Mar 31, 2019
By Catrina Walker
A friend of mine recently returned from two weeks in Ireland and Scotland plus a week visiting his hometown in the Netherlands. He told me the temperature was in the mid-90’s the entire time and in Ireland, miles of marshes were dried up. Normally wet and foggy bogs were dry and cracked, appearing like desolate mud flats where nature has always been eternally green. The fog that helps to define the area appeared only in the early morning, gone by 10am. I cringed. Inside, I felt pain and wanted to cry.
How is this possible in such an ecosystem that has been consistently damp, cool and verdant for thousands of years? As an empath with a huge commitment to keeping our environmental balanced and healthy, I felt pain as I reflected on this unanticipated condition.
Here in Northern California, I fill a large blue bowl with water for visiting birds every morning. The bowl sits atop a corner of our deck railing facing distant Fitch mountain. This daily act is surprisingly fulfilling and opens me to do more, yet I am part of a human system that requires my face time at work at least 40 hours a week. Without that, I don’t get to survive in a healthy, balanced way. On evenings I’m not going out, I often walk or go for a bike ride to experience the environment–literally to taste the moisture in the air. There isn’t any. I feel uneasy and wonder where would be a good place to move to, given that I live an intentionally light footprint. I also know I’m not the only person who feels this way. It looks and feels like we’re collectively at the point where our self-generated human systems are eclipsing the natural systems upon which we depend.
What I know for sure is that we need to fundamentally re-adjust our relationship with the planet. I know that I and my children want to live in a socially just and ecologically thriving culture.
Others prefer focusing on environmental problems, as they are solution-oriented and thrive on solving high stakes challenges. Others thrive on exploring and mapping the biodiverse richness a given environment holds–what’s working in there? What’s not? Still others prefer to cultivate positivity through prayer, writing, tweeting, living indigenous lifestyles, teaching children, planting trees and pesticide-free gardens. All approaches nourish each other in intangible and quantifiable ways. The common thread we share is communication and caring for the environment that supports us.
How can each of us in our own ways create a mutually satisfying relationship with the earth? What’s your daily earth loving ritual? Can you bring more of it into your world? Can you share what you’re doing with others in your life? With your tribe? Your kid’s friends?
Even with a background in permaculture design systems, ecology leadership, a degree in environmental management; inspired attendance at The Great Turning, and a forty+ year member with the Nature Conservancy, I sometimes wonder if my efforts are nothing more than a drop in the proverbial bucket of our planet’s destiny. The truth is, I can see the outcomes of my and my team’s efforts locally. I feel great about that! Global outcomes are likely to happen by extension…through connected groups and tribes of like-hearted and like-minded people. I may or may not see that in my lifetime, yet am super stoked to discover it! How about you? What excites you? What propels you into the unknown? I invite you to reach out.
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