On Saturday, July 9, people began arriving from all over the continent, finding their way to the Southern Appalachian - Katuah Bioregion and Earthaven Ecovillage. At registration, everyone was assigned to a "clan," covering everything from child care to kitchen help, with names like Crows, Spiders, Snakes, Butterflies, Coyotes, Deer. These clans had the added purpose of providing small group support. Tours were given of the village's many natural buildings (cob, adobe brick, straw-bale, and timber-frame), hydroelectric plant, composting toilets, graywater systems, the Council Hall, and White Owl Café. Adults and children of all ages, many speaking Spanish, were introduced to this unique village of 60 people. Many tents and canopies were set up in anticipation of the frequent rains (and sweltering sun) in this bioregion. One was designated as a "Healing Tent" and several healers and herbalists were available to help anyone in need.
The formal ceremonial opening of the Congress began at Hidden Valley on Saturday evening. Chanting "Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit" in English and Spanish, we hiked the path magically lit with candle luminaria prepared by the "Butterfly Clan." Participants eloquently invited the spirits of the 4 directions, of the sky and of Mother Earth, of the water, the trees, the future generations, the children, Thomas Berry, Stephanie Mills, and others to be present with us. Everything was translated into Spanish. Each of about 200 people gave their names and bioregions, and each offered a silent prayer or intention while tossing a stick into the fire. Then came drumming, flute playing, dancing and celebration late into the night!
On Sunday morning, everyone gathered on the Village Green, where on the previous day the outlines of the continent had been traced in cornmeal and oat bran. Everyone went to their respective bioregion. It was so impressive to see that people had come from as far north as British Columbia and Ontario, Canada; and from the south, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. There were people from the Ozarks, Chesapeake Bay, Minnesota, the Great Lakes, Florida, California, Puget Sound, Texas, Mississippi, and Maine. The Katuah (Southern Appalachian) bioregion then began a spiral to visit each other bioregion and we chanted, "We are a circle within a circle." Gene and Joyce Marshall of Texas were the only participants to have attended all nine Continental Bioregional Congresses, and they were honored, as well as everyone else who had attended a previous Congress.
Inside Earthaven's earth-plastered straw-bale Council Hall, a huge patchwork turtle created by a previous year's Continental Bioregional Congress graced one wall. A team of some ten facilitators were prepared to lead the week's activities. Besides the scheduled speakers and workshops for Sunday and Monday, and the Council of All Beings to be led by John Seed on Thursday, a lot of time was left open for participants to structure as they pleased through "Open Space." A full schedule of activities for the children included plant walks, making a plant poultice, puppet making, qi gong, looking at creek critters, nature awareness activities, a visit to Rod Rylander's "Hobbit House" up the hill, peace crane origami, and singing.
A parallel schedule of healing and creative arts, largely organized by Zev Friedman, began taking shape. Offerings included yoga, massage, music jamming, tai chi, wood-fired pottery making, and plant walks and fermentation with charismatic local herbalist Frank Cook.
Sunday, July 10 - workshops
Peak Oil - Tad Montgomery
The term "peak oil" means we've used half, not that we've run out; but, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked and the remaining oil will get more and more costly to extract. China has increased its oil consumption 30% last year. Demand worldwide continues to increase, while supply has now peaked or is close to peaking. In the 1950's, M. King Hubbert charted a bell curve of oil extraction. He worked for Shell Oil and predicted that the US oil production would peak in the 1970's; he wasn't believed in 1962, but the real peak in US production was about 1974. An Exxon CEO says 90% of all oil has been discovered. Some say the peak won't come til 2040, but OPEC and especially the Saudis have been known to overstate their reserves. Dick Cheney estimates a 2% annual growth in oil demand and a 3% decline in production, hence by 2010 a 50 million barrel/day shortfall. Optimists point to Canadian tar sands, oil shale, and coal liquification, and reserves in Turkmenistan, etc.
There is resistance to developing alternative technologies, of course, from those who gain big wealth from existing technologies. Oil is very energy dense, versatile, and easily transported compared to alternatives. Supply and demand rose together, now they are diverging.
Energy ratio (net energy) is ratio of energy returned to energy invested. (If ratio is 1, there is no net energy). In the 1940's, oil and gas had an energy ratio of over 100; in the `70's, less than 30, and now, it's 7.5. Coal in the 1950;s: 80, in the `70's, 30. Tar sands require not only energy to heat them but huge quantities of water to melt the tars, and has an energy ratio less than 2. Coal liquification is expensive but has an energy ratio around 7.5. For renewables: Tidal: 15, hydro: 11, wind: 2-90, depending on location; geothermal: 2-13, photovoltaics: 2-10, biodiesel : 3.2 (10-15 if recycled grease is used); ethanol: 1.3 if corn is used, up to 7.5 with other feedstocks; fuel cells: less than 1 (more like a battery). Conservation dwarfs them all.
