Saturday, March 15, 2003 Meeting Notes
2. Earth Charter
The meeting convened at Associated Ministries at 10:00 (approximately). Facilitators: Marilyn D. and Rob N.; Agenda: Sheila (of Sheila and Kyle); Notes: Karen H.
Marilyn brought to our attention the late starting time. (10:12). She asked that we dismiss at 11:45 so that members who wished to join peace rally and march called by Foss HS students could do so. Check-in was cancelled so we could discuss our commitment/plans for Earth Charter.
1. Announcements. Dorothy and Elaine - Non-Violent Communication. Dorothy passed around copies of Trainer's Tips outlining the Purposes of Non-Violent Communication focusing on observations, feelings, needs, requests. Dorothy and Elaine have four hours of videotapes and Dorothy asked that they show a half-hour tape at next Saturday's meeting. Group concurs.
Sallie - Banking. We need to open a bank account. Co-signers will be Sallie, Mark, Marion. The account will be opened at Columbia Bank. Each check will bear two signatures.
Cassandra: Asked purpose of account.
Sallie: To pay for events. Expenses include technical and other equipment, postage, et al. Sallie is uncertain of the current amount in our account but thinks its about $1000. She will make a full account of the amount at the time of transfer. Group concurs.
2. Earth Charter.
Introduction of Rob Nevitt.
Rob made introductory remarks. He's a member of SGI - Soka Gakkai Institute, a Buddhist lay organization, whose principles are very similar to the Earth Charter. His own particular interest focuses on ecological issues. He recommended several books including E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.
He outlined briefly the history of the Earth Charter starting with the first UN Charter after WWII, followed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights (how countries deal with individuals.) In the 80's people realized something more was needed. Mikhail Gorbachev and Maurice Strong were UN members active early in the development of the Charter which has been developed through a grass roots process rather than by "just governments." The document was finalized in a final series of meetings in 1997-1999. Last September the City of Seattle City Council adopted the Charter and they are working to integrate the principles in their decision-making process. The Charter has also been adopted by a small Middle Eastern country. (Rob couldn't think of the name of the country.) Quite a few educational organizations have also adopted the charter. The University of Washington has three courses that use the charter as a basis for studying environmental, social and political issues. Last September in Johannesburg at a World Summit the charter was under serious consideration and then dumped at the last moment. The goal is still to get an endorsement from the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly did adopt the decade of 2005 - 2015 as the decade for "Education Sustainability."
Sheila: This group (PPJH) has already adopted the Charter, on Feb. 8.
Rob suggested that we go 'round the circle and each person read a sentence that has meaning for them.
Steve: Interested in integrating the principles of the Charter into his personal life.
Penny: Interested in emphasis on the environment as well as other concerns.
Marilyn: Finds the document very profond. She is interested in integrating from within the general principles and then moving (with that) into the outer world. Without a (system) of principles, a person is inclined to jump from one principle to the next.
Sarah: Feels there is a great deal in the document. She is interested in seeing how groups and governments take action and integrate the ideals of the document. She sees this as likely to be "pretty tricky." A lot of powerful and wealthy interests will feel threatened by the document. She thinks our next war is going to be over water (after war on oil.)
Mark: Is interested in the emergence of a global society; in people seeing their needs in terms of being rather than just having. He distributed a chart discussed by Joseph S. Nye in The Paradox of American Power, labeled "The Diffusion of Governance in the 21st Century."
Erin: Feels we can't wait until 2005-2015 to take action. He is interested in affecting power/corporate groups through boycotts and consumer action groups - you have to start with individuals and how they spend their money.
Justin: Interested in Charter #14 (Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.)
Nancy: #9 (Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social and environmental imperative.)
Kyle: #5 (Protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.) Kyle wants to be an entomologist. He likes bugs.
Sheila: #13c (Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.) Sheila is especially concerned with people's freedom of expression and the difficulties of getting good information.
Benji: Feels the document is very comprehensive. He likes it as a statement of a total response rather than getting lost in isolated issues.
David: As a member of the Eastern Orthodox faith, he's especially interested in matters pertaining to discrimination. He characterizes his faith as very dogmatic. Although he believes in tolerance, he's not interested in "magic blender theology." He wants to preserve the integrity of religious traditions...preserve them from being intruded upon.
Patricia: Interested in educational issues - how to keep people informed. Change is impossible without new information.
Karen: Passes due to note taking.
Tillie: We need to become involved in the political process.
Dorothy: Agrees with Justin about the importance of life-long educational opportunities, starting in the womb. People need to be taught to respect what is going on inside of them and not just to follow the rules. She feels non-violent communication is the way to do this...
Anne: Feels charter is a great document. Would like to see the UN adopt it. She has a question about 12c (Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.) She feels people of all ages should be included. She also has a question about the term "responsible reproduction."
Elaine: Finds charter comprehensive, multi-layered; it intersects with issues that arise in her career - working with people with unmet needs - issues of poverty and oppression. She feels non-violent communication can be used effectively to implement principles of the charter. Would like to see our city council adopt it. She sees it as a document that can be used as a strong referent i.e. just as you can refer problems on the job back to a mission statement.
Rob: That's what's happpening in Seattle with the city council.
Marilyn: Ken Miller has announced his candidacy for city council. We could ask him to look at the charter, perhaps make it a part of his campaign.
Sallie: It's possible we could get everyone running interested...
Rob: In Seattle the charter was presented to all council members, one took an interest and then brought back to council.
Elaine: Tillie is right. We need to try to involve the political process.
Liz: #16 (Promote a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.) The document makes her nervous because we are so far from (realizing) it. (Our culture) tends to pick up something and then dogmatize it. We tend to cling to documents rather than doing what is best and most realistic for now. She doesn't know that it would be possible for the entire world but feels there are great things in it.
