraced mass transit systems instead of the car culture, we would not be dealing with environmental devastation that will only worsen, probably to the point of extinction.

For over three years I’ve been part of a Mutual Aid community, where I’ve been learning more about these injustices, and an alternative to White supremacy and capitalism. I’ve been sharing what I’ve been learning with my Quaker communities, but similar to the car situation, I’m making little progress in convincing Quakers to embrace Mutual Aid. (See: Quakers and Mutual Aid)

Spending time in marginalized communities has given me different perspectives on White supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism. I am now struggling because these new perspectives convince me those systems of oppression must be abolished.

When working for change, the choices are:

  • Incremental changes to existing systems, or
  • Replacing unjust systems

Incremental changes to unjust systems perpetuate the injustices.

But replacing unjust systems takes time. The concept of Dual Power refers to transitioning from an unjust system to a just one. My Mutual Aid community is building just alternatives to capitalism.

I just wrote Social and Economic Justice which was critical of Quakers today. “The capitalist economic system only works if you have money. It’s so frustrating to me that I can’t make my White friends, Quaker friends see how incredibly unjust this is. They don’t see a problem with capitalism because they have a source of income.”

I call capitalism Economic Slavery.

As mentioned, Quakers have a practice of refusing to be associated with unjust organizations and systems. So what do I do when Quakers are part of the unjust systems of capitalism and White supremacy?

Spending time in marginalized communities shows me the depth of the consequences of White supremacy and capitalism. Seeing the families coming to our Mutual Aid food giveaway is heartbreaking. Making me viscerally aware of the failure of capitalism and the need for Mutual Aid.

My friend Jed Walsh recently shared this with me:

For me, there’s a lot of grief around thinking about moving away from Quakerism, as Quakers have really significantly shaped the person I try to be and the ways I want to be part of social movements. But my fear/pessimism right now has been telling me for some time that Quakers as a whole can’t let go of our collective attachments to white supremacy and capitalism. I’m tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo, and hoping to find other places to practice faith and spirituality where I can feel more aligned with others.

Jed Walsh

I, too, am tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo. I’m exhausted from fifty years of work against environmental devastation, which included Quakers and their cars.

From my years in oppressed communities, I understand how people in these communities view White people. I know they see no distinction between White Quakers and other White people. I feel the unspoken questions of my Mutual Aid friends. Wondering, now that I’ve seen the injustices of capitalism and White supremacy, am I going to do anything more than help give away food? Because Mutual Aid is about abolishing unjust systems and replacing them by building Beloved communities.

I have talked with some Mutual Aid friends about Quakers and spirituality. I plan to continue to look for opportunities to explore spirituality with them.

There is an urgency to make changes now because White supremacy and capitalism continue their oppression today.

I am in a spiritual dual power mode (defined above), remaining with Friends until I might be led to a different spiritual community. I hope, instead, Quakers might seek how we can replace systems of capitalism and White superiority.

And I’ve been exploring what Spiritual Mutual Aid might look like.

Seeking a People

I used to call myself a Quaker. I never joined a meeting, and honestly, I had suspicions from the beginning that it just wasn’t going to work. But I was desperate for people, and I really wanted the Quakerism I’d read about.

I couldn’t find it, though, and now I’m not sure it exists.

In the meantime, I’ve been talking, and writing, and a number of Friends say my critical observations about Quaker institutions and culture are illegitimate, either because of my lack of membership or because of my newness. I don’t have a right to point out classism and white supremacy, they say.

It’s been hard finding my place and voice in the Religious Society of Friends. And honestly, I’ve given up. I don’t see the point.

When I read what early Friends wrote, I’m drawn to their vision. Friends lived out of step with the world. Their yielding to Christ demanded deep listening, joy in suffering for the truth, abandonment to the movement of Love. They declared the end of days and rejected the idolatry of nationalism. They were living into a new Society of Friends.

George Fox wrote about the Kingdom of God breaking into this world – and it came from within – this was the gospel I knew, the gospel I needed. Quakers were holy fools, apocalyptic evangelists, soldiers of prophecy. They were about liberation and creating the age-to-come. That was the Spirit I knew. This was the church I longed for.

Then I found Quakers. They weren’t exactly what I’d read about, and it was kind of confusing. But I decided to stick around for a while. After all, maybe God could use existing Quaker institutions to renew the Society of Friends. I believed and hoped that some of these institutions might lead Friends of all branches into convergence, and then that the Spirit might dissolve our dependence on institutions. I thought that as we yielded to the Spirit, she would return us to that apostolic and anarchic ecclesiology of early Friends.

What I’ve found, instead, is that Friends have converged on a shared history and a handful of practices.

But if the Society of Friends is to ever again carry the anointing of early Quakers, if it is to ever embody the vision of Margaret Fell, going “hand in hand in the unity and fellowship of this eternal Spirit,” it must do more than embrace a convoluted historical connection and some shared practices.

If we are converging on history and practice, we are missing the point. If we are depending on institutions to create a new society or usher in the Kingdom, then we are deceived. These will not bring the radically egalitarian and Spirit-filled communities that God fostered among early Friends. These are forms, and Friends must follow the Spirit.