Implications for food supply: Costs will go up. The average food item in the US travels 1400 miles to table. There is 10 x food's caloric value in embodied fossil fuels (fertilizers, pesticides, trucks, tractors, refrigeration, etc.) = 1 quart of oil per American dinner or 5 barrels per person per year. Opportunity: buy local, organic, seasonal food, permaculture.
Housing, industry: In the northeast, the cost of home heating is already more than is spent on transportation. Suburban commutes and single occupancy vehicles will be obsolete. Energy intensive industries like aluminum, ceramics, paper, may close down.
Transportation: Gas is already $6/gallon in Germany and costs will rise here; public transit yields 250 passenger miles per gallon, cf. 25 for the average U.S. car. Carpools, vanpools, rain, bicycling, walking can catch on. Biofuels will increase. It's better to buy an old car than a new hybrid in terms of embodied energy.
Other implications: every $1 per gallon increase cost Massachusetts $5 billion a year. Electric rates and fertilizer rise with the cost of natural gas. There will be pressure to use coal & nuclear. Wood stoves will increase in Northeast.
Cuba had to decrease petroleum use by 75% when the Soviets cut off their supply; now they have the most sustainable food production system in the world, the best healthcare.
Ecotheater with Joyce Marshall (who has attended all 9 CBC's)
Report by Alex Adleson
The "eco" part of this theatrical form springs from the Greek word for"home." Joyce shared with us her many years of experience in this both theatrical and healing form, originally developed by Maryat Lee. Ecotheater reflects the community in which it is performed and so offers deeper insight into ourselves. This is a true theater for the people, Joyce insisted, because it uses what the community presents and individual stories of people's lives, rather than promoting an agenda. The most important tool for the playwright-director is an audio recorder to capture live dialogue. As a warmup exercise, to activate our sense of spontaneity and story-making, we wove a tapestry made up of additions offered by each person in the circle to a story we all co-created. Our story was about interspecies communication and the creation of an imaginary bioregion of many colors called "Love." In the next exercise, we all wrote spontaneous scenes and elected several of them to enact. The playwright-director was responsible for casting the scene, having those actors read the lines, then to own the characters, abandon the script, and allow a dialogue to emerge naturally. Of course, in the final situation the director switched on the tape recorder and the actors were encouraged to be themselves as these characters. My own script wa selected; it was about a man and a dog having a conversation on a roof. As an ecotheater director, it was a challenge indeed to simply let my wishes go, but I appreciated the opportunity for those castred to explore themselves through the characters. No doubt, from a bioregional perspective, ecotheater could be useful as a tool for reinforcing community by connecting the stories of people's lives in a common forum-also an opportunity for healing.
The view of one EcoTheater Playwright/Director: Joyce Marshall
The fundamental role of EcoTheater is to encourage the development and performance of original theater created by local people. This includes the understanding that theater is a natural, simple and universal ability in everyone and that the telling of your own story has a powerful and life changing impact.
1. EcoTheater is committed to a theater stripped down to its essentials, to what is basic and real, even if crude. This means it does not try to imitate the gloss and polish of professional productions. It is a theater from the bottom up, which can operate on low budget or no budget.
2. EcoTheater is committed to bringing theater back home, honoring local speech and idiom. This means trusting the power of that local voice which does not 'talk down' to its audience.
3. EcoTheater is committed to protecting the authenticity of its productions by not using them to 'grind axes', 'further a cause', or as a tool of propaganda. This means that EcoTheater is art--a purposeful concentrated communication that reveals the mystery of our connectedness.
4. EcoTheater is committed to the role of playwright/director who co-creates scenes with the performers. This means the necessity of learning to take authority as a whole and to ³flip² it. authority is not cut up in little pieces and shared. As seasoned company will, to the untutored eye, flip authority back and forth so rapidly it cannot be seen. This means that the scripts are made to fit the performers, not the other way around.
Bioregional meetings took place for an hour. The Katuah bioregion discussed some of the history. Rob Messick, a volunteer with the Katuah Journal for years, mentioned that the Katuah Bioregional Gathering of 2003 made a lot of plans, but it was too far for the Cumberland and other provinces to travel, so it made more sense for the Blue Ridge Province to have its own meetings and stay in touch with the other provinces via Internet. (All of those present at this gathering were from Blue Ridge.)
Recap of 2003's goals:
Bioregional label for sustainably, locally produced goods -has not happened yet
WNC-barter.net (online barter network; this was established)
Connect with alternative building people
Potlucks to share goods and services (some were held)
Other developments: Jeannie Martin offering "Discovering a Sense of Place," a yearlong class on bioregional flora & fauna, etc. at the UNCA Center for Creative Retirement.
