People Binding the Earth/2018 Global Earth Exchange: Photos and Stories
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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.
MOURNING THE DARKNESS AND SINGING THE LIGHT OF THE EARTH: UU CONGREGATION OF BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK, USA
Trebbe Johnson: This service was co-created by Radical Joy for Hard Times (me), the Green Sanctuary Committee (Wes Ernsberger), and the Covenant of Unitarian-Universalist Pagans (CUUPS—Jim Dwyer and Janice Lewis). We had invited members of the congregation to bring photos or images of places or species they cared about that were under threat, and everyone brought those forth in a ceremonial procession at the beginning of the service. Our service, which was tied in with the summer solstice, focused on the importance of balancing our feelings for the Earth. We recognized that we feel deep grief when Nature is hurt or endangered... and we are also constantly in awe of Nature's beauty. The congregation also did a silent meditation outside, among UUCB's lovely gardens. We strive toward allowing a balance of light and dark in ourselves, as the solstices and equinoxes teach us about the balance of light and dark in the skies.
CREATING BEAUTY ALONG THE WASATCH FRONT—SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, USA
Kinde Nebeker: Six of us gathered in Warm Springs Park at the north end of Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 17th to participate in the Global Earth Exchange. Warm Springs is a natural hot springs whose waters come from the mountains and after diving deep, deep into the earth where they are heated up, they rise to the surface in the fault where the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains meet the flat bed of the Great Salt Lake. These hot springs were visited and used by indigenous people, and then the early Mormon settlers who eventually built a municipal pool and piped the healing waters to the local hospital.
Now this small area is bordered by big roads, adjacent to a petroleum refinery. The municipal pool building sits empty and a small park is used by the homeless and dog walking neighbors. And the hot water still flows.
Two citizens have taken up the cause of this place, envisioning a gathering place for the community — a healing place where everyone is welcome and differences can sit side by side. They have stirred the imagination of many, and recently were able to organize community opposition to a large housing development.
On this Sunday, we gathered under a tree near the abandoned building. David and Sylvia, the citizen activists, spoke of the history and geography of the place. We then each spoke about why we were there and what Warm Springs meant to us. Then we all went on a solo walk around the small area, in our six-year-old selves, to listen to what the land and our hearts had to say. And returned to tell our stories.
David, the man of brilliant brain who said he couldn’t get out of his thinking mind, took off his shoes and walked on the many different surfaces — concrete, cut grass, wild and prickly places, and the warm water — determined to feel it all.
Sylvia was filled with the freedom and joy of connecting more deeply to this place she knew so well, in this particular container of a small group walking with intention. She was drawn to the grate where the hot water drains back down into the earth, feeling nourished as it cascaded down to who knows where. Brenda found an abandoned shopping cart in the weeds and thought about wounds and that she doesn’t see this place as wounded, but as a place at this time, OK with it just as it is. Amy walked up high to the road that goes about this area, to see the overall lay of the land and how everything connects. Victoria found treasures: a snail shell, a black and white rock that looked like a butterfly.
Great wisdom was shared as well, about what it all means to be human in a constantly shifting, dying, re-birthing and changing cosmos.
We felt each other, and our kinship — strangers who became compatriots on a Sunday morning in June.
Ebru Bingol: I was planning to be in Antioch (Antakya) on the Global Earth Exchange Day and registered for a trekking and nature-art event in the city. However, as life makes its own ways, I was in Cappadocia in a very fascinating environment at that time. There was a festival in Cappadocia and the events that I attended was particularly fitting to the soul of Global Earth Exchange Day. Thus, I just went with the flow and attended to the festival events and after some events I explained the people around about Global Earth Exchange Day. Thus, it was not something that I organized but something that I contribute to some extend.
We watched the movie “The Salt of the Earth” which is a documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado and his wife’s life based on changing the world not fighting against, rather creating beauty. We watched the movie in a valley ground in Ortahisar surrounded by huge rocks which were carved centuries ago to inhabitate in them. Currently, these holes are full of birds. We watched the movie with headphones not to disturb them. The story of Salgado and his wife and the soul of the valley was so strong that we all deeply feel connected, inspired and hopeful about the world. After the movie I talked about Global Earth Exchange Day and Radical Joy for Hard Times.
