Reinhabit the Hudson Estuary

Besides there being a lot of NY-CA energy around me these days, this project is important because it honors the human imagination in relationship with the human and other-than-human world. And speaks to beauty. I also like the boldness to publish the project as a “Bundle” (like old folios?), being free from binding, so that each page may have its own life separate from the Bundle.

Support the publication of a Bioregional Bundle, which includes art, poetry, ideas and practices for reinhabitation or living-in-place.

A Kickstarter campaign finishing on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. New Paltz, NY

About this project

Reinhabitation is the bioregional project of living-in-place whose foundations have remained rather constant and sturdy over time. Many would begin with this statement by Aldo Leopold, from his Sand County Almanac: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” The practical consequences of this enduring wisdom are to enlarge our sense of community to include water (and watersheds), plants, animals and soil and to assume a worth to them beyond an instrumental value for humans.

Leopold’s land ethic serves as a starting point for Thomas Berry’s articulation of the “earth community,” within which the human is embedded and is the source of celebration, creative inspiration and sustenance.

Ray Dasmann and Peter Berg write, “Living-in-place means following the necessities and pleasures of life as they are uniquely presented by a particular site, and evolving ways to ensure long-term occupancy of that site ….. Simply stated, it involves applying for membership in a biotic community and ceasing to be its exploiter.”

Berg offers the following cornerstones for reinhabitory practices: restore and maintain natural systems; develop sustainable means for satisfying basic human needs; and create and support a broad range of activities that make it possible to fit better into the life-place.

We are asking for help to print a Bioregional Bundle, which is a collection of art, writing and ideas that strive to anchor themselves in this vibrant context, while encouraging an appreciation of how wildness is central to land-based customs and community building (and is a counterbalance to the increasing virtualization of everyday life).

The Bioregional Bundle will include the following:

• A helpful Hudson Estuary map showing watersheds, forest communities and totem animals.

• Art Murphy’s powerful fossil photographs establish the presence of a deep prehuman past, often forgotten.

• George Tukel looks at how neighborhoods can become more self-reliant and convivial once they are located within bioregions.

• Carol Zaloom’s linocut prints and Mikhail Horowitz’s prose remind us of the eternal collision between the wild and cultivated worlds.

• Evan Pritchard, of the Micmac people, researches how Hudson Valley Native Americans, in the late 1600s and early 1700s, met basic needs in parallel to the European money economy.

These pieces are rooted in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York but were intended to speak across bioregional borders and to diverse communities working to translate place identity into practical day-to-day activities.

It is important to emphasize that the contents of the Bioregional Bundle are composed and ready for printing which this Kick Starter effort is raising the money for.

We are seeking $6,650 to print 1,000 copies of the Bundle. Most will be distributed freely through local grassroots watershed groups, as a “potlatch” styled gift, and around 350 will go to Planet Drum Foundation, a not-for-profit bioregional networking organization out of San Francisco, California, for their national membership.

More at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1569534818/reinhabitat-the-hudson-estuary?ref=card

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Earth Day and Earth Jurisprudence

July 6, 2015 - A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasa-captures-epic-earth-image

July 6, 2015 – A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.
http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasa-captures-epic-earth-image

Happy Earth Day 2016! I thought this was beautifully articulated today by The Gaia Foundation in London.

What is Earth Jurisprudence?

In response to the multiple eco-social crises we face today, cultural historian and Gaia patron, Thomas Berry, called for a paradigm shift from a human-centred to an Earth-centred world view. Thomas believed, as we do, that today we need an Earth Jurisprudence – a deep philosophy and a way of governing our societies that recognises that the Earth is the primary source of the laws we must live by.

The Earth’s laws govern life on our planet, including our own. We are born into a lawful and ordered Universe and our responsibility as one of many species is to understand and respect these laws and living processes. Our governance systems need to be derived from these laws and our ways of life guided by them. Indigenous peoples who maintain their ways of life recognise this reality. The violation of these laws, as we are now witnessing, leads to ecological, climatic, social, and economic chaos.

This understanding, that human well-being is intrinsically linked to the well-being of Earth, is common to indigenous cultures and the way in which humans have understood our place in the world for most of our history. The idea that humans are superior and unaccountable to Nature rather than inextricably part of her, has led to a planetary crisis.  We have become profoundly disconnected from the Earth and treat the Earth as a collection of objects or ‘resources’ to be used rather than a community to which we belong.

Earth Jurisprudence acknowledges that the good of the whole takes precedence over the good of the individual elements. This is the foundational thought for the transition away from an extractive relationship with our planet and each other, fostered by the modern industrial society and the ideology of the growth economy. The way we govern ourselves needs to embody an ethical code of practice which requires us to live according to Nature’s laws for the well-being of the whole of Earth Community and future generations of all species.