We agreed that bioregionalism has several aspects:
- supporting the local economy
- protecting natural resources, e.g., conservation easements
- greenbelts, not subdivisions, or emulate developments like Davis, CA
- political activism
Several people expressed the desire for more activism, such as talking about our concerns with developers (esp. ridgetop developers); Rob reminded us that of 9 million acres, 1/3 is public land, a great achievement. There is also a need for more education. We need to reframe the debate as the future life of our children and grandchildren.
On Sunday evening, we were greatly entertained by talented Katuah bioregionalists, with Doug Elliott regaling the group with local lore from catfish to groundhogs to dandelions; many talented musicians, storytellers, and singers performed, but many people agreed that 6-year old Mira Tieman was the star of the evening. After dancing exuberantly during many of the musical performances, when the program had formally ended, she urgently asked her mother if she could sing; and then sang "What can one little person do?"
Words to “What Can One Little Person Do?” sung by Mira Tieman:
What can one little person do?
What can one little me or you do?
What can one little person do,
To help this world go ‘round?
One can help another one
And together we can get the job done.
What can one little person do to help this world?
Harriet Tubman was alone
On the darkened road to freedom
But she couldn’t leave her people far behind.
Moses stretched out his hand
She led them to the promised land
‘Cause she knew she had justice on her side.
CHORUS (1st 7 lines)
When Sojourner Truth was free
She got down on her knees
Prayed to God to help her on her way
With her voice and with her might
She fought for what was right
‘Cause she knew she had justice on her side.
Rosa Parks sat on the bus
And the driver said you must
Move to the back of the bus
Or else be thrown in jail
But she stayed and stood her ground
She brought that old law down
‘Cause she knew she had justice on her side.
Brother Martin Luther King
He told the world, “I have a dream”
He led this country’s fight for human rights
We must fight for liberty
Until all of us are free
To know we have justice on our side.
At the opening on Monday morning, Angelica Flores, a traditional healer from Mexico, smudged everyone with sacred copal smoke and shared an intention setting process. Intentions: "That every day, we care for ourselves and others; let go of egotism we bring from outside; join hearts and will as one being--with the permission of the guardians of the sacred, all the elemental beings and the force of the Spirit who lived here long ago. Breathing deeply, let's inhale the energy and blessings of Great Spirit, fill us with love. Exhaling, let's release our limitations and doubts, let's speak more English and more Spanish. Thanks to all who have given, in organizing this event-giving without expecting anything in return."
Ecovillages - Albert Bates, of The Farm, and co-founder of Ecovillage Network of the Americas, gave a PowerPoint presentation. Wealthy people are imprisoned in their cars and the poor live in the shadow of great wealth. Ecovillages represent another way. Robert and Diane Gilman's definition: "An Ecovillage is a fully featured human settlement in which human activities are integrated into the natural environment in a way that is sustainable into the indefinite future."
In 1991-94, the first international meetings were held of representatives of ecovillages in Denmark, Germany, and Scotland, forming the GEN (Global Ecovillage Network).
Ecovillages are driven by:
1) Social egalitarianism
2) Economic and land use efficiency
3) Spirituality, eco-idealism
4) Now, peak oil (by 2007, $60 a barrel projected)
Liora began with a short history of Gaia University, its origins in the Permaculture, Ecovillage, Co-Housing, Bioregional, Holistic Health, Spirituality and Indigenous support movements and the desire
to provide a "liberating structure" that would link the vision, knowledge and expertise shared while allowing for autonomous action and divergent focus. Gaia University (GU) builds on the the PC Diploma WorkNet system originated by Andy Langford of the UK in 1982 and uses its Action Learning methodology to encourage and support emergent Regional Centers throughout the world to develop accredited degree programs in curriculum related to the Earth's Regeneration.
Through several serendipitous meetings and events, Gaia University received its international accreditation in Novemenber of 2004 even before it was ready to receive any students! GU is accredited through Revans University and the International Management Centres Association through the British Accreditation Council. This international accreditation allows GU to offer degree programs through its Regional affiliate Centers world-wide.
So now, Andy and Liora are in the process of helping the Farm in Tennessee to become a Regional Center. This center, named the Cumberland Bioregion Campus of Gaia U plans to offer degrees in Permaculture Design, Midwifery and Natural Building for 2006 with additional degree programs to follow in 2007.
In August Andy and Liora will take 5 weeks off from traveling to define the first International Programs that Gaia U will offer for 2006. Contemplated are Masters degrees in Permaculture Design, Life Transitions, the Strategic Development of Gaia U at Regional levels, an Open Masters degree (pathway determined by associate with tutor support) and eventually in Bioregionalism, Ecovillage Design, and many others. An update to the website www.gaiauniversity.org should be available by Sept 7, 2005 though much useful information is available now and interested people are invited to write directly to email@example.com or to sign up on the website under Get Involved.
