People Binding the Earth/2018 Global Earth Exchange: Photos and Stories
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MAITLAND, FLORIDA, USA
Janice Rous: All over my area of central florida the trees are coming down and buildings are going up. It s called progress by some. For me personally it makes me deeply sad and full of deep grief.
In this global earth exchange i try to see whats going up in place of this land and i try to give it love. I also try to feel loving to the men whose work it us to put up these buildings
Grief for our mothers' gifts
FOR A BIRD—FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
Rabbi Moshe Givental: This morning I started wearing-in some new boots as well as trying out new walking sticks to prepare for my journey. Both took some getting used to, but I felt strong and light on my feet. Almost, that is, until the very end, when, upon walking reaching my house, I found, a bird, dead, directly in front of the drive way. She was not run over, there was no blood, but she was motionless, her feet tucked in, still, laying on her side, and dead.
The song of birds has been a buoyant and playful companion to my mornings this spring. I listen closely, as if I can almost make it out. I think of my nieces, their lively playfulness, especially before they learned to talk. The song of birds is like that, like small children playing, like a soft tickle, a series of small kisses, or the flutter of a butterfly's wings.
I did not know what to do when I saw this particular bird, this, morning. However, I knew that her life was sacred, that this moment, was sacred too. I dug a small hole in the backyard of my house, and placed her inside. I covered her with a small layer of soil, to protect her from I do not know what, before I paused to breathe, meditate, and reflect.
I cried, though I had no tears. I added more layers of soil, and then grass. I cut off a piece of golden yarn from RadJoy, and wrapped it around a small rock, which I laid gently on top of the grass. I breathed some more and slowly other twigs found their way around the grave, in another circle of sacred awareness, interconnected indebtedness. I prayed for the wisdom to know what to do with this grief, and all the grief we humans have caused to Life, so much other life, and to our selves. I am still praying, and grieving, and thanking the Universe for being with me and holding me in her lap. In just over a week I begin my pilgrimage, a 2.5 month journey by foot, from Boston to Detroit. I will be Walking To Listen—to birds and to trees, to rivers and to caterpillars, to the stories of people's grief, and resilience, curiosity and hope, and Radical Joy in the face of it all. If you would like to join me, for a mile, for a week, or for a day, let me know!
(To follow Moshe's walking pilgrimage from Boston to Detroit, cut and paste this link: https://www.moshegivental.com/walking-to-listen-blog)
IRMAGEDDON—LITTLE TORCH KEY, FLORIDA, USA
Charlotte Regennas: At 4:30 on June 16th, 2018, I revisited my property on Little Torch Key, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma. I sat on my dock, the sole remaining structure and gathered my thoughts. My focus of rebuilding on this property allowed me to envision a new house, yet to be financed and built. I noticed how Nature was thriving in the waters below the dock, in the air above, on the razed ground, and absorbed the energy of the sun. I felt the sacredness of this place where I held many spiritual rituals. Then, I began a new ritual, releasing what needed to go, as I cut each length of saffron colored yarn: grief, pain, loss, lack of confidence, blame, guilt, anger, depression, feelings of lack, powerlessness,confusion, loneliness, and so on. I sat amid my somehow salvaged lawn furniture,writing positive expressions to be brought forth on this land. After threading the yarn through small colored papers, my tags of manifestation were attached to the foliage adjoining the dock:Joy, Beauty, Stability, Love, Clarity, Forgiveness, Wisdom, Meditative Solitude, Strength,Abundance, Prosperity, Friendship, Spirituality. Finally, I gazed through the decorated leaves and took a picture of where it would all happen. So might it be.
Knowing others were in Earth Exchanges in many corners of the world raised the creative vibrations. I express gratitude to all who participated in Radical Joy for Hard Times.
SCATTERING THE PLOT—PORTLAND, OREGON, USA
Cutler Christensen and Madeline: For those who haven't seen, the rolling hills of the Northwest Coast Range are littered with the scabs of clear cuts. Everywhere you look you can find evidence of destructive forest practices. So for our Earth Exchange project, going to a clear cut just made sense. As people who deeply appreciate old growth and have spent time in ancient forests, clear cut forests just don't feel quite right- they don't feel as alive. But as we all know, nature loves cycles and succession. When we found the space that felt right, our first observation was the tremendous amount of shrubby early successional plants coming in and doing their work of restoration on the damaged landscape. These plants were beautiful in their own right. Signs of the domineering hand of man were evident everywhere: huge piles of value-bare logs and stumps that will take a hundred years to decompose, scarred hillsides, old landing sites, and uniformly aged saplings trying to establish community alone. We could feel how these actions will carry some real long-term consequences.
