The traditional, historic Friends testimonies include simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality.
Our work at being a quiet people has spread into our structures and systems with the result that formal lines of communication tend to move slowly, specialize in brevity and function to maintain a sense of objectivity and calm through nuanced technical language.
So we rely on gossip.
Gossip moves through existing relational networks. Gossip moves quickly, especially when people are feeling squeezed by social pressure and cultural tension. Gossip offers context for the vague Quaker speak of our leaders. Gossip brings us closer together, especially in hard times. Gossip is plain speech.
But the very nature of gossip privileges those who are socially connected. It magnifies the sense of those who weren’t born Quaker and didn’t grow up here that they are isolated, that we have secrets. It suggests that Quakers make decisions behind closed doors. It makes people feel manipulated. It erodes trust. It keeps us from being a people of truth.
The aim of Quaker News is to start over by moving formal communications out of the yearly meeting headquarters and into the hands of an independent and connected network of professional information hunter/gatherers.
The scope – for now – is information of interest and of use to Pacific Northwest Quakers. We’ve set up and will maintain a basic web presence. We’re paying a staff person who will travel to events, observe, interview participants and report on proceedings. We plan to respond to requests for information from local meetings and individuals.
The way we as Friends do business – the way we function – works better when people know what they’re talking about.