First Steps

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, November 12, 2007

The train ride from Toronto to Vancouver brought delight and surprises. We were thrilled with the beautiful scenery of the Canadian Shield (billion-year-old rocks eroded by time) which covered hundreds of miles and was dominated by small lakes and fascinating moss-covered rock formations. Then there was an abrupt transition to the great rolling prarie of Manitoba, Saskatchawan, and Alberta where the natural landscape co-existed with small and large cattle ranches, coal mines, and antelope. After many miles of a relatively flat landscape we were eagerly anticipating our first view of the Canadian Rockies. The approach to the great mountains was awesome as we snaked our way into the center of the Rockies, viewing elk, big horn sheep, deer, eagles, canada geese, and lots of other birds.

The surprises were the variety of relationships we developed over the three days. Maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise, since when you have time, as we are looking forward to in the days of walking ahead of us, you learn so much more about one another and you have opportunities to explore ideas and beliefs as well. We enjoyed discussions with folks our age, and became quite close with some young people who allowed us oldsters to join in their fun. We hope to have continuing relationships with all these new-found friends.

Vancouver is a very large city, set in a dramatic location with the Pacific and islands to the west and mountains to the east. Its public transportation system is extensive and reliable. We stayed in the guest room at Cranberry Commons co-housing, hosted by our friends Ruth Walmsley and Tim Bartoo of Vancouver Friends Meeting. They were part of the planning for this community, and we saw it in 2001 when it was under construction. It's great to experience some of the benefits of urban community living.

While in Vancouver, we received an email from Eugene Friends Church with the following query which was included in its Sunday Bulletin:

"As a Christian steward, do you treat the earth with respect and with a sense of God's splendor in Creation, guarding it against abuse by greed, misapplied technology, or your own carelessness?"

We are very pleased with this query and hope that others will consider such questions within their congregations.

Saturday we were invited to participate in and help facilitate a "Global Warming Cafe." The "cafe" format is used to encourage people to share their fears and feelings about the effects of global warming and provides tools for change. It was a very powerful experience (with an attendance of about 60 people) and we thank those who are promoting it and for asking us to participate. Friends from Vancouver are very involved in fine-tuning it and bringing it to the greater Vancouver area. You can learn more about it at

Soooooo, yesterday we finally took those first steps towards San Diego. We were so tired of just talking about what we were going to do that it is a relief to begin. Vancouver Friends were very welcoming and receptive to our John Woolman program, and provided a delicious and abundant organic potluck. Although the weather was predicted to be rainy, we lucked out on our first day of an 11-mile walk with just some sprinkles. Nine people joined us for this first leg of our journey. They ranged in age from 9 to 64. We were a festive bunch, carrying a rainbow peace flag and our small Peace for Earth Walk banners. Drivers honked with approval, and that buoyed our spirits. Before leaving we were interviewed by two reporters, one from the Canadian Press (similar to the Associated Press) and the other from Sing Tao, Canada's premier Asian press.

Even after walking 11 miles, we never left an urban setting and always had to be mindful of our safety because of heavy traffic on many parts of the route. We are very grateful to Ruth Walmsley for scouting out the route and finding the safest and most interesting way to travel (we walked along the Fraser River on a bike path for several miles) to our first night's lodging in the New Westminster home of Vancouver Meeting Friends who, though away for the weekend, provided the key, food, and warm welcoming via a note. With sore feet and bodies, we plopped ourselves down into comfortable seats, feasted on a zuccini lasagna, and toasted ourselves for our walk which began after 3 p.m. and ended in the dark at 8 p.m. We hope that this will be the last time we walk in the dark. This experience taught us that we we will need to put more reflective strips on our clothing and packs in case we're out in the dark again.

With a forecast for a blustry and rainy day, we decided last night that we would hang around here for the morning. Then after lunch the four of us (Brad and Ruth will continue with us for the next couple of days) for a 7-mile walk to our next hosted site. A family with young children plan to meet us this afternoon at a Skytrain station and walk part of the way with us. We'll be back in touch around Thanksgiving time in Bellingham, Washington.

