Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Minutes on nuclear weapons | Actas en armas nucleares

– Minute approved by Monteverde Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of FriendsAugust 12, 2018

– Acta aprobada por la Reunión Mensual de los Amigos de Monteverde, 12 de agosto, 2018

Español abajo.

To All Friends Everywhere

Consistent with the Friends Peace testimony, Monteverde Monthly Meeting and San Jose Monthly Meeting (pending approval) call on all Friends everywhere to support   the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, signed by 122 Nations and ratified on July 5, 2018 by Costa Rica and 18(?) other nation states. We stand with the leaders and the citizens of Costa Rica, our home, in their commitment to a democracy without war or weapons. We thank our trusted leaders in Costa Rica and the leaders of other peace-filled nations for their work to rid the world of the threat of nuclear warforever

 Furthermore, the Monteverde Monthly Meeting and San Jose Monthly Meeting (pending   approvalwill examine the ways we are complicit in the nuclear weapons industry-especially any inadvertent funding for those activities in our
investments, purchases and other business transactions and we will plan for ways to eliminate altogether our participation in the nuclear weapons industry,
thus fulfilling our obligation to this historic treaty

Weapons of mass destruction threaten ALL life on earth and are contrary to
everything we believe

 “A Todos los Amigos por Todas Partes”

Conforme al Testimonio de los Amigos sobre la Paz, las Reuniones Mensuales de los   Amigos de Monteverde y de San José (pendiente de aprobación) invitan a los Amigos por   todas partes a soportar el Tratado sobre la Prohibición de Armas Nucleares de la NU,   firmado por 122 países y ratificado el 5 de julio, 2018 por Costa Rica y 18(?) otros países.   Acordamos con los líderes y los ciudadanos de Costa Rica, nuestro hogar, en su   compromiso a una democracia sin guerra y sin armas. Agradecemos a nuestros  líderes   de confianza en Costa Rica y los líderes de otros países pacíficos por su trabajo de   eliminar del mundo la amenaza de guerra nuclear–para siempre.

Más aún, Las Reuniones Mensuales de Monteverde y de San José (pendiente de   aprobación) examinarán las maneras en las cuales tenemos complicidad  en la industria   de armas nucleares, especialmente fondos inadvertidamente soportando esas actividades   industriales incluidos en nuestras inversiones, compras, y otras transacciones de negocio,   y planificarán medios de eliminar en todo nuestra participación en la industria de armas   nucleares, por eso cumpliendo nuestra obligación a éste tratado histórico.

Armas de destrucción maciza amenazan toda la vida de la tierra y están opuestas a todo   que creemos. 


A Spirituality of Walking

by Tim Lietzke

I have a request to make but let me begin with some thoughts about walking. We all know that walking is good for our brains, hearts, other body parts, and sleep. But there’s more to walking than helping our bodies function a little better. I remember watching, years ago, a regular length film with no dialogue, a sort of visual cosmology of the evolutionary development of planet Earth. At the beginning the pace was so slow I felt a little impatient for “something” to happen. Humans came on the scene only at the very end and then shortly the action was so frenzied as to produce anxiety and a complete inability to take it all in. Another image. Thirty-five or forth years ago, I read a theological work entitled “The Two Mile-an-Hour God”. I don’t remember the contents, but the title has stuck with me. To me it suggests that the Spirit is moving more at the pace of evolutionary development than the frenzied pace of much of human activity. Two miles per hour is a slow, meditative walk. Drive at two miles per hour and you’ll probably get a ticket or be honked off the road.

So why do I walk? First, I should say that walking is just one of those things I do every day, like eating, sleeping, reading, and practicing yoga. A day without walking would be as incomplete as a day without thinking or meditating. So there’s an inner necessity to walk. To be sure, I could buy a vehicle of some sort, a bicycle say, if I had no more need than simply to get around. But I don’t want a vehicle. The inner sense of spiritual freedom in being vehicle-less is great. Understand that I’m not against vehicles per say. I do take advantage of them, but I like to do so only when it’s especially necessary. At times when I don’t need to walk very fast, I do walking meditation, that is, putting breath and footsteps in sync, say four steps for every in-breath and four for every out-breath. That centers the mind and body.

Walking provides me the opportunity for reflection, for pondering life questions. When I was studying in England in the late 70s, I went to a week-long theological conference in Bonn and from there to some of the German university towns, including Heidelberg for a week to visit a friend, who was studying philosophy there. We walked along the Philosopher’s Way on the ridge overlooking the town. I have the feeling, partly inspired by that experience, that philosophers throughout the ages have tended to be walkers. There is some logic in thinking that philosophers tend to be walkers since most philosophically minded people agree that living the good life entails balance, one element of which is moving the body.

When walking I tend to notice things around me more than when riding in a car. My communion, my feeling of oneness with the life around me, is deeper. In a car, if I think about it at all, I feel more like an alien–and thus alienated–in an earthship passing through. By contrast, on the sidewalks and pathways I meet people; sometimes we stop to chat. With some there is no verbal connection beyond “hello, how are you?”, but our frequent passing has created a bond. And then if and when the conversation does happen to come, it comes easily because we already have an incipient, unspoken friendship.

In spite of the overabundance of vehicles in the world, great masses of the world’s people are walkers. That’s how the poor especially get around–to fetch water or firewood, to go to the fields to grow food, to travel to the next village. I walk in solidarity with them. By birth and education I may not qualify as a campesino, but at heart I am one. My heart is attracted to the campesinos of the world, even as my mind is attracted to the philosophically inclined. The poor who walk have small environmental footprints. They’re not the ones causing global warming though unjustly they’re generally the first to suffer from it. I don’t want to increase their suffering if I can help it, and so I walk.

Many of us came to Costa Rica partly to flee the way and pace of life in North America. So why don’t we walk more? Is it injury? Being out of shape? Thinking we’re too busy? Still tied to old habits? Injuries can be a serious problem. It was rough going for 6 or 8 months after tearing my Achilles tendon two years ago, and months more to overcome the habit of limping. Being out of shape can usually be reversed, little by little, if there’s the will. I doubt that everything we do is so important as to make us too busy to walk. Old habits are usually best overcome by conscious substitution.

Finally, for my request. I know Friends mean well by the many offers of rides. Much of the time I have accepted just for the opportunity to talk. Sometimes when it’s raining enough to really get wet or when I’m running late for Meeting, rides have been most appreciated. But to be honest, I don’t need a ride just to be relieved of the necessity of walking. The walking part of my humanity is still alive and I want to keep it alive. Walking, for me, is a physical, mental, and spiritual necessity, as I’ve suggested above. So unless it’s raining more than a drizzle or you see I’m running late to Meeting or you just want to talk, don’t waste gas slowing down and stopping. Just smile and wave or give me the thumbs-up as you pass, and I’ll do the same.

Paul’s electric golf cart makes him smile. I appreciate that. It makes me smile, too. But what makes me smile even more is the thought of 50 Friends in groups of two or three walking to Meeting while softly sharing thoughts on vital life questions. Wouldn’t that be a grand preparation for worship and communion in Spirit?


Una Espiritualidad de Caminar

Escrito por Tim Lietzke

Tengo una solicitud pero antes déjeme empezar con algunos pensamientos sobre el paseo, es decir, el acto de caminar. Todos saben que caminar es bueno para nuestros cerebros, nuestros corazones, otras partes del cuerpo, y para el sueño. Pero el paseo tiene que ver con algo más que ayudar nuestros cuerpos a funcionar un poco mejor. Recuerdo haber mirado, hace muchos años, una película de largo metraje sin diálogo, un tipo de cosmología visual del desarrollo evolutivo del planeta Tierra. Al principio el paso estaba tan lento que me sentía un poco impaciente para ver algo pasar. Los seres humanos vinieron en la escena sólo al cabo y dentro de poco la acción estaba tan frenética como producir ansiedad y una completa incapacidad para comprender lo que pasaba. Otra imagen. Hace 35 o 40 años que leí un libro teológico titulado “El Dios de Dos Millas por Hora”. No recuerdo los contenidos, pero el título se ha pegado. El título sugiere que el Espíritu está moviendo más al paso del desarrollo evolutivo que al paso frenético de muchas de las actividades humanas. Dos millas por hora es una lenta caminata meditabunda. Si dirige el carro a dos millas por hora, probablemente recibirá una boleta por velocidad demasiado lenta o pitarán hasta que salga del camino.

Entonces, por qué camino? Ante todo, quiero decir que el paseo es simplemente una de las cosas que hago cada día, como comer o dormir o leer o practicar el yoga. Un día sin caminar sería tan incompleto como un día sin pensamiento o meditación. Por tanto hay una necesidad interior a caminar. Sin duda podría comprar un vehículo de algun tipo, tal vez una bicicleta, si tuviera ninguna otra necesidad que viajar. Pero no quiero tener un vehículo. El sentido interior de la libertad espiritual en estar sin vehículo es grande. Entiende que no contrapongo vehículos por si mismo. Aprovecho de ellos, pero agrado hacer así solamente cuando está especialmente necesario. A veces cuando no necesito caminar muy rápido, hago meditación de caminar, es decir, poner la respiración y las pisadas en sincronización, por ejemplo, cuatro pisadas por cada aspiración y cuatro pisadas por cada exhalación. Eso centra la mente y el cuerpo.

El paseo me provee la oportunidad de reflexión, para pensar en las cuestiones de la vida.
Cuando estudiaba en Inglaterra en los últimos años de los 70s, fui a Bonn para asistir una conferencia teológica de una semana de duración y desde allá a algunas alemanes ciudades universitarias, incluyendo Heidelberg durante una semana para visitar a un amigo, que estudiaba folosofía en la universidad. Caminábamos en el Camino de los Filósofos, del que miramos abajo a la ciudad. Tengo el sentido, en parte inspirado por esa experiencia, que filósofos a lo largo de los siglos han tendido a ser peatones. Hay alguna lógica en pensar que filósofos tienden a ser peatones ya que mucha gente de mente filósofa acuerdan que vivir la buena vida envuelve equilibrio, del que un elemento es mover el cuerpo.

Cuando camino tiendo a observar cosas a la redonda más que cuando viajo en un carro. Mi comunión, mi sentido de unidad con la vida rodeandome es más profunda. Dentro de un carro, si pienso en lo por casualidad, me siento más como un ser de otro planeta –y por consiguiente enajenado– en una tierranave atravesando. Por contraste en las aceras y las sendas topo con varias personas y a veces paramos para charlar. Con algunas no hay ninguna conexión verbal salvo por “Hola, ¿Cómo está?”, pero nuestra pasada frecuente ha creado una atadura. Entonces, si y cuando la conversación venga, viene fácilmente porque ya tenemos una incipiente amistad tácita.