More to explore through their work at The Gaia Foundation: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=02c4daf3f04db09cb03d78dc8&id=0a94625203&e=d742d2ce4c

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The Human Heart is the Brain of the Future

Gosh, that seems to sum it up in one simple phrase!

This is the tag line of the 2016 Annual Steiner Books Spiritual Research Seminar’s conference called Engaging the Heart at New York University, March 18-19, 2016 put on by Steiner Books/Anthroposophic Press.

This year’s seminar will feature professionals actively engaged in the world in developing new heart forces in social life, law, medicine, and education….(they) will explore contemporary problems and offer new models and paradigms to find creative solutions and opportunities for building a more human future.

More at https://steiner.presswarehouse.com/sites/steiner/Resrcs/User/sem_bro2016.pdf

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Respect the Human Community as the Earth Community

MLK image 1-18-16 images

Once again, it is stated that human-Earth relations depend on sound human-human relations.

“Every being has a right not to be abused by humans, a right not to be despoiled of its primary dignity whereby it gives some manner of expression to the great mystery of existence, and a right not to be used for trivial purposes.”

– Thomas Berry, “An Ecologically Sensitive Spirituality”, 1996, in
The Sacred Universe by Thomas Berry, 2009, Columbia University Press.

A comment by Rob Ham, M.A.

Of course Thomas was referring to the Earth’s nonhuman creatures and systems. It is true that they must be respected if our species is to survive. However, while we are fostering respect for the nonhuman, shouldn’t we also protect the marginalized segments of the human community from abuse by other humans? How will the poor and people of color ever devote themselves to the love and respect of the Earth community necessary to avert global environmental crisis until they are confident in the love and respect of their own human family? Love of the Earth community and love of the human community are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they must be achieved simultaneously if we are to survive.

 

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HG Wells and The Universe Story in 1920

DSCF4747     hgwells     galaxy for HG Wells

Telling the human story within the larger context of Earth and Cosmos is not new, even to us westerners, apparently. Look at H.G. Wells’ The Outline of History (1920).  He calls Book I “The World Before Man” with chapters entitled thus: Chapter 1 “The Earth in Space and Time”; Chapter 2 “The Record of the Rocks”; Chapter 3 “Life and Climate”; Chapter 4 “The Age of Reptiles”; Chapter 5 “The Age of Mammal”. Book II “The Making of Man” begins with Chapter 6 “Apes and Sub-Men and Men”. He used the same story-telling structure of nested holons that Teilhard, Thomas Berry, and Brian Swimme use to tell the Story of the Universe: Universe, Earth, Life, Humans. Wells was thinking about the context of the human story.

The first sentence of the tome begins:

And first, before we begin the history of life, let us tell something of the stage upon which our drama is put and of the background against which it is played.

Wells uses “stage”, “drama”, “background”, and “played” like the Chorus/narrator of a Shakespearean drama. He tells us he is embarking on the telling of a story and wants the reader to be thus prepared.

Shifting voices his second paragraph reads:

In the last few hundred years there has been an extraordinary enlargement of men’s ideas about the visible universe in which they live. At the same time there has been perhaps a certain diminution in their individual self-importance. They have learnt that they are items in a whole far vaster, more enduring and more wonderful than their ancestors ever dreamed or suspected.

He moves straight to point out the human-Universe relationship and the evolution of consciousness brought to us by the scientific venture, then addresses the deflation of the Western ego in this new knowledge. Interestingly he tips his late 19th century-early 20th century cosmological cards when addresses humans as “items” – we might address them as “subjects” or “persons” – but then goes on to appreciate how full of wonder – “wonderful” – it is to be alive now to know this story.

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The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry

The Meadow Across the Creek:

Words from Thomas Berry

A performance piece in honor of Thomas Berry

http://www.beholdnature.org/meadowacrossthecreek.php

Script and Recitation: Andrew Levitt

Music for Solo Cello and Guitar: Scott Walker

A 90-minute performance intended for adult audiences

We are now booking performances in North Carolina and beyond

Cost: $1,000 within a 60-mile radius of Greensboro, NC

(Additional travel/accommodation costs at a greater distance)

If you are interested in booking a performance, please contact Center Director, Peggy Whalen-Levitt at beholdnature.@aol.com.