Ruah and Louis
Slideshow Report as Spam


wrldpeas on

Congratulations on a great start.
'Global Warming Cafe.' The 'cafe' format is used to encourage people to share their fears and feelings about the effects of global warming and provides tools for change.
I hope that you have the opportunity to share the message that we also live in a universe of plenty and we only need to remain open to the abundance to have it revealed to us. Fear shuts down the path. Creativity, through spirit, is teaching us how to be good stewards of what we have and how much more we can do with what we are already using.
Good Luck,
Roy Taylor

hdneun on

A great start!
Hi Ruah, Louis, Ruth and Brad:

You may already know this but the Canadian Press reporter's article got picked up in various papers here in Canada and in the U.S. One of the versions is attached below.

It's sunny now (at noon) in Vancouver, after a blustery and wet start to the day. Hopefully, you are experiencing the same weather in New Westminster and beyond.

Happy walking!



Couple kick off walk from Vancouver to San Diego with climate change message

17 hours ago

VANCOUVER - A couple from Vermont kicked off a trek to San Diego on Sunday, surrounded by a dozen supporters, in a quest to raise awareness of climate change.

Louis Cox and Ruah Swennerfelt will do the whole trip on foot, stopping off at Quaker meeting houses along the way to talk about their message.

The couple was inspired by 18th century Quaker John Woolman who, by foot, spread the message of right living. They thought his philosophy was more applicable today than ever, and decided they'd attempt to relate it in their own way.

'If you fly in and give your little message and leave again, they can say 'oh that was nice.'' Swennerfelt said. 'But if we walk for hundreds of miles to come and talk to you, you might spend a little more time and your ears might be a little more open.'

Cox said it was time to do something radical to encourage people to change the way they live, as the planet rapidly deteriorates.

'The Quaker model of living more simply and having a style of working out problems with other people that doesn't require war is a good start,' he said. 'By simple living, we're consuming less and less likely to be the cause of conflict or scarce resources.'

The pair plan to walk 24 kilometres a day and their first stop will be Bellingham, Wash. They'll camp for several nights and stay with members of the Quaker community.

They choose Vancouver as a starting point because they wanted to reach out to West Coast Canadians. The couple have recently made stops, by train, in Montreal and Toronto, to share their message.

'There's a lot of focus on Quakers in the East Coast so we wanted a chance to meet western friends,' said Swennerfelt.

Joining the couple for part of their Vancouver stretch was Jerilynn Prior. She carried a rainbow flag with the word Peace printed in white.

She said Quakers tend to be 'obsessive' with their conscientiousness but she recognizes many people, especially in Vancouver, are doing what they can to make a difference.

'In general, British Columbians have captured, understood and changed their lifestyle more than in some other countries,' she said.

h.knowlton on

So exciting to watch your FIRST STEPS!
Dearest Ruah and Louis,

How wonderful to see the video of you two finally setting forth! I'm so moved by what you are doing and can tell that you will touch many on your path. I met with Bob Schultz at last weekend's FCNL meetings and he shared his BINDER of plans and logistics for his portion of hosting you on the Olympic Penninsula portion of your walk. You will be in capable hands!! I encouraged him to share what he has done with all the other future hosts.

We of QEW love you very much and are holding you in our prayers! xoxo Hollister

wphstevens on

On your way at last
After all these years of dreaming and planning, you are on your way at last! I know you are thrilled. Holly & I wish we could walk with you a day here and a day there along the way. (Of course that would be quite an accomplishment for Holly. A couple of weeks ago I did push her for 2 miles in a Greensboro Peace Walk,) I wondered how you would carry your computer; now I guess it is in that little cart Louis is pulling. Walk Safely. Bill & Holly

annietiger on

I am so proud of you!
Hi Ruah and Louis! You are inspirational! I am thinking of you daily sending lots of love and energy especially to your feet and hearts. You are brave. I am happy for you manifesting your dreams and living your convictions.
blessings Annie

rswr on

Louis and Ruah,

I got the info about your card. I simply want to wish you well (something must be sore by now), and know that I give thanks for your witness and work.


mingaborne on

Sabbatical walk
Salud y felicitaciones
I pray that you feel the earth rooting each step and the sky weaving its energy with each breath. Here's a poem for you:

1. How much poison are you willing
to cut of the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

--Wendell Berry

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