A pesar de la sobreabundancia de vehículos en el mundo, grandes masas de la gente del mundo son peatones. Es el modo por el cual los pobres en particular viajan–para ir a buscar el agua o la leña, para ir a los campos donde cultivan hortalizas y frutos, para viajar al aldea cercana…Camino por solidaridad con ellos. Por nacimiento y por educación tal vez no califico como un campesino, pero soy uno en el fondo. Mi corazón es atraído a los campesinos del mundo, aun cuando mi mente es atraído a ellos de inclinación filósofa. Los pobres que caminan tienen pequeñas huellas ambientales. Ellos no son la gente causando el calentamiento de la Tierra aunque injustamente sean en general los primeros que sufren como consecuencia. No quiero aumentar sus sufrimientos si puedo evitarlo, y por lo tanto camino.

Muchos de nosotros vinieron a Costa Rica, en parte, para fugarnos del modo y el paso de la vida en Norteamérica. ¿Así por qué no caminamos más? ¿Es porque tenemos heridas? ¿No estamos en forma? ¿Sentimonos demasiado ocupados? ¿Estamos habituados a no caminar? Las heridas pueden estar un problema serio. Estaba duro durante 6 o 8 meses después de distender el tendón Aquiles hace dos años, y unos cuantos meses más para superar el hábito de cojear. No estar en forma se puede invertir, poco a poco, si hay la voluntad. Dudo que todo lo que hacemos esté tan importante que a la verdad no tenemos el tiempo para caminar. Usualmente los hábitos viejos y inútiles son superado por substitución deliberada.

Por fin, perteneciente a mi solicitud. Sé que los Amigos tienen buenas intenciones cuando me ofrecen un aventón. Muchas veces he aceptado simplemente por la oportunidad de hablar. A veces cuando está lloviendo bastante para mojarme o cuando ando atrasado al Mitin un aventón es muy apreciado. Pero francamente no necesito un aventón para liberarme de la necesidad de caminar. La parte de mi humanidad concerniendo con caminar es todavía viva y quiero mantenerla viva. Para mi, caminar es una necesidad física y mental y espiritual, como he sugerido más arriba. Por consiguiente al menos que esté lloviendo más que una llovizna o vea que estaré tarde al Mitin o quiera hablar, no gaste el gas por reducir la marcha de su carro y parar. En cambio, sonría y agite la mano o deme la buena suerte cuando me pasa y haré lo mismo.

El carro eléctrico de Paulo lo hace sonreír. Aprecio eso. Me hace sonreír también. Pero lo que me hace sonreír aun más es el pensamiento de 50 Amigos en grupos de dos o tres caminando al Mitin mientras compartan bajamente sus pensamientos sobre vitales cuestiones de vida. ¿No sería una grande preparación para el culto y la comunión en Espíritu?

A Moment to Pause

by Sue Gabrielson

Often the best moments of our lives arise within the pauses.” – The Elephant Journal

Each day, as part of my own spiritual practice, I write a quote on the board in my office. I find these inspiring words here and there, in books, on-line, from past sermons I have preached. This quote, I left displayed for several days. It struck me as what is often most important to remember.

At a busy school like ours, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of the day. Morning assembly precedes a day of interesting classes and assignments punctuated by mini-courses, study hall or extra test preparation sessions. Teachers are consumed with worry for their struggling students and with keeping the high achievers appropriately challenged while they wrestle with broken copy machines and intermittent internet. They have arrived early sacrificing sleep and family only to discover their prep time consumed by an unexpected challenge. Other staff are holding the multiple responsibilities of educating, community building, organizing, keeping the vision and tending to the everyday business of running a school, while they juggle their million diverse responsibilities.

Then, students arrive in various states of disrepair: hungry, drenched from the rain, tired from the hike from San Luis, needing the nurture of their chosen MFS family. We join in embracing a new day often fraught with chaos and demands. BUT, what we know, what we re-learn each day is that it is true that the best moments of our lives arise within the pauses. And, how amazing it is that we live and work and learn in a place that is willing to stop and live the pauses.

Students console each other, offer compassionate care across every grade and extend their love to the greater community and to the forest and flowers. We take time to eat together (often sharing our food with those who have less), to follow the butterflies, to watch the insects (and scary reptiles) that call school their home, to greet each other with authentic concern, to share our joys and sorrows, to gaze at the guans or mot mots that have graced us with their presence and to play together. From the outside, our days may appear busy and scheduled, consumed with the objective we all hold of “being a great school.” But, I think that it is in the pauses, that we are learning to be our best selves and what it means to be beautiful humans in a world that seems to move too fast to recognize the spaces in between where miracles happen. How fortunate we are to live, teach and learn in this amazing community we call MFS.


Un momento de pausa

escrito por Sue Gabrielson

A menudo los mejores momentos de nuestras vidas surgen dentro de las pausas.” El Diario del Elefante

Cada día, como parte de mi propia práctica espiritual, escribo una cita en la pizarra en mi oficina. Encuentro estas palabras inspiradoras aquí y allá, en libros, en línea, en sermones que he predicado en el pasado. Esta cita, la dejé expuesta durante varios días. Me impresionó como lo que a menudo es más importante recordar.

En una escuela tan concurrida como la nuestra, es fácil quedar atrapado en el caos del día.

La Asamblea de la mañana precede a un día de clases y asignaciones interesantes acentuada por mini-cursos, sala de estudio o sesiones de preparación de pruebas extras.

Los maestros son consumidos con preocupación por sus estudiantes con necesidades y con mantener a los estudiantes de alto rendimiento debidamente desafiados mientras luchan con máquinas copiadoras descompuestas e Internet interrumpida. Han llegado temprano sacrificando el sueño y la familia sólo para descubrir que su tiempo de preparación ha sido consumido por un desafío inesperado. El resto del personal tiene las múltiples responsabilidades de educación, construcción de la comunidad, organización, mantenimiento de la visión y la administración cotidiana de dirigir una escuela, mientras que hacen malabares con sus millones de responsabilidades.

Luego, los estudiantes llegan en varios estados de deterioro; hambrientos, empapados de la lluvia, cansados ​​de la caminata de San Luis, necesitando el sustento de su familia elegida en MFS. Nos unimos aceptando un nuevo día a menudo lleno de caos y exigencias. PERO, lo que sabemos, lo que reaprendemos cada día es que es cierto que los mejores momentos de nuestras vidas surgen dentro de las pausas. Y, qué asombroso es vivir y trabajar y aprender en un lugar que está dispuesto a detenerse y vivir las pausas.

Los estudiantes se consuelan, ofrecen cuidado compasivo a través de cada grado y extienden su amor a la comunidad mayor y a los bosques y a flores. Nosotros nos tomamos tiempo para comer juntos (a menudo compartir nuestra comida con los que tienen menos), para seguir las mariposas, observar a los insectos (y reptiles que dan miedo) que llaman a la escuela su casa, para saludarnos con auténtica preocupación, para compartir nuestras alegrías y penas, mirar las pavas o pájaros bobos que nos han honrado con su presencia y jugar juntos. Desde el exterior, nuestros días pueden parecer ocupados y consumidos por horarios con el objetivo que todos tenemos de “ser una gran escuela”.

Pero, creo que es en las pausas, que estamos aprendiendo a ser nuestro mejor yo y lo que significa ser bellos seres humanos en un mundo que parece moverse rápido para reconocer los espacios entre los que suceden los milagros. Cuan afortunados somos de vivir, enseñar y aprender en esta increíble comunidad que llamamos MFS.

Getting From Here To There With A Smaller Footprint

by Tim Curtis

In the March meeting for business, School Committee brought a proposal for modifications to the parking lot area, in order to address school parent concerns about safety. We approved most, but not all, of the proposal, but there was some reluctance. Some felt that we should not accommodate to the dramatic increase in car use to bring students and staff to and from school, without addressing the environmental impact of so many gasoline and diesel-powered cars going to and from school daily, and making some effort to reverse this trend. Tim Lietzke and I volunteered to initiate a community-wide discussion to explore ways to fulfill our transportation needs with less traffic.

On July 30th, after meeting for worship, Tim L. and Katy Van Dusen facilitated a brainstorming session on transportation for meeting members and attenders. With twenty-some people in attendance, everyone began by filling out a questionnaire about our transportation needs and practices. Then, together we compiled a composite list of our needs, and brainstormed a long wish list of solutions, none of course without many complications – perhaps explaining why they haven’t happened yet. Finally, we divided into three working groups, each focused on one of the possible solutions to plan actions to be taken.

The three working groups focused on shared shopping, ride-sharing both locally and to and from the Central Valley, and institutionalized shared vehicles. One concrete action that came out of the session was the formation of groups on Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as a telephone network, for people both needing and offering rides. The shared shopping group made plans to put up signs for interested people and to explore possibilities for making group orders.
We purposely began our discussions with the Meeting because (1) it is always a good practice to begin a change with one’s self (or in this case, our selves), and (2) if school parents saw the Meeting leading by example they would be more inspired to explore new possibilities themselves. With this in mind, and using the results of the surveys filled out on July 30th to identify possibilities for ride-sharing to and from the meetinghouse, we drafted a proposal to the September meeting for business. We proposed setting a goal of halving the number of fossil-fueled vehicles traveling to meeting, by consistent ride-sharing, walking or biking, or replacement of fossil-fuel vehicles with electric ones. The proposal was adopted, but not without airing some of the complications which make car-pooling challenging.

On September 21, at the monthly MFS Parent-Teacher meeting, I briefly reported on the initiatives taken by the Meeting and invited the school community to think of ways to also reduce their vehicle use to and from school. A sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in joining the ride-share group on Facebook and WhatsApp, and for interest in forming a parent committee to explore possibilities. I’m hoping this committee can come up with some ideas that could be proposed at a future parent meeting.

Looking at the challenges and the possibilities in this transportation issue presents many of the same dilemmas we face when trying to effect other changes in in our lifestyles. To coordinate with others, we lose some flexibility, some independence. If we wait to go to the hardware store until it coincides with another’s needs, it may delay fixing the sink or planting the garden. Or we may have two hours of unscheduled time (to “kill”, if we choose to look at it that way) in town between commitments, if we want to avoid two trips in the same day. So we have a tension between our desire to reduce our negative impact on our planet and our desire to make the most of our time. How to deal with that tension is worthy of our reflection, and could easily be a topic for another article.