When asked how we might serve the children at this time, Thomas would say, “Tell them a story.” Any encounter with Thomas Berry was an encounter with the story of the universe as a great story encompassing vast reaches of time and space and also as an intimate story about you and me and him and the bluebird singing in the dogwood this very moment. In his presence one sensed the beauty of every aspect of life on earth; one felt the wonder of the extraordinary in every ordinary element of being; and one experienced our intimate kinship with all beings with whom we share the earth. When he spoke one was inspired by a sense of the place of the human in the story of the unfolding of time in the universe and by the moment of shared presence with a fern unfolding in springtime at one’s feet. In his own words we can hear again how Thomas wove the immediate into the grandeur of things and how he heard each note in time for its contribution to the unfinished symphony of the cosmos.

“The Meadow Across the Creek: Words From Thomas Berry” is a performance piece in Thomas Berry’s own lyrical and inspiring words. Growing up in Greensboro, NC, Thomas Berry had a “Meadow Across the Creek” experience when he was eleven years old that became a touchstone for his life and work. Mirroring this moment of mystical rapport in childhood, Thomas’ prose and poetry invite others into a deep presence to Earth and Cosmos.

The Center premiered it first performance of “The Meadow Across the Creek: Words from Thomas Berry” on November 7, 2014 at the Greensboro Historical Museum as part of the city-wide Thomas Berry Centennial. Here’s what people are saying:

“The performance was absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for that hour’s powerful experience.”

~ Tom Droppers

“I am remembering the show last night and wishing that I had a CD to listen to it all over again tonight. There was so much to live into and take in during that performance. Andrew, you were wonderful, what can I say. The music was very moving and rich and layered and when you both were performing at the same time it was a perfect weaving. I really loved the piece on Cello that went along with the story of Greensboro. It was lively and fun and one could really feel the passage of time! There were several moments when I felt Thomas’s presence… I loved the space, the simple stage, the blanket over your shoulders. I really would love to hear it again, at my own pace, so that I can hit pause on the CD player and take in deeply what is being conveyed. I can still see the violets and the stars.”

~ Sandy Bisdee

“Didn’t see you, Andrew, at the end of the program so didn’t get to tell you how very much I enjoyed it, how lovely it was, all of it lovely: the dialogue, the readings, the music, the gathering of people – many of whom I knew. I enjoyed every minute of it!”

~ Gay Cheney

“What a wonderful evening. It was a beautiful reverie! Andrew and Scott did a superb job. I was so struck by how I felt Thomas Berry was telling his story.”

~ Mary Hartsell

Andrew Levitt holds a BA in English from Yale University and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. He trained as a mime with Marcel Marceau and with Paul J. Curtis at The American Mime Theatre. In his career life, he has worked with silence and words. He performed and taught mime professionally for over thirty years. He then helped found the high school at the Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC where he taught Humanities and directed theater for seven years. As Dr. Merryandrew, he currently works as a cosmic clown in the Pediatric unit at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital.

Scott Walker has taught strings in the Greensboro area for over 30 years. Scott plays fiddle, guitar and cello and founded The Walker Family Band in 2002, which has delighted audiences throughout the Southeast with a distinctive take on traditional styles. His career has been dedicated to teaching young musicians in a variety of public and private schools, and as a private instructor of Suzuki music technique on cello and violin. Scott’s love of traditional Irish fiddle tunes resulted in the founding of Walker Street Fiddlers in 2009

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Usufruct

In law, the right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property of another without altering or damaging it. A term Thomas Jefferson wrote about.

 

Or, to put it slightly differently: In law, the right of using and enjoying all the advantages and profits of the property, land, air, water, soil, creatures, atmosphere, bioregion, Earth of another generation without altering or damaging it, poisoning it, blowing it up, making it radio active, damming it, extincting it, eating it all, cutting it all down, mining it all, paving it, dumping on it, emptying it, taking it all.

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Derivatives

Even though humans are derivative of Earth, human-Earth relations will always be derivative of human-human relations.

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Rising Tide: Report fron the New Story Summit at Findhorn

An exclusive, personal report from Ann Amberg, MCS.

NSS Sunday-singing

November 7, 2014

In September I had the privilege of attending, along with over 325 others from 50 countries, The New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future, a pivotal event held at the Findhorn Foundation and Community September 27– October 3, 2014.

I sense it may take years for me to digest the deep movements of unfolding stories and processes of this larger-than-life shared experience. Part of that incorporation for me is to take time to reunite the powerful impressions in my inner/outer heart and soul and nurture the momentum of my capacity to let go of an old story.

