Whiteness and Quakers

[References to Quakers here pertain to White Quakers. There is little diversity among Quakers in this country.]

There are several reasons I’m led to revisit this today.

  • Our Quaker meetings have dwindling numbers of attenders. Most of those remaining are elderly and white. Many meetings do not have new people joining.
  • I continue to hear stories from people of color, or those identifying as non-binary in gender or sexual orientation not being welcome in some Quaker meetings.
  • Those of us working outside our Quaker communities are often blessed to find beloved communities.
  • I wish others in our Quaker meetings would join these communities.
  • Despite the many wonderful aspects of these ‘external’ communities, I sometimes sense a lack of spiritual support for one another there.
  • There are many who don’t express their spirituality publicly, or in ways “organized” religions do.
  • Quaker presence will not be fully welcome in these communities until we come to terms with our own racism.

We know that those of us who are white must confront racism in ourselves and in the institutions we care about—our faith communities, our schools, our neighborhoods, our families, our Congress.

Racism and Whiteness, Diane Randall

People ask me if I believe in god… I tell them I pray to creator.
They tell me Jesus died for me… I tell them my ancestors did.
They say I will burn in hell for not following the Bible, but it has been used as weapon to colonize and murder my people…
for me it’s spirituality over religion. I don’t hate people for going to church, but I do hate what the churches have done to us…
before colonization we had our own ways and ceremonies, I choose the path of my ancestors.


For a long time, I’ve been in significant spiritual distress. I’ve been learning a great deal from my Native friends and working in Mutual Aid communities. And they tell me the way white people can best support them is by embracing and teaching others about LANDBACK.

I caused conflicts in my Quaker meeting because I wanted them to join me in the work of Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. Despite my efforts to explain this, they haven’t had the experiences that would make them understand all of this, yet.

At the same time I felt I was letting my Native friends down, because I wasn’t making some of the changes I wanted to make in my life that could be an example of how white people can join the work with Mutual Aid and LANDBACK.

As environmental chaos deepens, with the resulting collapse of the colonial capitalist economic system and the political systems propping up white supremacy fail, we will have no choice but to find alternatives. Ideally those would be Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. This is a powerful incentive to embrace these concepts now.

Mutual Aid and LANDBACK

In the same way I can’t understand the involvement of many Quakers in the slave trade, and having enslaved people, I can’t understand Quaker’s involvement in forced assimilation of native children.

What does this mean for Quakers today? No matter what we say about justice for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) folks, those words are empty as long as we continue to take advantage of colonial capitalism and white supremacy.

The news of 215 Kamloops Native children buried on the grounds of a residential school shocked non-native people, who did not know how many of these residential schools existed in the lands called the United States and Canada. Did not know tens of thousands of Native children were forcibly removed from their families and taken to these institutions where thousands were abused in many ways. Thousands killed or died. Though the stated reason for doing this was to assimilate Native children into white society for their benefit, the real intent was to quell Indigenous resistance to the theft of their land by white settler colonists.

My friend Paula Palmer wrote an excellent article for Friends Journal, Oct 1, 2016. “Quaker Boarding Schools: Facing Our History and Ourselves”.

The growing numbers of remains found at other schools has re-opened deep wounds in Native communities. Many have been triggered by these atrocities. One of my Native friends wrote that she was NOT OK. Another told me, “I’m trying not to be enraged in my mourning.”

A Native friend also told me, “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.” Vigorous attempts are made to hide it, but history does not lie. He also told me, regarding what I had been telling him about my efforts with Quakers, “I wish you the best. I imagine it’s a hard struggle.”

I cannot face my BIPOC friends if I don’t continue to seek the Spirit, and act on the leadings I am given. Writing is one thing I am led to do.

“Don’t make orphans stand here covered in the blood of our parents and explain to you how this all came to be without doing something about it. “

The Tragedy of 215. Without truth, there can be no healing, by Sarah Rose Harper, Lakota People’s Law Project, 6/2/2021

I am so grateful to my BIPOC friends for teaching me that Mutual Aid and LANDBACK are alternatives to colonial capitalism and white superiority. LANDBACK is how to restore Native lands and leadership.

As environmental chaos deepens, with the resulting collapse of the colonial capitalist economic system and the political systems propping up white supremacy, we will have no choice but to find alternatives. Ideally those would be Mutual Aid and LANDBACK. This is a powerful incentive to embrace these concepts now.

I wrote the following epistle that is modeled from ‘An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription’

An Epistle to Friends Regarding Community, Mutual Aid and LANDBACK

Dear Friends,

The measure of a community is how the needs of its people are met. No one should go hungry, or without shelter or healthcare. Yet in this country known as the United States millions struggle to survive. The capitalist economic system creates hunger, houselessness, illness that is preventable and despair. A system that requires money for goods and services denies basic needs to anyone who does not have money. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected. Systemic racism. The capitalist system that supports the white materialistic lifestyle is built on stolen land and genocide of Indigenous peoples, and the labor of those who were enslaved in the past or are forced to live on poverty wages today.