There are many centers already giving workshops and courses worldwide who are interested to "upgrade" to be able to offer these advanced degree programs Among them are Los Angeles Ecovillage which is creating an Urban Design program, Earthaven which is exploring Permaculture Design, Social Communication, Bioregionalism and other fields of study, Zenergy in New Zealand which is exploring Life Coaching and Facilitation programs. Mexico, South Africa, Australia and China are other countries where interest has been expressed as well as in European Ecovillages: Tamera, Findhorn, Damanhur, Zegg and others.
An advisory board of illustrious professors from many countries is being put together, led by Declan Kennedy, founder of the PC and EV movement in Western European and this is building much support and enthusiasm for Gaia U amongst their associates.
Liora finished by answering the many questions people had and showed slides to illustrate the organizational structures and other aspects of Gaia University. Looks like Gaia U is off to a robust start. www.gaiauniversity.org
Alejandra Liora Adler
Gaia University Founder and President www.gaiauniversity.org
Global Ecovillage Network International Advisory Council and UN Representative www.ecovillage.org
Global Village Institute Vice-President www.i4at.org
Peak oil: Economic dislocations are expected since we haven't done mitigation. The U.S. Dept. of Energy recommended "mitigation should take place more than 10 years in advance of the peak." According to Matt Simmons (Cheney's energy task force vice chair, member of Council on Foreign Relations, and author of Twilight in the Desert), Saudi oil reserves are vastly overestimated. Richard Heinberg, author of Power Down and The Party's Over, suggests that there are 4 possible responses to peak oil: "last one standing" (fight over dwindling reserves), "magic elixir" (dreams of a hydrogen economy or other fix),"power down" (world wide rationing and sharing), or "build lifeboats" (community solidarity, preservation, and ecovillages).
"Compost Modernism" is the era in which we re-use all our junk in a more sustainable way.
Iceland has an Ecovillage which is 75 years old, completely off grid, with greenhouse gardens, and responsible for planting a million trees on land which was deforested in the 17th century. They use geothermal energy.
Berea College Ecovillage in Kentucky is one of 20 or so colleges where, driven by student demand, courses in sustainable living are offered and the school itself has aspects of an Ecovillage, such as growing some of their own food. Gaia University gives course credit for students visiting and working at any Ecovillage in the world.
Any Ecovillage must fulfill its members' needs for food, water, medicine, sanitation, energy, buildings, waste treatment, local employment, civil order, communication, governance.. The Farm in Tennessee needed to make soil for its depleted 200 acres; in 3 years they became agriculturally self-sufficient (for 300-500 people); however, they decided later to buy their soybeans from the Mississippi Delta rather than grow them in their own environment.
At Crystal Waters in Australia, a dry environment became so rich in water, through cisterns and dams, that 200 species returned to their land.
Rural access to medical services is needed; The Farm trained many midwives. Many ecovillages grow medicinal herbs, as Cubans do now. The Gesundheit Institute started by Patch Adams is a 40 bed facility in rural W. Virginia, where doctors can rotate in for their own rejuvenation and provide free care for patients.
Sanitation: the Dowmus Biolytic Toilet has won an award. It uses both wet anaerobic composting and dry composting with the help of earthworms. Blackwater goes to subsurface drip irrigation for fruit tree roots. Camphill (Steiner) communities for the developmentally disabled do good wastewater management. Reeds growing in gravel beds clean gray or black water, plus cat tail stalks are a great ethanol source.
Cooking: Inexpensive Fresnel lenses concentrate sunlight tenfold; vegetable oil can be run through tubes, heated to 200 degrees C (twice boiling temperature) with the lenses, then stored in a tank; this superheated oil can boil 5 gallons of water in 5 minutes, and can also be used for heating and cooling buildings.
Building: natural building uses local materials which are abundant, creativity, and is sensitive to the local ecology. Terra Viva uses tires and cans to make Earthships; in Peru, they build with stone. Invite the local code officials to a tuition free class! Dignity Village in Portland is a settlement for the homeless built with strawbale, cob, etc. where the homeless work alongside volunteers. In Mexico, woodfired bricks. In Auroville, India, a giant parabolic mirror for ovens. At Twin Oaks, VA, solar heated water. In Gaviotas, Colombia, discarded fluorescent tubes were converted into solar water heaters. In Israel, sewage sludge is used to fertilize date trees.
Local economy: The standard of living is not a function of the total amount of wealth but how many times money cycles within a community.
Civil order: Christiania, Denmark has a common law contract.