Another event that I attended was open-air contemporary art exhibitions based on local landscape of Cappadocia. I called some people to go to the exhibition and feel the vibration together. The theme of the exhibition is Silent. I especially want to mention Rosella Biscotti’s work, “An Animal Epic”. Her work were footprints of the extinct animals that were living in the valley such as rhino, elephant, giraffe, lion. I told the people around me about Global Earth Exchange Day.
GUY FORD & GRILLED CHEESE—WATAUGA, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
Carol Anne Thompson: Guy Ford and Grilled Cheese event for the Global Earth Exchange 2018 was a hit and met with much surprise and gratitude. The initial idea was trading trash pick-up in exchange for grilled cheese sandwiches at our sacred spot at Guy Ford put-in on the Watauga River. Also a popular party spot for college kids who often forget to take their trash when they leave. I went the night before to prep for the next day and noticed that there really wasn't much trash. It turns out an AppState Fraternity had adopted the site and were keeping it clean along with encouraging other's to do the same.
Since the wheels were already in motion and the word was out, instead of trying to change gears, we made it a community binding event and bringing trash was optional...everyone who showed up could have a sandwich. We used the opportunity to share information about Radical Joy for Hard Times and the Global Earth Exchange, along with our vision to bind our hearts in community. We managed to collect three large bags of trash and make over 6 dozen grilled cheese. The real medicine turned out to be the demonstration of caring for each other, the land and building community.
The Radical Joy organizers sent a strand of golden yarn which was strung in the bushes next to the set up for the grilled cheese making station. At the end of the day, almost the last bunch of kids that were served, I took the strand and tied bracelets on their wrists so that when they looked at it they would remember what they experienced and if others asked about it they could tell them. Later as I drove home I realized that this was symbolic of the golden thread, common to each of us, that weaves it way through all of our lives and binds us together. A true symbol of (comm)unity among all people. It was a fun and (my hope) paradigm altering event; warming hearts one grilled cheese sandwich at a time!
HEALING OUR MOTHER—PALISADE, COLORADO, USA
Marla Ferguson: There were 8 participants in the Global Earth Exchange in Palisade, CO this year. We started our ceremony by honoring the 6 directions - south, west, north, east, earth and sky. Each person told a story about the wounded place on the earth that hurts them the most. One talked about the clear cutting of the forests in Oregon. One was most concerned about global warming and how the oceans keep rising in temperature and how it affects the animals and the melting of the ice caps. One was concerned about the mining and how it was a double edged sword, providing jobs for people and fuel for humans to use but also hurts the earth. One talked about a local trail that is next to private property and the owner cut down all of the vegetation and put up a hideous blue fence. One talked about the fires in the forest near Durango and what lovely memories she had from that place. She also recognized how fire can be healing to the land with new growth and vegetation. One talked about how low the water is at Lake Powell and how the mussels are out of the water. However, two new species of birds are in the area eating the mussels and the lower water level has uncovered Indian ruins so there is good and bad combined. One person talked about the ocean and the huge island of plastic that is floating around and killing and poisoning the fish and other ocean creatures. And last, one person confessed to being a hypocrite because she is definitely concerned about the environment but also uses the things that the earth provides and things that are produced by our inappropriate use of the land and water. Her hope is to come into a better sense of balance with it all.
Each person brought a piece of fabric or ribbon or yarn to be added with our RadJoy yellow yarn and we made a RadJoy bird on a very large old tree stump on my property. We read poems about the earth and all put our hands on the tree stump and realized that the tree still provided life for other plants and some small insects and animals. The poem that we all felt connected to was this from the Wild Woman Sisterhood at aimhappy.com
“The mountains are my bones
The rivers my veins
The forests are my thoughts
And the stars are my dreams
The ocean is my heart
Its pounding is my pulse
The sounds of the earth write
The music of my soul”
This was a wonderful celebration! We gathered together with fresh salad ingredients for a meal together after our ceremony.