Trasladarse Desde Aquí Hasta Allá Con Una Huella Más Pequeña

Escrito Por Tim Curtis

En la reunión de acuerdos de marzo, el Comité Escolar trajo una propuesta para modificaciones al parqueo, en respuesta a las preocupaciones de los padres y madres de los estudiantes sobre la seguridad. Aprobamos la mayoría, pero no todos los elementos de la propuesta, pero hubo alguna renuencia. Algunos sentían que no debemos acomodarnos al aumento dramático de uso de carros para traer a los estudiantes y personal a la escuela, sin enfrentar el impacto ambiental de tantos carros de propulsión petrolera viajando diariamente entre la escuela y los hogares y hacer algún esfuerzo para revertir esta tendencia. Tim Lietzke y yo nos ofrecimos para iniciar una discusión a nivel de comunidad para explorar formas de satisfacer nuestras necesidades de transporte con menos tránsito.

El 30 de julio, después de la reunión de adoración, Tim L. y Katy Van Dusen facilitaron una lluvia de ideas sobre el transporte para los miembros y asistentes del Meeting (la Junta Cuáquera). Con veinte y resto en asistencia, todos empezamos con llenar un cuestionario sobre nuestras necesidades y prácticas de transporte. Luego, recopilamos juntos una lista colectiva de nuestras necesidades de transporte e hicimos una larga lista de deseos para soluciones, ningunos sin sus complicaciones – que podría explicar por qué no se hayan hecho realidad hasta la fecha. Finalmente, dividimos en tres grupos de trabajo, cada uno enfocado en una de las soluciones posibles para planear acciones para tomar.

Los tres grupos de trabajo fueron enfocados en viajes compartidos para compras, transporte compartido tanto local como al Valle Central, y los vehículos compartidos institucionalizados. Una acción concreta que salió de la sesión fue la formación de grupos en Facebook y WhatsApp, junto con una red telefónica, tanto para personas que necesitan transporte como para las que lo ofrecen. El grupo trabajando en los viajes compartidos para compras hizo planes para fijar rótulos para personas interesadas y explorar las posibilidades para hacer pedidas en grupo.

A propósito iniciamos nuestras discusiones con el Meeting, por qué (1) siempre es buena práctica
comenzar un cambio con uno mismo (o en este caso, nosotros mismos) y (2) si los padres y madres de la Escuela vieran el Meeting liderando con el ejemplo, se inspirarían más a explorar nuevas posibilidades ellos mismos. Pensando en esto, y utilizando los resultados de los cuestionarios llenados el 30 de julio, se identificaron las posibilidades para transporte compartido entre las casas y el culto y otras actividades en la Escuela, y redactamos una propuesta para la reunión de acuerdos de septiembre. Propusimos ponernos una meta de reducir el número de vehículos de combustible fósil viajando al culto a la mitad, por medio de consistentemente compartir el transporte, caminar o andar en bicicleta, o reemplazar nuestros vehículos de combustible fósil con los eléctricos. La propuesta se aprobó, pero no sin expresar algunas de las complicaciones que nos desafían en tratar de compartir el transporte.

El 21 de septiembre, en la reunión mensual de familias y maestros de la escuela, informé brevemente sobre las iniciativas tomadas por el Meeting y invité a la comunidad escolar pensar también en formas de reducir su uso de vehículos entre la casa y la escuela. Se circuló una hoja para que los interesados se apuntaran para el grupo de Facebook y WhatsApp y para formar un comité de padres y madres para explorar las posibilidades. Estoy esperando que este comité pueda traer unas ideas a una futura reunión de madres y padres de familia.

Contemplar los retos y las posibilidades de este tema del transporte presenta muchos de los mismos dilemas que enfrentamos cuando tratamos de efectuar otros cambios a nuestros estilos de vida. Para coordinar con otros, perdemos algo de flexibilidad, algo de independencia. Esperar para ir a la ferretería hasta que coincida con la necesidad de otra persona podrá atrasarnos en arreglar la fregadera o sembrar la huerta. O podremos tener dos horas de tiempo libre (para “matar” si queremos verlo así) en el pueblo entre dos compromisos, si queremos evitar dos viajes en el mismo día. Así hay una tensión entre el deseo de reducir nuestro impacto negativo a nuestro planeta y el deseo de aprovechar al máximo nuestro tiempo. Cómo manejar esa tensión es digno de nuestra reflexión y bien podría ser tema de otro artículo.

Transforming our Transportation Use for Quaker Meeting

Goal: To halve the number of internal combustion engines that we drive to meeting by 1 Jan 2018.

The baseline data as of 24 September 2017 (number of families):

21 Always walks
8 Does not own car. Walks, sometimes gets rides
4 Electric car
3 Sometimes eBikes, sometimes drives
1 Moto
13 Sometimes drives. Sometimes walks, motos, or gets rides.
0 Usually carpools with people with cars, leaving at least one car at home
18 Usually drives

Let’s cut the number of “usually drives” to 9 and the “sometimes drives” to 6!

Another way to measure our progress is by counting the number of people, the number of electric vehicles and the number of internal combustion cars in the parking lot. On the first of October there were 69 people in meeting, 3 electric vehicles, and 10 internal combustion vehicles, 6.9 people for every fossil fuel car. We encourage people who live farther away to give rides to people who live closer. See the list on the meeting room bulletin board to see who you can carpool with. It is a great opportunity to connect with your neighbors.


Meta: Reducir a la mitad el número de motores de combustión interna que conduciremos hasta el 1 de enero de 2018.

Los datos de referencia al 24 de septiembre de 2017 (número de familias):

21 Siempre camina
8 No tiene carro. A veces coge ride.
4 Carro eléctrico
3 A veces anda en eBike, a veces maneja
1 Moto
13 A veces maneja. A veces camina, coge ride, o anda en moto.
0 Por lo general comparta transporte con gente con carro, dejando por lo menos un carro en casa.
18 Por lo general, conduce.

Vamos a reducir el número de “Por lo general concude” a 9 y las “a veces maneja” a 6!

Otra manera de medir nuestro progreso es contar el número de personas en el culto, el número de vehículos en el parqueo.. El 1 de octubre habían 69 personas en el culto, 3 vehículos eléctricos y 10 carros, 6.9 personas por cada vehículo de combustible fósil.

Animamos a las personas que viven más lejos a dar ride a las personas que viven más cerca. Vea la lista en el el salon del culto para ver con quién puede compartir transporte. Es una gran oportunidad para conectar con sus vecinos.

Business as usual / Aquí no pasa nada

by Paul Smith

I have never met a climate change sceptic in the Monteverde area. Our claim to fame is creating large private reserves and promoting conservation through our institutions. But all is not well.

Like most parts of the world, we have been slow to confront a principle reason for climate warming, our transportation system based on fossil fuels. As we in Costa Rica become steadily more affluent, each year 5 percent more cars are added to our congested roads and parking lots. There seems to be no way to stop this trend.

In western society a personally owned car gives us status, the newer the car the better. The car is well promoted by our financial institutions. It is our sacred cow. Traffic jams and gridlock do not seem to reduce its popularity.

Most of our commutes are less than ten miles. What is the problem with a bicycle? Culture again. What I hear is “Oh, it’s not cool. That is what children do. I am not strong enough; it’s too dangerous”. Yes, our hills in Monteverde can be a challenge for an octogenarian like myself. But as I have discovered, adding a small electric motor and battery to my bike makes going up hill as easy as going down.

Three values in our culture, I think, explain our addiction to the automobile and why that addiction is the last thing car lovers want to think about.

Convenience: Cars give us greater freedom. Fill the tank and we are off to the city or beach with the family on an impulse. No bus schedules to consult.

Comfort: Role up the window, set the temperature control, put on the radio, and enjoy the scenery.

Speed: Step on the gas. The only limitations are traffic jams, bumps in the road, speeding tickets, and pesky walkers and bikers getting in the way.

If, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, we would have to conclude that having a personal car is a higher priority than the world we are leaving to our grandchildren. We are affluent. We have the money. Why not spend it on a car? I would call this a serious moral dilemma.

Survival of our species is dependent on humanity learning to live in harmony with nature. Will “business as usual” prevail or can we become more aware and chose a road to survival?

When the car was invented over a hundred years ago it was powered by either an electric motor and batteries or a gas motor. In time the latter won because of its superior range. Unfortunately the gas motor has helped creat humanity’s greatest crisis, global warming. In spite of the Paris Accord and hearing about global warming in the news every day, the dominant response continues to be “business as usual”. Is there any hope? Fortunately science and technology give humanity new options and hope for a promising future if we move forward quickly.

Technologies such as solar panels, smart grids, and batteries make it possible for renewable sources–solar, wind, hydro, and tidal– to meet our energy needs. And improvements are being made almost daily. Sustainable energy along with improved motors and batteries can eliminate the need for dirty fuel, a phenomenal innovation. This has the potential to revolutionize all forms of transportation, public and private.

Tesla Company’s innovations have changed history and initiated the demise of the dirty internal combustion engine. Understanding “car culture” they exceeded all expectations by making their first electric automobile surpass the gas car in convenience, comfort, and speed. At present only the rich can afford the price tag. So for now the fossil fuel industry is still in the driver’s seat with low fuel prices, and they’re putting up a good fight to survive. Manufacturing of EVs on a commercial scale and creating the necessary infrastructure, such as charging stations and services, are the present challenges. Convenience, comfort, and speed based on clean energy at a competitive price is in sight.

So the game is over for fossil fuels. We just don’t know the date. Country after country is passing legislation to stimulate the transition, with Norway leading the way. Two years after Norway passed legislation to favor EVs, more than 40% of its new vehicles are electric. In spite of Costa Rica’s ambitious goal to be carbon neutral by the year 2021, due to vested interests stimulus legislation still waits in committee and it is “business as usual”. We are lagging behind in leading the way to a bright new future.

Until EVs become readily available, the adoption of simpler modes of mobility, particularly in Monteverde, including the electric bike and the electric golf cart, move us in the right direction. These EVs have a twenty to fifty mile range without recharging, can climb the steepest hills, use only rain water for their batteries, and with few moving parts are easy to maintain.

With my electric bike I get my exercise, and with my electric car I transport my family. I love to slow down as I pass a walker and invite them to hop on. Few decline, but all say thank you. Tourists and I get acquainted. I am your free taxi if you’re going my way. All are winners.

How can we make a difference?

If you are not a walker, you can explore electric bikes or electric golf carts. Information is available from present users. You can carpool or initiate ride-sharing groups.