However, we sat with the place a while and feeling pity for it made us feel small. These places are not dumb and they certainly are not helpless. Over time, beyond the human time-scale, these places regenerate and do the healing work. This made the Radical Joy message easy for us to digest and we felt at peace just sitting with the place and leaving it with a mandala and a prayer- one that should be seen by forest workers surveying the site. The big take away for both of us involved was that nature is all-wise and all-forgiving however greed is poison and we, as members of a dynamic and interconnected community, cannot escape the toxic effects for long. We need resources like wood from trees but we do not need the quantities we take. We don't need 2,000 square foot homes and superfluous buildings. "You are still loved trees, shrubs, birds and bees, all beings wild and free."
-Cutler & Madeline
VULNERABILITY, JOY, AND RICHNESS—GOSHEN, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
Jean Esther: I know you had the Global Earth Exchange yesterday. Today I sat with a friend who was just diagnosed with lung cancer. Turning towards what is scary and wounded in my dear friend is a practice of Radical Joy. In loving her: her fierceness, her humor, her vulnerability, I feel the incredible preciousness of life and the incredible joy and richness she has brought to my life. I feel deep love for her as she sings a song to us about a lady with a ukelele. I will be by her side no matter where her path is headed. I feel the courage in that, knowing how habituated it is to turn away from pain and fear.
I spent the evening tonight with my sweetheart at our local state forest. DAR State Forest in Goshen MA, over 1000 acres donated in 1929 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is beautifully cared for. Kayaks and swimmers share space with the ducks and other wildlife: moose, deer bear and fox. It is a place of joy for many beings. I swam in the clean fresh water this evening feeling so deeply grateful for this preciously preserved land. I met a group of young people in their 20's who were camping there. They stopped at our little resting spot( my wife Judith and I) as we all looked at this beautiful view (see photo ) and watched a mama duck with her 7 babies swimming and feeding.
May generations beyond us sustain and be sustained by the grace and beauty of this planet!
May wisdom , courage and compassion guide our actions in all our relations to all of life.
MOUNT IRENAEUS FRANCISCAN RETREAT CENTER—WEST CLARKSVILLE, NEW YORK, USA
Brother Joe Kotula: The Franciscan friars at Mount Iranaeus, a Franciscan Retreat Community participated by praying and making a gift for the land using household items, plastic bags, bottles and packing that we can avoid if we choose.
AFGHAN PEACE VOLUNTEERS—KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
Hakim Young: This is a photo of some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers working in the garden at the Borderfree Nonviolence
Community Centre in Kabul. They are using permaculture design methods.
From left to right were: Mina, Zarghuna, Qasim, Habib and Nasir.
SENDING LOVE TO LOST AND LONELY TREES—ALSAGER, CHESHIRE, ENGLAND
Jane Smith: This morning as part of People Binding the Earth we held our ‘Love to Lost and Lonely Trees’ event here in Alsager, Cheshire (England). We spent some time with two trees - one an old yew tree felled for development (or rather, a yew tree on public space but felled to make an access road to a housing development) and the other an oak tree, previously standing in the middle of an open green field, that was saved from felling but has been totally built around with new housing. I chose them to represent all of the lost and lonely trees in our community.
We left flowers at each tree, tied with the yellow yarn, as well as a couple of poetry quotes and ‘arboricide’ definition tags that we made. At the oak tree, a very friendly ginger cat came from nowhere to join us, which was nice.
RADJOY BIRD FOR TALGARTH—TALGARTH, WALES
Annie Fraser: Here’s a photo of RadJoy bird in my garden made of stuff found while digging new flower and veggie beds. The intention was set for the whole of Talgarth which has an old and derelict mental hospital which is supposed to be redeveloped but asbestos is causing problems. Also a bypass has been made cutting deep into the hillside one side of the town. On the up side the old water mill has been rescued and is now grinding flour for local bakery so there’s plenty to be thankful for.
Saturday turned out to be quite an earth friendly day, by chance?!!! or perhaps not! The local Greenpeace group put on a fantastic gig, local musicians and talk, which drew in a lot of people, many with an awareness of spiritual connection to the earth. (NOTE: Annie Fraser was one of the spinners who donated the golden wool for this year's Global Earth Exchange.)
MISQUAMICUT BEACH, WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND, USA
Even a parking lot at a popular beach offers opportunities for creativity. This RadJoy Bird is by Josiah Timms, age 6, of New York City.
