People Binding the Earth/2018 Global Earth Exchange: Photos and Stories
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E. GAYNELL M. MEIJ—THEORIES OF STRING
Inspired in part by the yellow yarn members of the RadJoy community have been weaving into their acts of beauty since this year's Global Earth Exchange in 2018, artist e. Gaynell m. Meij of Connecticut used the yarn as a springing-off point for a collage book, "Theories of String: Threads, Webs, & Nets." To view entire book, click https://www.flipsnack.com/87E6DCDEFB5/theories-of-string-threads-webs-and-nets.html
BLUE SPRING STATE PARK—ORANGE SPRINGS, FLORIDA, USA
Sasha Daucus and Jess Kovach: We visited Blue Spring State Park in Orange City Florida. Blue Spring State Park is one of the largest winter gathering sites for manatees in Florida. Conservation efforts there have played a large role in the resurgence of the Manatee population. In 1970 the population was at just 14 in the area. Now it is over 500. The park itself feels wonderful, with the beautiful spring, and the calm co-existence of the Manatee with the humans. There was a sense that the animals felt safe and relaxed there. We chose to do an Earth Exchange there to bring the energy of intentional honoring of the Earth and its inhabitants to this place which already seemed to be a good model of coexistence.
We found a quiet picnic table under a ‘two-natured’ tree. On observing the tree closely we could see that it is actually two different species of trees grown together—a live oak and a pig-nut hickory. As we were present with the tree, a cheeky squirrel came to visit and was most insistent on our attention. It chattered and got very close to us, close enough to touch if we’d tried. It darted around to keep us in its line of site. At first I thought it was waiting to get fed, but after a little while, it seemed that the energy was more about curiosity and wanting to share and participate in our connection with the tree. Judging by the number of hickory nut shells on the ground, the squirrel probably was a living aspect of the tree itself, grown sleek on its diet of hickory nuts.
As we shared our impressions of the area where we were, memories it invoked, past experiences, and our impressions from the land around that area, some themes emerged intuitively, about the cycles of life and the deep need for the Earth and its inhabitants for intentional connection.
After that sharing, our act of beauty was to build a small altar at the base of the trees. Jess sang a song to the directions and the tree.
CASCADE-SISKIYOU NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEAR ASHLAND, OREGON, USA
Anne Stine and Bets Snyder: This photo was taken on a journey into the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument to check on the condition of one of our local lakes which has suffered tremendously from the drought this year. Anne Stine and Bets Snyder, two elder women who have enjoyed years of kayaking and camping at this lake, have a deep heart connection with this place. We feel it's one of our 'homes' in the monument, which has given us and many of our friends so many days and nights of intimate time with this lake and forest which are also next to the Pacific Crest Trail, which itself runs 2600 miles from the Mexican border to Canada. We wanted to visit our beloved place and spend some time with her. Although the water level is tremendously low, almost just a huge puddle, the beauty that surrounded us jumped out as we meandered slowly and mindfully around the lakes edge. The fall colors were stunning, bright yellow against the green of the conifers; the grasses and other flora that had emerged as the lake waters receded provided stunning moments of beauty. The lake itself had become another very beautiful version of herself, and actually was returning to what she had been before the huge meadow was flooded by the human made dam which could no longer provide a container for water that was no longer running. The soft curves of the meadow held remnants of the forest, grasses and flowers that once filled this quiet place in the mountains.
The photo taken shows one of the natural sculptures that has emerged as waters receded. And the remaining lake is off in the distant background. We so enjoyed our time in the ever changing beloved lake.
CHILDREN'S PROGRAMME, CANBERRA QUAKER REGIONAL MEETING, CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA
Wilma Davidson: Trebbe Johnson's book was bought for the children’s programme at Canberra Quaker Regional Meeting, where I convene the children’s programme. This year our theme was the earth and this included a session where children painted rocks and placed them in spots they felt needed love and care. Apart from this and introducing your work and website to my colleagues on the children’s committee i have done little else to bring Radical Joy.
I am also the National (Australian Yearly Meeting) Children and Junior Young Friends Coordinator, and much of the National activities focus on out Earthcare/Sustainability testimony, and would like to involve our Junior Young Friends (12 - 18 years) in Rad Joy projects.
AN ACT OF BEAUTY FOR OUR SOIL AND WATER AND WEARY LANDS IN SOUTHERN WISCONSIN
Erin Schneider and Marian Farrior: An act of beauty for our soil and water weary lands in Southern Wisconsin
Reflections from the 2018 Global Earth Exchange
by Erin Schneider and Marian Farrior
10 – 22-18
Bearing open hearts and a piece of yellow yarn infused with wooly love from an Irish Shepardess, we set out to weave gratitude, offer beauty to our weary waters and soils.
Acknowledgement, born of gratitude.
Sign says “Keep off, Public Health Risk, Sewage Overflow”, An ill-equipped response from aging stormwater systems amidst this past summer's floodbath.
The land grows weary of carrying, holding space for all our shit.
Into the lake, springfed, once sacred footpaths
An interchange of water and trade, current recreation in the modern age, to love again?
