The Ground Beneath Our Hearts

September 12, 2015

The Ground Beneath Our Hearts was a day of art and music  created by twelve communities worldwide to honor their love of their home places, even though those places are severely affected by mining and oil and gas development.

Click below too watch the video about this amazing day.

Here’s a brief description of the events our Partner Communities created:

Australia: Gloucester, New South Wales (gas fracking)
Nannas Hands RaisedThe Gloucester Knitting Nannas are a group of older women who are devoting their time, talents, and considerable energy to stopping gas drilling in their area. For weeks they knitted and crocheted hundreds of sunflowers, which they placed all over  town for their event on September 12—even on the gate of a gas drilling site. They held a parade and also sang “The Ground Beneath Our Hearts” song, composed especially for our event by John Kusiak and Jackson Kusiak.

Azerbaijan: Sumgayit (petrochemical industries)
When Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union, pollution from petrochemical and industrial complexes released massive amounts of pollutants into the air. Although many of the factories have been shut down, the toxins remain. One of the saddest outcomes is the high rate of birth defects and early deaths among children. In observance of The Ground Beneath Our Hearts journalist Shahnaz Huseynova made a solo pilgrimage from her own town to the children’s cemetery in Sumgayit .

Colombia: Araracuara (gold mining)
The indigenous Huitoto people of this region of the Amazon forest have suffered several “booms” of their natural resources that have benefited industrialists from outside the area and caused severe ecological, health, and social problems among the native people. The area is so remote that there is no internet access. Our filmmaker, Diana Gutierrez, who was scheduled to document their event, was unable to reach the area as planned because the one airline that flies there has canceled all fights till the end of September. Diana will make the trip as soon as she can!

Ireland: Bunmahon, Cty. Waterford (copper mining
This  evenIreland passing stonest began with storyteller Jim Cullinan telling stories and guiding a tour of the old mining town, bringing to life the experience of those who worked and lived there. The tour ended at Stage Cove, where the copper was shipped to Wales and ships unloaded coal that powered the mines. There local artist Sean Corcoran led the group to create a an aisle of stones leading from the village to the sea, thus linking people and nature, past and present.

Northern Ireland: Ballycastle (coal mining)
Coal mining along the coastal region at the northern tip of Northern Ireland began in the seventeenth century, but became a major industry when Ballycastle coal supplied industries in Belfast and Dublin in the 18th century. The grandfather of one of our Partners worked in the Ballycastle mine before it closed in 1967 and has previously done a spiritual vigil there.

South Africa: Johannesburg (gold mining)
The Gold Mountain in South Africa stretches for about 52 kilometers. “It is made of sand that has been extracted from the belly of the earth since the early 1800s,” says Dumisami “Scotch” South AfricaMadhlophe, who lives near the Johannesburg site. Along with many other black South Africans, his grandfather migrated from a rural area of the country to labor in the mines under very harsh conditions. For their Ground Beneath Our Hearts event Scotch took his daughter and other young people to one of the mines and listened to some of the men who had worked there tell their stories. They also planted trees and document their experience with drawings.

Benguet, Philippines (gold mining)
A cultural group composed of children, the Anti-Open Pit Mining Kids, performed a theatre play with traditional singing to call attention to the challenges of living with mining.

USA: West Virginia (mountaintop removal for coal mining)
Our partner community in the Appalachian region of West Virginia honored their homelands that are under assault by mountaintop removal mining. Once the beautiful, sensuous mountaintops have been blasted off, there is no restoring them, and the debris from the tailings causes health problems and despair. On Sept. 12th the group created an event with several facets, including storytelling, a ritual to honor the waters and mountains, and a sculpture crafted from items brought by participants. They joined together to sing the original song, “The Ground Beneath Our Hearts.”

AR-150919849-1.jpg&ExactW=620USA: Durango, Colorado (gold mine waste spilled into Animas River)
In August an EPA crew working to contain water in a long-abandoned gold mine in Silverton, Colorado, accidentally breached the mine, causing 3 million gallons of waste to tumble into the Animas River, turning a beautiful, meandering river bright orange. At this event, held at Memorial Park, participants wove a wreath of fresh flowers that they placed in the Animas to the accompaniment of a drumbeat. They also sang “The Ground Beneath Our Hearts” song. For details see the group’s Facebook page.

USA: Joshua Tree, California, Bhaktifest (gas drilling and water depletion)
Bhaktifest is a large yoga festival in the California desert. Aerial artist John Quigley brought together 350 of the participants to call attention to the extreme drought in the west and how it is exacerbated by gas drilling. Out of their own bodies, lying on the ground, they formed an enormous Water Goddess.

USA: Longmont, Colorado (gas drilling)

For this small event, three participants made a drawing about what they love about their home place, currently experiencing considerable development and exploration by natural gas companies.

The Silenced Communities Worldwide
For all those communities around the world where people would like to participate in The Ground Beneath Our Hearts and dare not for fear of losing their jobs or even their lives.

Media & Comments on the 2015 Ground Beneath Our Hearts event