LOVING WHAT IS—PEMBROKESHIRE, WALES
Jules Heavens: Our group gathered in Pembrokeshire to love the land, the sky, the waters and the Trees. Here is our RADJOY bird. Please note the feathers were from a bird that someone is a guardian of and it had recently moulted, so no harm done to any bird to obtain the feathers. The Bird is called Dusk and is a Buzzard.
HONORING THE OCEAN—SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA
Nancy Margulies, Judy Shintani, Carlota Lincoln, Shirley McClure, and Vicki Cormack: Our group, honoring the ocean, had a lovely and meaningful time talking and then creating art.
Our next step is to encourage many more people to gather trash and any bits of plastic, etc. while walking the beaches near our homes. To download our photo essay, cut and paste this link: http://www.radicaljoyforhardtimes.org/honoring-the-ocean-june_16_2018/
MCW FLAGS—MOSCOW CLAYWORKS, MOSCOW, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Frank Goryl: Spent the day working on our flag project for RadJoy day. We completed hanging the flags on Sunday (6/17) to add some color to the view at the back of the property at Moscow Clayworks. Two years ago was a woodlot…. now a housing project. This year we added Tibetan prayer flags. Honored to be part of this global event.
FOR THE EARTH—PŘÍRODNÍ PARK ŠÁRKA-LYSOLAJE—PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Ling Lai: Here's a photo of me on the stand up paddle board on the main river running through Czechia and Prague—Vltava, near Charles bridge, the busiest, most popular and touristy part of Prague.
Here's what I did:
I went in a stand up paddle board and touched the water, did some cleansing yoga asanas on it, with the intention that it'll detox my body (as it's designed to be detoxifying according to the Astanga teachers) as well as the water.
Then I closed my eyes, lying on the board, touching the water and being connected with the spirit of the River and all the animals living in or near it.
To my surprise, I heard from the River that she's actually very happy to see people having nice time around her, and that she's more clean and healthy than I thought.
Needless to say she's more polluted than 500 years ago. But she told me not to worry too much about her. Just enjoy what life has to offer and rejoice in all. As joy is what we need the most in this difficult time.
I was so touched, as each time I try to "heal" mother earth, I find that I'm the one being healed and inspired by her strength. She's always the stronger one in spirit, no matter how much her body was contaminated.
I also talked to some of its inhabitants (such as ducks and birds). They all seem very happy and alive as well. I sang some songs as my prayers (such ad "The river is flowing", and the closing mantra of the astanga yoga that I practice, which means:
May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
May all beings everywhere be happy and free
Om peace, peace, peace
Then I offered a lavender of my garden to it. May it bring her peace and nice smell despite the pollution from the oily boats for tourists.
WYMAN PARK—BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, USA
Lisa McCall and Autumn VanOrd: We went to our usual spot at Wyman Park. Much to our pleasant surprise, we saw how much work has taken place by the city to clean up the tons of garbage and piled up nature debris that accumulated in that part of the stream. We'd like to think that our years of bringing this ceremony and reverence to this place had some hand in its healing! We were amazed that this small part of nature was finally receiving the effort of care to clean up the land and water!
In our contemplation within this environment, we talked about the language of nature - specifically rocks. Given that all things have energy, they too have their language and Autumn felt how deeply wise and slow their expression is. Rocks have gone through extremes of conditions, from under seas, to being surrounded by plants, and even penetrated by their roots which can expand them. Their gifts require stillness and slowing down to appreciate. My contemplation was simply that our labeling of "indigenous" is rather limited. With all due respect to peoples who have a more recent connection to the corner of earth that they occupy, truly every human is indigenous to the globe. None of us are from another planet. We left with a feeling of hope and gratitude.
CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION—ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, USA
Jo Huxster: The class is called Climate Change Communication and the students spent the semester learning about public understanding of climate change, social scientific studies of climate change denial, and effective communication techniques for climate change. Throughout the semester we also touched on science and solutions, as well as barriers and challenges. Before our Global Earth Exchange, we read about environmental depression, eco-anxiety, and the several varieties of hope that we can have regarding climate change. Our campus is on the Tampa Bay coastline, and is threatened by sea level rise. For our GEX, we walked to the beach on campus. We sat in the shade and discussed the readings for the day and wrote down and shared our moments of "Great Grief" over climate change - the times at which we suddenly, unexpectedly were overcome by anger or sadness about what is occurring and how little has been done. We learned in our readings for the day that it is important to feel these emotions rather than push them away. We must acknowledge them, but then we must not live in them. We then spread out and each spent some time alone, observing this place the way that it is, in living participation with our surroundings. Some took notes on what they saw, heard, and felt, while others chose to breathe deeply and simply be. Once we had spent time living in participation with this place, we came together again to make various pieces of beauty with found objects. Some students chose to make pieces of art on their own, while others worked in small groups. We wanted to give acts of beauty to this place that will likely be underwater or at least very different in the future.