I’ve met others who need a Spirit-led Society. We share this vision, and we share the disappointment of being drowned out in meeting by classism, ageism, and racism. Some of us wonder if Quakerism isn’t all that different from the rest of liberal religion. From what we’ve seen, it isn’t apocalyptic. It isn’t radical. It doesn’t sound like Fox or look like Jesus. It works at incremental transformation while simultaneously shushing those who need the system overthrown.

I’ve moved on.

But even as I’ve stopped attending meeting – even as institutional Quakerism has, for the most part, become irrelevant to me – I cannot deny that I am a Friend. Quaker conceptions of Christ’s gospel have led me closer to Jesus and it’s integral to what I believe and how I live. At the end of the day, though, if tables aren’t being turned, if people aren’t being healed and set free, if the prophets aren’t marching naked, I’ll have to follow Jesus elsewhere.

I hear early Friend Sarah Blackborow’s words ringing in my heart: “Christ is trying to make a dwelling place within you but he is left rejected and homeless.”

Jesus is still seeking his people, people who see the Spirit of God in the suffering and offer refuge. I’m seeking those people, too.

Social and Economic Justice

Quaker meetings often include the practice of using a series of questions (queries) to guide the discussion of spiritual beliefs and practices. Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) has twelve sets of queries, so usually, one set of queries is considered each month of the year.

This month my Quaker meeting will be considering the queries on social and economic justice.

These past three years of involvement with Des Moines Mutual Aid have brought into focus my lifelong concerns about our capitalist economic system. Being on the front lines each weekend, distributing food donated to our food giveaway, I see cars of adults and children who don’t have enough money for food.

The capitalist economic system only works if you have money. It’s so frustrating to me that I can’t make my White friends, Quaker friends see how incredibly unjust this is. They don’t see a problem with capitalism because they have a source of income.

I call capitalism a form of economic slavery. I use that term hoping it might cause some people to stop and think about racial enslavement. Economic slavery can have almost as much of a devastating impact on people as racial slavery did.

My F/friend Jed Walsh recently eloquently expressed what I’ve been feeling about Quakers, White supremacy, and capitalism. I share his grief around thinking about moving away from Quakerism.

For me, there’s a lot of grief around thinking about moving away from Quakerism, as Quakers have really significantly shaped the person I try to be and the ways I want to be part of social movements. But my fear/pessimism right now has been telling me for some time that Quakers as a whole can’t let go of our collective attachments to white supremacy and capitalism. I’m tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo, and hoping to find other places to practice faith and spirituality where I can feel more aligned with others.

Jed Walsh

Mutual Aid is a moral alternative to capitalism and White supremacy.

I’m tired of being in the margins of a Quakerism that’s clinging to the status quo

Jed Walsh


“For when I was hungry you gave me food, when thirsty you gave me drink, when I was a stranger you took me into your home, when naked you clothed me, when in prison you visited me.”     Matthew 25:35‑36   


We are part of an economic system characterized by inequality and exploitation. Such a society is defended and perpetuated by entrenched power. 

Friends can help relieve social and economic oppression and injustice by first seeking spiritual guidance in our own lives. We envision a system of social and economic justice that ensures the right of every individual to be loved and cared for; to receive a sound education; to find useful employment; to receive appropriate health care; to secure adequate housing; to obtain redress through the legal system; and to live and die in dignity. Friends maintain historic concern for the fair and humane treatment of persons in penal and mental institutions. 

Wide disparities in economic and social conditions exist among groups in our society and among nations of the world. While most of us are able to be responsible for our own economic circumstances, we must not overlook the effects of unequal opportunities among people. Friends’ belief in the Divine within everyone leads us to support institutions which meet human needs and to seek to change institutions which fail to meet human needs. We strengthen community when we work with others to help promote justice for all. 


  • How are we beneficiaries of inequity and exploitation? How are we victims of inequity and exploitation? In what ways can we address these problems?  
  • What can we do to improve the conditions in our correctional institutions and to address the mental and social problems of those confined there?  
  • How can we improve our understanding of those who are driven to violence by subjection to racial, economic or political injustice? In what ways do we oppose prejudice and injustice based on gender, sexual orientation, class, race, age, and physical, mental and emotional conditions? How would individuals benefit from a society that values everyone? How would society benefit? 

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) Faith and Practice

The advice says “We are part of an economic system characterized by inequality and exploitation. Such a society is defended and perpetuated by entrenched power.” And yet few Friends talk about, or do anything about living in and benefiting from such injustice.

I’ve had many conversations with my Indigenous friends about Quakers, colonialism, White supremacy, and capitalism.

“I don’t know what you can do. The church is the church’s past, which is its future. It continues to see my people as obstacles in its endless conquest.
To be blunt, there is too much damage that the church profits from and needs to protect to have any future there.
I wish you the best. I imagine it’s a hard struggle.”