Capitalism is revealed as an unjust, untenable system, when there is plenty of food in the grocery stores, but men, women and children are going hungry, living on the streets outside. White supremacy violently enforces the will of wealthy white people on the rest of us.

It has become clear to some of us who are called Friends that the colonial capitalist economic system and white supremacy are contrary to the Spirit and we must find a better way. We conscientiously object to and resist capitalism and white supremacy.

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 Movement

Mutual Aid

How do we resist? We rebuild our communities in ways not based upon money. Such communities thrive all over the world. Indigenous peoples have always lived this way. White people once did so in this country. Mutual Aid is a framework that can help us do this today.

The concept of Mutual Aid is simple to explain but can result in transformative change. Mutual Aid involves everyone coming together to find a solution for problems we all face. This is a radical departure from “us” helping “them”. Instead, we all work together to find and implement solutions.  To work together means we must be physically present with each other. Mutual Aid cannot be done by committee or donations. We build Beloved communities as we get to know each other. Build solidarity. An important part of Mutual Aid is creating these networks of people who know and trust each other. When new challenges arise, these networks are in place, ready to meet them.

Another important part of Mutual Aid is the transformation of those involved. This means both those who are providing help, and those receiving it.

With Mutual Aid, people learn to live in a community where there is no vertical hierarchy. A community where everyone has a voice. A model that results in enthusiastic participation. A model that makes the vertical hierarchy required for white supremacy impossible.

Commonly there are several Mutual Aid projects in a community. The initial projects usually relate to survival needs. One might be a food giveaway. Another helping those who need shelter. Many Mutual Aid groups often have a bail fund, to support those arrested for agitating for change. And accompany those arrested when they go to court.


The other component necessary to move away from colonial capitalism and white supremacy is LANDBACK.

But the idea of “landback” — returning land to the stewardship of Indigenous peoples — has existed in different forms since colonial governments seized it in the first place. “Any time an Indigenous person or nation has pushed back against the oppressive state, they are exercising some form of landback,” says Nickita Longman, a community organizer from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The movement goes beyond the transfer of deeds to include respecting Indigenous rights, preserving languages and traditions, and ensuring food sovereignty, housing, and clean air and water. Above all, it is a rallying cry for dismantling white supremacy and the harms of capitalism.

Returning the Land. Four Indigenous leaders share insights about the growing landback movement and what it means for the planet, by Claire Elise Thompson, Grist, February 25, 2020

What will Friends do?

It matters little what people say they believe when their actions are inconsistent with their words.  Thus, we Friends may say there should not be hunger and poverty, but as long as Friends continue to collaborate in a system that leaves many without basic necessities and violently enforces white supremacy, our example will fail to speak to mankind.

Let our lives speak for our convictions.  Let our lives show that we oppose the capitalist system and white supremacy, and the damages that result.  We can engage in efforts, such as Mutual Aid and LANDBACK, to build Beloved community. To reach out to our neighbors to join us.

We must begin by changing our own lives if we hope to make a real testimony for peace and justice.

We remain, in love of the Spirit, your Friends and sisters and brothers,

Note: Modeled from ‘An Epistle to Friends Concerning Military Conscription’


NOTE: The date has been changed for the Rally for Reproductive Justice I wrote about yesterday. That event will be this Friday, May 6, 6:45 – 8:30 PM Central. More information here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/05/04/reproductive-justice/

Rally for Repro Rights

Saturday 3 PM Central

Iowa State Capitol

Saturday, May 7, 2022
3:00 PM Central
Public · Anyone on or off Facebook
Come and gather with others in response to the leaked SCOTUS draft opinion on Roe v. Wade. Join us on the west side of the Capitol.

𝗪𝗲 𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗲𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝗱𝗲𝗳𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝗮𝗰𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗹𝗹.
𝗔𝗯𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲.
𝗥𝗲𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀.

Sponsors of the event include:
Great Plains Action Society
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
Iowa Abortion Access Fund
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Iowa Coalition for Collective Change
League of Women Voters of Iowa
New Frontier
No Justice No Peace
One Iowa
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa
Progress Iowa
The Urban Impact Show
Young Women’s Resource Center


The National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice was initiated by Radical Women last year. It has been organizing in several states and gearing up for “day of decision” demonstrations for when the Supreme Court ruling is released. We stand together around a strong set of demands that reflect the whole spectrum of reproductive justice, from ending forced sterilization and overturning the Hyde Amendment, to guaranteed affordable childcare and accurate sex education. Mobilization participants including feminists, unionists, people of color and LGBTQ+ activists.

National and local activities, the full set of demands and endorsers, and information about the National Mobilization for Reproductive Justice are posted at www.ReproJusticeNow.org.