PIONEER SPRING—DONIPHAN, MISSOURI, USA
Sasha Daucus: We chose this place because it is one of the areas of town most damaged by the flood last year.
We had a very gentle GEX. The two of us shared about what the area meant to both of us. We both had a positive connection to it, for different reasons, and it was enjoyable learn and share about it on a deeper level, like getting to know a friend better.
Then we wandered around it for a bit. Both of us came back with the feeling that the area was in better shape than we expected, and that things are improving here.
We talked about various responses that we had to the wounding and also to the beauty. Interwoven with talking about place, we also shared about our own different lives in some of their wounded and beautiful areas.
“The flood was such a disaster, and we thought it would define us forever, but we are moving on and things are getting better,” said Samantha.
We then made a bird out of items we found in the place – litter and plants together. We both included our pieces of yarn in the bird creation. If you look closely, you may be able to see one part of the yarn outlining the head, and another part wrapped around a piece of glass at the point where body meets tail. We found a small kitchen knife lying on the ground and used it to cut the yarn into a piece for both of us. We then also included the knife as part of our art.
During the Global Earth Exchange here at Pioneer Spring, I had the feeling that the area was there with us in heart, both beautiful and wounded as we can also be with each other connecting with caring and compassion as wounded beautiful humans.
DISAPPEARING FORESTS OF THE OREGON COAST RANGE—TILLAMOOK STATE FOREST, ELSIE, OREGON, USA
Judy Todd: Three of us traveled to follow the trail at an old steam donkey logging site in the Tillamook Forest in Oregon's Coast Range. Today clear cutting on public and private lands has reduced these forests to a shadow of their past health and volume. Almost no old growth remains. Over 100 years ago, this hillside was clear cut and then abandoned in the small ravine of Rock Creek. Today, protected as a state roadside rest stop, there is still plenty of evidence of the hard times. Some remaining stumps show the notches used for the cross cutting saws then in use.
Now, alder have come in to help mend the creek, fix nitrogen in soil and add detritus and depth to the forest floor. Birds have added conifer seeds of hemlock, fir and cedar over the years since the clear cut. Rains and runoff made way for native flowers shrubs and small inhabitants to return, using the fallen and rotted trees still present as their habitat. Today it's almost sweet...and also a tiny remaining segment of a much larger mountain forest. We gave back our attention, regard and praise...and a RadJoy Bird as gratitude.
FOR OSO—OSO, WASHINGTON, USA
Mike Beck: Signs on the steel gate leading to the memorial kind of say it all: “Grief is the price you pay for love,” “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal,” “Always in our hearts.”
When I arrived today, June 16, 2018, on the other side of this entry were a half-dozen members of this small rural community that were among the many still recovering from a flooding and mudslide disaster. They were weeding, fertilizing and grooming the 43 evergreen trees planted there: one tree for each of the loved ones—friends and family—who lost their lives in the one square mile area around the memorial. All had died mid-morning of March 14, 2014 when a wall of earth and water came down the Stillaquamish River valley with the force of a 1/2 mile wide wall of 18 wheel semi-trucks roaring along at 60 miles an hour.
They asked if I wanted to help. I had flown from Florida to be here in part to do up until that moment what was an unspecified ceremony as my part of the Global Earth Exchange. So I did.
RADJOY FOR THE BROWNFIELD—SUSQUEHANNA, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Trebbe Johnson and Andy Gardner: A 12-acre plot beside the Susquehanna River was contaminated for decades by the Erie Railyards. The area is now being cleaned up by the Department of Environmental Protection, and there are plans for a park, an ice skating rink, and ballfield. Susquehanna County is poor, rural, and conservative, and this project to make something nice for the community is important and touching. However, I felt that the land needed some recognition of all it has been forced to hold and a little boost into its transformation. We made a RadJoy Bird out of stones and gave it some golden yarn (a weave from that donated by our two spinners for this year’s GEx) to carry in its beak. The bird is building a little yellow nest on the stakes as a way of looking forward to this area welcoming play and happiness.