Rob: Says charter is more readily accepted in the Southern than in the Northern hemisphere. Countries in Central and South America and Africa have adopted it. It is most difficult (to sell) in this country because people have the most to lose. He agrees with Adam (?) that we need to start with consumerism where a lot of power will be affected.
Jill: First time she's seen the document. She is attracted by the interconnections. She likes the fact that there are a choice of options to work on.
Katrina: Interested in Dave's comments on religion. Interested in 8b (Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and well-being.)
Eric: #9a (Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.) Feels poverty breeds extremism. Interested in asking why groups are angry at U.S. We should try and find out why they hate us.
Michael: Thinks best aspect of the charter is that it gives people the opportunity to talk with each other rather than to each other. Feels charter is a good start.
Pam: Sees lots of value in charter. Feels it will spark serious conversations in the community which will be inspiring and sustaining. Cites examples of re-cycling and the women's movement as ideas that have worked and brought enormous changes.
Bill: Involved in environmental groups. Agrees with Tillie that we need to become politically engaged especially at the local level so that we can continue to advance in ecological as well as other areas.
Sallie: While charter may be viewed as "pie in the sky" it offers a recipe for that pie, although not detailed. Sallie suggests focusing on youth, perhaps in middle schools before they are corrupted...
Karen K: Feels the human race is in a state of adolescent rebellion. Says a precursor of the charter was, in some sense, already written 150 years ago by Baha'u'llah; the second part is the administrative order of the Bahai faith. If one keeps his/her eye fixed on the spot - the truth or wisdom to be realized - one won't lose their balance.
Cassandra: #1a & b. (Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic, ethical and spiritual potential of humanity.) Also interested in efforts with non-violent communication. We need to be able to express ourselves without violence.
Vivi: Feels charter gives us starting point for Conversation Cafes. Talking with and listening to other people will make it grow. We need the experience of ideas vastly different than our own.
Rob: Refers to a book about Tribal Wisdom in the Modern World. Just as we desire environmental diversity, cultural diversity is also important. There are lots of different ways of being human and we're all inter-related. We need to find better ways of dealing with each other.
Marilyn: Asks group how they want to proceed. How do we keep the large number of people that came today involved and interested.
Sallie: Suggests a brainstorming session.
Rob: Has no formula...
Sarah: Wants to know how to find out what consumer products best conform to good ecological and other practices.
Rob: Has list resources. (I will print this separately on the list serve. kh.)
Sarah: Wants to be able to talk to her grocer - to ask for what she wants in products.
Benji: Mentions AddBusters. They have a hand held scanner that will reveal on a monitor ecological and other information about a product. (addbusters.org) He mentions these other internet resources: www.boycottbush.net; boycottwar.net; stopshopping.org.
Rob: Recommends Yes! magazine, and the Puget Consumer Coop in Seattle.
Pam: Asks what our group should do since the charter covers a huge number of topics. She suggests we might break into groups or have sub-committees that report to the larger group.
Liz: Each group member could focus on one item a week.
Rob: Earth Charter USA has local community summits. One in Seattle attracted 70 people the year before last and 250 last year.
Sheila: Interested in local summit.
Mark: Interested in investigating "structure of our world." Although primarily a peace group, we haven't excluded economic or political activity. We could hold a summit and showcase the things we are doing.
Steve: The charter offers opportunities to create bridges to other groups. He and Penny are talking about human rights with a transgender group, for instance.
Elaine: Remarks on the fact that everyone in the room is white.
Steve: There are educational opportunities in inviting dialogue with other groups.
Penny: Expresses concern with the non-critical and vague educational expectations she sees expressed by her children. Example: Her children have been told to "be good citizens and do what we must." It would be OK if the children learned that they have rights...but not that they should "do what they must." Group laughed when she explained that her kids hate Bush but don't know why.
Karen K: Comments on how open children are, how spontaneously wise and open to truth.
Penny: They are also open to what isn't truth...
Karen K: It goes both ways, which is why adults have responsibilities to children.
Marilyn: Notes we have 15 minutes of meeting time left to decide our next week's agenda.
Elaine: Thinks unit on Non-violent communication will take, with the video and discussion, 45 minutes.
Dave: Suggests we break into smaller groups, as 2 or 3 people tend to do all the talking in large groups.
PLU student: (Sorry, don't have name.) Suggests we take on specific task.
Mark: Get ASPLU to adopt charter.
Student: By next week? (Laughter.)
Vivi: Observes that though we are an Earth Charter sponsor, we are still TPJH.
Rob: Organizations that sponsor the charter don't become (the charter.)
Karen K: We could start thinking about the summit or that could be a part of the conversation.
Elaine: Expressed a current concern for fundraising for people who become involved re: the war in civil disobedience. She knows a good local musician who could do a fund raiser. She is interested in an ad hoc committee to raise money.
PLU student: (Sorry, again.) Interested in talking about involving our interest in charter with rest of community.
Vivi and Marilyn: Form groups when we re-convene...
Mark: The world is falling off a cliff right now and it's hard to see clearly to plan [alluding to possibility of war]. Suggests picking a book for a study group.
Benji: Suggests breaking into four sub-groups re: Charter -- 1. Community of Life; 2. Ecological Integrity; 3. Social and Economic Justice; 4. Democracy, Non-violence and Peace.
Rob: Announces meeting in Seattle at Antioch of Earth Charter Northwest next Saturday from 10 to 3. Suggests we send a representative.
Marilyn: Thanks Rob for facilitating our meeting.
Group circle. 11:45. Respectfully, Karen H.