What we call for:

  • Protect & expand Roe v. Wade; safe, legal abortion on demand without apology
  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment
  • Overturn state barriers to reproductive choices
  • Stop forced sterilization
  • No to caged kids, forced assimilation, & child welfare abuses
  • End medical & environmental racism; for universal healthcare
  • Defend queer & trans families
  • Guarantee medically sound sex education & affordable childcare
  • Sexual self-determination for people with disabilities
  • Uphold social progress with expanded voting rights & strong unions

Initiated by Radical Women

Radical Women

A trailblazing socialist feminist organization, Radical Women is the revolutionary wing of the women’s movement and a strong feminist voice within the Left. Immersed in the daily fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-trans bigotry, and labor exploitation, Radical Women believes in multi-issue organizing around the needs of the most marginalized. We view the leadership of gender-oppressed people, especially those who are of color, as decisive to social change and we train women to take their place in the forefront of the struggle. Radical Women is an autonomous group of ciswomen, transwomen and non-binary people, united on the basis of shared socialist feminist ideals expressed in The Radical Women Manifesto.

Get involved if you want to change the world and collaborate with a dynamic bunch of feminist rebels of all colors, sexualities and ages. Everyone has something to learn, teach and contribute!

Buffalo Rebellion and Red/Green New Deal

The Sunrise Movement was launched as a national campaign for a Green New Deal (GND) in 2017. From the beginning I heard my native friends talk about the importance of a GND to be Indigenous led. In 2019 Sunrise’s Green New Deal tour began with a stop in Des Moines. There my friends Trisha Cax-Sep-Gu-Wiga Etringer and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt spoke about Indigenous leadership as a requirement for a GND. https://landbackfriends.com/2021/09/01/indigenous-led-green-new-deal/

Last weekend’s Climate Summit of the newly formed Buffalo Rebellion provided an opportunity for organizations and people to come together to share what is being done to address the climate crisis. And lay the groundwork for working together, focusing on action related to the racial and economic consequences of environmental devastation. That requires taking on entrenched white supremacy, systemic racism and rapacious capitalism.

The Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition that includes Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Great Plains Action Society, Des Moines Black Liberation Movement, Iowa MMJ, SEIU Iowa, Sierra Club Iowa Beyond Coal, and Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement.

We believe that we must address the root of climate change, insatiable corporate greed and white supremacy, to make change happen. This will require a multi-racial movement of working people struggling together to upend politics as usual.

Buffalo Rebellion

… what if the question all water protectors and land defenders asked was, why don’t we just overturn the system that makes development a threat in the first place? This system, again, is capitalism. Rather than taking an explicitly conservationist approach, the Red Deal instead proposes a comprehensive, full-scale assault on capitalism, using Indigenous knowledge and tried-and-true methods of mass mobilization as its ammunition. In this way, it addresses what are commonly thought of as single issues like the protection of sacred sites—which often manifest in specific uprisings or insurrections—as structural in nature, which therefore require a structural (i.e., non-reformist reform) response that has the abolition of capitalism via revolution as its central goal. We must be straightforward about what is necessary. If we want to survive, there are no incremental or “non-disruptive” ways to reduce emissions. Reconciliation with the ruling classes is out of the question. Market-based solutions must be abandoned. We have until 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions. That’s it. Thirty years. The struggle for a carbon-free future can either lead to revolutionary transformation or much worse than what Marx and Engels imagined in 1848, when they forewarned that “the common ruin of the contending classes” was a likely scenario if the capitalist class was not overthrown. The common ruin of entire peoples, species, landscapes, grasslands, waterways, oceans, and forests—which has been well underway for centuries—has intensified more in the last three decades than in all of human existence.

The Red Nation, The Red Deal (pp. 21-22). Common Notions. Kindle Edition.

My Mutual Aid community models many Green/Red New Deal concepts.

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, Great Plains Action Society

Dare we hope?

I was searching for a way to describe what WE experienced during OUR Buffalo Rebellion Climate Summit this weekend. A moment reminiscent of the times of the civil rights and anti-war movements which brought together thousands of people and created change. This weekend a coalition of people and organizations came together to rise to the challenges of rapidly evolving environmental devastation and collapse of the systems of capitalism and white supremacy.

As I wondered whether to write “what WE experienced” versus “what I experienced” I realized this was emblematic of what the Buffalo Rebellion is about. Dare WE hope? In its simplest expression, we need to change from “I” to “We” in all we do.

Those of us who have been working to protect Mother Earth are more aware than the general public of the breadth and depth of damage being done. More alarmed, more discouraged after years of work with little apparent progress.

The COVID pandemic made us more isolated and made it difficult to safely do our organizing work. Although our Des Moines Mutual Aid community never stopped distributing free food every week. We strictly enforced wearing masks and gloves and attempted to maintain social distancing by limiting the number of volunteers.

As an example of how long some of us have been working to protect our environment, fifty years ago I was led to refuse to own a car. I’m not aware of that changing other people’s lives.