Communications: The Farm has its own printing press. The methodology for successful meetings and consensus is crucial.
The Chinese government now wants to build ecovillages; with 60,000 births per day there will be a need for 150 new cities a year. To minimize resource use, ecovillages are a great idea.
The Farm hopes to acquire a watershed. It now has a land trust; there is a goal of 25,000 acres (10 square miles). Where timber companies have clearcut, they will reforest with native species.
Challenges faced by ecovillages:
- financing (especially startup)
- community "glue" and vision
- business support
- whole systems need to be put in place
- disincentives (financial, cultural, government)
- living on the edge.
It helps to network with others! Hence, Ecovillage Network of the Americas.
Watershed Organizing with Barbara Harmony.
Barbara Harmony showed National Water Center Publications:
The National Water Center has published, "We All Live Downstream A Guide to Waste Treament that Stops Water Pollution " promoting composting toilets; Aqua Terra Water Concepts for the Ecological Society and Aqua Terra Meta-ecology and Culture. The National Water Center began in 1979 when a group of concerned citizens helped stop a sewage treatment plant from going into a wildlife area. Also, at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, home of the National Water Center, dowsers were inviteded to bring clean water to the springs. Details of this are described in "Aqua Terra". Water Blessings thanking the water were done at a spring at the new and full moon for two and one-half years.
The Water Committee of the Bioregional Movement has met since 1984 and passed resolutions at each Congress. See www.nationalwatercenter.org. Barbara read each of these resolutions to the group. Summary: In 1984, water was declared the basis of life, and the resolution was to protect its quality. In 1986, water was called “the living blood of the Earth.” Human waste must be kept out of the water, water should not be used as a waste carrier, dilution is not the solution. Industry should recycle water, wetlands should be protected, and transport of water between watersheds should be prohibited. In 1988: No inter-basin transfer of water, urge participation in watershed organizing, don't pump faster than groundwater can recharge, no pollution of aquifers, clean toxified aquifers, form a water workers network. In 1990: Give thanks to the water. 1992: Trips to the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. In 1994: Thank water whenever we drink. 1996 (no resolutions, but a workshop on restoring the watershed) In 2002: ratification of the Cochabamba Declaration.
Others present shared: Juan Tomas works with water utility in San Francisco; he is associated with Planet Drum(.org) and Peter Berg, who are creating a "Green City Program" near Guayacil, Ecuador, an area devastated by quakes and El Nino. Hills have been re-vegetated, small bioregional businesses begun including a recycling industry, with mayor's blessing.
Resources: There is a rainwater harvesting listserv. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, Barbara Harmony. The National Water Center has a good web page and links. See www.planetaryhealer.net for prayer. Videos:"Thirst" covers privatization in Cochabamba, Bolivia and Stockton, CA."Mother Water" by Luann Lucero tells the story of Peabody Coal using Hopi water for slurry. Books by Masaru Emoto (website: www.hado.net) for images of water crystals and how we influence water. See Maude Barlow's book Blue Gold and Vandana Shiva's Water Wars to learn about water privatization.
The World Water Forum (privatizers) is coming to Mexico City in March, 2006. What should be done? In Mexico City, many residents have no water but rainwater to drink. Arnold Ricalde (attending the Congress), formerly a Green Party member of Parliament, is now directly helping people create ferro-cement cisterns and biological filters. Their bioregion including Mexico City, was once a lake in Aztec times, but the Spanish drained the water, calling it an "enemy of progress." Now, aquifers have been so overpumped that sections of the city have collapsed; pipes have broken, leading to 30% water loss. Rivers are now underground sewer systems; only one is alive and well. People are forced to pay for trucked or bottled water. 30% of all garbage is plastic bottles, and 50% of illnesses are due to bad water quality. The Water Act for Mexico, passed in 2002, is based on respect for the water cycle; it should protect watersheds from logging and building, but the law is not enforced. Coca Cola is buying springs in Mexico. Now Coca Cola is often cheaper than water. The Rio Grande and Colorado rivers are very polluted, yet the US demands the Mexico should provide fresh water to it.
Resolutions for this Congress: Suggestions were made.
Affirm the rights of water to flow in its own natural ways as a living being, and to be recharged naturally. Affirm the rights of all creatures to water. Take active steps for water conservation and protection: collect rainwater, recycle graywater and blackwater after appropriate treatment; promote composting toilets; oppose large hydroelectric systems, promote small; stop pollution of water by industry and agriculture; avoid buying bottled water.
Bless the water. Make the link between fossil fuel and water: one drop of oil contaminates 300 gallons of water; many rivers in Ecuador are no longer usable by indigenous peoples due to the oil pipes (delivering oil to the US) which have broken. Hopi water is diverted for coal slurry. The group made plans to meet again to work more on a resolution.