I can say that I was impressed with many things: the way that the 40 Findhorn Fellows beautifully held a sacred and strong container for our emergent unfolding, the financial support offered through gifting for many to be there who otherwise could not—including myself—, the commitment, integrity and sensitivity of the indigenous leaders who held and guided healing processes every day and night from the opening ceremonies to the closing of the four directions, the strength and courage of women standing, telling their stories of truth from wounded worlds, and our willingness to grieve, sing, collaborate in spaces of not-knowing, commune, wait and listen, improvise, show up fully, dance, ask questions, meditate, mediate, be vulnerable, and celebrate together.

But saying that I am “impressed” comes from separateness; from my ego, from old habits of standing outside and comfortably distanced from discomfort, and this is a way of living in an old story. As we know so well, the old stories at every level are breaking down…and it’s uncomfortable. What I want to share here is a small witnessing of a groundswell of unfolding change from my personal, particular, inner experience. In the last few months I have been relinquishing an old personal story, shaped by old family habits, that I have not always wanted to see or release. It’s hard work. I have been tracking how that feels in my body and psyche, informed by events in nature.

After spending the summer in Italy and England with friends, housesitting, visiting Schumacher College, walking blissfully on the moors, and continuing to work remotely by computer at my part time job, I had planned to end my summer abroad by participating in the Summit. I had never been to Findhorn and had been looking forward to visiting. I felt grateful to be supported by my community to attend and contribute to the event.

In the week before the Summit, rather than feeling excitement and anticipation, I was not ready to participate or immerse myself in a large social gathering. I feared that the energy there would be so big that I might feel completely overwhelmed. I was in an introverted state; I felt tired and drained from the intensive soul-work I had engaged in during the summer. I had much to integrate; I wanted to withdraw and crawl under a rock. I had visions of being a potato-bug, and was looking for lovely undisturbed darkness, solitude and peace…

In fact I felt completely resistant to going. The day before I was to leave for the gathering, I was walking with my friend in a seaside village in Lancashire along an inlet, when a public warning blast sounded. I was told this is the alarm that warns of an unusual, large tidal swell about to come in suddenly. When I went into a shop, the water level was at low tide. When I came out out fifteen minutes later, there was a charge in the air; I noticed that the world seemed suddenly filled up with energized, flooding water, very close to the walkway, in an almost-overflowing high tide, and there was no beach left. It was unbelievable and a bit eerie. I felt the power of this tidal swell and I sensed it was connected to the coming new story about to unfold.

I almost relinquished my place at the gathering at the last minute and stayed in the sublime Lake District. But I forced myself to move on and go north into Scotland. When we arrived at Cluny I had had very little sleep and was exhausted, very much overwhelmed, energetically traumatized and stressed. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the opening ceremonies. I got on the bus with everyone else, from many countries, young and old, and took my place in the Universal Hall with hundreds of people. I could not keep my eyes open, and my body hurt. As I listened to the stories of pain and woundedness of humans and earth, brave truth-telling, feeling the building energies in the space like big water coming in, I realized the only way I would survive the event would be to let go, into relationship.

I offered my resistance, separateness and overwhelm to the mystery and flow of the group process, which was love. I knew the container that we created in the center that first day was rooted enough to hold anything. I trusted it, and so I let that sea of trust hold the breaking apart that was happening within me. It worked—I allowed myself to be folded into all that was happening, even the not-knowing, and it gave me energy to go on. I did not have to hold myself alone anymore…I was held by everyone there. I was still exhausted and tired, but I was no longer in a pressure-cooker of resistance. I was in a field of love!

I remembered that this is what the universe does….it builds and builds its structures—its stories— and then when the time is right, that story is finished, and it is destroyed, it collapses, is no more. Like the supernova star that burns hydrogen for billions of years, as it burns off layers its temperature and pressure rise to unbearable limits, and suddenly it implodes and there is seemingly nothing left….it dies.

What does it feel like to resist letting go of the old story? Does it feel like a pressure cooker—like being held in the grip of unresolvable pain and stress? What does the supernova “feel” before it releases itself? In the framework put forth in the 2004 DVD series The Powers of the Universe, by evolutionary philosopher Brian Swimme, this is the experience of “cataclysm” as a primary cosmic dynamic. It is the death and rebirth cycle that reshapes and transforms. We are in the pressure-cooker of the loss of untold numbers of species disappearing every day, the sweeping, dangerous shifts in global climate patterns, and growing poverty, injustice and inequity. The structures and systems we have built as part of the dream of the modern industrial era are shattering and are maladaptive, we know we have to let them go, but we don’t know exactly the outlines of the new stories and structures that are emerging. We are not quite comfortable yet with the idea that we are being invited to become colleagues with the universe as part of that emergence; it is a human/earth collaboration.