In 2013 the Keystone XL pipeline struggles began to bring some people and organizations together. One group was known as the Cowboy-Indian Alliance.

What little I learned about native cultures showed peoples who lived with far more integrity than I was able to. When I first became engaged with fossil fuel and pipeline resistance in 2013, I began to hear stories of Indigenous peoples working to protect the water. The Cowboy-Indian Alliance came together to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. I was honored to be given this poster from the 2014 Harvest the Hope concert.
[See: The Cowboy and Indian Alliance.]

It was clear to me and others that nonnative folks needed not only to join with Indigenous peoples but be led by them. How to make that happen?

Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa organized the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018, with the intent of providing a small group of native and nonnative people the time to get to know each other, so we could begin to work on issues of common interest and concern. We walked and camped for eight days along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline from Des Moines to Fort Dodge, Iowa, ninety-four miles.
[see stories and photos from that sacred journey here: First Nation Famer Climate Unity March]

A number of us worked on various projects together since, strengthening our friendships. A number of those on that March are involved in the new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. That includes Sikowis Nobiss, Mahmud Fitil, Trisha Entringer, Donnielle Wanatee, Miriam Kashia, Peter Clay and me.

I plan to write a lot about the Buffalo Rebellion but wanted to begin with this introduction.

I believe the answer to the question posed by this post, Dare WE hope? is yes.

Buffalo Rebellion


Iowa opportunity to significantly cut carbon emissions

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is working to get 1,000 of us to sign this petition to make the Des Moines City Council demand MidAmerican Energy commit to stop burning coal. MidAmerican is negotiating a new franchise agreement with Des Moines to secure a monopoly on supplying the city with energy.

Sign our petition to the Des Moines City Council TODAY! 

Right here in Iowa, we have an incredible opportunity to significantly cut carbon emissions that are contributing to the devastating effects of climate change. But we’re going to have to up the ante if we want to succeed.

We need to demonstrate widespread community support to push our elected leaders to action. Organizationally, we want to add 1,000 petition names to this effort to put pressure on city council and to build our people power.

For the people and places we love, and the whole damn planet,  
Jake Grobe (he/him)
Climate Justice Organizer

P.S. We know a petition alone will not get us the change we need. Join us on Earth Day, Friday, April 22nd to take our message directly to Iowa’s biggest carbon polluter. Learn more and RSVP here.

My friend Jake Grobe is ICCI’s Climate Justice Organizer. From his bio: He believes that climate justice is an intersectional fight for racial, economic, and social justice. “Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”

Des Moines needs to follow through on 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity resolution

Target: Des Moines City Council

Last year the community made it loud and clear that we need climate action now. We were pleased to see Des Moines City Council follow suit by passing a resolution for 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity by 2035.

Now it’s time to make this goal a reality, but MidAmerican Energy – Iowa’s biggest carbon polluter and monopoly energy corporation – has publicly stated they’re planning to burn coal until 2049.

The choice is simple. We can work together to decarbonize our energy system as quickly as possible to prevent the worse effects of the climate crisis, or we can continue burning coal to extinction.

Right now, MidAmerican Energy is negotiating a new franchise agreement with Des Moines to secure a monopoly on supplying the city with energy. The current contract lasted 25 years and expires in June.

We are calling on Des Moines City council to refuse approving a new franchise agreement until they get these three commitments from MidAmerican Energy:

  • Phase out their five remaining coal plants in Iowa by 2030 and replace them with wind and solar plus energy storage for 24/7 carbon-free electricity use
  • Increase funding to insulate and weatherize Iowa homes to lower energy bills and save on energy use (to make up for the bad bill MidAmerican lobbied Iowa to pass in 2018 that cut funding requirements for much-loved energy efficiency programs.)
  • Stop utility shutoffs and provide energy debt relief for working families (MidAmerican made a record $883 million in profits in 2021)

Franchise negotiations are one of the rare opportunities that cities have used to push their energy provider to help them meet their clean energy goals. MidAmerican wants a long contract because it guarantees profit for a long period of time, and Des Moines is their largest customer.

These coal plants are not needed to meet Iowa’s energy demands and shutting them down will save money and save lives.

To: Des Moines City Council
From: ______________________

The climate crisis is an existential threat that requires bold action now to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions fueling it. We were pleased to see Des Moines City Council take this seriously by passing the 100%, 24/7 carbon-free electricity by 2035 resolution in 2021.

When it passed, MidAmerican Energy agreed to work with the city to achieve this goal, which would have a big impact on lowering our emissions and keeping rates low. However, the company has publicly stated that it plans to burn coal until 2049.

As the monopoly energy provider to Des Moines, we can’t achieve the aforementioned resolution if MidAmerican Energy is supplying the grid with electricity from coal-fired power plants.