Los Angeles - Urban Ecovillages with Lois Arkin
Lois founded the LAEV in 1980. A small group wanted to found an ecologically co-operative neighborhood with urban fruit trees, co-housing, LETS (local currency), solar energy, living machines, composting, etc. to demonstrate lower impact living patterns. At first they considered an 11-acre site of "surplus land" (class 3 landfill). They found an ally in the Director of City Planning, a visionary who wrote the demonstration urban ecological village into the city's general plan and got support from the Redevelopment agency, Housing Department, and Mayor's office. Then, in 1992 came the Rodney King incident and Lois' own neighborhood was up in flames. The group decided to forget the 11 acre landfill and focus on the 2 blocks around Lois' home, which was full of gangs, prostitution, racism, drugs, crime, but was also walkable to public transportation, churches, supermarkets, and shopping. Lois had lived there for 13 years and knew a lot of her neighbors. She started a drop-in center in her home, and a newsletter, went canvassing door to door, and held meetings for neighbors. People wanted to discuss crime at the first meeting. Lois asked people to do just a small thing, like ask a neighbor's name and then start to greet that neighbor by name. She also spread "good gossip," telling people good things about their neighbors. Potlucks were held. Soon the fear level went down and at the next meeting, crime was much lower on the list of concerns. For the children, an outdoor lunch of fruit was served, and then each child was given a tree of their favorite fruit, to plant in the neighborhood. A ritual was performed for each tree, with talk about gratitude for the gifts of the tree, as well as education on what the tree needed from people. These trees were well cared for.
To make things happen, says Lois, you need vision, good planning, perseverance, and groundedness.
In 1996, the men with suits and clipboards came, selling buildings. Lois knew who the owners of all 13 buildings in the area were. Property values were low. A 40-unit building was for sale. Their nonprofit organization had by that time a $20K nest egg and a lot of credibility; the purchase price was $500K. They had created a business plan with 15 year projections. They borrowed money from a community revolving loan fund, rather than banks. It took 9 months to raise the $500K, and 3 years later they were able to purchase their second building. Some folks came back to offer a second loan! There are now 500 Ecovillage members in the 2-block area. In their first building, the lobby is used for community dinners, a message center, and a place where agenda items are posted for weekly community meetings. Upstairs, a community room overlooks the whole neighborhood, there's a TV/VCR, kids come there to do homework, and meetings or workshops are held. The people rent apartments at 1/3 to ½ below market cost, and receive a monthly discount of $20 for not owning a car. Affordability of housing is achieved through a community land trust, limited equity housing co-ops, mutual housing association or a nonprofit housing association. One woman has a weaving studio. Food grown in the 200 sq. ft. courtyard includes 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables and rabbits for pets and manure (not currently chickens). The building is 50/50 white and people of color. Nearby buildings include a 40% Asian/Filipino building and a 65% Latino building. In the whole neighborhood there are 100 fruit trees and 6 gardens; a garden co-ordinator helps people get a plot and offers lessons. All are permaculture gardens. Four Farmers' Markets come in on various days of the week.
They created an Eco-park next to the Youth Center. Instead of just grass & trees, they managed to divert some storm water from the drains to create a 500-foot stream bed, with native grasses. Overflow goes back to the storm drain.
One woman secured a $250K grant to make Bimini a traffic-calmed street. Plans are to narrow the street, add cob benches and fruit trees. Mark Lapin from Portland City Repair helped create a plaza, painted, with other pedestrian features. There is a hope to create a demonstration car-free neighborhood. Mass transit is 2 blocks away; the new mayor is very supportive, wanting to compete with Chicago for"greenest city" title, and create a network of Ecovillages in L.A. By forming good relationships with the owners and managers of all buildings, and asking them to rent whenever possible to car-less people, gradually fewer people own cars (now 50%).
Many Asians spoke no English. Lois found out about an illegal rent increase and helped them find a Filipino-speaking lawyer to advocate for their rights; when they won, Lois had a lot of new friends.
The LA County Bike Coalition works with the alternative transportation group. There is a thriving bike repair business.
Los Angeles has gone from being one of the least sustainable cities in the world to one of the most sustainable. The next step is the Ecovillage Network of Los Angeles!
On Tuesday, the opening circle began with Angelica's invocation to come with a high intention to join as one body, to come in balance, full of love and harmonized.
Some announcements: A vendor space will be set up in front of the White Owl Café where goods from Mexico will be available for purchase (purchase helps defray travel expenses for those attending). There is a free seed exchange in the White Owl. Stilt practice today! Today's plenary will decide about Open Space topics. "Clans" will meet during lunches.
