People Binding the Earth/2018 Global Earth Exchange: Photos and Stories
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EARTH EXCHANGE AT ROCKY FLATS—STANDLEY LAKE PARK, ARVADA, COLORADO, USA
Sasha Daucus and Tom deBree: We did the Earth Exchange last Monday, and here is a brief description of what happened. In short, it was a very positive experience for all who gathered. Below are descriptions of the event from the individual perspectives of both co-hosts Sasha Daucus and Tom deBree.
From Sasha: We gathered on a beautiful clear morning. The blue sky and sparkling water of Standley Lake, which borders the eastern side of Rocky Flats, made for an idyllic view. It was hard to imagine that under this almost fantastically beautiful landscape lay land that was contaminated by plutonium.
People who came to the Earth Exchange were from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences related to Rocky Flats. This created a very interesting as well as compatible group. People were open and interested in what everyone had to say.
After short introductions, we all left to experience the land. We came back together to share our experiences. It was noticeable that people were feeling better after this experience of connecting with the land than they had at the beginning. After sharing we began to create the RadJoy bird.
It was during this process that something really lovely happened. A park ranger for the area came to ask what we were doing. He was polite and willing to talk about his perspective, answer questions and listen to us. As the group left, people felt uplifted and also happy with themselves that they had come.
I would rather that places like Rocky Flats didn’t exist, but they do, and I feel an increased sense of courage and stability in my life, when I take some time out to notice and connect. I am left with questions about how to take sane action regarding places like Rocky Flats, but I do feel good about that morning of giving to the Earth in an act of Beauty and the caring people who shared that event with me and the Earth. #### from Tom: "We did this Earth Exchange on the border of the former nuclear weapons manufacturing site at Rocky Flats, 16 miles northwest of Denver. After soil, wind and water contamination were exposed and public protests re: the level of danger on the site and to the entire metro-Denver area became overwhelming, the site was declared a SuperFund Clean-Up site. The “clean-up” was declared by the EPA and the Energy Department to be fully completed in 2002. Now a Wildlife Refuge perimeter around the walled, guarded, monitored central manufacturing core of Rocky Flats, which remains closed indefinitely to all public access. Over the last year an initiative to expand a public access path for bicycles, horse-riding, hiking through the perimeter Wildlife Refuge has been in the news. Considerable controversy has been in evidence over plans and resolutions to open the Wildlife Refuge proposed path this fall. It is in litigation.
Our Earth was a good experience. The day was cooler than have been recent weeks and cloud cover both helped to make for comfortable weather. A hawk was flying overhead as we arrived. The small group who gathered, five of us, offered rich, distinct, and beautiful sharing/listening moments, and the solo excursions into the land generated some wonderful reports and conversations. We had a good deal of fun and laughter, along with some sober reflections and sharing of concerns and journeys. We created a Rad Joy Bird at a gathering place above Standley Lake and across from Rocky Flats and had great fun doing it.
A Park Ranger visited us during that moment, which precipitated some good dialogue. After the EE was completed and the group disbursed, Sasha and I hung out talking, gathering up supplies and cleaning-up our meeting site, and the Park Ranger returned. His reason was to tell us that he had read through some of the materials we gave to him and was very grateful for our dialogue, information and what we were doing! That was a treat. "
SPENDING TIME WITH THE DRY EARTH AND A NEGLECTED LOT—RIDGWAY, COLORADO, USA
Christi Strickland: SW Colorado is facing a fierce drought. The fire known as the 416 fire rages on, now at 54,000 acres burned. For our Radical Joy for Hard Times day I decided to spend time with the dry, thirsty earth on a neglected lot near the center of town. A friend and I walked the dusty, crackling underfoot land. We listened to ourselves and the beings there. We picked up trash and made our RadJoy bird. We offered water to the plants. The time spent seemed to be about connection. My friend and I caught up on our lives and the challenges of living and working and finding a way to make your way in the world. We both noticed that we have rarely paid attention to this lot. By the end we felt a bond with the land, saw the signs of deer walking through it, noticed the birds in the trees. We became curious about its past and we learned that there is a housing development planned for its future. And so in the end, we felt glad it had some time being "neglected" - as if it has a chance to rest and just be before it becomes another soldier bearing the weight of human expansion, growth and development. We agreed to check in on it from time to time, and bring an act of beauty - even if that is just a moment of noticing and appreciation, and a drink of water. And indeed as I write this rains have arrived and the land has had some relief and nourishment.