This River has Rights

Walk for River Rights

Event by Native American Coalition of the Quad CitiesRiver Action Quad Cities and 8 others

May 13, 2023 AT 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Schwiebert Riverfront Park

On Saturday, May 13th, the Walk for River Rights begins at Schwiebert Park (101 17th St, Rock Island, IL 61201) at 11:30AM and closes at 12:30PM at the Figge Entrance Plaza (225 W 2nd St, Davenport, IA 52801). There is a map of the walk on the discussion page.

***There will be a bus that can drive folks back to their cars after we are done the walk.***

Join leading BIPOC organizers who have converged in the Quad Cities to begin working towards reclaiming Rights of Nature for the Mississippi River. We will walk across the Centennial Bridge in solidarity as one River community advocating for the Rights of the Mississippi River, from the headwaters to the Gulf, and for the rights of all communities whose lives are supported by the waters. All are welcomed and encouraged to attend! A brief introduction and explanation of our convergence will begin at 11:30AM at Schwiebert Park.

The Walk for River Rights is part of The Mississippi River Summit (May 11th-14th, 2023, Quad Cities, IA-IL), a summit centering and advancing the leadership of 40 organizers of historically racially marginalized communities working to protect water, natural places, and sacred spaces. The goal is to build a BIPOC-led coalition from the Mississippi Headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, and eventually claim the rights of nature for the entire river system and develop an organized frontline group working to protect the Mississippi watershed and all living beings that rely on it as their home.

Organized by Great Plains Action Society. For questions

*We have modified the route to accommodate for the effects of flooding on downtown Davenport and will now end at the Figge plaza 

May 11-14, 2023 (Davenport, IA) The Mississippi River Summit is a BIPOC led event where folks from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico are converging to talk about the health of the river basin and all that rely on it and to work towards rights of nature for our river relative.

Why are we meeting in Iowa? The state of Iowa has the unique designation of being bordered by the Nation’s two largest rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri. However, water does not adhere to colonial borders and unfortunately, Iowa is the number one contributor to the ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico. Iowa is also the most biologically colonized state in the country because of Big-Ag, CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations), meatpacking plants, ethanol production, etc.


This beautiful art was made by Moselle Singh. Learn more about our Mississippi River Summit at

Spiritual Activism 2

Previously, in Spiritual Activism, I referred to an article from the Pachamama Alliance, part one of a three-part series, Spirit in Action. Following is a continuation of what Pat McCabe said during Part 1.

Pat talks about learning how to let go of what is thought of as “rational” and “logical”. It used to irritate me when people would suggest that scientists (like me) have trouble believing in spirituality, implying since things of the Spirit could not be proven by the scientific method, we might not believe in the Spirit. I have heard medical colleagues say the (scientific) complexities we work so hard to understand convince them there must be a higher power.

But as she says, “Spirit rationale is different from academic rationale.”

The Challenge of Embracing Spiritual Wisdom

Pat (McCabe) made it clear that listening to and being guided by spirit is challenging work that takes practice.

As Pat pointed out, spirit rationale is different from academic rationale, which is why it can be so difficult to know how to listen to spirit. She went on to describe her own personal journey of learning how to let go of what is typically thought of as “rational” and “logical,” and instead embrace the wisdom of spirit. She acknowledged that she didn’t learn to do so of her own accord. Rather, Pat learned how to do this through what she calls “forced surrender” during a time when she was experiencing loss in her life. Despite the difficulties she was experiencing, Pat continued to engage in ceremony, through which she was able to learn how to be in a state of receptivity and trust spirit to guide her.

Spirit in Action, Part One: A Conversation with Woman Stands Shining by the Pachamama Alliance, FEBRUARY 10, 2023

the consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for the planet is the same consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for people. And this consciousness is connected to the ways in which humanity has claimed supremacy over the planet and all life while placing everything—including each other—in a hierarchy

Reverend Deborah Johnson

Part two of the Spirit in Action series is a conversation with Reverend Deborah Johnson. I really appreciate her description of the root cause of injustice for the planet being the same consciousness that is the root of injustice for people. And that root cause is hierarchy, which comes from the concept of supremacy.

This is why I’m so invested in Mutual Aid because it is about having no hierarchy. Which avoids many of the problems that occur in groups organized with hierarchies. Problems related to power relationships and authority.

How Relationships Are at the Center of Spirit and Justice

Rev. D (Reverend Deborah Johnson) began the conversation by reframing Pachamama Alliance’s 3-part mission around environmental sustainability, spiritual fulfillment, and social justice. 

She reflected on how people often relate to the three parts of the mission as three “pillars,” but this actually reinforces a sense of separation between sustainability, spirit, and justice. As Rev. D put it, “pillars” by definition are separate and do not intersect. But she sees sustainability, spirit, and justice as innately interdependent, inseparable parts that can’t exist outside of their connection to the whole.

Rev. D went on to explain how the consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for the planet is the same consciousness that is the root cause of injustice for people. And this consciousness is connected to the ways in which humanity has claimed supremacy over the planet and all life while placing everything—including each other—in a hierarchy. 

Rev. D made it clear that relationships are at the center of spirit and at the center of justice, and that injustice for the planet and social injustice are the result of “poor relationships” rooted in these constructs of supremacy and hierarchy. 