Being MidAmerican’s largest customer, and knowing that they want a contract with us that will guarantee long-term profits, Des Moines should refuse to sign a new franchise agreement until getting these three commitments:

–Phase out their five remaining coal plants in Iowa by 2030 and replace them with wind and solar plus energy storage for 24/7 carbon-free electricity use
–Increase funding to insulate and weatherize Iowa homes to lower energy bills and save on energy use (to make up for the bad bill MidAmerican lobbied Iowa to pass in 2018 that cut funding requirements for much-loved energy efficiency programs.)
–Stop utility shutoffs and provide energy debt relief for working families (MidAmerican made a record $883 million in profits in 2021)

MidAmerican Energy owns five coal plants which make them the single biggest carbon polluter in Iowa. Most of which is burned to sell excess electricity to other utilities that don’t serve Iowans.

Wind and solar energy coupled with storage is now the lowest cost source of electricity available. We can keep rates low and continue making Des Moines a leader in clean energy by demanding these plants be retired as quickly as possible with a just transition for workers.

Making the carbon-free resolution a reality will require investment in local clean energy production, storage, and microgrids. These developments will boost the local economy and improve energy reliability for Des Moines.

The climate crisis is an existential threat, anything less than bold action that meets the scale of the crisis will be a death sentence for generations to come. We call on you to act now

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

Jake Grobe

In February Jake organized people to attend a meeting at the Iowa Energy Center. The reason for going to the meeting was MidAmerican’s CEO Kelcey Brown had refused multiple requests to meet with ICCI and she was going to be at this meeting. I was there to take photos and wrote a blog post about the meeting. https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/02/18/stopburningcoal

Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness

The fossil fuel industry has found new life as the energy consequences of the war in Ukraine are being used not as an opportunity to wean off oil production, but the opposite; to ramp up fossil fuel development.

The Biden administration is releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And pressuring oil companies to activate their oil leases. To ramp up natural gas exports. Other countries are releasing their oil reserves.

PARIS (AP) — The International Energy Agency said Thursday that its member countries are releasing 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves on top of previous U.S. pledges to take aim at energy prices that have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The releases show “the determination of member countries to protect the global economy from the social and economic impacts of an oil shock following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. “Events in Ukraine are becoming more distressing by the day, and action by the IEA at this time is needed to relieve some of the strains in energy markets.”

Energy markets have been squeezed by surging demand as the global economy rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, outpacing supply and driving up prices. High energy prices have fueled inflation worldwide, and the war in Ukraine exacerbated the problem amid uncertainties about oil and natural gas supplies from Russia and Western sanctions on Moscow.

IEA member countries hold 1.5 billion barrels in public reserves.

Nations to release millions of barrels of oil amid war, Associated Press, April 6, 2022

As horrific as the atrocities of the war are, the real consequence is acceleration and escalation of the consequences and chaos of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released part of its latest report on Monday. This scientific summary, focused on how the world can cut greenhouse gas emissions, warns of the extraordinary harm to all of humanity caused by fossil fuels and the need for a rapid energy transition away from oil, gas, and coal, calling for meaningful changes over the next three years. “Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.”

That same day, oil giant ExxonMobil made an announcement of its own: a $10 billion final investment decision for an oil and gas development project in the South American nation of Guyana that the company said would allow it to add a quarter of a million barrels of oil a day to its production in 2025.

Meanwhile, major carbon capture projects like Southern Company’s $7.5 billion attempt to build a coal-fired plant that could capture its own emissions were abandoned. Other closely watched carbon capture projects like Petra Nova and Boundary Dam have failed to live up to expectations.

As a result of that one-two punch, new fossil fuel projects may find themselves fighting against the tides, facing not just cheaper competition but also the drive to slash demand for their products to combat climate change. “Without carbon capture, coal and gas plants would need to retire about 23 years earlier than expected in order to hold global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius

ExxonMobil Announces $10 Billion Oil Investment the Same Day IPCC Signals End for Fossil Fuels. The oil giant’s massive plan to drill in Guyana’s waters comes as the UN Secretary General warns of fossil fuels as a “blight on investment portfolios.” By Sharon Kelly, DeSmog, Apr 5, 2022

As the article says, one bright spot is that the expense and failure of carbon capture means the oil industry cannot legitimately use that technology as a part of their plans to show how they will meet targets to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t mean they won’t try.

The following article is wrong. It states the “giant warning” is that it will take time to ramp up oil production. The real warning is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions that will result.

U.S. crude oil prices jumped more than $10 overnight to $130 a barrel on news that the U.S. was considering prohibiting Russian oil imports, though prices backed off later during Monday trading. That rally has driven retail gasoline prices up more than 46 cents in the past week, reaching a national average of $4.06 a gallon, according to fuel price service GasBuddy.

Exxon has said it expected to increase its production from the Permian by 100,000 barrels per day this year, on top of a sharp ramp up last year to 460,000 barrels per day. “We’re well on our way to that,” CEO Darren Woods told an industry conference in Houston on Monday. Chevron has also said it would increase its production there by 60,000 barrels per day this year.

