At the age of sixteen, Jackie Bonomo recalls, “I consciously became aware that we were living wrong on the planet; that our whole culture was going in a wrong direction for harmony with the Earth.” Her early interest in conservation eventually led to a focus on environmental studies and human ecology in college—and, she reflects, a spirituality that’s “very grounded in nature.”
Jackie helped establish a Climate Justice Working Group at State College Friends Meeting. Inspired by Earth Quaker Action Team, she’s learning more about environmentally responsible investing: “You know, we have a lot of Quaker filters that can be put on investments—no tobacco, no alcohol, those kinds of things,” she explains. “No war, no guns, but adding climate change parameters would also make sense.”
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Jackie Bonomo: Every resource we have — oh, I’m getting tearful now– and every support we have in life comes from the Earth, and I get irritated with the idea that we hold in our culture that the economy is above all important and it is only the second economy, the money system. It is an exchange for the community that we used to have and a connection to Earth that we used to have and if we don’t have sustenance, shelter, connection with other people, connection with other beings and species on the planet, and health in all those systems we do not have a functioning economy. People with money may be able to avoid that for a while but not forever. I mean, it depends on all of us, and not only the human all of us but the nature and the balance.
Addressing Environmental Issues as a Spiritual Community
My name is Jackie Bonomo and I live on the side of Mount Nittany, three miles from the meeting house in a town called Lemont, and I attend State College Friends Meeting.
A Lifelong Care for Nature
I think I fell in love with nature early. I think I was 16 when I consciously became aware that we were living wrong on the planet; that our whole culture was going in a wrong direction for harmony with the Earth, and so after that I started a conservation class in high school and then I went to college and did biology for a couple of years and then I transferred into a school that did environmental studies and that was my focus with a specialty in human ecology.
Spirituality Grounded in Nature
I think my spirituality is very grounded in nature. I always– my first two years of college I think was a big unsettling moment to go to college for me. You know, my bearings were shook, I think, and I had to readjust and when I was upset I would go walking and it always calmed me to be out in nature, you know, walking along the river and the woods or across fields, and I would start walking really fast and then I would slow down and breathe easier and by the time I got back to the campus I was at peace, and I think that’s where my spirituality is grounded. And I think my belief is more in an animating vitality in natural systems and in beings and I find it easier to relate to Spirit as female: nurturing and patience and sometimes angry and beautiful, and so I think that’s my grounding.
The Climate Justice Working Group at State College
Our Climate Justice Working Group at State College Friends Meeting started with a Peace and Social Concerns survey and threshing session trying to determine what was the primary issue for members that they wanted us to work on for Peace and Social Concerns. And so we’ve been working on four or five avenues of action and information, and those are education of ourselves, of meeting members, connecting with community members and other faith groups, and then we’re working also on understanding more about advocacy. A couple years ago several of us had gone to a talk by Eileen Flanagan from Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), and she has done a lot of direct action, strategic campaigns to target climate reduction from companies and banks and so forth. And learning also more about finances and trying to share information about financial investments and how those impact funding fossil fuels and instead putting another filter. You know, we have a lot of Quaker filters that can be put on investments — no tobacco, no alcohol, those kinds of things. No war, no guns, but adding climate change parameters would also make sense. And we have a limited time to respond to this and I very much feel the urgency so I’m excited about this.
- 1) What would it look like for your community to address climate justice? Are actions already in place? What are some actions you could take?
- 2) Where do you feel your spirituality is grounded?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.