UNSUNG HEROES—FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, USA
Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan: We have been carrying this magical thread with us, everywhere, since we returned from DC to Seattle.
It went with us to the Olympic Peninsula, to North Cascades, through countless tiny towns across Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming. It accompanied us to expanses in Glacier National Park and through flowering creeks in the Black Hills. From Devils Tower to alleyways in Billings to farms in Newcastle.
All this time, we were searching for the right spot. A place where the thread would fit, and that would fit the thread.
We envisioned burnt husks of trees where fires had passed, upturned & injured earth in the mining lands, romantic dilapidated structures by the side of the road.
And through this all, it never felt right.
Then, yesterday in Fargo ND , the yellow thread found its spot. No drama, nothing monumental. "Just" a green being protruding from the sidewalk.
We dedicate this yellow-gold magic encapsulated in the bundle of yarn to unsung heroes—plants that grow in cracks in cement. We see them on the sidewalks, on walls, growing and living in unpredictable places, against all odds.
They're here to remind us that all of this urban habitat that we have created is a part of and built upon a natural habitat.
And that nature prevails. Nature finds a way. It's here to give us perspective and to remind us that we are part of it all—the living web of all things.
Our connection to and respect of this web can and should start anywhere we are, and from there expand to encompass it all.
EARTH EXCHANGE ON LAKE MOOSELOOKMEGUNTIC, RANGELEY, MAINE
Polly Howells: The shore of our property on Lake Mooselookmeguntic in Rangeley, Maine, was ravaged this spring as the unusually cold winter left thick blocks of ice floating. As this ice melted and refroze and melted and refroze, a severe windstorm came up and smashed it into the promontory that leads from our land out into the lake. The rock wall that had been cemented there in the late 19th century to secure the point was destroyed and kicked up onto the land.
The point was created to accommodate the mail boat which stopped there in the late 1800's, before there were roads, when there was only a railroad that went as far as our land and the mail was delivered around the lake from there by boat.
No storm had ever torn up this man-made promontory before. It has stood there for 150 years.
But nature is having her way with us, and we have to honor her moods, and give back to her with our creativity and love.
My three granddaughters and I made a RadJoy bird offering to this land, to this water, honoring the unpredictability of storms in this time of climate change.
ART CIRCLE IN ATALYA—ATALYA, TURKEY
Deniz Kurt Duruoz: Konyaaltı Beach (Konyaaltı Plajı) is one of the two main beaches of Antalya, the other being Lara Beach. The beach is located on the western side of the city and stretches for 7 km from the cliffs to the Beydağları mountains.
We made a big circle, talked about Konyaaltı beach, how ıts began part of our daily life, how beatifull living close to water. .We wıll spoke with kids, and paint , honour the beatıfull and wounded beach. While we painted, we listened to little story about the beach.
It was a great day with nice people. Thank you.
CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, COLORADO, USA
Rob Meltzer: Gretchen and I had a Radical Joy weekend and I thought you should know. We camped in an area that was truly devastated. In the photo below you can see the Henderson Mine, the tailings pond, and the tailings. The mine is still operating and is a ginormous scar on the Earth. In the foreground you can see that we are hiking through a clear cut area. What you can’t see is that the hills are all brown and gray from the beetle. Hillsides are eroded and it looks like a nuclear bomb went off.
8 Miles to the South of this photo is the Sugarloaf Fire which has been burning since June and is expected to burn through August.
We didn’t make anything specific on the earth, but we talked about Radical Joy and you and definitely made a lot of beauty in the area in the form of our fun and joy with each other.
MEDAUPAN—MUNDUK, BALI, INDONESIA
Yudhi Ishwari reports that their community made a RadJoy Bird in the rice fields, but there has been so much rain this year that it was flooded before they could take a photo. Bali's rainy season traditionally lasted for about three months. In the past year, the rain has fallen almost every day and the rice, clove, and coffee fields are badly damaged.
In place of a photo of the RadJoy Bird, Yudhi sent this photo of the traditional Balinese ceremony of Medaupan, held to thank the earth and the rice fields for their gifts.
