Any way you choose to bring attention, curiosity, compassion, and beauty to a wounded place makes a difference—to you as well as to the place. People often tell us that, after doing an Earth Exchange, they end up falling in love with a place they had previously wanted only to avoid!
To give you some ideas and suggestions, here are some ideas and stories of how people have celebrated the Global Earth Exchange in different kinds of circumstances:
What If You Can’t Physically Visit Your Wounded Place?
What if, for example, it’s off-limits because of toxicity, structural instability, or located in a dangerous area? Or what if you are limited because of physical disability? Is it sufficient simply to “send healing thoughts” to a place and call it an Earth Exchange?
Yes and no.
We urge you to make an effort to get as close to your wounded place as you safely can and to the best of your own ability. If that means you stay behind a fence, up on a hill, or on the outskirts—fine. If you are physically unable to go out at all, either because of the conditions of the place or your own physical conditions, there are other options:
1. Remain where you are and make a drawing of the place or a simple map using everyday objects. Don’t try to make this representation “accurate.” Put your feelings about it into what you do. If it’s a polluted lake, paint it black, for example.
2. Meditate about this place, alone or with friends. Or share stories with friends and family about what the place means to you.
3. Create the RadJoy Bird out of materials you have at hand, ideally natural ones like leaves, twigs, and flowers, and give them to a place that is accessible. Do this on behalf your wounded place.
What If You Don’t Think You’re “Artistic” Enough to Make Beauty for a Place?
It’s not what you create at a place that makes the biggest impact. It’s your own willingness to look around, collect interesting, colorful things that interest you, and put them together with others that really is the spirit of an Earth Exchange. The Earth doesn’t care what kind of art you make. A tree doesn’t care if you can carry a tune. Anyway, you are only the first artist of this gift of beauty you’re making for this place. After you leave, the winds, rains, sun, and animals will add their own handiwork to it.
Can I Do an Earth Exchange for a Wounded Places That’s Not in Nature?
Sometimes people feel called to give beauty and attention to a place that’s not out in nature, but inside. For example, a therapist in Ireland made the RadJoy bird out of tissues tossed out by her clients after they’d wiped their tears during sessions with her. In Tel Aviv a small team of people decided to make whimsical mobiles for patients awaiting bone marrow transplants in a highly sterile hospital ward where they weren’t allowed to have plants or even flowers. And a group of volunteers in Kabul, Afghanistan participated in one of our Global Earth Exchanges by cleaning up around a bomb crater.
What If the Weather (or the Authorities) Don’t Cooperate with My Plans?
You’ve planned a great Global Earth Exchange and then it pours rain. Or you discover that your place has been declared off-limits by the EPA. You can still do an Earth Exchange. There is no right way to make beauty for a wounded place. Whatever you do will make a difference. Sometimes, being creative and flexible is a big part of the process. You can start your event inside and later take it outside. Or you can go back on another day. Or go to the periphery of the place, rather than into the center of it.