A few people are already having success with solar panels. Even with the new regulations of ICE the future of solar is bright. You can find out some developments from me. At the moment we are waiting for the leadership of the Belmar Hotel, Los Pinos Hotel and the MV Institute to determine the best provider and get on board. There are about 35 business to choose from. Getting the right one is important.

Letters to and contact with politicians in support of stimulus legislation for renewable energy and electric transport will help.

Phone numbers of Diputados in Puntarenas:
Laura Garro. 2010 8390 2010 8391. Fax 2010 892
Karla Prendes. 2010 8490. 2010 8491
Gerardo Vargas Rojas. 2010 8570. 2010 8571
Carlos Hernandes. 2010 8415. 2010 8416. Fax 2010 8417

In summary, thanks to science and technology the future for a shift to renewable energy and electric mobility is bright. The main obstacle to change is the mind set of the “business as usual” culture. The choice is ours.

So the moral dilemma is this. Do we wait for change to come, knowing that it may not come in time and it may not be what is really good for us, or do we make personal changes now? The ultimate question will be can we learn to live in harmony with nature, even through all the upheavals and trials humanity will face.


Aquí no pasa nada

Escrito por Paul W. Smith

Nunca he conocido a nadie en el área de Monteverde que dude del cambio climático. Nuestra fama viene de crear reservas forestales y de promover la conservación ambiental por medio de nuestras instituciones. Pero no todo está bien.

Como muchas otras partes del mundo nos hemos demorado en hacer frente a una de las causas principales del calentamiento global: nuestro sistema de transporte basado en combustibles fósiles. A medida que Costa Rica se hace más próspera, cada año se añade un 5% más de carros a nuestras ya congestionadas calles y estacionamientos. No parece haber forma de frenar esta tendencia.

En la sociedad occidental tener un vehículo personal nos da estatus –mientras más reciente el modelo, mejor. El automóvil es promovido por nuestras instituciones financieras. Es nuestra vaca sagrada. Las presas y los congestionamientos no parecen disminuir su popularidad.

La mayoría de nuestros viajes al trabajo son de menos de 15 kilómetros. ¿Cúal es el problema con la bicicleta? De nuevo, la cultura. Lo que escucho es “Ay, es que no es atractivo”, o “es cosa de niños”, o “no soy lo suficientemente fuerte”, o “es muy peligroso”. Es verdad que las colinas de Monteverde pueden ser un desafío para un octogenario como yo, pero lo que he descubierto es que añadir un pequeño motor y una batería hacen que subir una colina sea tan fácil como bajarla.

Hay tres valores en nuestra cultura, pienso yo, que explican nuestra adicción a los automóviles y por qué esa adicción es lo último en lo que quiere pensar un amante de los carros.

Es conveniente: Los autos nos dan mayor libertad. Llene el tanque y ya puede irse a la ciudad o a la playa con la familia cuando quiera. No hay que consultar los horarios del bus.
Es cómodo: Suba la ventana, ponga el aire acondicionado, prenda la radio y disfrute el paisaje.
Es rápido: Pise el acelerador. Las únicas limitaciones son las presas, los reductores de velocidad, los policías de tránsito, y los molestos ciclistas y peatones que se meten en el camino.

Si, como va el dicho, las acciones dicen más que las palabras, tendríamos que concluir que tener un carro personal es una mayor prioridad para nosotros que el mundo que le vamos a dejar a nuestros nietos. Nosotros somos prósperos. Nosotros tenemos el dinero. ¿Por qué no gastarlo en un carro? Yo llamaría a esto un grave dilema moral.

La supervivencia de nuestra especie depende de que la humanidad aprenda a vivir en armonía con la naturaleza. ¿Prevalecerá la actitud de que “aquí no pasa nada” o lograremos ser más conscientes y escoger un camino que conduzca a la supervivencia?

Cuando se inventó el automóvil hace más de un siglo, éste era impulsado por un motor eléctrico y baterías o por un motor de gasolina. Con el tiempo el segundo salió victorioso gracias a que podía recorrer mayores distancias. Desafortunadamente, el motor de gasolina ha ayudado a crear la crisis más grande de la humanidad: el calentamiento global. A pesar del Acuerdo de París y de que todos los días se habla en las noticias sobre el cambio climático, la respuesta dominante sigue siendo “aquí no pasa nada”. ¿Hay alguna esperanza? Afortunadamente, la ciencia y la tecnología le han dado a la humanidad nuevas opciones y la esperanza de un futuro prometedor, si avanzamos con rapidez.

Tecnologías como los paneles solares, las redes de distribución eléctrica “inteligentes” y las baterías hacen posible que las fuentes de energía renovable –solar, eólica, hidroeléctrica y oceánica– puedan satisfacer nuestras necesidades energéticas. Y se están haciendo mejoras todos los días. La energía sostenible y los motores y baterías mejoradas pueden eliminar la necesidad de consumir combustibles sucios, lo cual es una innovación fenomenal. Esto tiene el potencial de revolucionar todos los medios de transporte, tanto públicos como privados.

Las innovaciones de la compañía Tesla han cambiado la historia y han sido el principio del fin del motor de combustión interna. Con una comprensión de la “cultura del carro”, ellos sobrepasaron todas las expectativas al hacer que su primer automóvil eléctrico superara a un automóvil de gasolina en términos de conveniencia, comodidad y velocidad. Por el momento sólo los ricos pueden costear un carro de estos. Así que por ahora la industria de los combustibles fósiles sigue estando en el asiento delantero con sus combustibles baratos y está luchando con todas sus fuerzas para sobrevivir. Los principales retos del momento son la manufactura a escala comercial de los carros eléctricos y la creación de infraestructura necesaria, tales como las estaciones de recarga y otros servicios. La conveniencia, la comodidad y la velocidad basadas en energía limpia a un precio competitivo están al alcance.

Se le está agotando el tiempo a los combustibles fósiles. Sólo nos queda por conocer la fecha exacta en que esto sucederá. Un país tras otro están pasando legislaciones para estimular la transición, con Noruega a la cabeza de este movimiento. Dos años después de que Noruega aprobó una ley para favorecer los carros eléctricos, más del 40% de sus vehículos nuevos son eléctricos. A pesar de la meta ambiciosa de Costa Rica de alcanzar la carbono neutralidad en el año 2021, debido a intereses externos la legislación aún está en espera y seguimos con el “aquí no pasa nada”.

Hasta el día en que los vehículos eléctricos estén fácilmente disponibles, la adopción de un modo más simple de transporte, particularmente en Monteverde, puede incluir las bicicletas eléctricas y los carritos de golf eléctricos, los cuales son un paso en la dirección correcta. Estos vehículos eléctricos pueden recorrer entre 30 y 75 kilómetros sin tener que ser recargados, pueden subir colinas empinadas, sólo usan agua de lluvia para las baterías, y con pocas partes móviles son fáciles de mantener.

Con mi bicicleta eléctrica me puedo ejercitar cuando quiera y con mi carrito eléctrico puedo transportar a mi familia. Me encanta darle aventones a personas que pasan caminando. Pocos dicen que no, pero todos me lo agradecen. De esta manera, conozco a muchas personas y soy el taxi eléctrico de los peatones que van en la misma dirección que yo. De esta forma, todos ganamos.

¿Cómo podemos hacer una diferencia?

Si usted no camina habitualmente, pruebe con una bicicleta o con un carrito de golf eléctrico. Puede hablar conmigo o con otros usuarios de estos vehículos para más información. También puede compartir su vehículo o hacer grupos que sirvan para coordinar aventones. Algunas personas ya están teniendo éxito con la instalación de paneles solares. Aun con las nuevas regulaciones del ICE, el futuro de la energía solar es brillante. Puede pedirme información sobre algunos avances recientes. Actualmente estamos a la espera de que los administradores del Hotel Belmar, del Hotel Los Pinos y del Instituto Monteverde determinen quién es el proveedor más confiable de vehículos eléctricos y se suban a bordo. Hay unos 35 proveedores de donde escoger. Es importante tomar bien la decisión.

También puede ayudar poniéndose en contacto con sus representantes políticos e instándolos a que apoyen legislación de estímulo para las energías renovables y para el transporte eléctrico.

Números telefónicos de diputados en Puntarenas –

Laura Garro – 2010 8390 ó al 2010 8391. Fax 2010 892
Karla Prendas – 2010 8490 ó al 2010 8491
Gerardo Vargas Rojas – 2010 8570 ó al 2010 8571
Carlos Hernández – 2010 8415 ó al 2010 8416. Fax 2010 8417

En resumen, gracias a la ciencia y a la tecnología podemos esperar un buen futuro para la energía renovable y el transporte eléctrico. El principal obstáculo es cambiar la mentalidad de la cultura del “aquí no pasa nada”. La decisión es nuestra.

Entonces, el dilema moral es este: ¿esperamos a que vengan los cambios, sabiendo que tal vez no lleguen a tiempo y que puede que no sean lo mejor para nosotros, o empezamos a hacer cambios personales ahora mismo? La pregunta definitiva será ¿podrá la humanidad vivir en armonía con la naturaleza, a pesar de todos los conflictos y dificultades por las que atravesará?

Susie goes to the other side of the quebrada

Dear all:

Well, it has not been a particularly quiet week in Monteverde.

What follows is a little photo vignette of the stroll Susie made this morning to the other side of the impassible chasm in the road, to pay bills and pick up a few things after the hurricane.

“But Susie”, said I to my dear landlady (who had an early-to-mid 70’s birthdsy 2 weeks ago), “it’s steep and muddy and slippery on the footpath down by the Quebrada Maquina” (<-Gringo Translation: stream-cum-raging-torrent, which has since quieted down just a bit). “You sure you want to go?- maybe I can pay it for you….”

“_I have to pay my Caja_, David, just.., , I have to pay my Caja.” (<-GT: Costa-Rican Public Health Care, huzzah – $50 a month, keeps me alive, eat your hearts out, U.S.)

She finds repetition useful sometimes in order to penetrate my thick skull. She’s going to go pay her Caja. I get it now.

Bob (77 six days ago) is going along for Coke and other necessities. I can’t always keep up with Bob’s walking pace, but decide on short notice to tag along anyway. I do have time for a quick cup of coffee and a boiled egg (such a luxury, being able to cook again). I need to pay my Caja too, after all. Perhaps pick up a usb keyboard (the ‘A’ key has just gone out on my laptop, in honor of the utilities’ return; it’s more work than you’d think typing all the ‘A’s on-screen with a mouse. If you see an occasionl missing “A”, tht’s why :-). Besides, nothing like looking for yourself to see how things are going and getting good information (especially in situations like this). Good information is priceless these days.