RESILIENT WINGS—GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, USA
Shea Armstrong and Fisher: On the morning of June 16 I held a small but mighty GEX with my then four-month-old son, Fisher. I told him stories about the seabirds and shorebirds that live along our coast and how endangered they are for so many reasons. Though I don’t think Fisher understood my words, our time together was meaningful. After sharing stories with him, we walked around the yard and I let him “collect” little bits of plants that he could grab with his fingers. I then let him drop them into the beautiful purple wing I created on the deck. I stood in silence with him in my arms, gazing at our co-creation and sending intentions out into the world that our generations return beauty to the earth. We then closed our circle with Fisher getting fussy because he was hungry. A real moment of sacred and profane.
And an update! Since the GEX, I learned that the legions of volunteers that guard the nests during holidays did an excellent job during 4th of July—a notorious holiday for the birds being able to thrive. In places where the volunteers stewarded nesting sites, ZERO nests were lost to the holiday frivolity. A miracle! My heart is forever grateful for people who spend their holidays standing beside our beloved birds during a vulnerable time in their lives.
PEACE RIVER, VANCOUVER, CANADA
Ana Simeon: I just got back from the Peace River a couple of days ago. It was a 2-day exhausting drive there, and 2 days back. We did have an amazing Paddle for the Peace with a couple of hundred participants, and also a smaller group got together that evening to do an Earth Exchange. It was a very emotional time since it's very possible that the dam will go ahead (they've already logged a portion of the riverbank in preparation) although a court case has been filed and will be heard this month. So our group of 9 felt it was not appropriate to take a picture of the group. Some people participated in a joint offering on the bank (see picture) and others gave their offering directly to the river.
FRESH AIR LEARNING SCHOOL—VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA
Daniella Roze: Some students from Fresh Air Learning, a nature-based elementary school, gathered to honor and give thanks to one of the places we care about. We made our creation at the Seymour River in North Vancouver, a salmon-bearing river that provides water to the city of Vancouver. Gathering stones and painting them with charcoal, we enjoyed being with this place we've grown to love.
NOW WE KNOW (POWERLINE)—HIGH HOPE RANCH AND FOSSIL RIM, GLEN ROSE, TEXAS, USA
Sandy Skrei, Krystyna Jurzykowski, Tess Chenoa Owenby, and Donna Jackson: Progress came crashing through the property line between High Hope Ranch and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in the form of two clear cut swaths in preparation for an upgraded power line. Progress that is, for Waco, some 100 miles away from us, the end user of the electricity supported by the new, metallic behemoth towers now towering over our tree line. We knew this was coming last year and dedicated our 2017 Global Earth Exchange to the unknown impacts.
This year, the work on our land was mostly done, so we blessed the clearing of the land, the cutting of the hillside, and the surprise extra lane that was built to move the equipment in to set the line.
Our ceremony included prayers, intentions, creating the RadJoy bird, launching wildflower seed balls to begin healing the landscape and another bird and this quote provided by Tessa, our neighboring educator at Fossil Rim, on the first pole erected on our property:
“All things by immortal power, Near and Far Hiddenly To each other linked are. That thou canst not stir a flower Without troubling of a Star.” Francis Thompson, English Poet
To see the story booklet Sandy made of their event, cut and paste this link:
THE WILLOWS AT RED OAK—LEICESTER, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
Lynn Wadsworth and Monroe Spivey: “The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” - Henri Nouwen
On Global Earth Exchange Day, the women of The Willows at Red Oak Recovery sat in circle, contemplating, witnessing, and giving voice to our inherent connection to the Earth and each organism upon it.
In circle, we were guided by the notion of Henri Nouwen’s “the wounded healer”— the (wo)man that, through deep intimacy with her own sacred wound, is able to recognize and minister to the sacred wound of both the Earth and each individual upon it.
After a guided meditation to ground with the Earth, each woman followed a call to a sit-spot, where she communed with the land and asked it about its own woundedness. Borne of this experience, each participant then wandered the land collecting found and natural objects, creating a radical joy bird by turning “trash to treasure.” Finally, as a whole, the group then selected a tree upon the property as the site of their altar (a young tree that one participant said seemed “overlooked”). To close, each woman offered her radical joy birds and intentions to the Earth, its inhabitants, and all present and future visitors to The Willows.
We loved taking part in this event!