Spirit in Action, Part Two: A Conversation on Spirit and Justice with Reverend Deborah Johnson by the Pachamama Alliance, MARCH 01, 2023

Rev. D then discusses why many people do not have spiritual fulfillment today.

She explained how many people relate to spiritual fulfillment as a “byproduct” that comes as a result of achieving justice and environmental sustainability. But, Rev. D is encouraging everyone to think the inverse, that starting with spiritual fulfillment is what leads to justice for people and for the environment. 

She went on to explain why many people today feel a lack of spiritual fulfillment. As Rev. D put it, people see widespread environmental degradation and social injustice, and wonder how they could have “any kind of spiritual fulfillment in a world like this.” She described this experience as people making their connection to spirit conditioned upon “what humanity is doing in its amnesia, in its lack of recognition of relationship.” 

Rev. D warned that obtaining spiritual fulfillment won’t be possible if it’s dependent on human behavior in this way. Instead, Rev. D asserted that starting with spiritual fulfillment and the belief in the inherent interconnectedness of all life—and putting that into action—is the pathway to achieving justice for people and the planet. 

Spirit in Action, Part Two: A Conversation on Spirit and Justice with Reverend Deborah Johnson by the Pachamama Alliance, MARCH 01, 2023

The third part of this series, Spirit in Action, is a video found here:

Wednesday’s recording of Resilience and Possibility is ready for you to review or share. It is the third–and final–in a series around spirit in action. Our discussion touched on the relationship between inner peace and activism, and how spiritual practice increases our capacity to bring clarity and love to our activism as we push back against injustice.

We used a recording of Rev. angel Kyodo Williams as inspiration to delve deeper into how we can use spirit to further our commitment to bring forth more justice and sustainability into the world. Enjoy! 

Spiritual Activism

Justice work has changed significantly for me.

  • I grew up in Quaker communities, which defined my justice work for much of my life.
  • Then a decade ago, I was led to work in communities outside Quaker meetings.
    • (NOTE: “To be led” is a way of expressing Spiritual leadings).
  • These experiences have taught me quite different approaches to justice work.
  • These new perspectives also show me many of us Quakers, particularly White Quakers, need to change how we think about and do justice work.

Spirituality and social justice are often viewed as separate entities, but they can be deeply intertwined. Spirituality refers to a person’s relationship with the divine or higher power, while social justice is concerned with ensuring that all individuals have equal access to basic human rights and opportunities. Individuals tend to fall along the spectrum between emphasis on spirituality versus emphasis on social justice. There are some who do not believe they need to engage in social justice work.

Spiritual activism is a practice that brings together the otherworldly and inward-focused work of spirituality and the outwardly focused work of activism (which focuses on the conditions of the material or physical world). It is most often described as being separate from organized religion or dogma, but rather as activism that is generally egalitarian, particularly in service for people who are oppressed or marginalized, as well as for the Earth and all living things1.

Spiritual Activism, Wikipedia

Some of these blog posts take days to write. Sometimes when things feel unfinished, a missing piece will appear. From the Spirit, or something someone else wrote or did. I came across the following this morning.

On October 5, Diné Ceremonial Leader Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) joined the global Pachamama Alliance community for a conversation on spirit in action. Pat McCabe is a mother, activist, writer, artist, international speaker, ceremonial leader, voice for global peace and healing, and long-time advisor to Pachamama Alliance. 

During the call, Pat offered many insights around what it means to take action while being guided by spirit, drawing from both her Diné background and the Lakota spiritual tradition. She shared key learnings from her own personal journey around this inquiry, while illuminating important nuances around the concepts of agency and intellect. 

The Importance of Surrendering to Spirit

As Pat was reflecting on how to take action while being guided by spirit, she explained that the first step is to surrender to the unknown. 

What Pat meant by this was to let go of the need to know everything and the need to have the answer—or even the idea that one can know everything. She explained that when one is at the limits of what one knows, that’s when spirit reaches into the mind and body to present something new. 

One of the ways this is experienced in some of the spiritual communities Pat is a part of is through fasting. During these fasts, participants must go 4 days without food or water as they engage in ceremony.* Pat described how it doesn’t feel humanly possible to complete this fast, unless one embraces the unknown and the possibility of failure. This is what allows one to keep going even if the way forward is unclear. And as Pat put it, it is at this point that spirit comes to meet you and carry you the rest of the way. 

What these ceremonies have taught Pat is to surrender her will to spirit so that the door to mystery opens, and a different kind of logic and perspective reveals itself.

Spirit in Action, Part One: A Conversation with Woman Stands Shining by THE PACHAMAMA ALLIANCE, FEBRUARY 10, 2023

*Pachamama Alliance is not promoting fasting or other similar activities, especially without the guidance of experts. Please consider consulting with your physician or other medical professionals if activities like this are of interest to you. 

it is at this point that spirit comes to meet you and carry you the rest of the way. 

Diné Ceremonial Leader Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe)

One example of my spiritual activism was when I became involved in the Kheprw Institute, a Black youth mentoring community in Indianapolis. That coincided with becoming involved with the Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM) model for justice work.