In the morning plenary, we heard from our Bioregional elders and leaders. The first speaker was Gene Marshall, who has been a bioregionalist for 21 years. His complete speech follows:
Sharing our Bioregional Vision
Gene Marshall July 2005
This is a talk about sharing our bioregional vision. It is also a personal talk on why I became a bioregionalist and why I have remained one for 21 years. This is also a summation of bioregional traditions that may remind others of you why bioregionalism has held you for a decade or longer. For those of you who are newer to bioregionalism and wondering why you should make this a core movement in your lives, perhaps this overview will help.
I want to begin by reading a poem. This poem was written by Gary Snyder, who provided part of the early inspiration for this movement. Poetry like this has been one thing that has attracted me to bioregionalism.
Selected verses from “Mother Earth: Her Whales” in Turtle Island page 47
I was also attracted to bioregionalism because it has some BIG IDEAS.
One of them is Reinhabitation, a big word which I read in an essay by Peter Berg, an idea which I believe Berg got from Gary Snyder.
Reinhabitation is a wonderfully profound notion. It means transforming our sense of “home.” Here is how you become a bioregionalist. You leap up into the air and come down at the same place. You reinhabit your same place. I become a bioregionalist when I leap up out of zip code district 75418, out of Fannin County Texas, out of Texas and the US and then come back down to the same place which I now see differently: The Red River Flats; The Blackland Prairie; The Great Prairie extending from the Mexican border into Manitoba, Canada; the continent of Turtle Island; and the planet Earth. These are now my home regions.
Anyone can make this leap. When they do they are bioregionalists. This is how we spread the bioregional movement. We just get everyone on Earth to jump up in the air and come back down to the very same place but changed.
Our new home is discerned by humans as a gift from the planet. It is a region of geographical features, flora, fauna, and also humans.
Perhaps we have known all along that this was our home, but have been confused by neighbors who told us that we were Texans or Canadians or Mexicans or Southerners or New Englanders.
All along we may have felt bonded with a particular set of animals, trees, grasses, flowers, birds, geographical features, weather patterns, seasons, and other humans who notice and revere these special gifts. But until we make the reinhabitation leap, we may not have seen clearly that this region of natural reality is our home.
We may, of course, move to another place, another region, but when we get there that region is our home. Even if we are a modern nomad who travels widely, we travel from region to region of this planet. Even if we journey into outer space, we must take a piece of our planet with us.
THIS PLANET AND ITS REGIONS IS OUR HOME.
Here is a second BIG IDEA that won me to bioregionalism. At the first North American Bioregional Congress, I attended a workshop led by David Haenke in which he introduced the phrases “Legitimate Governance” and “Illegitimate Governance.”
2. Legitimate Governance
The current nation states of industrial civilization are illegitimate governance because they do not obey the law. They do not obey the natural law, the fundamental limits and possibilities of planet Earth.
The planet Earth has its own governing rules built into its very rocks, oceans, atmosphere, life processes, and human interactions. But industrial civilization has been built on the premise that humanity can get away with disregarding these rules. Illegitimate human governance is governance that only pays attention to economic growth, the well-being of the biggest and strongest corporations, the competitive advantage of a particular group of people, the cost of living, the development of jobs, and the widespread availability of ever cheaper necessities and luxuries.
A society cannot get away with this narrow focus indefinitely. We are driving off the ecological cliff. This is why our current industrial nations are illegitimate governance.
The term “congressing,” as we use it here, is about legitimate governance. Congressing means coming together. We come together to govern our lives and our planet differently. We have talked about this movement being a shadow government – an unauthorized quest for governing legitimately. Some people have not liked the word “congress.” It reminds them too much of the travesties that go on in Washington D.C. But “congress” is a good word; it simply means genuine meeting, genuine coming together. We might give the framers of the US Constitution credit for choosing this good word, even if US congresspersons have not lived up to it. Anyhow, we are here to congress as legitimate government of the planet and all its regions.
Most of the tribal societies of antiquity had legitimate governance; they honored and obeyed their surroundings. But the large classical civilizations that began about 6000 years ago fell into illegitimate governance. First of all, civilizations were hierarchical structures -- Kings aristocracy, peasants slaves, and, last of all, nature.
Civilizations were built on the principle of human rule over nature. The all-out use of nature was standard operating procedure. Some civilizations have cared for the Earth better than others. On the other hand, many destroyed themselves with their anti-ecological practices. Civilizations have been illegitimate governance from the beginning. They were constructed to obey the laws of a king not the laws of a natural place.
The Great religions that began coming into being about 3000 years ago moderated these illegitimate governments somewhat. They obeyed a Reality larger than their society.
