Quakers in Beacon Hill Discuss Sustainability and Community
Jay O’Hara and John Blanchard talk about their journeys in the quest for sustainability at Beacon Hill Friends House.
Cape Cod environmental activist Jay O'Hara and Natick resident John Blanchard, an advocate of economic alternatives that promote egalitarian and sustainable business practices, brought together an intimate crowd at the Beacon Hill Friends House for the second installment of a three-part speaker series, "People Centered Economics: A Quaker Response."
Friday night's discussion, titled "Sustainability and Our Work," allowed O'Hara and Blanchard to share their experiences in working towards a more sustainable world.
So, how can we achieve a more sustainable society? In addition to "living a simple enough life," according to O'Hara, developing a strong community is equally important.
O'Hara quoted an African proverb: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
The lively crowd discussed how the Quaker community can join together and set an example for the global community. Audience member Greg Williams, a Jamaica Plain resident, echoed these ideas. "How can we make other people come together and see what we're doing, and have them say, 'Gee, that's pretty interesting'?"
O'Hara has spent the last four years going off the beaten path by "rearranging his economic life" in order to live more simply. He says he prioritizes family over economic gain.
After graduating from college, O'Hara worked as a political lobbyist in Washington until he had a change of heart and came back to his hometown of Cape Cod. In 2008, he helped found the student climate network "Students for a Just and Stable Future," helping youth find their voice in speaking out against poor environmental practices.
Blanchard has spent a lot of time developing an expertise in horticulture, agriculture and economic alternatives. He has traveled around the world and seen the need for developing new and innovative methods of conducting fair and sustainable business.
Blanchard continued the conversation by discussing the importance of cooperatives and employee-owned businesses in working towards a sustainable society. He shared stories of his own experiences working with a variety of cooperatives, including the Mondragon Corporacion Cooperativa in Spain.
The group formed a circle at the end of the workshop and sang a song led by O'Hara on the guitar.
The final installment of "People Centered Economics: A Quaker Response" will be led by Leslie Manning and Judy Goldberger, who will host a workshop on "Engaging Our Community" on Nov. 19 at 6:30pm at Beacon Hill Friends House.