It’s a 1/2 mile at most to the other side, a walk in the park (literally). Besides, with luck we’ll find Paco, whose car very fortunately was trapped on the other side, and who’s been ranging back and forth on Missions From God and For All Mankind ever since. If we find him he might could give us a lift the rest of the way to the bank and the Mega-Super?…

So off we go. “Take a hat”, said Susie. I hardly ever wear hats. I reflected 3 seconds, unlocked the door, went back in and got my hat.

Chasm looms in the near distance. One hundred 80-lb. sacks of hog feed have made it to this side, brought over no doubt across the same steep muddy foot trail we’re about to cross, by men like the one on the left, who was now proceeding to the dairy’s Home for Hundreds of Hungry Pigs, a further mile down the road.


Susie surveys the Chasm; Bob and Tarcicio (sp?) look on and discuss.


La Cascada’s kiosk building in the drink. Backhoe vigorously on the job. Costa Rica’s Noble Bandera, foreground.

The Chasm in all its glory, with (5′ diameter) culvert (blocked at the other end)..


…and what remains of the house built just a _leetle too close_ to the mighty Quebrada Maquina.

18. So, back 50 meters and down the Garden Path, until…

22. Susie peers into the muddy jungle leading to the Mighty Maquina, 50 meters downstream from The Chasm…

28. Where friendly helpful folks from the Municipalidad helped us down the mudslide, across the puente…

30. …and up the mud on the other side…

35. …to emerge between the House-Half-Gone and the luckier one next door.

36, 38, 39. …from whence Susie proceeded onto the muddy road, and on into the distance, to pay her caja and pick up a little oatmeal.

(1980-09 Whitney summit -see below (“no u dint.” “yes I did too….”))

Of course your intrepid photojournalist made it as far as the pictures go too, and even up into the sun, the dry road and the flat sidewalk just beyond. But no further just right now, please. Susie was already far gone, out of sight; Bob was even farther off. (Bob walked the extra mile clear into Sta. Elena, and then back, a walk he’s made for decades. Bob and Susie got here in the mid-60s, when this was still pretty much the exclusive preserve of pioneers. By the time I got here in ’87, it was more than half settled down, the biologists had moved in, and tourism was just beginning its rise. A lot has changed since 1987. Bob drove here in the 60s, but he doesn’t drive now.)

“I think I’d like to sit down a minute”, I said to myself. “Or no, on second thought, _lying_ down, for, say, 5 minutes, would be even nicer”. Easier on the neck, which has been aching. My pack with its water bag inside made a comfy pillow. Two days ago, I was hauling 5-gallon water jugs uphill. I enjoyed eating very little that day too – a half plate of wonderful high-quality food at Sarah and Rick’s phenomenal Canadian Hurricane Thanksgiving. I believe I’ve dropped 8 lbs. in the last 4 days, and by inclination. (I’ve experienced that before, in those Gatherings of 1000s in the woods that I go on about sometimes).

But yesterday, the hill up to the meeting house was also a bit of a problem for me. Half my life ago, believe it or not, I used to hike 60 miles, off-trail and over steep passes, above timberline, by compass (the Sierra Nevada are 3-D enough to make such navigation easy and fun). Now my lack of stamina appalls me sometimes (enough to change my habits? – probably not…). But I’m a math major, so I know what the ‘4’ in F=1/D^4 means: it means half the arterial diameter yields 1/16 the blood flow. I suspect those puppies are shot, my friends. But, so far at least, no ticker problems, gracias a dios….

A bit light in the skin and head trying to continue walking today, is all. I felt just fine lying down. Rest (and a knowledge of my limits) are all I need, mostly, I think.

People and police passed by; I waved to them from my comfortable reclining position on the sidewalk. The sun beat down on yesterday’s incipient sunburn; I pulled my hat comfortably over my face (what foresight I have at times).

Mirav walked by, and we agreed that we would be even more comfortable on the cool shaded cement of the driveway by (formerly) Bill’s (former) Rock. The dirt was fine – 4 days of it already in these tough old pants. More friendly Muni people summoned friendly Cruz Roja to confirm (as I was pretty sure myself) that my blood pressure and glucose were fine. I suspected my blood oxygen might be low, but I was wrong; it was fine too.

I plotted my 1/2 mile return journey, with its second helping of mud, and the rest stops I planned to enjoy along the way. I had an extra unplanned but welcome rest when the policeman told me no one was allowed through, and to sit on that man’s porch please and wait for Bob and Susie, who might arrive shortly and who apparently were then also not to be allowed to pass.

I understand the pressures this young man’s been under, trying daily to keep people safe. It is about as easy for him to block that flow of people and supplies as it was for the road to block the river.

Seriously folks, that path is getting muddier and slipperier hourly. Someone _could_ break an ankle or fall in. You really don’t want that to happen, especially now. Don’t use the footpath unless you’re _quite competent_ in rough country (like Susie), _and_ unless your mission is _absolutely essential_. Think it out _carefully_ (more carefully than I did, apparently). The road is expected to be passable very soon in any case, even tomorrow, most likely, according to Paco. Ticos, are you ever getting it done. Hats off to you.

I sat for another 15 minutes. Martha Campbell (nearly my age, and born here) and companero came up the path going from Monteverde to Sta. Elena. I mentioned that the police might not want them to be able to return. She noted that the policeman was no longer here, and it occurred to one or both of us that this was probably the time to go home if I was going, which was where I (and the Cruz Roja) knew I belonged.

So, back down into the mud. Why am I not wearing boots? “Want a hand?” asked another friendly guy in a day-glo vest. “Yes, thank you”, said I. I’m not proud; that hand was welcome. I notice in the last couple years that I have passed (hopefully with grace) into the realm of those Seniors who occasionally get a helping hand.

Furthur On, then. One more nice rest at Bajo Tigre, lying in the soft grass this time, and then I was home.

I worried a little about leaving Susie back there. She usually gets a helping hand herself, for example in crossing the ditch by Margaret’s path in the dark. But it was not in the cards for me to go back and help her across the Mighty Maquina today. “Actually, you know, she’s gonna be back any minute”, I said to myself, and she was. Caja paid, oatmeal in hand. “Everyone was so helpful, gave me rides, helped me across the Rio….”

But then what about Bob? A final thing to worry about; I’m a worrier, sometimes. Susie and I were still on the porch talking when Bob came back. He had located and purchased not only his 2-litre Cokes, but .750 litre of Botran Oro Reserve 5 Anos to go with it (a fine Product of Guatemala which I can heartily recommend, if you can find it).

Paco came back too, and mentioned that police had been forbidding anyone at all to cross the Mighty Maquina since day one, which is also before the Miracle of the Manifestation of the 8000 pounds of pig food on our side of the river. Also, that he was heading right back into Sta. Elena and of course would be glad to pay my caja for me and also find me a usb keyboard if one was to be found anywhere in the zone. “Wireless if possible, please”, I said.

He had to wait forever with his number in hand (as one always does in the Banco Nacional) and then another hour when his number came up and the system came down, but that caja got paid. Also the last half of this missive has been written on my brand-new wireless keyboard, which misses nary an ‘A’. I do have to translate this Spanish keyboard into English, but I have taken a little Spanish, and I know that right paren really means left paren, for example.

Chicken noodle soup now warms my comfortable though formerly somewhat chilly frame. It’s from a package, but, man, it hits the spot.

Well, that’s the News from Monteverde, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children, are above average. (<-guess what I’ve been reading for comfort-in-the-dark these last few days).

Be Well, Do Good Work, and Keep In Touch.

-David King

Nate in Monteverde

At two am on Thursday morning I tried to detect where each of the sounds of rain came from – windows, skylight, roof, river. At about the same time in Los Altos de San Luis a landslide smashed into Shannon Smith and Jorge Hincapie’s home in the early hours of the morning.

They were able to crawl out with their young son Matias. At the same time in Cuajiniquil, the river overflowed. There, everyone’s homes flooded. Frank’s rental house was a meter deep. Many boats filled with water and then smashed to pieces in the current. Sometime that morning, the La Presa bridge in Guacimal washed out. All this I learned from Frank, who was in San José with 31 newly-arrived EAP students.

At 7 am there was 275 mm (almost 11 inches) of water in our rain gauge.

This has been a wet rainy season in Monteverde. Between Monteverde Day (19 April) and the end of September, over two meters of rain had fallen. In September, some intense storms went beyond the capacity of our culverts. Roads turned to streams. The road to Mary Rockwell’s was washed out. People swept water out of their houses and repaired leaks in their roofs.

Nate began to pound Costa Rica on Wednesday 4 October. The local emergency commission was meeting at the muni when I passed by on Wednesday. Most of Costa Rica was on red alert. Thursday schools throughout the country were closed.

Thursday morning, when everything else in the country had been cancelled, I had a meeting at the dairy plant with the head of sustainability at Sigma Alimentos. He had flown in from Mexico to talk about how they can engage in CORCLIMA’s efforts to locally mitigate climate change. It had taken him 8 hours to get here from San Jose.

Thursday, we hunkered down in our homes, texting to check in on each other. Electricity went out, then the landlines. As night fell, cellphones went out. Rain continued to fall hard. It was cozy by my wood stove.

Friday morning seemed especially quiet. Monteverde was wrapped in clouds. The rain gauge held 290 mm. Over 11 inches more. Twenty-two inches in two days.

We emerged from our homes and encountered each other on the road, heading to inspect the Quebrada Maquina that had washed away Charlie’s house and left only parts of Rufina’s and Oldemar’s. The cabin where David Rodriguez was living was gone. (All had been evacuated ahead of time.) A chasm separated us from Cerro Plano and Santa Elena.

People picked up supplies at Whole Foods where Pax and Claudia made lists of what people were taking, letting us pay later. Word spread about a community meeting at 11 am. Others said it was at noon.

Water systems were out, but clear water flowed from new springs and in the ditches along the side of the road. An especially pretty spring gushed out from below the path below the Trostles driveway.

Most gathered at eleven at Monteverde Centro. Maricella Solis, logistical whiz, was the member of the local Emergency Commission in charge. Earlier that morning she had shouted with members of the commission on the other side of the Maquina, agreeing to meet again at noon so that we could throw them a message with a rock. At the meeting, we pulled together information and questions for those on the other side. We wrote our names on a list, whether we had enough food for 24 hours, if we urgently needed any medications. A mini-commission of volunteers was formed. We agreed to meet again at 3 pm at the Institute.

