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Gunpowder Friends Meeting Spirit & Nature

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Vision for Gunpowder Friends Meeting’s Relationship to Energy

Draft:  Third Month 2017

This document reflects the discussions that have taken place to date about how we will fully live our 2011 Minute on Spirit and Nature.  Relying on a process known as “Appreciative Inquiry,” we are now moving from the dreaming (or visioning) to the design phase of our work.  The document below is not to be understood as a design—a list of specific things that we will do.  Rather, the document is a vision of what we could look like at our best possible relationship to energy use and consumption.  Our vision will support us through our design phase, when we focus on specific actions and plans that are appropriate for our Meeting at this time.

We are seeking the Meeting’s endorsement of this vision.

From our Minute on Spirit and Nature (2011):

As Quakers, we are called to a right relationship with Nature and all its sacredness.  A right relationship requires that we learn and respect the ways in which Nature works and rediscover our sacred connections.  A right relationship requires that humans share the Earth’s productivity and resources with one another and with other species.  A right relationship requires us to be good stewards of our planet.

We are called to:

  • Encourage one another to live simply and consume mindfully.
  • Be willing to incur the costs and inconvenience of environmental responsibility.
  • Re-imagine what our daily lives could be like in a sustainable world.
  • Operate the Gunpowder Meetinghouse and grounds in ways that are consistent with our calling.


Vision for Gunpowder Friends Meeting’s Relationship to Energy, Draft:  Third Month 2017

The Meetinghouse

Sources of Energy - Solar

            The Meetinghouse and grounds will be an energy resilient place for worship and associated community activities. Energy needs will be supplied through renewable resources; and in particular through on-site solar technologies to support:  1) the usual needs of the meeting; 2) the capacity to support the occasional unique demands of special activities (periodic meetings of the larger Friends community, conferences, weddings, etc.); and the choices of members to travel to the Meetinghouse using electric vehicles.

Measuring Energy Use

            Our pathway to the vision will take steps to minimize energy use that could be derived from fossil fuels by closely monitoring our consumption and by establishing practices of efficient use. This will include a whole building energy audit, constructing a detailed consumption estimate by particular use, and identifying and implementing energy conservation practices—both structural and behavioral—for all uses.  We will continue our practice of periodically assessing our energy use with the help of permanently installed meters that display our usage patterns.

As a concern for the energy required for production of appliances used at the meetinghouse, we will consider the cost throughout the full life cycle of the products.  Some appliance and tools will be shared and not purchased because they are used temporarily or infrequently.

Exploring unseen but important forms of energy

            We will know how other forms of energy occur in the Meetinghouse spaces like radon, electromagnetic fields at radio-frequencies, and otherwise from our appliances, and will take steps to minimize potential health hazards.

The Meetinghouse grounds

Other energy and its effects

            The meetinghouse grounds will be the place of energy capture and use.  Energy is available in many forms there:  the stored energy in the biomass of its plants and the kinetic energy of storm water and wind. The landscape will be managed to disperse the destabilizing energy of storm water runoff. And prevailing wind direction will be considered in landscape plantings and building design.

Managing the biomass

            The Meeting will have one or more places where our biomass litter can be conserved on-site, be processed, and later recycled as mulch.  Other vegetation on the grounds will be managed so that it doesn’t interfere with the solar technology, but also so that it visually shields technology for offsite aesthetic and physical impacts. The lawn area around the building will be reduced to limit the time involved in maintenance.

            Regarding the practices that we use to maintain the appearance of the grounds, the equipment used by members and contractors will not include machines powered by fossil fuels.

Garden & Burials

            To the side of the meeting house we will establish a food garden that is protected from deer browsing and also self-waters from the rain barrel that collects water from the Meetinghouse roof.

            Cemetery practices will  include the option for green burials. And the cemetery grounds will be maintained through grazing of sheep.

Sharing our practices

            People who want to follow our progress to our vision will be able to track it on our website where they will find pictures and links to descriptions of our practices and periodic reports of their performance.  All members, including Young Friends, will be familiar with the actions we have taken because they will be included in the planning and implementation of the projects toward achieving our Vision.