PRITCHARD PARK, BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WASHINGTON, USA
Deborah Milton: We met at the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. This particular place represents the wounding of fear caused by human separation from the “other.” Nidoto Nai Yoni – let it not happen again – became our chant as we made origami peace cranes to take with us to the beach, Pritchard Park, which is contiguous with the Memorial. This beach represents the wounding of greed, ignorance and short sightedness caused by human separation from the ground of our being, Earth.
Now a superfund site due to creosote contamination, we gathered on the beach next to the old manufacturing plant and drew a giant water wheel mandala by walking it out with our bare feet. The center circle became our place of prayer as we made a large crane from whatever we found on the beach, including trash. As we began making our rad joy bird, an eagle chased by crows flew over, suggesting to me how many small ones gathered together can change the mind of the larger predator.
We knew the origami cranes were to be included in our beauty making. As the inner circle was outlined with golden leaves of the dying madrona trees lined up by the chain link fence barring entrance to the old buildings, someone counted the cranes. We had eight, the same number as the annual markers of the eight seasonal shifts celebrated by many cultures. Before we knew it, eight scalloped, golden “nests” were made as homes for our cranes. Someone cried out: “Look, we’re hatching peace.”
As our final act, we took turns spiraling the golden yarn from the red heart rock of the radjoy peace crane in the center, each of us verbally expressing our blessings and prayers as we patted the yarn into the seaweed chestbelly of our bird. As we completed our ceremony, a lone heron flew over, headed for its roost on the far side of the harbor. Our final prayer: May all humans learn to care for our common home.
We didn’t want to leave the yarn as a potential threat to creatures, so when our ceremony was finished, we cut the yarn into equal lengths for each of us to take home. The next day two of us used that yarn to bind paper prayers onto prayer sticks which were released over a cliff to the winds high up in the Olympic Mountains. Global Earth Exchange reverence and love carried further.
NATURE CONSTELLATION & RADICAL JOY FOR HARD TIMES—CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT, OREGON
Anne Stine: This is the 9th year that we have offered Radical Joy in some wounded part of our local and national treasure, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. This year we decided to extend our event into an "endangered" part of the monument, ie the newly expanded 48,000 acres, approved under the Antiquities act by President Obama. Currently it is under threat to be dismantled by the current administration's movement to undo many of our national monuments. We felt that "endangered or threatened" areas of our wild and public lands need to come under our support and protection with the help of the global earth exchange.
So 25 of us gathered in one of the newly designated pristine areas of the expanded monument boundary on Sunday morning of Father's Day this year, extending the global exchange for another day. We began with an update from our local chairperson, Dave Willis, who has spent decades of this life protecting this fragile area. (By the way the Cascade-Siskyou National Monument is the result of 3 ecosystems coming together to create some life forms that do not exist any where else in the world, hence the designation by President Clinton). We then sat in silence together to take in the land and its various life forms. We did brief introductions which included our experience in the silence of this place. We then spent about an hour alone, spread out across the hills, ancient oak and fir trees, and grasslands of this place. We came together and shared what the earth had given us in response to our question: dear earth, what would you like from me/us at this time, how may we serve you? The final act was the creation of a unique species of bird (see photo), which we decided as a Rad Joy bird, did not exist any place else! We closed our circle in deeper appreciation and understanding of this pristine and endangered place in our own back yard.
After a leisurely lunch break, we then participated in a nature constellation (http://truenatureconstellations.com/#whatis) in which we each connected with some part of the extended monument. At the conclusion of this, we deeply felt that in some mysterious way the monument was already protected and would continue into the future unharmed. Two days later Dave Willis sent out this article in which Trump Defends (yes DEFENDS) the monument expansion which is under threat. Take a look: https://www.heraldandnews.com/news/trump-defends-oregon-monument-expansion-in-lawsuit/article_78f77d5f-9687-50eb-8dff-c3e8b9b1456f.html
We left our 10 hour ceremony with deep satisfaction in our hearts, we had heard the voices of this place and has offered our intentions to protect it for future generations.