Quaker Social Change Ministry (QSCM)

At that time, I learned about a new American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) program. My friend Lucy Duncan oversaw the program. The Quaker meeting I was attending in Indianapolis, North Meadow Circle of Friends, participated.

AFSC provided training for those involved in QSCM, which is where I learned a lot about community organizing. (SEE:

Training such as this can be an important part of learning to work for justice. As another example, in 2013, I was trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, which was about teaching local people how to participate in civil disobedience. Experienced activists from the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) traveled to twenty-five cities, providing a weekend of training in each city.

Working in diverse communities has given me new perspectives about Quakers and justice work and has led to questions.

  • What role does spirituality play for people and groups not involved in organized religion?
  • How are Quakers involved in justice work today?
    • How are justice concerns identified?
    • What are the primary justice concerns of Quakers, individually and of Quaker meetings?
    • Are Quaker meetings doing justice work as a meeting?
    • How do Friends work to address those justice concerns?
    • What are the different ways to work for justice?
  • How do Quakers balance spiritual life and doing justice work?
  • How do we support each other, and the meeting’s justice work?
    • How do we hold each other accountable?
    • How do Quaker individuals and meetings deal with historic injustices Quakers were involved in?
    • How do Quakers engage with those who have been subjected to historic injustices Quakers were part of?
  • How do we identify and work to heal from trauma?


I grew up in the Bear Creek Quaker community near Earlham, Iowa. Raised on farms, we then began to move often as Dad moved through the Farm Bureau/Farm Service system. Most of these places didn’t have Quaker meetings. I attended Scattergood Friends (boarding) high school and then Earlham College, a Quaker college.

After one year at Earlham, I moved to Indianapolis to join the Friends Volunteer Service Mission (VSM). This was in the early 1970’s, at the time of the Vietnam War. VSM was a project to provide meaningful work for young men doing alternative service for the Selective Service System. Although being a draft resister meant I refused to do alternative service “officially”, as far as the Selective Service System was concerned, I was led to join VSM to learn about doing justice work in communities. VSM had a model of doing one year of work in a job that would qualify as alternative service, saving enough money to support yourself to work in the community for the second year. Living in the community, I had time to see what community needs I might work on during that second year. During the first year I received on-the-job training at Methodist Hospital as a respiratory therapy technician. I spent my time outside my work in the hospital with kids in the neighborhood. There were no youth programs in that part of inner-city Indianapolis. I spent my second year continuing to work with the kids. Playing sports, taking bicycle trips, teaching how to work in a photo darkroom, etc.

So, at an early age (20), I began to learn about community organizing and spirit-led justice work. I was led to this work while praying and working to discern how I would respond to the requirement to register for the Selective Service System and whether to accept doing alternative service. These are related to the broader issues of peace and living in a violent and militaristic country. Learning what the Quaker way would be for me.

Although I returned to Iowa after completing the two years at VSM, I missed the kids so much that I returned to Indianapolis. I continued to do things with youth as I did at VSM while I continued my education. I enjoyed working as a respiratory therapy technician during my first year at VSM. When I returned to Indianapolis, I found a job at the Indiana University Medical Center as a respiratory therapy technician. I obtained a degree in Respiratory Care from Indiana University and became a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT).

So, this leading to join VSM led to my career path in medicine, and my path of justice work.

Community building

I have been blessed to be led to new communities of people over the past decade or so. These experiences taught me more about justice work. And have taught me some different answers to questions such as these:

  • Who is the community?
  • How to identify what issues to work on?
  • How to address the issue(s)?
  • How to measure progress?
  • Accountability?
  • How to heal?

In the community

The following are some of the communities I have been/am now involved with.

  • The youth mentoring community, the Kheprw Institute, in Indianapolis.
  • The environmental/pipeline resistance communities in Indianapolis and Iowa.
    • Being trained as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013, I received invaluable training in activism. That was also my first experience in being part of an Internet community, learning ways to support each other remotely. This included monthly phone calls with everyone involved.
    • In 2016 there was national/international support of those at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access pipeline.
      • Locally, in Indianapolis, we were able to use our training and experience from the Keystone Pledge of Resistance to organize and train people to oppose the DAPL.
      • This included my first experiences of being with Indigenous peoples at public rallies.
    • In 2017 I retired and returned to Iowa and began to look for environmental activists to work with here. The Internet was helpful in finding groups and events. I had heard of Ed Fallon’s work related to climate justice. We communicated via email, then in February 2017, I met Ed when he organized a group of us to go to Minneapolis the weekend the Super Bowl was played there, to hold a rally at the US Bank headquarters, because of their support of DAPL.
    • Sept 1-8, 2018, I participated in the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March organized by Bold Iowa (Ed Fallon and others) and Indigenous Iowa (Sikowis Nobiss and others). A group of about thirty native and nonnative people walked and camped along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge).
      • The intention of the First Nation-Farmer march was to create the time and space for us to get to know each other, to begin to develop some trust so we could work together. That worked exceedingly well, and various combinations of us have done many things since.
    • Last year the Buffalo Rebellion was formed as a coalition of many of the climate/social justice groups and people in the Midwest.
  • For the past three years most of my justice work has been with Des Moines Mutual Aid, where I’ve made a number of close friends.

