A Quaker testimony is a guiding principle that bears witness to the presence of God in the world and in our lives. The testimonies of peace, equality, simplicity, and integrity guided the renovation of the buildings at Friends Center.
If Friends are to speak about peace, equality, and simplicity in the 21st century we must address our role and the role of our buildings in contributing to environmental degradation and global competition for energy resources.
The wars of the 21st century are predicted to be over fossil fuel reserves and water resources. These wars have already begun in various parts of the world including the Middle East and Africa. Continued overconsumption of energy resources is a “seed of war that finds nourishment in our way of living.” By creating a fossil fuel free building Friends Center is working not only to stop nourishing this seed of war, but also to show a way to others.
According to calculations done in the 1990s, if everyone on earth used resources and produced waste at the rate of the average American, it would take four earths to sustain us! There cannot be equality if we consume more and more of the earth’s resources while others are deprived of clean air, clean water, and fuel for cooking food. By reducing our energy consumption, conserving water, and reducing waste, Friends Center is taking a steps toward reducing our overconsumption of resources.
The testimony of simplicity calls on us to remove from our lives the superfluous things that distract us from living in harmony with each other and with creation. Green building practices move our buildings toward working in harmony with natural processes—lighting our spaces with daylight, using the sun’s energy to generate electricity, allowing rainwater to seep naturally into the ground. These practices remind us that we, too, are part of the natural rhythm.