To remain creative and agile within the space in between stories is our present challenge. It’s all part of the process of cataclysm— of release—happening on a global cultural scale. All that unfolds on the stage of our inner/personal experience reflects the larger collective story unfolding and reforming, transforming. In this way my inner journey and your inner journey are not unrelated, rather they are a guide and a map to the evolution of an emerging way of being human that may at first seem unfamiliar and new, and that will work better for the flourishing of the whole.

One of the highlights of the week was an elegant and simple sacred marriage ceremony of the feminine and the masculine in communion with the earth. Becoming transparent to the beloved Other in this powerful way could not have taken place before the grief ceremonies, wobbly chaotic emergent moments and long council processes that preceded it. The Summit was truly one grand and authentically improvised ceremony of love and new possibilities.

I appreciate what Gigi Coyle, a Findhorn core team member, writes in her blog posting on the New Story Hub: “Maybe we need cultural translators, bridge people, good storytellers and more, willing to live some of the best stories we have.” See her full post here:

http://newstoryhub.com/2014/11/old-story-new-story-what-about-the-new-story-summit-by-gigi-coyle/

My trust and hope is that we might marry our awareness of our personal stories of transformation to our collective experience of change, as an action of partnering consciously with the cataclysm and release now taking place in our time.

— Ann Amberg, MCS

“What Does the Universe Do?”

www.annamberg.com

 

Since 2001, Ann Amberg, M.C.S., has deepened the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme through her leadership development work in the US and UK. In 2012 she founded the “What Does the Universe Do?” program of applied transformational ecology. As an educational consultant, she facilitates leadership & learning programs for the Center for Partnership Studies founded by Riane Eisler. Ann is also a witnessing artist at www.luminousagent.com.
 
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Transpersonal Agroecology: The Metaphysics of Alternative Agricultural Theory

Travis’s work is important for the Ecozoic era because it includes the subjectivity of the farmer, the land, and the non-human beings on the land in the conversation of what it is to farm. And thus to eat, and to be. Beyond the techniques of organic we need relational practices – rituals – that honor the whole.

You can soon watch his informal presentation at CIIS here http://pccforum.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/travis-cox-transpersonal-agroecology/ or read-on for his article from The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 2014, Vol. 46, No. 1.

Travis E.B. Cox, M.A. (now PhD)

Fairfield, Iowa

ABSTRACT:

Industrial agriculture has taken over as the dominant form of food production globally, resulting in alternative production methods converging as a sustainable counter. Unfortunately, the ideological and metaphysical underpinnings of these alternative agricultural philosophies have been ignored as have the metaphysics of industrial agriculture. Using transpersonal ecology as a disciplinary analogue, this paper demonstrates an ideological commonality among alternative agricultural theorists, such that the term transpersonal agroecology covers their beliefs like the term transpersonal ecology covers the commonality of deep ecologists. The commonality is threefold. First, theorists are united in opposition against the scientism and economism that make up the productionist mentality. Second, there is awareness that in the practice of sustainable agriculture there is a process for and experience of identification with the beings on the farm, and with the farm itself. Finally, theorists contribute to the transpersonal conversation through their emphasis on values, alternative methodologies, and spirit.

KEYWORDS:

Sustainable Agriculture, Transpersonal Ecology, Identification, Agroecology, Environmental Philosophy.

For most people, sustainable agriculture pertains to the on-farm activities of practitioners, such as cover crops, integrated pest management, and no-till. This is true even for the off-farm activities of consumers, who choose to purchase their food locally or look for the USDA organic seal. However, a study of the progenitors of sustainable agriculture—people such as Albert Howard, Masanobu Fukuoka, and Rudolf Steiner, who developed organic agriculture, natural farming, and biodynamics, respectively—indicates that there is something more than just practice to sustainable agriculture. There is something deeper at the level of the mind-set of the farmer.

By employing transpersonal ecology (TE) as a disciplinary analogue, including direct quotes from the aforementioned theorists, as well as many others, this article shows that sustainable agriculture has implications for the worldview of its practitioners. These implications include an opposition to the scientism and economism of industrial agriculture, a sense of the process and experience of identification with the farm and the beings on the farm, an awareness of alternative methodologies and epistemologies, and an explicit role for values and spirit. The end result of this study is a theory, transpersonal agroecology (TPAE), that conceptualizes the commonalities of these alternative agricultural theorists and thus opens a discussion about the deeper and more human aspects of sustainable agriculture and provides a framework with which to guide such a discussion.

The article continues at: http://www.atpweb.org/jtparchive/trps-46-14-01-035.pdf

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