People Binding the Earth/2018 Global Earth Exchange: Photos and Stories
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REWALKING THE FAMINE ROAD—LOUISBURGH, CO. MAYO, IRELAND
Paul Fearon: In this beautiful and at times harsh environment in 1845 hundreds of people died as they walked in search of food. The road from Leenane to Louisburg is known as the famine road. Recently my good friend Tom and I visited this site and remembered. I cried and put my tears on the cross I wailed out as my throat needed to express. We made the Radical joy bird with old flowers that had been placed there previously. We acknowledged that this place too held a wounding. The chacktaw nation sent aid to Ireland not long after their own vale of tears when they were displaced. We brought our heart energy to this place. We offer this experience to Global earth exchange 2018.
SOLASTALGIA CAUSED BY CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION IN WILLIAMTOWN, NSW, AUSTRALIA
This year I went to a chemical contaminated site about 40 minutes from my home.
The contamination problem is caused by what are called PFAS or Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals have been used in fire-fighting foam for decades and have leaked from the Department of Defence Airport at Williamtown and into the ground water under many properties. There is no certainty that these chemicals are safe for human exposure and residents have elevated levels of PFAS in their blood samples. Because of the PFAS contamination, the properties affected have been quarantined and their owners have been advised not to consume food from their own mainly rural properties (including eggs). Property values have been effectively taken to zero as nobody would willingly buy into a declared chemical contamination zone. The residents are trapped within their own properties for many decades to come.
To make terrible matters worse, affected residents have serious worries about severe health impacts connected to these chemicals. Since the declaration of contamination in 2015, residents and journalists have discovered over 50 cases of cancer all located in the 'Red Zone' of contamination over a 15-year period. While health authorities have denied that there is a cancer cluster in the area, the uncertainty about the carcinogenic status of PFAS chemicals remains a constant worry for the affected people.
The worry about health impacts, property value impacts and loss of a sense of place (home) have all delivered a massive case of solastalgia for these people. Their lived experience of negative environmental change is an ongoing nightmare. Unlike most forms of environmental desolation, this case study is unusual in that the impact is invisible. I spent time with two affected people on their contaminated property ... no damage visible, a beautiful and tidy lawn and garden. No garbage to make a symbolic 'bird'. All I could do was use the gold wool to wrap the protest signs in front of their properties and show to the world that these people and their desolated places are connected by threads of care and compassion to other people all over the world.
GIVING BACK A GIFT OF BEATY—SAGAPONACK, NEW YORK, USA
Christine Morro: This morning when i walked the beach, I followed the path of dark seaweed at the edge of the high-tide line. It was a cool morning for june, the sky blue...fuschia rosa rugosa blooming on the dunes.
An almost perfect day...i had a bone to pick with everyone who discarded their plastic water bottle caps, mother's day balloons, and juice pouches. Woven into strands of seaweed were bits and pieces of trash. My feet bare want to touch a pristine earth, I want to think that reverence arises naturally the way the waves meet the shore and that gratitude is as buoyant as the three floating clouds above the horizon.
When i walk i am possessed by the land. I do not own this stretch of shore, or any land but a kind of ownership comes from loving and knowing a place. Walking gives you a sense of possession - noticing the tern and plover, the compass grass growing, the seaweed. I dont need "title" to this because i belong to the land. I acknowledge my place and my relationship with all that inhabits and grows on this land. I understand that the sea and the earth as my ancient birthplace.
I created a circle of wood and tree branches, collected as i walked...each weathered by wind, sun and sea . I stood facing the sea. From the center 8 steps in the 4 directions. First South. North, East, and West. An opening was left at the southern arc of the circle. Like a japanese enso I wanted the world to flow in and out and to allow for the possibility of exchange and change.
36 steps, a slow, deliberate walking meditation around the circle's circumference to honor earth, to ask that we remember that we are kin with all living beings, that we acknowledge our role as stewards and to walk lightly.