WAR CRY @ THE L'IL FARM (RADICAL JOY UNBOUND)—MERIDIEN, TEXAS, USA
Tessa Chenoa Owenby: This year, on June 16’s Global Earth Exchange, I began working to rid the land of Johnson Grass, which came in on a load of topsoil I had delivered for my garden 3 years ago – a wound I inadvertently caused. To me, although I’ve been working to eliminate invasives all along, this represents my “War Cry” in my battle against this invasive and others, a renewal of my original purpose for and care of this land: “unbinding” the land from the grip of invasives to release its radical joy.
I started out by flagging the circumference of three patches of Johnson grass, each about six feet in diameter. I then lopped off their heads! That was pretty satisfying. I loaded all the seed heads in a cardboard box destined for the fire pit. Once beheaded, the patches are ready to be smothered under several layers of cardboard. Because of family obligations, I have not reached this step yet, but will this week.
In addition to the smothering and lopping off of heads, I also removed all the juniper seedlings in these areas, as well as three invasive chinaberry trees.
During this removal process, I released several beautiful bits of my land – the most interesting of which was my discovery of several Io moth caterpillars! No, I did not touch them!!! I also discovered several native plants hidden under the invasives. I created my RAD Joy bird out of a mixture of native and invasive plants.
I will be continuing my “War Cry” on my land over the next several years. I even special ordered some blue “war paint” to wear when battling invasives! I really feel like a strong warrior woman participating in this, both on my Li’l Farm and with High Hope, and I thank you for coordinating this each year!
LYNNWOOD RIDGE REFINERY PARK EARTH EXCHANGE—CALGARY , AB CANADA
Diana Izard: Our Solstice Earth Exchange was a beautiful evening to sit and be with the earth. Themes of caring, transformation and reclamation were strong. Co-facilitator, Noreen Demeria opened with a land acknowledgement which sparked my own awareness that the history I prepared to share about our location was only one (colonial) narrative. Our act of #RadicalJoy included quiet reflection, healing touch, song to honour the earth and yarn woven across a hole in the fence. Our act of beauty signifies the union between the built and natural environment, a bridge between us and the #Wild. Suspended from it, a found list of chemicals measured in the area— a most fitting treasure to symbolize the history of the ridge and the push-pull between the natural order of things and human intervention.
THE ECO-INSTITUTE AT PICKARDS MOUNTAIN—CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
Megan Toben: We gathered together with members of The Eco-Institute Staff & young adults from the Odyssey Fellowship Program, who collectively decided to hold our ceremony with the waters of the 4-acre pond that exists here with us on the land where we live.
We began with a meditation about how this very water has existed on earth for over a billion years, and throughout that time, it has taken countless forms.
Students offered thoughts about the various forms this water might have passed through, including snow, sleet, rain, river, ocean, cloud... and including the bodies of life forms like dinosaurs and humans. We spoke about how essential water is to Life, and I shared teachings I was given by native grandmothers at Standing Rock.
Together we created little "prayer boats" with flowers, candles, quartz crystals, and each a bit of the beautiful golden yarn. At sunset, we set them adrift with our gratitude and prayers for the healing of all the waters of the world.
We were an international group, including people from Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Ontario, and Brazil!
OHIO RIVER, SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, SHELL CHEMICAL PLANT, USA
Metal clanking as the giant cranes erect metal scaffolding
Chirrup chirrup from the baby robins
Screeeecchhh as the trains carrying supplies pull into the construction zone
Swoosh swoosh goes the butterfly
Rumble rattle as trucks traverse the chemical plant
Thump thump of my heartbeat when Fox comes into sight.
The listening vigil to hear what the earth has to say about resource extraction became a weeklong
Earth Exchange—because She had so much so say! Many treks from the industrial corridor, then to almost pristine wilder sights and homebase to the yellow-hearted boulder to recover. The land and activity surrounding the petrochemical plant under construction was metal upon metal, truck rumblings, train clinking—un-earthly sounds, pure human exploitation. What was "heard" from the Earth while watching the industrial activity was a big SIGH; Earth is waiting and watching as humans exhaust resources for our lives—then She will recover to support other life.