Cut off from the outside, we connected with each other on the road, liberated from our screens, talking with neighbors some of us didn’t even know lived here. Eager for news, we shared the bits that we had: a landslide took out 300 meters of road and an electric line in front of the Bello house with the cement animals at the Las Juntas/Tilarán cruce. No roads were open from Santa Elena to the pan am highway. A big landslide on the trocha blocked our way to San Luis. San Luis was also cut off from Santa Elena, many staying in the Centro Comunitario or one of the schools.

At home at 2:40 I heard a landslide. At least I didn’t feel it, not like I had during hurricane Mitch.

The 3 pm meeting was packed and started very promptly. Maricella rushed in with her green hard hat to report that the commission had been attending to other emergencies and so she and Jorge Torres had crossed the quebrada to find them in Santa Elena. She and others shared information: A landslide came down into the Porras house and more might come down. Pass at your own risk. Sign in, if you hadn’t already. ICT is trying to help tourists evacuate. Two Brazilians were especially eager to go. Still no way to go. Drinking water was available at the Bosque and the dairy pant and some farms with their own springs. Use the water from ditches for toilets and bathing. Water is also available from the rainwater catchment tanks at the new teacher house. People without a way to cook at home were invited to use the Institute kitchen or Caburé. Joe had milk for those that needed it. Check on your neighbors. Make sure that animals aren’t stuck in houses. Did anyone need a little solar light (Luci Light)? There is cell signal at Mary Rockwell’s, the trocha and the Campbells. Soon some sections of the roads would not be passable as springs would erupt.

On my way home, I looked for the Friday afternoon scrabble game – which spontaneously happened at Margaret’s with peanut butter sandwiches, candlelight and Luci Lights.

Saturday the sun made us squint, it was bright. Only 4.3 mm in the rain gauge. Phew.

I started looking for the landslide that those of us in the Bajo had heard the day before. I peeked around Frank’s old office toward the 1998 Hurricane Mitch slide. Yikes! There it was. The side of the office opposite the porch was half exposed. Indeed, there were cracks in the soil on the porch side. The office will go any time. Can’t see below the leaves on the upper side. Orange flagging is serving as caution tape.

Hiking toward cell phone signal, I run into Sabine outside the new teacher house. People are crossing the Maquina over a log. She and Tara have walked 17 kms from Los Tornos through slides and mud so that Tara can take the SAT as scheduled. They cannot stay in Sabine’s TreeTop House by the Maquina.

While walking back down from calling Frank from John and Doris Campbell’s, a helicopter circles and lands at the Monteverde History Museum – the Brazilian tourists have paid to leave.

Farther down the road, word is spreading that the police are mandating we all evacuate. I now understand why people would resist evacuation orders.

Three people from the Santa Elena Emergency Commission were at the meeting: Oscar Muñoz (INS), Felipe Quesada (head doctor at the clinic), and a policeman. The meeting started early, as the mandate was provoking much discussion. Names of priority people to evacuate were on the white board… including older people, those with medical needs and those that live near the river. My name was up there. I was assured it was because of the river, not my age.

The three officials explained that they had changed course and decided that evacuation was voluntary, but that if you were to evacuate, “go now”. There were landslides above the Cascada that had caused water to pool and another landslide could come down. Better to go while the sun was out and the bomberos were there to help. Some of the 200 or so people in Monteverde went right home to gather things to go. Most don’t want to go. We have our basic needs: food and water. We agreed to meet at 3 to organize community kitchens and other basic needs for those staying. Medicines were distributed. Lists of needs taken. I give away more Luci Lights. I request a visit from Olman Quesada, architect of our house – and member of the emergency commission most qualified to evaluate the safety of our house.

Susana and Bob come over to pick up the generator and fish from my freezer to boot up the Caburé freezer full of perishables. Olman doesn’t come.

The Saturday afternoon meeting is smaller, and darker. Glenda has brought bread from Stella’s bakery for people to eat. Sarah Juliusson brought food as well. We take stock of who is here by neighborhood, who has left, who has food. We are concerned about security. A few suspicious people from “the other side” have been snooping around empty houses. The road is now impassable below Howard’s driveway. Only walking is possible across the bridge over the Cuecha. People volunteer to work on roads, water. Requests are put in for food for animals, especially cows. Joe says he will be giving away good milk for people, spoiled for animals. I reiterate my request for a visit from Olman.

We disperse to our homes. At 7 pm, I struggle to stay awake by looking at photo albums so that I won’t wake up in the middle of the night.

Sunday morning was partly cloudy. My cell phone had signal. I paid my cell phone bill which would have expired that day.

Thanks to neighbors who encouraged him, Olman arrived and we traipsed on the hillside below the house. We saw new landslides on the office side, but nothing problematic below the house. He said if it were his house, he would stay…. but if it starts to rain a lot, perhaps sleep somewhere else. Gratefully, I have many generous offers of places to go to choose from.

Carol Evans called as Olman and I were in the woods. “Electricity was back in San Luis! The road was open to Puntarenas! The trocha was still blocked. All the rumors about people dying in San Luis were false. All are well. Shannon’s solar panels are working… lights are on there.” …. I said “No, the solar panels are not working!!! Turn off the switch at the meter!” But indeed, we would all be better off with solar power with batteries.

People gathered at the meetinghouse for singing and meeting for worship. “Life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentations…. How can I keep from singing?” No visitors. Lucky advised us on how to use the minimum amount of water to effectively flush our toilets. Teen meeting made cards for how to give to the International Red Cross for relief to Costa Rica. Sue Gabrielson, the school director, asked people to seek for financial support for the school as this storm is hitting school families hard. There would be vacation camp for any kids in the community at the school from 9-12. A break for parents. Tim Lietzke congratulated us on already meeting our goal of cutting the number of internal combustion vehicles in half. I announced that the definition of yoga is finding the calm within the storm and that all are welcome at practice. Many wrote notes on appeal letters.

Sunday’s community meeting was more relaxed and we had only one. A team of Red Cross people were coming to evaluate the risks and needs on Monday. Electricity came on as we met. No one needed a community kitchen yet. Animal food had been delivered by pulley. Cross on the lower trail below Elieth’s and Humberto’s at your own risk. Work was happening on the water lines. Jose Luis reported that there was discussion of fixing the Maquina road in the next few days by either putting the culverts back in place and filling with rock or maybe with a Bailey bridge. Either would be a temporary solution. Susana emphasized that this was climate change and urged us all to follow up on what we had learned at Monica Araya’s talk by getting our legislators to exonerate taxes on electric vehicles. (You can watch Monica’s Monteverde talk on CORCLIMA Moneverde’s Facebook page and google her Ted talk, too.) I explained that Monica had arranged for Mitsubishi to bring up a plug-in Outlander for us to test drive on Monday, but I didn’t think they would make it. Laughter

We feel very, very fortunate. No one in our isolated community has been hurt. We are comfortable and united. We have enjoyed the time without being glued to our screens enjoying each other’s company. Others in Central America have not been so lucky.

Most, but not all, now have water, electricity, landlines, internet. We can wash our hair and our clothes. Not worry about more food going bad. Not worry about our families elsewhere worrying about us.

A helicopter is just leaving now. Soon I will go to the meetinghouse to teach my yoga class and then go to the afternoon community meeting.

This has been a reset. As the new normal evolves, certain things have not changed: the beauty of the natural world around us, the warmth and unity of our community.

Katy VanDusen
9 October 2017

Entering into the Silence

by Tim Lietzke

Recently during worship Lucky offered a message in which she distinguished between “being silent” and “entering into the silence”. I have pondered the difference, and especially the meaning of the latter. Being silent seems clear enough–to stop talking, and perhaps also to stop thinking, and thus to stay attentively open to what is. Entering into the silence is another matter. First, it seems necessary to acknowledge that the one entering into the silence must have been either out of the silence beforehand or not consciously there. Being silent is the preliminary step to entering into the silence. Perhaps “the silence” is one way of expressing the Ground of all being, the creative force of the universe, the presence of God or at least the medium through which the divine presence is known. The silence is what was before all we know was, before the unfolding of the creation from the quantum dimension, beyond time and space. Taken as such, to enter into the silence is to enter the primordial, undifferentiated state of pure Being, if only briefly, leaving behind, as it were, our contingent beings. Let me not be presumptuous here; maybe this state is only that of the brain wave patterns of deep meditation or sleep.

In any case, we grope inadequately, and perhaps mistakenly, for language to describe spiritual states. I won’t try to dilate further on this, but simply recommend entering into the silence ever and again throughout our daily lives. There is so much in the world that is disconcerting, so much to throw us off center. Note how in the course of conversations and events we can easily become emotionally distraught. Entering into the silence anew re-centers us and enables the loving response to what is.

This latter assertion does need elaboration. Augustine suggests that humans are by nature good (and so too is the rest of creation) but fall into evil by virtue of our wills causing us to desire inordinately something (It can be anything.) that is less than the supreme good, that is to say, God. This turning from the supreme good to lesser goods others call idolatry, a more subtle form than the old idolatry of worship of images. Inordinate attachment robs us of our freedom and leads us into ways of living–some habitual, some sporadic, most of seemingly insignificant consequence from the individualistic point of view, others of obviously destructive consequence–that conduce to the sort of world in which we live today. If this be true, it is incumbent upon us to ponder from time to time whether our desires and attachments have become misplaced or inordinate, and thus harmful to ourselves and to the life community of planet Earth. In the silence then we may find ourselves accepted and being made whole and the freedom-robbing power of thoughts, actions, and ways of living based on inordinate desires and attachments loosened. Freedom comes in entering into the silence again and again until it becomes habitual in our daily lives and is experienced as nothing less than coming home.


Entrar en el Silencio

Escrito por Tim Lietzke

Recientemente durante el culto Lucky ofreció un mensaje en el cual distinguió entre “estar silencioso” y “entrar en el silencio”. He pensado en la diferencia, y especialmente en el significado del último. “Estar silencioso” parece bastante claro–dejar de hablar, y tal vez también dejar de pensar, y por eso quedarse atentativamente abierto a lo que esté. “Entrar en el silencio” es cosa aparte. Primero, parece necessario admitir que uno que está entrando en el silencio tenía que haber estado afuera del silencio antes o no conscientemente allá. “Estar silencioso” es la etapa preliminar para entrar en el silencio. Acaso “el silencio” es un modo de expresar la fundación de toda existencia, la fuerza creativa del universo, la presencia de Dios o al menos el medio a través de que la presencia divina está conocida. El silencio es lo que fue antes de todas las cosas que conocemos fueran, antes del despliegue de la creación desde la dimensión quantum, fuera del tiempo y espacio. Tomado así, “entrar en el silencio” es entrar en el estado primordial y indiferenciado de existencia pura, aun si sólo brevemente, dejando atrás, por así decirlo, nuestras existencias contingentes. Déjame no estar presuntuoso en este; quizá este estado es sólo eso de los patrones de las ondulaciones cerebrales de la meditación fonda o de súeño.