TREEPHILIA—PUGET SOUND, WASHINGTON, USA
Jennifer Wilhoit: Each year we honor trees during our Global Earth Exchange ritual. We honor all trees living, all trees no longer living, the natural environments that support vital tree growth. And this year we will also honor the many species (floral and faunal, as well as human) who rely on trees for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual sustenance.
WONDERFUL WINDINGS—WASHINGTON CROSSING, NEW JERSEY, USA
Joy Kreves: For "Wonderful Windings" two of us went to the banks of the Delaware River near Washington Crossing, which is threatened by Penn East's applications for a massive pipeline in the vicinity.
We chose a site where there were many human and dog footprints in the mud. We talked about how the river is a force of its own, not to be controlled by an individual. We told each other about experiences we had in the river when we experienced its extreme force. As we reflected on the river water, a dead fish floated past. We built a bird on top of the deepest footprints, from garbage found on the site including a large piece of styrofoam, a muddy flag, sticks and leaves. We lay the golden yarn on the back of the bird in a meandering wave line.
RECOVERING TOGETHER—DONIPHAN, MISSOURI, USA
Sasha Daucus: We had our public community GEX yesterday “Recovering Together: where we are 1 year after the historic flood of 2017.” It went well. The event was in keeping with community traditions of gathering together, with food and booths that addressed the topic of flood recovery and environmental awareness.
We created beauty by posting notes on the Mural of Hope that was created last year in the GEX 2017. The notes stated hopes for the future.
Because of the way the event was framed and work done in the past year, many people who are influential in the community showed up. I had an opportunity to speak to them about hopes and concerns regarding the continued flood recovery with respect to the environmental impact of both the flood and recovery efforts. Overall, it was a positive event that promoted community unity and communication, and offered a connecting point for many different perspectives.
FRIENDS OF MILLERS POINT—SYDNEY, NSW, AUSTRALIA
Kelli Haynes: For the first time this year Friends of Millers Point participated in Global Earth Exchange. Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks (Tallowallodah) in the centre of Sydney, Australia was until recently a socially diverse, inclusive (of children, people with impairments and others at risk of marginalisation) and well functioning community. Residents, including descendants of the first Europeans settlers were connected by long term residency and knowledge of each other, manual and related work in the maritime services and an ethic of working hard and looking after each other and their neighbours. There has been a deep and abiding connection to the physical place where many spent their entire lives: the harbour and foreshore where they lived, schooled, played and worked, all in this one place.
In 2014 the State Government declared that they would sell all of the assets that made this stable, diverse and unique community possible and all of the tenants, including indigenous Australians, people with disability and elderly, evicted. Most have been very traumatised, made ill and some even moved to death and suicide. The community that remains has been leached of it’s social history connected to every square space and it is very difficult for those relocated to return to the place they loved but is now a source of great hurt, rejection and grief. We continue to keep others aware of the fact that this social injustice occurred here but also need to face our wounded community, reclaim our abiding connection to the place and express our enduring love. So for today that is what we did.
We acknowledge the original custodians of this land, the Gadigal people, and those that made it their treasured home following European settlement until it was taken again in 2014. We want them to know that they will always belong here as long as they want to, that we remember them and their contribution and that we welcome them always as we continue to seek social justice.
It was a way to find joy, a radical thing in this situation and to help with healing. We recommend it to everyone and thank you for the invitation to participate.
Images include pebbles outside the local community centre; a golden heart and ribbon for Sirius; real people live here in homes that are built not bought; a heart made of found leaves, flowers, berries, sticks bearing names of many of those who have been forced away.
BEAUTY FOR GREEN COVE SPRINGS—GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FLORIDA
Liz Gold: My Earth Exchange was in Green Cove Springs, Florida, for the land, groundwater, and waterways poisoned for decades by the Solite Corp. and now targeted for a housing development. It is now an amazingly beautiful wetlands full of pine trees, cattails, swamp mallow, ferns, tiny wildflowers, turtles, frogs, and birds, where the Earth is performing her own cleansing, and a gentle rain fell as I wove a RadJoy bird and a heart into the padlocked gates. Neighbors came to see what I was doing and joined in.