We took a deep breath, treading lightly at Wingra's edge, careful not to disturb the signs.
Taking cue from Elderberr in bloom and drops of yarrow essence, we weave for a brief moment an act of beauty filled with the umbelliferous love, intentions, and acknowledgement to the places we break, unaware and ignorant.
Large waterfalls of concrete, outwash, and slashes of soil cross our path.
We thread the lines of compassion amidst both sudden and evolutionary acts of sacredness
The land remembers in Madison WI.
Our weaving did not stop. We walk on.
With elderberry, yarrow, mullein—protector, healer, respirator—as our guideposts, we trek to ridgelines along the Big Creek Watershed to honor the land. This time holding space for the skin of the Earth – our soils—grown weary—mined in the name of agriculture. Yielding naked calories for cows too many to count in confined spaces, piles of old machinery left to rust in the ditches.
What treadmill brought us here—tired farmer, confined cows, weary soils?
We place the string, offer up our nosegay of medicinal plants found along the roadside, our stories bound.
Honoring our collective need to rest in this act of beauty.
Our weaving does not stop.
BEING PRESENT FOR LOSS: OACC gathering, WEST PLAINS, MISSOURI, USA
Sasha Daucus: We did an Earth Exchange at the 39th Annual Ozark Area Community Congress (OACC) this year. OACC is a yearly bioregional gathering of people who love and care about the Ozarks, gathering together to celebrate, appreciate, and learn from this phenomenal part of the Earth and each other. We did it as part of a workshop on Being Present for Loss.
After briefly talking about ceremonies and processes I use to integrate loss of animals, people, and the land (Earth Exchange being the one for the land) the participants chose to create an Earth Exchange on the spot.
We all tuned in to that spot of land, which was chosen as the one at hand and not particularly for its being wounded, and each found their connection to it. We were at Hammond Mill Camp, in the Missouri Ozarks. For several, being present with the land provided the opportunity to notice the impact of other griefs held in the body and consciousness. One woman tuned in to difficult experience she had on that piece of land a few years ago ( bit by a copperhead snake) and she found a greater sense of connection and positive meaning in that experience. For me, as I relaxed into being with the land, I remembered how the bridge just a few miles away had been torn out by last year’s flood, and many trees uprooted. The bridge rebuild was completed just a few days before the previous year’s OACC. As I remembered that, I felt the greater sense of joy that comes when I can relax with ‘what is’ including loss and grief mixed in with the joy and celebration, as part of the whole diverse experience of life.
The bird was created from natural materials on site. In its beak, there is a skein of the Rad Joy yellow yarn. “It is using it to build its nest and make a safe place for new birds,” said one woman. We created it in a sheltered spot next to the chapel where it could remain undisturbed (not mowed over) for a longer period of time. Another woman commented on the joyful playful childlike spirit she felt in the group as we built it, and how much she enjoyed it.
EARTH EXCHANGE FOR THE OHIO RIVER—HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA, USA
Janet Keating: It was truly inspiring to be in solidarity with the Ohio River.
The Ohio River is the most polluted river in the United States. For decades, our river has suffered due air deposition, pollution run-off and waste disposal from power plants, coal mining, chemical, manufacturing and agricultural industries. The latest threat comes from the oil and gas industries’ fracking of the Marcellus, Utica and other deep shale formations. Additionally, the oil and gas industry disposes of its radioactive wastes both underground and in landfills adjacent to the Ohio River, threatening drinking water supplies beyond our lifetime. Fish advisories are numerous on many segments of the Ohio River.
During this 2018 Global Earth Exchange, we will gather at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington, West Virginia, to be in solidarity with the Ohio River. We will meet near the boat ramp to tell stories about our connection to and concerns for the river, sing songs to the river, do readings and make art as a gift to honor the Ohio River.
This Global Earth Exchange 2018 is co-sponsored by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), Marshall University Native American Student Organization, Four-pole Creek Watershed Association, and Tri-State Water Defense.
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.
BINDING VISION & VOICE—MONTANA, USA
Megan Hollingsworth: My practice was to bind my own body as representative of all mothers and children who have been denied their visions and voices, exploited, polluted, and otherwise abused within the context of a social system that exists and persists by way of exiling and shaming the mother's unconditional love, universal compassion, and collaborative nature.
I chose my body for the practice because I have been uprooted since 2013, so do not have a wounded community or another 'place' for the practice as much as I do not have others to practice with at this time. My body has been my sole refuge, my home away from home. And just as is true for whole communites, home is not always a refuge when home is vulnerable to another's fear - greed, ignorance, and ill will.
This binding of my wounded mind and body demonstrates "that this place is loved and cared for, despite what has happened". May every mother and child realize this truth and feel safe at home in their bodies—safe to be seen and heard.
The first image represents the mother and child's vision and voice exploited, manipulated, and denied. Thus, distorted with fear, shame, and rage.
The second image represents the mother's polluted womb—the emotional and chemical burden passed to and carried by babes if they survive the insults their mothers endure.
Read more about Binding here: https://www.meganhollingsworth.com/global-earth-exchange-binding-voice-womb-2018/
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.
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. "
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!