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To fly or not to fly? I have been working as an archaeologist at Tell Brak in northeast Syria. It’s easy to fly out – takes about five hours, costs about £300 return and produces about 3,000kg of CO 2 . Instead, this year my husband and I travelled to Syria by train. We broke for a day in Budapest – a thoroughly charming city where we stayed in the old castle district – and a day in Istanbul, poking about in the suq and exploring the Haghia Sophia. The Taurus Express to Aleppo was the most exciting of the train links. After breathtaking views of the Armanus Mountains, we chugged south to Aleppo, chatting with other passengers in the corridor as wonderful scenery crept by. In Aleppo we took another train to Hassaka, only forty km short of Tell Brak. Five nights on sleeper trains, two in hotels, a taxi ride at each end and we reached our goal seven days after setting out. Each day we passed through another country, seeing farms, cities, mountains, rivers and people. We saw the beauty of the French countryside and the struggling economy of Romania. We saw technology morph from windmills in Austria to horse-drawn carts in Bulgaria. We met and learned from an international mix of fellow travellers. We curved over the earth’s surface, on it, not above it. We felt part of the planet. Harriet Martin Warwickshire MM
I’m going to Palestine and Israel in early 2007 under QPSW’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme there, and I want to avoid flying. Until 2001 it was possible to go by train to Greece and then by ferry via Cyprus to Israel, but the ferry service has been suspended. I could go overland to Budapest, then through former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. Only you can’t buy tickets in advance for most of the journey, I don’t know any Turkish or Arabic and even trying to read a departure board could be very difficult. Also I’d need a second passport to go through Syria, as Syria and Israel don’t accept each other’s visa stamps in a passport. It all seems quite daunting. But there’s a glimmer of hope – I’ve just heard I might be able to go by cargo ship from Italy! Zee-Zee Heine Hampstead MM
Quaker camp – the real alternative! An empty field. A lorry arrives, and a few people unload a large pile of assorted equipment. Gradually more people aged from one to seventy-five come, a marquee is erected and tents of various sizes spring up. Some sort of order comes out of chaos. Up to seventy Friends and others work, play and worship together, nearly all outdoors, and you have a Quaker camp. Children who go on quite exotic holidays say ‘Quaker camp is the best week of the year’. So – what makes it special? People who care for each other, so children have a safe space where they can be more independent of their family, and a collective memory that builds up of events, silly games and camp-fire songs. After camp, a hot bath or shower seems like luxury, and we may think more about many things we take for granted in everyday life. Quaker camp is affordable (with bursaries if needed) by virtually anyone. So – no flying, minimal use of cars, a low environmental impact experience that can foster a sense of community among Friends of all ages. This is Quaker camp. Martin Quick, camp organiser Gloucester & Nailsworth MM
My other bike is a Brompton As a teenager I made the connection between car use and resource consumption and increasingly violent competition for minerals and oil. At seventeen I decided not to learn to drive. For the Rio Earth Summit I pledged never to own a car. I now have two bicycles, use trains for long distances and have given up flying. I currently live and work in Oxford and Birmingham, but have lived without a car in rural Wales and in Northern Ireland where public transport was poor. I found alternatives and helped to create a local car pool and a late night taxi bus and to re-open a train station. When Friends ask, ‘should I fly, or own a car?’ I want to reply ‘Friend, wear it as long as thou canst’. Having made the connection between fossil fuels and global violence, my non-car/plane use is part of the way I strive to live the peace testimony. Lizz Roe Oxford PM
the Friend , 5 January 2007 Recovering heat Roger Sanderson describes the new heat exchanger at his Meeting
Returning, excited, from listening to the silence (I love that oxymoron) of the Meeting’s heat recovery unit I feel justified in writing a few words about our new gadget for this special issue. It was not our idea in the first place but that of the architect who designed the new roof of our Meeting house. One of the problems of the old roof had been the lack of ventilation within its structure. The simple principle of the heat recovery unit, also known as heat exchanger, is to provide ventilation while utilising heat from the outgoing stale air to warm incoming fresh air, thus reducing the energy required to maintain room temperature. The use of HRUs is likely to become increasingly widespread, especially in view of current building regulations requiring new dwelling houses to be airtight. The practicalities of HRUs have several aspects. An approximate match is needed between the capacity rating of the unit and the room size, number of occupants and activity. Forty people doing aerobics require a more frequent change of air than twenty people sitting quietly in Meeting! Most HRUs have different speed settings to cope with such changes of use. You need appropriate space in your building to accommodate the unit itself with its ducts and vents.
Environmental considerations must include a look at the energy consumption of the unit. Units with brushless DC motors not only use less electricity but are reputed to have greater longevity and in general to be quieter than AC motors. Thus for a tenth of a kilowatt many more times that energy can be saved. Then, especially for Quakers, there is the question of how much noise the thing makes. It’s all very well listening to them in showrooms and choosing the quietest you can find but how is it going to be when mounted above the heads of worshipping Friends? Hence my relief on finding that to my ears our unit is not audible at all above general background sounds when on ‘normal’ setting. And the cost? Basic units suitable for our purpose are between £1,100 and £1,400. Accessories are required, however, and if fitted professionally this can double the cost. So gone are the days of having to choose between a stuffy atmosphere and an open window with consequent heat loss and cold draught. If you need ventilation consider installing a heat recovery unit.
For further discussion contact Roger Sanderson, tel: 0115 917 9991, email: email@example.com
A climate change challenge When returning from working in Africa for most of their careers, Ronald and Theresa Watts were challenged by a ‘no-car’ day that seemed to be widely publicised. It led them to a further selfimposed challenge. They put a star on a calendar every time they managed a day without a car. For January 2006, for instance, they managed fifteen stars but they admit they have the advantages of a free bus service, grown-up children and being retired. The calendar idea could be modified to cover other climate change goals as well, they suggest.
So, what did you do at Christmas?
I wrote thirty-five words of hope and encouragement to ‘prisoners of conscience’ in twenty-eight countries around the world. Then I went out for a cycle ride on the morning of the 25th across fields and got so muddied up that my wheels wouldn’t turn any more. A very kind stranger took it up and carried my cycle to her home and hosed out all the mud, for which I was duly thankful. Well, by that time it was about midday, so I arrived back home to a home-made-marmalade sandwich. I enjoyed Porridge for its wonderful insight into human nature and so to bed. But not forgetting the joyous quiet time had at the Meeting for the children large and small. The 26th dawned, another cycle ride, no mud this time. Thinking of world need, I wrote to my MP concerning the inadequacy of water for millions in the so-called developing world. Another sandwich and read of a few things I am interested in, as for example Greenpeace and Mind. Had a lovely sleep, rose at 2am and writing this, I am expecting a visit from a daughter, very bourgeois and very loving, and her son, 23. At 88 I am treated like a little boy, which amuses me inwardly. Enough? Oh another thing, I had a charming letter of greeting from a granddaughter, who mentioned her wedding dress will take four months to make. How much? name withheld
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