I just had the pleasure of listening to one of T. Thorn Coyle’s latest podcasts wherein she interviews John Michael Greer (Episode 15). One of the more interesting points that Thorn made was regarding the typical pagan ideal of buying land for ceremonial/spiritual use. She rightly points out that this piece of land is usually envisioned as out in the wilderness somewhere. Thorn points out that this ideal may end up doing more harm than good considering the amount of existing urban sprawl that we have currently. Her suggestion is to find land *inside* the cities and restore them, making them a focus for the nurturance of pagan communities. Brilliant, no?
This comes on the heals of watching the epic “Planet Earth” documentary by the BBC. If you have not seen this brilliant piece of art I highly encourage it. The last DVD is, however, a real wake-up call. Lets face it folks, the planet is at a serious crossroads. There are, however many signs of success and hope when it comes to environmental restoration, including some very committed and resourceful pagans. Action is the most effective prayer. One shining example of this kind of action is Anima Center in New Mexico:
When the Sanctuary property was first purchased in January 1981, what already appeared to be a beautiful canyon was nonetheless seriously damaged. Over the course of the previous 109 years, grazing had eliminated 95% of the vegetation. In dry country such as this, it was only natural for the cattle to seek out the rich grass adjacent to the area’s few rivers, but the result of such concentration was that even plants that weren’t eaten were trampled and crushed. Literally nothing grew among the volcanic outcroppings other than brilliant cacti, stately alders and ponderosa pines, a few large old cottonwoods, and increasingly invasive piñon and juniper. . .
Visitors to the Center today, some thirty years after its purchase and protection, are amazed at what is now a forest of Cottonwoods over sixty feet high, towering above a thick tangle of twenty-foot willows. Wild grapes hang from many of the trees, and the meadows and shoreline are filled with a colorful profusion of wild flowers with names like sacred datura, western spiderwort, wood sorrel, pink penstemon, flax, cliff and woods’ rose, desert paintbrush, blue eyed grass, fire wheel, mata, four o’clock, globe mallow, morning glory and mountain lover. Resident interns assist with seed gathering and plantings, as well as erosion control and other soil conservation measures, and there are periodic Riparian (River Ecosystem) Restoration workshops.
Although this has transpired in the Gila Mountains of New Mexico it is a great example of what is possible when pagans commit to action on behalf of Mother Earth. Imagine what it could be like if pagans took this example into urban areas? I think the possibilities are very compelling. Another fine example, although non-pagan, is the latest story from the New York Times about a pair of brothers working to destroy levees in Louisiana rather than putting them up. Thorn has been working on her “Solar Cross” temple project making me wonder if Solar Cross will include urban gardening and sustainability in it’s design as well? It will be interesting to see.
Action is the best form of prayer. To that end I have signed up as an Environmental Director with the Clean World Movement. They are seeking volunteers for every zip code in the United States to organize weekly or monthly litter clean ups for their area. I plan on organizing monthly clean-ups of my zip code specifically concentrating on Fountain Creek (the main waterway in Colorado Springs). I am excited to get started! With sites like Facebook and it’s abilities to create groups, organizing of this type is easier then ever before. I hope to use the base of support that I receive from forming this community of pagans and non-pagans to eventually do things like start an urban farm, clean up empty lots in the city, sponsor a rainforest park in the Amazon, and hopefully purchase land for mining reclamation here in Colorado.
I will keep you all posted.