WAKING UP TO THE LAND BENEATH OUR FEET—ESSEX, VERMONT, USA
Zoe Elliston: Once again I was immensely grateful for the experience of paying attention to the land and space I inhabit. In the suburb, I feel cold because I remember what was here only two years ago but I am careful to frame my anxiety with gratitude. My partner reminds me of the cycles the earth goes through and how spaces can be reclaimed. I feel as though we are united with the goal to give beauty back to the land without protesting its current form.
This year for our act of kindness and gratitude to a wounded place on this earth, we went to a clear-cut area in Essex VT where a new industrial park will be constructed. The sun was strong in mid-morning when we set off for the site.
As we silently walked the parameter I thought about the sandy soil beneath the giant pines, of the wind that kicked up the dust and of the deer that have bounded through the open space that was once forest.
we built a bird with the beautiful golden yarn and looked out at the space together.
On our way back home we noticed the trees. Theo spoke of the different pines that could survive in the sandy soil and pointed them out. I felt my feet land in this place for the first time even though I have physically been here for a year. I am always amazed at how seeing a place or person fully can ever so tenderly make space in your heart for a new experience.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER—SALIDA, COLORADO, USA
Rob Meltzer: On Saturday afternoon, June 16, 2018, the FIBARK Whitewater Festival was going full force. 5,000 people gathered along the Arkansas Riverfront in downtown Salida, CO. The riverfront is a hand-crafted whitewater park. The riverbed has been “upgraded” into a world class slalom course for boaters. The riverbank has been overhauled to make room for spectators. There are rock bleachers and small pools for the kids to play in. There are parks, playgrounds, walking trails, and bike paths. And, in the middle of it all there is a grassy park with an amphitheater. This beautiful place is where the music happens and where the crowds gathered on Saturday.
Directly across the river, out of view behind thick stands of trees, is an abandoned factory. The CALCO plant was a calcium carbonate processing plant that used to operate seven days a week around the clock. At its peak, in the late 70’s, it produced more than 240 tons of carbonate daily. Now, it sits there, a mass of metal, concrete, and plastic decaying right next to the river in downtown Salida.
With music booming in the background, my friend Gretchen and I ventured over to the plant. The stark contrast deepened our experience. We sat in a dusty, littered landscape with decaying buildings around us while 5,000 people jammed out in a beautiful park just on the other side of the river. The contrast deepened our awareness of just how wounded, forgotten, and abandoned this place is.
I was proud to be making beauty on the less attractive side of the river!
Gretchen and I took time to acknowledge how wounded and forgotten this place is. We said words to each other about how it felt at that moment. We acknowledged each other in the context of the place and the RadJoy “ceremony." We gathered stones and made a RadJoy bird (more like a Pterodactyl).
It was simple, elegant, and very rewarding. It is wonderful to know that we were doing it with people all over the world at the same time.
OWENS VALLEY, BIG PINE, CALIFORNIA, USA
Will Scott (A strand of golden yarn on one of the signs that marks the once fertile Owens Valley in eastern California, dry and toxic for more than a hundred years since the City of Los Angeles diverted the water for its own use.)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA
Andrea Friedman and Amanda: This is the bird Amanda and I made on a slab of concrete in what used to be the “Indian” side of Chicago!
SEEDS ON THE WIND—TAHUYA RIVER, WASHINGTON, USA
Sage Abella: I drummed and prayed for the waters of Jigs Creek and Tahuya River to save the creek area from a scheduled clearcut. To protect these waters that the salmon still run in. Here’s the Rad Joy Bird in the precious yellow string on the bridge where I drummed. Then I wove the string it into a moon on the Earth Loom near the fire pit on the Sahale Retreat Center so the yellow string can continue to hold these prayers for good stewardship of the Jigs Creek land.