When you have a conversation with Pamela Boyce Simms, it's hard not to get every bit as excited about the the topic at hand as she is. During our phone interview a few weeks ago, the self-described evolutionary culture designer spoke at length about the lasting influence of Friends in the major social movements of American history.
"Friends have been at the epicenter of everything - abolition, civil rights, the prisons movement, the peace movement - and I think a large part of that has to do with the contemplative practice that comes with being Quaker," she said.
In July, Simms will deliver "Eco-Justice, Equality and Earthcare," the closing plenary presentation at FGC's annual Gathering in Niagara, NY. Her talk will take audiences through the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation needed to experience unity with our planet. A Buddhist-Quaker with a passion for environmental activism, she explores the intersection of social change and contemplative practice through her work. She currently serves as clerk of New York Yearly Meeting’s Earthcare Working Group and is a Henry J. Cadbury Fellow at the Pendle Hill Quaker Study Center.
For Simms, living with a concern for Earthcare begins when we choose to be more intentional about the way we use natural resources. One of the most significant ways Friends can make a difference, she says, is through their diets.
"It starts with looking at your plate and asking 'where did my food come from, was it 2,000 miles away or from a farm?' Right there, you've got fossil fuels being expended exponentially to get that food to your plate," Simms said.
From there, she explained, it's about looking at what food we buy, where our food comes from, and how much food waste we produce. That awareness makes us more conscious of our impact, which then influences our decisions around food.
"[It's] a shift in consciousness that moves us away from a corporate/capitalist/consumer way of seeing things," she said. "This economic system depends on people being separated and fragmented so they can be exploited and used."
In other words, living with a concern for Earthcare and how we use natural resources is not just a good idea when it comes to living our testimony as Stewards of the Earth - it is a step toward dismantling an economic system that promotes division and inequality.
In addition to adopting "an individual lifestyle revolution to honor the Earth," Simms suggests that Friends interested doing more to promote Earthcare look into local resilience-building efforts (attending meetings with a focus on environmental concerns, for example) and participating in peaceful demonstrations and protests.
Above all, in order to achieve unity with our natural world, Simms says that one must "participate in a shift in consciousness and deepen your spiritual, contemplative practice as a Friend."
Pamela Boyce Simms will present "Eco-Justice, Equality and Earthcare" at the FGC Gathering on July 7th. Explore our evening plenary offerings here.