All around the area are new housing developments, where woods and wetlands are being replaced by large air-conditioned houses and green lawns. Ironically, the hazardous waste that poisoned this land may end up saving it and all its creatures from a similar fate (because so many neighbors have risen up to oppose development). I came away rain-soaked, but this magical place bestowed far more gifts than I could ever return.
BLUE RIVER BLESSING—OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, USA
Elaine Johnson: We honored and blessed a wounded place this morning, participating in our first Global Earth Exchange. We went to bless the waters and found an unexpected sense of peace mingled with the noise of nearby traffic. “Live quietly amid the noise - find your peace and let it flow through you.” There is magic that still exists around Indian Creek.
ANIMALS IN BEIJING—BEIJING, CHINA
Christy: The attached picture is taken in rural area in Beijing, a dog sanctuary which has more than 100 DMT dogs rescued mostly from Yulin, Guangxi Province. The man in the picture is Jeffery Beri, an American who rescued the dog from death. Sadly around this loving home for dogs there are pig farms and chicken farms. We could hear sharp screams of animals nearly everyday.
We do need help from all aspect including prayers from more people.
Thank you in advance.
The address of this dog sactuary is:
Hou Lingshang Village, Shunyi District Beijing China.
TRANEKAER, LANGELAND , DENMARK—FOR THE WATER OF DENMARK
Susanne Joergensen: Blessing and being thankful for this damaged water, last wounded from its immediate surroundings more than 30 years ago. Recently there have been many findings of pesticides in the drinking water throughout Denmark, forcing many public wells to close or relocate water sources and solving it, by combining water from unpolluted wells with those that are polluted. All this is very sad and scary, both for our children and for our future generations since pesticides in many forms and shapes are still being used by the majority of farmers here.
AMERICA'S BIGGEST SUPERFUND SITE—BERKELEY PIT, BUTTE, MONTANA, USA
John Wolfstone: It's about 2pm, Memorial Day, 2018, and my brother James and I pull into the parking lot to view the nation's largest Superfund site. Thunder cracks and light rain begins to patter our car windshield as the typical mid-afternoon May mountain thunderstorm breaches the western ridge into this toxic valley. Does it Acid Rain here?
The green water we see below the cliffs and terraces of scared earth: it's charged with deadly toxic levels of leached arsenic, copper, and other heavy metals, which is what makes this site so dangerous (last November, 2017, over 3,000 geese landed on the mine site water, and were all dead within hours). .
The rain breaks, and James and I exit the car and walk to the gift shop/mine entrance. It seems odd to me that there's a gift shop at a site of an environmental disaster. James and I pay our $2 entrance fee and begin to walk towards the adapted mine shaft leading to the viewing platform.
The size of the pit is overwhelming. Its water is 1500 feet deep and its breadth stretches 1.5 miles. A whole mountain chiseled away.
James and I hang out on the platform for a long time, long enough for several other groups of tourists to come and go, usually after less than five minutes. We are silent the whole time. My friend Gillian Shelley had invited me to make a piece of beauty from the materials there. I look around and the viewing platform is clean—no rocks, no plants, just stained wood, a hard fence and a few wooden benches—no raw materials to build an mandala or other offering to this place. However, the wood railings and support beams are covered in human carvings, most of the " J+ K" sort.
Maybe I can leave a message as an offering. James always has a small pocket knife on him, so I ask to borrow it. I go to the far corner of the platform, away from the other two groups currently there, also gawking at this gaping hole in the Earth. I don't want to be seen carving into the wood, so I work fast.
I've never carved into wood in this manner, although I've seen these etchings into wood, often in trees, everywhere I've ever traveled on Earth. I've always considered it a form of graffiti, in its own way just another example of the misguided human thirst to "leave a mark on the world," and so it seems ironic to leave an "Act of Beauty" to this mine site in this way. And somehow it also feels perfectly right.
I can only think of one word—SORRY—and so I etch it in, followed by a heart, so hopefully the place (and those who follow) know I really meant it.