U.S. oil industry prepares to boost production — but with a giant warning. A jump in gasoline prices above $4 has oil companies eyeing crude oil output hikes, but pain at the pump will linger as shaky oil markets shun Russian cargoes. by Ben Lefebvre, Politico, March 7/2022

While the PA Governor and Attorney General continue to delay halting construction and cleaning up toxic spill in Marsh Creek, local residents take matters into their own hands with direct action and win in court today. “We had no choice but to resort to peaceful protest on an active construction site to raise awareness of the dangers that have not been addressed by the responsible government agencies.”

The proceedings were watched with cheering support from families across Pennsylvania. Attorney Read used the argument § 503. Justification generally (a) General rule. Conduct which the actor believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable if: (1) the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged.

Pipeline Protestors Found Not Guilty by Watchdogs of Southeastern Pennsylvania (WaSEPA), April 6, 2022

Wicked problems and sensemaking

I have so many questions.

  • How can the government do everything it can to increase oil production and exports, when our extinction is assured if greenhouse gas emissions are not radically decreased immediately?
  • How could the atrocities and utter destruction have happened? In Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, United States?
  • Wouldn’t nonviolent responses against the invasion of Ukraine have been better, even if that meant Russian occupation for a time?
  • How can sanctions be a good thing when they result in the impoverishment of millions of people?
  • Why is it possible for everyone to buy and carry a gun?
  • Why do culture wars prevent teachers from teaching?
  • How did we allow healthcare workers to be overwhelmed by COVID cases?
  • How is it possible for so many prescription drugs to be too expensive?
  • Why have we allowed the militarization of police?
  • Why do millions of men, women and children live in poverty? So many without shelter? So many hungry?
  • Racism?
  • How can the military budget greatly exceed all other government programs combined?
  • How can the government control women’s choices? So many choices of all of us?

These questions stem from the difficulty of making sense of what’s going on today. Which reminds me of the concepts of wicked problems and sensemaking that James Allen writes about. I try to refrain from using so many quotes, but the entire article is well worth reading.

One thing he writes about makes more sense to me now from my experiences with Mutual Aid. What he writes here is a good description of Mutual Aid.

Something important happens when we gather in pursuit of a common goal. First we form rituals that help us relate to and negotiate each other, everything from a civic tradition that allows anyone with a voice to be respectfully heard, to sharing food and music in the local town hall every Friday night, to a labour system that fairly distributes the burden of work. Then, those rituals that stand the test of time become embedded in daily life. The ritual activities themselves and the good they produce help a community identity take root. As identity strengthens, so too does our sense of connectedness — our sense of affection, responsibility and obligation — to one another. When this happens, we then share a greater capacity for coherence and cooperation. And where we share greater capacity for coherence and cooperation there is also greater resilience: the ability to mobilise skills and resources to support the emergence of collective intelligence in response to crisis, enable rapid adaptation and ensure the continuity of the most important functions and structures of the community. This coherent togetherness and the collective intelligence that emerges out of it is the source of human strength and ingenuity. Within it lies our ability to transition from one evolutionary niche to another, even against the odds.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse. By James Allen, originally published by Medium, June 18, 2019

…there remains the most existential risk of them all: our diminishing capacity for collective sensemaking. Sensemaking is the ability to generate an understanding of world around us so that we may decide how to respond effectively to it. When this breaks down within the individual, it creates an ineffective human at best and a dangerous one at worst. At the collective level, a loss of sensemaking erodes shared cultural and value structures and renders us incapable of generating the collective wisdom necessary to solve complex societal problems like those described above. When that happens the centre cannot hold.

The jumping-off point for this essay is a regrettable acceptance that a forthcoming energy descent combined with multiple ecological crises will force massive societal transformation this century. It’s hardly a leap to suggest that, with less abundant cheap energy and the collapse of the complex political and economic infrastructure that supports our present way of life, this transformation is likely to include the contraction and relocalisation of some (if not most) aspects our daily lives.

The problems before us are emergent phenomena with a life of their own, and the causes requiring treatment are obscure. They are what systems scientists call wicked problems: problems that harbour so many complex non-linear interdependencies that they not only seem impossible to understand and solve, but tend to resist our attempts to do so. For such wicked problems, our conventional toolkits — advocacy, activism, conscientious consumerism, and ballot casting — are grossly inadequate and their primary utility may be the self-soothing effect it has on the well-meaning souls who use them.

If we are to find a new kind of good life amid the catastrophes these myths have spawned, then we need to radically rethink the stories we tell ourselves. We need to dig deep into old stories and reveal their wisdom, as well as lovingly nurture the emergence of new stories into being.

