A Demanding and Uncertain Adventure
The 2011 James Backhouse lecture is concerned with developing a theological response to the need to adopt more sustainable practices such as permaculture to ensure that all people have a reliable supply of food.Rosemary (Rowe) Morrow was born in Perth and grew up close to the Swan River and fell asleep at night to the sounds of lions roaring at the Perth Zoo. She ran away many times before she was five years old, mainly to see animals, such as a friend's goat or cow. And she has travelled with her work ever since. By eleven years old she was convinced that her life would be lived out in the very remote Outback. Well it wasn't, but from 16 to 21 years old she lived in the Kimberleys on the edge of the Tanami Desert where space, sand, sky and silence became lifelong values/necessities. Her friendships with Aboriginal Australians started then and have continued all her life.Returning to Sydney she studied agriculture mistaking it for land care. Observant of Earth processes, Rowe grew aware and then alarmed by the rapid disintegration of Earth's ecosystems. She grieves for a damaged Earth; for every tree carelessly removed and every visible or invisible organism lost to extinction.She trained in humanitarian work in France where she also lived in Trosly-Breuil l'Arche community, and in England at Jordan's where she knew she would become a Quaker. Most of the 1970s were spent in Lesotho. Back in Australia in the 1980s permaculture provided the powerful basis for Earth restoration. A concern was born. She considers permaculture 'sacred' knowledge to be carried and shared with others. Since then she has travelled to meet many people anxious and concerned to restore their environments.As a teacher of permaculture Rowe has been inspired for many years by Parker Palmer, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and non-violent resistance. She works in difficult places choosing people who have been disempowered and who would not otherwise have access to permaculture.As an isolated Friend Rowe sits quietly on Sundays and joins spiritually with another Quaker meeting somewhere in the world on the same longitude. She joined Friends at the Devonshire Street Meeting and then the Blue Mountains where she made her home for many years. Being a lover of science she finds depths and challenges in Quakerism in the modern world of the 21st century, and particularly values the Quaker embrace of, and struggle with, continuing revelation.
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