En todo caso, andamos a tientas inadecuadamente, y acaso equivocadamente, para las palabras que pueda describir los estados espirituales. No trataré de dilatar más sobre esto, pero simplemente recomendar que entremos en el silencio de nuevo y de nuevo durante todo el día. Hay tan mucho en el mundo que está desconcertante, tan mucho que nos lanza de nuestros centros. Note cómo en el curso de las conversaciones and acontecimientos podamos fácilmente llegar a ser turbados. Entrar en el silencio de nuevo nos recentra y capacita la respuesta amorosa a que esté.

Esta última aseveración necessita explicación. Augustino sugiere que los humanos son por naturaleza buenos (y así también es el resto de la creación) pero caen en la maldad en virtud de que nuestras voluntades nos causan a desear inmoderadamente alguno (Puede ser cualquier cosa.) que es menos que el bueno supremo, es decir, Dios. Este viraje del bueno supremo a los buenos menores otras personas llaman idolatria, una forma más sutil que la idolatria vieja del culto de imagenes. El apego inmoderado nos roba nuestra libertad y nos induce en vias de vida–algunas habituales, algunas esporádicas, la mayoría de consecuencias aparentemente insignificantes del punto de vista individual, otras de consecuencia obviamente destructiva–que conducen al tipo de mundo en el cual vivimos ahora. Si esto es verdadero, es necessario que examinemos de vez en cuando si nuestros deseos y apegos han llegado a ser otorgados indebitamente o inmoderados, y por consiguiente perjudiciales a nosotros y a la comunidad de la vida de la Tierra. En el silencio, entonces, podemos encontrarnos aceptados y estando hecho enteros mientras el libertad-robando poder de pensamientos, acciones, y vias de vida basadas en inmoderados deseos y apegos se aflojan. La libertad viene por medio de entrar en el silencio de nuevo y de nuevo hasta que llegue a ser habitual en nuestras vidas diarias y es experimentado como nada menos que venir a hogar.

Reflections on Sustaining the Quaker Tradition

by Timothy M. Waring
May 14, 2017

I wonder about the future of Quakerism. Being born into the Quaker tradition, I will forever be rooted in the way of Friends. I love un-programmed Quakerism for its shared meditation, its focus on social justice and simplicity, and for those reasons I want Quakerism to flourish. But, as a social scientist I worry about how long the Quaker tradition will survive.

As a scientist, I study the dynamics of human cooperation. Cooperation, the voluntary generosity which sustains families and builds nations, is important in nearly everything we do as humans. But, as we know from personal experience, cooperation is not guaranteed. Behavioral science has shown that cooperation flourishes where those who contribute also derive benefit, but dissolves when those who benefit never chip in. When this free-riding goes unchecked it spells disaster for the group.

I use cooperation science to study co-operatives as a type of organization. Like all organizations, co-ops face external challenges. But, co-ops are special because they generally do not rely on hierarchical structures to guarantee and manage the division of labor, and must rely on the voluntary cooperation of their members. Current research suggests that adaptations to promote cooperation within co-ops are just as important to their survival as other external influences.

Un-programmed Friends Meetings are, of course, a type of religious co-operative. Quakers share spiritual leadership of the meeting. We share the daily work of practical matters. We share responsibility for financial support of the meeting. Many co-ops use democratic decision-making to share power among members. Quakers go further with the practice of consensus, which favors unanimous decisions. I agree with Quaker practice in principle, but when I consider some of our practices in the light of recent science, they give me pause, because co-ops often fail under the burden of maintaining cooperation.

Quakers are in decline. In the United States, meetings are aging and membership is dwindling. My home meeting in Orono, Maine, is on the very verge of closing. Outside of two young families, it has about 5 regular attenders, all over the age of 70. Unfortunately, this trend is large, and is not abating, as data from the US Census and Google both show.

Better data can surely be found, but these are sufficient to show a downward trend in both the numbers of US Quakers and global interest in Quakers via web searches. This same trend influences the Monteverde Friends Meeting in Costa Rica, which we have attended this year. Although many times larger than the Orono Friends Meeting, the Monteverde Friends Meeting is growing older, and younger members are rare. So, as a Friend, I think it is time to accept that our religious co-operative may expire if we do not change something, if we do not adapt.

Many Friends have already considered how to adapt while staying true to our values. But the science of cooperation can help us gain clarity on the matter, in a few ways.

In the last few decades, behavioral scientists have learned what distinguishes cooperative groups. A handful of factors help cooperation flourish. These include, a strong shared identity, clear group membership boundaries, reciprocity among members, clear rules of participation, fair distribution of work and benefits, appropriate responses for rule-breakers, sufficient group size, and frequent interchange between groups. Many of these are areas in which Friends meetings could afford extra attention.

For example, although Friends do have a strong sense of collective identity, Quakers are also very inclusive in their spiritual beliefs. There are many Christians, Agnostics, Buddhists, Jews and Atheists among the Quakers. I celebrate that diversity, of course, but we should take care to re-affirm our collective identity as well. I know from my own research that diversity in social identity directly reduces cooperation. So, how do we build and renew our collective identity?

Take group boundaries as another example. What are the expectations of attenders in comparison to members? What are the benefits of being a member over that of an attender? In my adult life, I have participated in three meetings (Florida, Maine, California and Costa Rica). In each of these I have seen, and been surprised by, how many regular attenders were not in fact members. Moreover, in some places the major roles in the meeting were held by non-members, even the clerk.

Of course, this happens naturally, if it is easier to simply attend. If one could gain all the benefits without paying any additional costs, why become a member? Indeed, it seems that becoming a member mostly means shouldering extra responsibility for the care of the meeting. Indeed, even as a birthright Friend and frequent attender I have yet to become a member, perhaps for this reason. But Quaker adherence is evaporating. So, I encourage us to reflect on the question: why should people join meeting? What are the benefits to cooperating? Do the cooperators (members) gain especially by their role, or do they instead support a comfortable spiritual life for those who never join, never become members, and never contribute?

As another example, reciprocity is a wonderful and simple tool for maintaining cooperation. Reciprocity comes in many flavors – direct reciprocity between two people, indirect reciprocity within a group. Indirect systems of reciprocity may be one-to-one (members share rides), one-to-many (a gift to the meeting), many-to-one (a meeting supports a specific member for a special cause), or even many-to-many (such as a potluck). What is important with any system of reciprocity, though, is that it is truly reciprocal. In due course, the givers must also be the beneficiaries. Usually, reciprocity is unofficial, and this can be beautiful. When everyone truly contributes, marvelous things emerge. However, reciprocity often falls apart, leaving a few key contributors holding the weight. This can be avoided by making reciprocity just a little more official. For example, attenders could take turns being greeters or spokespeople after meeting. If turns are taken, then shirking becomes easier to observe and resolve. Are the unofficial systems of reciprocity in the meeting working, or is the work falling unevenly on a few? Can we systematize the reciprocity so that we all may know just how much we are expected to contribute, and when?

Work and reward should also be proportional. So, most meetings have a rotating volunteer clerk position. This can be successful if there are sufficient numbers of people with available time and interest. Of course, there are not always such numbers. So, we might consider whether the clerks, those who give the most to our meetings, might be compensated for their organizational and service work.

There are many ways to support cooperation, and many of them involve creating systems and institutions to make cooperation and participation easier. Clear rules and expectations are critical. But when the community is small enough, sometimes rules are never developed or information is not shared because “everyone already knows.” But without clear announcements, how can newcomers learn our expectations and rules? Will a lack of clear participation guidelines will result in fewer contributions?

As another example, I recently spoke with a young family in Monteverde who had been interested in attending the Quaker Meeting, but were unsure about whether to bring their young children. They approached several members of the Meeting, asking what the expectations were for children in Meeting, if there was a first-day school, and how it worked and were confused and disappointed when they received divergent answers. Are our expectations clear to visitors as well as ourselves?

A related issue is that of punishment for breaking the rules. Cooperation science has clearly established that if free-riding (or rule-breaking) is punished, cooperation is enhanced. But as pacifists Quakers are gentle people, and we are not inclined much toward punishment, corporal or otherwise. However, we should understand that punishment need not be punitive. Instead we can look for ways to simply shift the best choice of action to the one that benefits the group. For example, how do we use the reputation accumulated by our elders to protect the sense and decorum of the meeting? If certain members are not respectful of the communal silence that underlies Quaker spiritual practice, how can we provide an appropriate response which encourages them toward a practice sensitive to the whole meeting?

A final consideration for Quakerism at large is that of cultural transmission. To survive, organizations must transmit their values and operations to new people. But how are we Quakers doing this? Many religious employ active or even aggressive systems to proselytize and convert new members, such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such an approach is far from Quaker belief, and adopting such a practice would, I think, damage the sacred sense of individual respect that Quakerism is founded on. But as scientists we can understand why other religions hunt converts; it helps them survive. So, we must ask if our open-door policy and voluntary contributions are working? Are our youth programs sufficiently enriching and engaging? Beyond our values, are we passing on the daily operational practice of Quakerism enough for the tradition to survive? No, we are not. Each year there are fewer Quakers and fewer Meetings.

I do not have the answers to these inquiries. Each meeting must answer to its own fate. But it is their fates that worry me. My wish is for Friends Meetings to deeply and skeptically inspect their own operations, as a detached social scientist would, for meetings to ask the hard questions, and to look for the best solutions, not the most comfortable answers. If we are faced with the existential question, then we need to ask: What do we want?


Reflecciones sobre sosteniendo la tradición Cuáquera

Escrito por Timothy M. Waring
14 de mayo, 2017

Me pregunto acerca del futuro del cuaquerismo. Habiendo sido nacido dentro de la tradición cuáquera, estaré siempre arraigado dentro de la manera de los Amigos. Amo el Cuaquerismo no programado por la meditación compartida, su enfoque sobre la justicia social y su sencillez y por estas razones quiero que prospere el cuaquerismo. Sin embargo, como científico social, me preocupa por cuánto tiempo sobrevivirá la tradición cuáquera.

Como científico, estudio las dinámicas de la cooperación humana. La cooperación, la generosidad voluntaria que sostiene las familias y edifica naciones, es importante en casi todo lo que hacemos como humanos. Pero lo sabemos por experiencia personal, la cooperación no es garantizada. La ciencia del comportamiento humano nos demuestra que existe la cooperación principalmente cuando los que contribuyen también derivan un beneficio, pero desaparece cuando los que benefician nunca aportan. Cuando el beneficio gratuito va sin límite esto sin duda implicará el desastre para el grupo.