Choosing the work

There are so many injustices, so many people suffering. How do you decide what to do?

As a spiritual person, as a Quaker, seeking spiritual guidance is fundamental to discerning what I am led to do. One reason I’m writing this post is that I’ve been wondering what role spirituality plays in the lives of many of my friends who are deeply involved in justice work. One’s spirituality can be expressed by one’s work in the world, and these friends work tirelessly for justice. But I don’t know what they think or believe regarding spirituality.

One important aspect of Mutual Aid is that most Mutual Aid communities focus on providing for people’s basic necessities, such as food and shelter. For example, my Mutual Aid community provides free food every week for those who come to us. Others in my Mutual Aid community care for houseless people in Des Moines. The gratification of helping those in need helps attract others to participate.

There are many historical examples of tragedies that occurred when well-intentioned people attempted to provide help to those in need. Unfortunately, too often, support came/comes from dominant groups who view solutions as controlling those deemed to need help. Another way of assimilating other peoples into their own (dominant) worldview. I use assimilate intentionally because one example is of white settler-colonists forcibly removing Indigenous children from their families and taking them to residential schools to learn how to live in white society. These schools were awful institutions where abuse and deaths of children occurred. And the trauma to their families and communities is still passed from generation to generation.

I’ve been exploring how Artificial Intelligence can help as a research assistant. Following is the response when I asked for a table summarizing the advantages and disadvantages of spirit-led social justice work. But I must say I am very concerned about the impact AI is having and will have in replacing human jobs.

Indigenous leadership

My friends at the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) continue their years of work providing Indigenous leadership on a number of fronts.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

First, we want to recognize that today (5/5/2023) is National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. On May 2, the City of Iowa City declared its first Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The proclamation was accepted by Sikowis Nobiss, our Executive Director. It was through her work on the Iowa City Truth and Reconciliation Commission that she was empowered to advocate for this proclamation. It was inspired by the first MMIW proclamation in Iowa made last year by the City of Sioux City, which was influenced by the work of Trisha Etringer, our Siouxland Project Director. This year, Trisha accepted the second proclamation made by the City of Sioux City on May 1 and is currently working towards a state wide proclamation for 2024.

Great Plains Action Society

Berkshire Hathaway/MidAmerican coal power plants

Several environmental organizations have been working to get MidAmerican to shut down their coal burning power plants in Iowa. Today there will be a protest and round dance during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting today. MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

See other actions against MidAmerican energy’s coal power plants here:

Next, we want all our friends and relatives to know that we are fighting for the health and well-being of the nation’s two mightiest rivers–the Missouri and the Mississippi. Iowa is the only state bordered completely on the East and West borders by these rivers, making it a special place and one that needs to be protected. Over the next week, we will be on both banks carrying out important events to fight for what is right. 

Two of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants, owned by the subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway–MidAmerican, sit on the Missouri River and are situated in the largely Indigenous corridor between Sioux City, Winnebago, and Omaha reservations. They have already been polluting our air, water, and soil and now one of the plants is lobbying to release their toxic coal ash into the Missouri, which is directly north of the Winnebago and Omaha reservations. So we have partnered with Project Beacon and the Clean Up MidAm Coalition for a protest and round dance during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha to demand that they shut down these coal plants! Please join us tomorrow, May 6th at 11:45am, on the Corner of Cass Street and 10th Street. Great Plains Action Society

You can find out more about this event here.

Round Dance for the Missouri River

Relatives in Omaha, Lincoln, Sioux City, Omaha Nation, and Winnebago Nation–Join Great Plains Action Society and Project Beacon for a Round Dance in Omaha during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting to demand that they shut down their MidAmerican coal plants! We will be joined by Douglas Esau, who will bring his hand drum. The larger rally is being organized by the Clean Up MidAm Coalition.

The event is taking place on the SE corner of the Big Lot Parking B of the CHI Health Care Event center. On the Corner of Cass Street and 10th Street. There is a map in the discussion of this event page.

PARKING WILL NOT BE EASY AS THERE WILL BE A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE AREA THAT DAY! You will need to find parking in lots or ramps in the downtown area OR if you feel like taking a scenic walk you can park on the Council Bluffs side of the river at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park and and walk across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge to the event site–it’s about a 20 minute walk.

Two of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants are situated in the corridor between Sioux City, Winnebago, and Omaha reservations, polluting our air, water, and soil. Now, they want to start releasing their toxic coal ash directly into the sacred waters of the Missouri River and we are here to say NO!

We are offering $50 gas cards to the first 25 Indigenous folks driving from over an hour away–such as Lincoln, Sioux City, and the reservations. We encourage carpooling! Sign up here for a gas card;…/1FAIpQLSdCje8fXwYHgl…/viewform

There will also be lunch available for everyone! Email for questions. 