Summer SOLSTICE ON OCCOHANNOCK CREEK, BELLE HAVEN, VIRGINIA, USA
Annie Hess: Every year in June, our monthly women's group participates in the Global Earth Exchange by honoring and supporting the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. We gathered at a home on Occohannock Creek within view of the Bay. The erosion of the shore there reflects many of the challenges facing the Bay. A beautiful tree had recently fallen down leaving its amazing network of roots exposed - weaving together air, water and earth. And the tree lives on! We walked up the lawn and stood in a circle to create a Solstice Mandala. We each laid a stalk of phragmites to outline the mandala. One by one, we added the gifts of the earth we brought or found. And a gold thread was wrapped around the ear of corn! A gift for Mother Earth!
BEAUTY FOR THE CREATURES—WILMOT, NEW HAMPSHIRE, USA
Caroline Fairless: This is what we did on Saturday (in the rain). It was really lovely. There were six of us: Jim, Rose, Iris, Elisabeth (the mom), and David (the dad). We didn’t take the dogs!
Because of the rain (and the mosquitoes) we sat on our porch, with images and lists of those creatures we wanted to remember, both endangered and extinct. We wondered aloud and had a conversation about why we feel so much more sadness for those today than those of long ago – dinosaurs, for example, and wooly mammoths. That led us into a conversation about pterodactyls and chickens.
Outside, we sauntered through the woods on a trail that Jim and I had cleared years ago. (We have three such.) We moved efts off the trail, identified fungi and plants. Then we reached the tree called Once. As we put dog kibble in the bark, we named animals—we thought of many more, and asked the tree to hold these beautiful creatures in love. Rose, in the red jacket, is beginning the weave of the golden thread from the live tree to the fallen one right next to it, joining the living to the dead.
On that same trail is what I’ve named the Grandmother tree, the Great Grandfather tree, and the Great Grandmother tree. We added kibble to those trees as well, asking them to hold the children of the world. Finally, there is a tree called Mousetrap, and we placed kibble there. Mousetrap is the memorial tree for the various mice and moles that one of our rescue dogs (part terrier) can’t resist. We apologized for Althea.
Kind of soggy by then, we came back to the house, ate and drank. It was really a lovely afternoon.
SPLIT OAK FOREST, ENDANGERED SAND HILLS OF CENTRAL FLORIDA, USA
Jess Kovach: A dear friend of mine and I went to the Split Oak Forest to share our Earth Exchange. The land at Split Oak has been set aside as a preserve for animals who are relocated due to the high demand for land development. There are rare gopher, tortoises, scrub jays and many other endangered plants and other animals that rely on the ancient sand hills of this forest.
This land has become wounded by the large scale land developments that get closer to it each day. There are a lot of people standing for this land and against the proposed toll freeway that is planned to be built through these protected lands in the upcoming year.
We walked in the preserve for a while and found a sand pine tree near a lake that felt like the place to set up our Earth Exchange.
We created a mandala symbolizing the 4 directions and a circle of sand pine cones in the middle. We sang songs to the land and our ancestors. We shared stories and prayers about the land, plants and animals. We laughed and cried as we drew symbols in the sand with our hands.
As we lift prayers up for the protection of this sacred land, we are celebrating this beautiful place.
PROTECTING AN ENDANGERED SPOT—ULSTER, NEW YORK, USA
Polly Howells: Fourteen citizens from the mid-Hudson Valley in New York gathered on June 17 at the site of a proposed gas-and-diesel powered battery back-up facility intended to augment the electric grid that feeds New York City. This installation will be, if it is built, located on a pristine woodland ridge in the Town of Ulster. The ridge is home to an enormous diversity of flora and fauna, and would be much better served if it were held forever wild as a space for day hikers and nature lovers. The Town of Ulster, in order to augment its tax base, wants to sell it to GlidePath, a company in the Midwest that has built several battery back-up facilities over the past years—though none of them are fossil-fuel powered.
We were a group of activists from neighboring towns as well as from the townhouses that abut this woodland, 1000 feet from where the noise-and-air pollution emitting facility will be located if it passes the scoping process currently being undertaken by the state. We gathered, introduced ourselves, walked for awhile through the area, meditating on its beauty, and then returned to create our RadJoy bird, using a lightning-struck tree as its base. We read a poem, blessed the tree by scattering around it the ashes of one of our group’s recently deceased friends, and held silence while we offered our wishes for this land to be held sacred for future generations. We wrapped our tree-bird in the yellow yarn spun and dyed by Karuna Foudriat (in straw hat and black blouse, second row), who was with us.
Afterwards we gathered in a neighboring house for a welcome glass of lemonade! It was a hot day.