Pontoon Archipelago or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Collapse. By James Allen, originally published by Medium, June 18, 2019

Banking on climate chaos

The increasingly dire environmental chaos is seen in many ways. Most recently in multiple days of tornado outbreaks in this country. In the increasingly dire warnings in the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

And yet the Biden administration is releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And pressuring oil companies to activate their oil leases. To ramp up natural gas exports.

These are just a few of the many actions that always place economics above our environment.

Banks that fund fossil fuel operations are just as guilty as the fossil fuel companies themselves: that was the message delivered to TD Bank and Bank of America at their branch locations in downtown Northampton, MA, on Saturday morning. Protesters demanded that the two banks “stop the money pipeline” by ending all loans and investments in the fossil fuel business and diverting those resources to the renewable energy sector. 

Stop the Money Pipeline is an international campaign of over 175 organizations fighting to stop financial institutions from funding dirty energy. The campaign is committed to the rapid decarbonization of our economy and to principles of equity and justice. Its central demand is straightforward:

We demand that banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and institutional investors stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction. They need to stop funding fossil fuels and deforestation and start respecting human rights and Indigenous sovereignty.

TD AND BANK OF AMERICA: STOP FUNDING CLIMATE DESTRUCTION By Climate Action Now, Popular Resistance, April 5, 2022

Banking on Climate Chaos. Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2022 is an excellent resource. This graph came from that report that also contains interactive data graphics.


It’s depressing to think about all the times we’ve tried to get financial institutions to change. Without success as shown by the graph above.

Perhaps if only to show future generations that we tried, following is a history of some of our efforts to stop funding fossil fuel projects.

I first became involved in fossil fuel resistance when I was trained by the Rainforest Action Network as an Action Lead in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance in 2013. We didn’t focus on banks, instead planning acts of civil disobedience at Federal government buildings. We did get Senator Donnelly to stop promoting the Keystone XL pipeline as creating jobs after the Indianapolis Star published my letter to the editor.

11/19/2015 In cities across the country, coordinated actions occurred as activists went to Morgan Stanley offices to deliver petitions asking the company to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Several of us spoke to the local Morgan Stanley manager that day. At the shareholders meeting several days later, a decision was made to stop funding coal. But as seen in the graph above, they continue billions of dollars in fossil fuel investments.

In 2016 the focus became the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), with the leadership from Standing Rock.

DIVESTMENT One of our efforts in Indianapolis was to encourage people and organizations to divest their accounts in banks that funded DAPL. North Meadow Circle of Friends, where I attended, closed their Chase bank account.

One day (2017) in Indianapolis a group of us marched from the Eiteljorg museum to two of the banks funding DAPL, Chase and PNC. We stood outside each bank in silence, with our signs, as people with accounts went into the bank to close their accounts. $110,000 was withdrawn that day.

I had my own experiences at the downtown Chase bank, where I closed my account. I returned to the bank for follow up with the bank officer who helped me close my account. Defunding Experience | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com)

US Bancorp is the parent company of US Bank.  Since US Bancorp’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and the Super Bowl (2018) was going to be held in the US Bank stadium there, environmental and social justice groups realized the opportunities to reach large numbers of people during the Super Bowl weekend.

I traveled to Minneapolis the day before the game with a group organized by Ed Fallon of Bold Iowa.  We left Des Moines at 7:00 am and arrived at the MN350 (Minnesota branch of 350.org) at 11:30.

See more here: https://jeffkisling.com/2018/02/05/super-bowl-and-justice/

In 2020 I began to learn about the struggles of the Wet’suwet’en peoples in British Columbia, as they tried to prevent a liquid natural gas pipeline from being built through their pristine lands and waters. Feb 7, 2020, we held a vigil of support in Des Moines, Iowa.

First Nations peoples have been very active with demonstrations against the banks funding that Costal GasLink pipeline.

Last December a number of us rallied at a Chase bank in Des Moines, calling for Chase to stop funding fossil fuel projects. Des Moines Black Liberation attended in support of the Wet’suwet’en peoples. Our justice work forms networks.

The latest attempt to decrease carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the proposed CO2 pipelines. Which are attracting funding but should not be built for many reasons. This is unproven technology, incredibly expensive and ineffective. And with all the problems associated with pipelines.

Sikowis Nobiss organized this gathering at Summit Carbon in Ames, Iowa, in February.

And most recently, my friend Jake Grobe at Iowa CCI organized an event in February at an Iowa Energy Center Board Meeting, where we said MidAmerican Energy’s coal burning power plants must be shut down.

Martin Luther King Jr was a radical

“Hero” isn’t a word I hear much these days, but Martin Luther King, Jr, is one to me. Other heroes are the men and their families who also resisted cooperation with the systems of war. That includes a number of those in my Quaker community. And includes Muhammad Ali. People whose lives reflected their faith and beliefs. Because even as a child it was clear so many people did not do so. This was and continues to be spiritually traumatic.

In this brief celebratory moment of King’s life and death we should be highly suspicious of those who sing his praises yet refuse to pay the cost of embodying King’s strong indictment of the US empire, capitalism and racism in their own lives.