Round Dance for the Missouri River

Walk for River Rights

Next week, May 11-14, in the Quad Cities of IA and IL, we are hosting the first Mississippi River Summit with 40 BIPOC leaders and specialists joining us to talk about their respective fights to keep the water safe and healthy and to work towards Rights of Nature.Great Plains Action Society has ties to BIPOC folks at the headwaters all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and we have invited them to Iowa for an important reason! Iowa is the number one contributor to the ‘Dead Zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico and the most biologically colonized state in the country because of Big-Ag, CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations), meatpacking plants, ethanol production, and general disregard for the land. The time will be utilized for grassroots assessments, specialist lectures, a tour of the Mississippi, and community-building exercises. On May 13th, at 11:30 AM at the Schwiebert Riverfront Park, Summit attendees will join the Quad Cities community for a  Walk for River Rights in solidarity as One River community advocating for Rights of Nature for the Mississippi River and for the rights of all communities whose lives are supported by the waters.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our event page linked here.

We truly appreciate your participation in our advocacy and frontline efforts and need your support to continue. Please consider making a donation to help support Great Plains Action Society and allow us to continue organizing for the health and safety of Indigenous communities and our lands.

Support Our Work

Ay Hai Kitatamihin,

Sikowis Nobiss, She/Her
Nêhiyaw/Saulteaux, George Gordon First Nation
Executive Director, Great Plains Action Society

End Police Violence

Art by Moselle Singh, Drawn From Water

Although the daily news is flooded with stories of police violence toward Black people, the incidence of police violence against Indigenous peoples is higher.

When I began to spend time with Indigenous people, I was surprised to find out about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR). And how that is related to oil pipelines and capitalism. That became easy to understand as I learned about the environmental racism of building pipelines near Indigenous reservations. The man camps, construction worker camps, were thus near Indigenous communities.

One of the first actions I was involved with after retiring to Iowa was to rally against USBank’s funding of fossil fuel projects. But besides demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a number of people held signs, and spoke about MMIR.

Our heart goes out to Bemi (Shyla Wolf) – Meskwaki – who was assaulted on March 30, 2023 by Officer Kyle Howe while three of her young children watched from the car and screamed in fear. She ended up with contusions on her lip, neck, arms, and full body soreness. Officer Howe is known for targeting Meskwaki folks in Tama and represents the continuation of a long history of police violence and injustice perpetrated on Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island. Though Indigenous Peoples are targeted at alarming rates by cops, these disturbing statistics are not being heard by the rest of society due to the intense efforts to erase us and our place in the US.

Maggie Koerth from FiveThirtyEight, reports that “depending on the year, either Native Americans or African-Americans have the highest rate of deaths by law enforcement. The fact that Indigenous Peoples have such high police murder rates is not a well-known statistic because the population is smaller and because violence to Indigenous folx is not of particular interest to mainstream media. According to a CNN review of the Center for Diseases Control, “for every 1 million Native Americans, an average of 2.9 of them died annually from 1999 to 2015 as a result of a legal intervention”. For the Black population the number is 2.6, for Latinx it is 1.7, for Whites it is 0.9 and for Asians it is 0.6.”

This is a startling statistic because Native Americans only make up 0.9% (2.9 million people) of the population. Furthermore, these deaths are most likely under-reported just like the other epidemics that Native Americans face, such as missing and murdered women, abuse, rape, stalking, runaway children and violence committed by non-tribal members. In fact, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, known as the Wounded Knee Massacre, occurred in 1890 when United States Army troops murdered up to 300 Lakota, including women and children. According to Matthew Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center, “The data available likely does not capture all Native American deaths in police encounters due to people of mixed race and a relatively large homeless population that is not on the grid.” (CNN) In a paper written by B Perry in 2006 titled, “Nobody trusts them! Under- and over-policing Native American communities”, they presented evidence from 278 individual interviews with eight separate Native Nations that police action toward Native people ranged from ignoring victims to outright brutality against suspects. (Fatal Encounters Between Native Americans and the Police)

Collective Action Will End Police Violence to Indigenous Peoples by Sikowis Nobiss, Great Plains Action Society

Policing in this country began in the 1700’s with “slave patrols” to capture and return those fleeing their enslavement or planning uprisings. Policing has always been about protecting capitalists and their property.

The only way to end police violence and abolish this inherently white supremacist institution built on colonization and the greed of capitalism is for communities to take collective action. Centering mutual aid and radical healing in our communities will take back power and end erasure of us, our history and our culture. Taking back power builds strength and increases resources, which we need to oust violent cops and create our own culturally appropriate systems of accountability and wellness programs. Great Plains Action Society remains committed to this goal and will continue to work diligently towards abolition of systems set up to eradicate us.

Collective Action Will End Police Violence to Indigenous Peoples by Sikowis Nobiss, Great Plains Action Society

Mutual Aid

It is by building mutual aid communities that we take back our power from “inherently white supremacist institution built on colonization and the greed of capitalism”.

I’m of the firm opinion that a system that was built by stolen bodies on stolen land for the benefit of a few is a system that is not repairable. It is operating as designed, and small changes (which are the result of huge efforts) to lessen the blow on those it was not designed for are merely half measures that can’t ever fully succeed.

