Climate Justice Rally & March
Around 3,000 people, including a number of Central England Quakers, joined the COP26 Climate Justice rally in Birmingham on 6th Nov, at the mid-point of the COP26 UN climate summit.
We gathered at Millennium Point and then moved through Birmingham Centre, around St Phillips Cathedral before returning to Millennium Point for more speeches. The faith section was some 200 strong led by Footsteps and its ‘Faiths for Climate Justice’ placards. Quakers were well represented in the faith section including a Sutton Coldfield Quaker meeting banner.
Later in the afternoon there was an Open Mic and Interfaith Blessing session sharing hosted by CEQ Climate Emergency Action at Bull St Meeting House. Different faith perspectives on COP26 and climate justice were shared. Lindsey Fielder Cook (Quaker United Nations Office) had written a COP26 prayer, and we ended with people reading parts that spoke to them.
Loving Earth Poetry Project
In the run up to COP26, local Quakers worked with the Loving Earth Project to run poetry workshops with young people – you can see and hear the outcomes in this video:
During the summer of 2021 Matt Sowerby (a young poet/activist, currently studying at the University of Birmingham) led two workshops for young people aged 16 – 25. These workshops took the Loving Earth textile panels created by Quakers for exhibiting at the COP 26 conference as one of the starting points. Poems created by the participants were edited into a poetry booklet which were shared with 6 exhibition venues hosting the Loving Earth panels across Glasgow (see attached listing). Ginnie Wollaston and Rachael Swancott (Woodbrooke) helped to facilitate these workshops and the Loving Earth Textile panels were exhibited in the Peace Hub along with two performance opportunities created by XR Faith Bridge and XR Birmingham as part of the Great Big Green Week (September 18th – 26th).
Sanaa Pasha (one of the poets performing in the video) was selected to speak at COP26 and attend the conference for 4 days in Glasgow as part of the UK Schools Sustainability Network. Ginnie also travelled to Glasgow for the second week of COP26 and managed to re-connect with the Camino to COP pilgrims who had walked from Bristol and London to Glasgow. She attended the ceremonial ritual of planting the Ginkgo Tree into the care of Urban Roots who run a Gardening and Earthcare project in Toryglen housing estate. This was attended by the Inter-faith Glasgow community and the local MP in a very moving ceremony (see left).
What next after COP26?
COP26 has now come to an end – Lindsey Fielder Cooke was present in Glasgow representing QUNO – you can read her reflections and analysis on the QUNO website. Britain Yearly Meeting have also shared their reflection on the outcomes of the summit.