Martin Luther King Jr was a radical. We must not sterilize his legacy.  Cornel West

Martin Luther King’s beliefs and actions related to racism are well known.

He was late to publicly come out against the Vietnam War and was harshly criticized by most in his own community for doing so. The argument was that would weaken his work against racism. But he could clearly see the ties between racism, capitalism, and militarism.

A historic speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered even 55 years later as one of the most courageous speeches ever made. This speech stated those truths which no other leading political leader or even leading activist was willing to state in such a clear and sharp way.  The reference here is of course to the speech delivered by Dr. King at Manhattan’s Riverside Church on April 4 1967—a speech remembered also as the ‘Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence’ speech.

The great importance of this speech is due to several factors. Firstly, he drew a very clear linkage between why a civil rights activist like him has to be a peace activist at the same time. He stated very clearly that the high hopes he had from the poverty program started getting shattered from the time of increased spending on Vietnam war. So he realized that in order to really help the poor it is important also to prevent wars and to have peace. Secondly, he expressed deep regret that it is mainly the children of the poor (black as well as white young men from poor households) who were being sent to fight a very unjust and oppressive war, while they should have been contributing to reducing distress of their own settlements. Thirdly, he exposed the great injustices and bitter realities about US military intervention with such clarity and conviction that it was bound to have a strong nationwide and in fact worldwide impact.

April 4 – Remembering Martin Luther King on his Death Anniversary by Bharat Dogra, Counter Currents, April 4,2022

The major threat of Martin Luther King Jr to us is a spiritual and moral one.
Martin Luther King Jr turned away from popularity in his quest for spiritual and moral greatness – a greatness measured by what he was willing to give up and sacrifice due to his deep love of everyday people, especially vulnerable and precious black people.

If King were alive today, his words and witness against drone strikes, invasions, occupations, police murders, caste in Asia, Roma oppression in Europe, as well as capitalist wealth inequality and poverty, would threaten most of those who now sing his praises.
Today, 50 years later the US imperial meltdown deepens. And King’s radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom, even if our chances to win are that of a snowball in hell! This kind of unstoppable King-like extremism is a threat to every status quo!

Martin Luther King Jr was a radical. We must not sterilize his legacy.  Cornel West

New heroes for me are the young people I’ve been blessed to work with and learn from, particularly in Mutual Aid communities. Working against “capitalist wealth inequality and poverty.”

King’s radical legacy remains primarily among the awakening youth and militant citizens who choose to be extremists of love, justice, courage and freedom.”

FCNL Witness Wednesday silent reflection

I’m inviting you to join the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s Witness Wednesday Silent Reflection April 6, 2022, from 4:15-5:00pm Central on Zoom.  

I will be sharing a story about our Mutual Aid work for reflection. You can read some of my more recent writings about Mutual Aid here: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/mutual-aid/

This is the Zoom link for Witness Wednesday Silent Reflection:  fcnl.org/ww-stream  

What to expect at Silent Reflection

The space is open for conversation and fellowship beginning at 4 p.m. Central Time.
At 4:15 p.m. CT, a designated convener will gather the group. Often the convener will share a quote or question to help the group focus.
The group will settle into silence. Anyone is welcome to share a message or reflection. We ask that you leave space between messages and only share once.
A few minutes before 5:00 p.m. CT, the convener will close the gathering and invite participants to introduce themselves and share closing thoughts.

To join, visit fcnl.org/ww-stream or register here to receive the information to join by phone.
You shouldn’t need this, but just in case:

  • Meeting ID: 854 485 249
  • Passcode: SR2021

This Wednesday, April 6, I will be sharing this story from my good friend Ronnie James. Ronnie is an Indigenous organizer with twenty years of experience. I’ve been blessed to be involved in the Des Moines Mutual Aid food giveaway program he talks about in this story. Other Mutual Aid projects include court solidarity and bail fund, and food and propane support for houseless communities in Des Moines.

So I work with a dope crew called Des Moines Mutual Aid, and on Saturday mornings we do a food giveaway program that was started by the Panthers as their free breakfast program and has carried on to this day. Anyways, brag, brag, blah, blah.

So I get to work and I need to call my boss. He remembers and asks about the food giveaway which is cool and I tell him blah blah it went really well. And then he’s like, “hey, if no one tells you, I’m very proud of what you do for the community” and I’m like “hold on hold on. Just realize that everything I do is to further the replacing of the state and destroying western civilization and any remnants of it for future generations.” He says “I know and love that. Carry on.”

–Ronnie James

A fundamental part of Mutual Aid is the entire community is involved. We avoid “us” versus “them”. This leaflet is included in the boxes of food we distribute. I know of people who once came for food who are now helping with the distribution of the food.

This photo is from the recent Des Moines Mutual Aid zine that contains excellent articles. DOWNLOAD HERE