So, the question is now, where do we go from here? Do we continue to make incremental changes while the wealthy hoard more wealth and the climate crisis deepens, or do we do something drastic that has never been done before? Can we envision and create a world where a class war from above isn’t a reality anymore?”

Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid

mutual aid is the new economy. mutual aid is community. it is making sure your elderly neighbor down the street has a ride to their doctor’s appointment. mutual aid is making sure the children in your neighborhood have dinner, or a warm coat for the upcoming winter. mutual aid is planting community gardens.

capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.

in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices.

Des Moines Black Liberation

I belong to the Quakers for Abolition Network, described in this excerpt from Western Friend.

Mackenzie: Let’s start with: What does being a police and prison abolitionist mean to you?

Jed: The way I think about abolition is first, rejecting the idea that anyone belongs in prison and that police make us safe. The second, and larger, part of abolition is the process of figuring out how to build a society that doesn’t require police or prisons.

M: Yes! The next layer of complexity, in my opinion, is looking at systems of control and oppression. Who ends up in jail and prison? Under what circumstances do the police use violence?

As you start exploring these questions, it becomes painfully clear that police and prisons exist to maintain the white supremacist, heteronormative, capitalist status quo. The racial dynamics of police violence are being highlighted by the recent uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement.

We are in the same place, with a call to imagine a culture radically different than the one in which we live. Abolishing police and prisons, like abolishing slavery, would change the structure of our society: dramatically decreasing violence and undoing one set of power relationships that create domination and marginalization. And in place of this violence, we could, instead, have care.

Abolish the Police by Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge and Jed Walsh, Western Friend, Nov 2020

Des Moines Mutual Aid

Des Moines Mutual Aid

Support for Atlanta Forest Defenders, Des Moines, Iowa, 2023

Paradigm shift

Recently, we discussed our peace and justice work at my Quaker meeting. I explained my vision of creating a Mutual Aid community to guide our justice work. And included examples of what the meeting is already doing that are Mutual Aid.

I felt we had a good discussion. I didn’t have answers to some of the questions raised. I believe those questions would be answered as we got experience with implementation. But the meeting is clearly not ready to begin working on Mutual Aid.

As I was preparing for this discussion, I knew it would be difficult to distill my more than three years of experience with Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA).

Paradigm shift: an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Mutual Aid represents a paradigm shift in Quaker’s thinking about spirituality and justice work. How can I help people make this shift happen? What is the Spirit asking of us?

I have no doubt that the Spirit leads me to continue with my involvement with Des Moines Mutual Aid. My friends there know I hope to bring spirituality into the work of Mutual Aid, so I’ll give them an update on our meeting at Bear Creek.

One paradigm shift from my past comes to mind. In the early 1970’s I moved to Indianapolis and was horrified by the foul air from auto exhaust. I was led to live without a car as a result. But I had no success in convincing anyone else to give up their car. So here we are now, facing ever increasing environmental chaos.

During the years’ long struggles with my meeting about cars, which was difficult since many meeting members lived in rural settings, one Friend asked if I had invited the meeting into my concerns about cars. And I realized I had not done so. When I did invite the meeting to join me in our common concerns about fossil fuels, one thing we developed was a concept we called Ethical Transportation (see below).

So, I applied that idea to invite the meeting into Mutual Aid work. I often share my experiences at Des Moines Mutual Aid with the meeting. Our discussion this past weekend is another step that will lead to Mutual Aid. As more communities and people are impacted by environmental and social chaos, we will naturally turn to the idea of Mutual Aid for disaster relief.

I am impressed with the Great Plains Action Society’s Mechanism of Engagement. Mutual Aid is one of the Methods in the model. I wonder what such a model would look like for Quakers. Maybe that is part of the way forward, for my Quaker meeting to become more oriented toward Mutual Aid.

Ethical Transportation Minute

Radically reducing fossil fuel use has long been a concern of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative). A previously approved Minute urged us to reduce our use of personal automobiles. We have continued to be challenged by the design of our communities that makes this difficult. This is even more challenging in rural areas. But our environmental crisis means we must find ways to address this issue quickly.
Friends are encouraged to challenge themselves and to simplify their lives in ways that can enhance their spiritual environmental integrity. One of our meetings uses the term “ethical transportation,” which is a helpful way to be mindful of this.
Long term, we need to encourage ways to make our communities “walkable”, and to expand public transportation systems. These will require major changes in infrastructure and urban planning.
Carpooling and community shared vehicles would help. We can develop ways to coordinate neighbors needing to travel to shop for food, attend meetings, visit doctors, etc. We could explore using existing school buses or shared vehicles to provide intercity transportation.
One immediately available step would be to promote the use of bicycles as a visible witness for non-fossil fuel transportation. Friends may forget how easy and fun it can be to travel miles on bicycles. Neighbors seeing families riding their bicycles to Quaker meetings would have an impact on community awareness. This is a way for our children to be involved in this shared witness. We should encourage the expansion of bicycle lanes and paths. We can repair and recycle unused bicycles and make them available to those who have the need.

Ethical Transportation Minute. Approved by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2017