Yo uso la ciencia cooperativa para estudiar las cooperativas como un tipo de organización. Como todas las organizaciones, las cooperativas enfrentan retos externos. Pero las cooperativas son especiales porque por lo general, no dependen de una estructura jerárquico para garantizar y manejar la división de trabajo, y deben depender de la cooperación voluntaria de sus miembros. La investigación actual sugiere que hacer adaptaciones para promover la cooperación dentro de las cooperativas es tan importante para su sobrevivencia como otras influencias externas.

Las Reuniones no programadas de los Amigos son, por supuesto, un tipo de cooperativa religiosa. Los Cuáqueros comparten el liderazgo de la reunión. Compartimos el trabajo diario de asuntos prácticos. Compartimos la responsabilidad de apoyo financiero de la reunión. Muchas cooperativas toman sus decisiones democráticamente para compartir el poder entre sus miembros. Los Cuáqueros van aún más allá, usando la práctica del consenso, que favorece decisiones tomadas con el sentido de unanimidad. Estoy de acuerdo con los Cuáqueros en principio, pero cuando considero algunas de nuestras prácticas a la luz de la ciencia reciente, me hace dudar, debido a que las cooperativas frecuentemente fallan bajo el peso de mantener la cooperación.

Los Cuáqueros están en declive. Las Reuniones en los Estados Unidos, están envejeciendo y existe una constante reducción en la membresía. La Reunión donde soy miembro en Oronto, Main, está al borde de cerrar. Fuera de dos familias jóvenes, tiene apenas unos 5 asistentes regulares, todos mayores de 70 años. Desgraciadamente esta tendencia es extendida y no variando, como muestra información tanto del censo estadounidense como Google.

Seguramente se puede mejor el data, pero estas dos fuentes son suficientes para mostrar la tendencia hacia abajo tanto en el número de Cuáqueros estadounidenses como el interés sobre los Cuáqueros a través de búsquedas en el web. Esta misma tendencia está influenciando la Reunión de Amigos de Monteverde en Costa Rica, donde asistimos este año. Aunque muchas veces más grande que la reunión de Amigos de Oronto, la Reunión de los Amigos de Monteverde se está haciendo más vieja y los miembros jóvenes son pocos. Así como un Amigo, creo que es tiempo de aceptar que nuestra cooperativa religiosa puede morir si no cambiamos algo, si no nos adaptamos.

Muchos Amigos ya han considerado como adaptarse mientras se mantienen nuestros valores. Sin embargo la ciencia de la cooperación nos puede obtener claridad sobre el tema, en algunas maneras.

En las últimas décadas, científicos del comportamiento humano, han aprendido distinguir diferentes grupos cooperativos. con unos cuantos factores podrá ayudar prosperar la cooperación. Estos incluyen, una fuerte identidad compartida, claros límites para la membresía grupal, reciprocidad entre miembros, reglas claras de participación, una distribución justa de trabajo y beneficios, respuestas apropiadas para los que infringen las reglas, un tamaño de grupo suficientemente grande, y frecuente intercambio entre grupos. Muchos de estos son áreas en que las reuniones de los Amigos podrán dedicar extra atención.

Por ejemplo, aunque los Amigos tienen un fuerte sentido de identidad colectiva, los Cuáqueros son también muy inclusivas en sus creencias espirituales. Hay muchos Cristianos, Agnósticos, Budistas, Judíos y Ateos entre los Cuáqueros. Yo celebro esta diversidad, desde luego, pero debemos tener cuidado de reafirmar nuestra identidad colectiva también. Sé de mi investigación personal que la diversidad en la identidad social reduce directamente la cooperación. Así que, cómo podríamos construir y renovar nuestra identidad colectiva?

Tomen los límites grupales como otro ejemplo. Qué son las expectaciones de los que atienden en comparación a los miembros? Cuáles son los beneficios de ser miembro sobre el que asiste? Durante mi vida de adulto, he sido participante en 3 Reuniones (Florida, Maine, California y Costa Rica). En cada una de ellas he visto y he sido sorprendido, la cantidad de asistentes regulares que de hecho, no eran miembros. Lo que es más, muchos de los que ocupaban mayores roles en las Reuniones no eran miembros, hasta la persona que dirigía las reuniones de negocios.

Desde luego esto pasa naturalmente, si es más fácil para simplemente asistir. Si se puede ganar todos los beneficios sin pagar los costos adicionales, para que ser miembro? En verdad, pareciera que ser miembro implica cargar más responsabilidades para el cuidado de la reunión. Lo cierto, aún siendo un miembro de los Amigos por nacimiento y asistente frecuente aún no soy miembro de una Reunión, tal vez por esta misma razón. Pero la adhesión para ser Cuáquero está evaporando. Así que, les insto refleccionar sobre esta pregunta: Por qué se debería unir a una Reunión? Cuáles son los beneficios para cooperar? Ganan quienes son miembros cooperadores por su rol, o de otra manera, sostienen la confortable vida espiritual de los que nunca se unen, nunca son miembros y nunca contribuyan?

Como otro ejemplo,la reciprocidad es una herramienta hermosa y sencilla para mantener la cooperación. La reciprocidad viene en muchos sabores – reciprocidad directa entre dos personas, reciprocidad indirecta es dentro de un grupo. Sistemas indirectas de reciprocidad puede ser de uno a otro (los miembros comparten viajes), uno a varios (un regalo a la Reunión), muchos a uno ( la Reunión da su apoyo a un miembro específico por una causa específica), o aún muchos a muchos (como un almuerzo compartido). Lo que es importante con cualquier sistema de reciprocidad, es que sea verdaderamente recíproco. En el curso debido, los que dan deben ser los beneficiarios. Normalmente la reciprocidad es no-oficial y esto puede ser algo bello. Cuando todos verdaderamente contribuyen, emergen cosas maravillosas. Sin embargo, frecuentemente la reciprocidad se desmorona, dejando unos pocos contribuyentes sosteniendo todo el peso. Esto se puede evitar haciendo que la reciprocidad sea un poco más oficial. Por ejemplo, los que asisten deben tomar turnos para ser los que dan la bienvenida después de la Reunión. Si se turnan, el que no cuple es más fácilmente detectado y resuelto. Están funcionando los sistemas de reciprocidad no oficial en la reunión, o está recayendo el peso desmedidamente en unos pocos? Podemos sistematizar la reciprocidad de manera que todos podamos saber cuánto se espera de contribución y cuándo?

El trabajo y recompensa también debe ser proporcional. Así que la mayoría de las Reuniones tienen la posición de conductor de las sesiones como puesto voluntario y rotativo. Esto puede tener éxito donde hay suficientes miembros con personas con tiempo disponible e interés. Por supuesto no siempre hay esta cantidad de personas. Así que podríamos tomar en consideración si ellos, quienes dan más a la Reunión, podrían ser compensados por su trabajo de organización y servicio.

Hay muchas maneras de apoyar la cooperación, muchas involucran crear sistemas e instituciones para hacer que la cooperación y participación sea más fácil. Tener reglas claras y expectaciones son esenciales. Pero cuando es suficiente pequeña la comunidad, a veces las reglas nunca son desarrolladas o la información compartida porque – Todo el mundo sabe -. Pero sin comunicaciones claras, cómo pueden los que son recién llegados aprender cuales son las expectativas y reglas? Creen que habrán menos contribuciones por falta de reglas de participación claras?

Como otro ejemplo, hablé recientemente con una familia joven en Monteverde quienes habían estado interesados en atender la Reunión de los Cuáqueros, pero no estaban seguros si traer sus niños pequeños. Habían acercado a varios miembros de la Reunión a preguntarles que eran las expectativas acerca de traerlos a la Reunión y si había una escuela de Primer Día y cómo funcionaba. Fueron confundidos y decilucionados cuando recibieron contestaciones divergentes. Son nuestras expectaciones claras a nuestros visitantes como a nosotros mísmos?

Un tema relacionado es el castigo por el rompimiento de las reglas. La ciencia de la cooperación ha establecido claramente que si el que anda libre (rompe reglas) es punible, se mejora la cooperación. Pero como pacifistas, los Cuáqueros son personas suaves, y no somos muy inclinados al castigo, corporal o de otra manera. Sin embargo, debemos entender que el castigo no necesariamente debe ser punitivo. En cambio, podemos buscar maneras de simplemente cambiamos el mejor curso de acción a uno de los beneficios del grupo. Por ejemplo, cómo usamos la reputación acumulado por nuestros ancianos para proteger el sentido y decoro de la Reunión? Si ciertos miembros no son respetuosos del silencio comunal que es base de la práctica espiritual Cuáquera, cómo podemos proporcionarle con una respuesta adecuada que le estimula hacia una práctica que sea sensible a toda la reunión?

Una consideración final para el Cuaquerismo en general es la transmisión cultural. Para sobrevivir, las organizaciones deben comunicar sus valores y operaciones a la gente nueva. Pero cómo nosotros los Cuáqueros la estamos haciendo? Muchas religiones aplican sistemas activas y hasta agresivas para predicar y convertir a nuevos miembros, como por ejemplo los Mormones y Testigos de Jehová. Tal manera de llegar está lejos de la creencia Cuáquera, y adoptar tal práctica dañaría, pienso yo, el sentido sagrado del respeto del individuo sobre el cual está basado el Cuaquerismo. Pero como científicos podemos entender el porqué otras religiones cazan a los que quieren convertir ya que les ayudan a sobrevivir. Así que debemos preguntar si nuestra política de puertas abiertas y contribuciones están funcionando? Si nuestros programas para nuestra juventud son suficientemente enriquecedoras y atractivas? Más allá de nuestros valores, estamos pasando suficientes prácticas diarias operacionales Cuáqueras para que puede sobrevivir sus tradiciones? No. no lo estamos haciendo. Cada año hay menos Cuáqueros y reuniones.

No tengo las respuestas a estos interrogantes. Cada Reunión debe responder a su propio destino. Pero son sus destinos que me preocupa. Mi deseo es que las Reuniones de los Amigos inspeccionen con profundidad y escepticismo sus propias operaciones, como lo haría un científico social desligado de emociones, para que las Reuniones se hagan las preguntas difíciles, y buscar por las mejores soluciones, no las respuestas más cómodas. Si estamos encarados con la pregunta existencial, entonces deberíamos preguntar: Qué queremos?

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