Democratic revolutions of the 18th century also moderated civilization. They did away with complete topdown governance and began to empower individual persons and their home places. The full development of the ecological revolution means more than moderating civilization. It means doing away with civilization as our basic mode of governance. Top-down aristocratic governance employing all-out use of the Earth and all-out war with every other civilization is not a viable social vehicle to travel in. Civilization is not legitimate governance.
So as bioregionalists, we need not talk proudly of ourselves as being civilized. We must be post-civilized. We must be more than civilized. We are for legitimate governance that conducts a mutually enhancing relation with the planet.
While we may have many disagreements about what this means, I believe that we can agree on this much: the future we envision does not mean returning to the mode of tribal society. We must create a third mode of social organization that has never existed before.
And we are not talking about complete anarchy. There must be governance, but it needs to be legitimate governance -- governance that obeys the law – that is, the limits and possibilities of the planet Earth.
Governance is a natural social process, like education, music performance, dancing, nursing, and child rearing. Governing is an essential social process. No human society has ever been without it. No human society can ever be without it. The issue is not doing away with human governance, but saying clearly what we mean by legitimate governance.
However controversial legitimate governance may be, I believe it is a core theme of the bioregional movement and one of the reasons why I am a bioregionalist.
* * * * * * *
Here is a third BIG IDEA of bioregionalism: Human Scale. This idea was first introduced to me by E .F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful. Later, I read all the way through a big thick book by Kirkpatrick Sale entitled Human Scale. Another way we have talked about this idea is with the term “decentralization.”
3. Human Scale
“Human scale” is probably a more accurate way of talking about what E. F. Schumacher was saying in his classic book Small is Beautiful. Social institutions are not beautiful because they are small. Small institutions can even be ugly because they are too small. A beautiful social institution is beautiful because it fits the human beings for whom it is designed. A beautiful society is an appropriate servant designed to serve humans and the planet of which humans are part.
The notion of human scale opposes the notion that bigger is always better. Growth is not always a good thing. Physical growth for a child is quite appropriate. But for an adult further physical growth can become a disease. It is not human scale to grow to ten feet tall. It is not human scale to grow to 850 pounds. Such growth is clearly counterproductive and destructive of our optimal living. Endless growth is also destructive in the area of economic structures. The notion that an economy can simply grow its way out of every difficulty is bad medicine from a malpracticing social doctor.
There are obviously limits to growth in every natural system. If we only look at numbers on a corporation spreadsheet, growth may seem to be good, especially to a stockholder or an executive hoping for a still bigger salary. But growth of human economies within natural environments has limits.
“Decentralization” is a companion idea with “human scale.” Decentralization need not mean ignoring planetary scopes of decision making. We need the confederation of decision making from local to global. We need to make every decision we can locally, then regionally, then continentally, then planetarily.
* * * * * * *
So here are three BIG IDEAS that characterize bioregionalism: Reinhabitation, Legitimate Governance in accord with Nature, and Human Scale or decentralization. These are basic themes and commitments of the bioregional movement.
* * * * * *
In addition to these three BIG IDEAS, I want to talk about three social processes:
Consensus Processing, Ecofeminism, and Ceremonial Companionship.
Consensus processing was introduced at the very first bioregional congress. Caroline Estes taught us how and helped us for years afterward. In more recent times Bea Briggs and her crew have enriched this theme and trained hundreds in it. My wife Joyce and a number of others have also contributed to this important heritage of our movement.
Ecofeminism was strongly introduced at the third congress by Judith Plant. Starhawk also gave it a big push. And others have led many committees on this topic.
By Ceremonial companionship I am think ing of many things – everything from Caryn Goldberg's poetry to Alberto Ruz and his Mexican pageantry crew. I also think of a tall pole at the center of the meeting area at NABC two; Native American drums at congress three; cultural sharing evenings; spiral dances, pipe ceremonies, and the list goes on. I believe that this is an important element of our movement.
I will look first at Consensus Processing
4. Consensus Processing
Bioregionalism has emphasized consensus processing in all our congresses. Sitting in a circle and simply listening to one another speak is the foundational aspect of consensus building. It is a deep honoring of one another to truly listen without flitting away into planning what we want to say or what we think or don’t think. And it is an honoring of ourselves to truly speak from the heart to those who honor us with their listening.
Consensus building includes conflicts and disagreements, but it is different from a debate in which one team wins and another team loses. Consensus building is a mutually enhancing quest for the truth, the practical truth about what is called for in action by all of us participating in this consensus-building process.
Consensus decision making may include vast disagreements, hot passions, deep arguments, and perpetual conflicts. But in good consensus building, people transcend these conflicts by their continued listening and by the willingness to remember that none of us has the whole truth in our pockets.
Consensus building can seem strange to some people, but it is a natural process like gravity, like evolution.
Ancient tribal societies did not use the words “consensus,” or “congressing,” but many of them manifested what we are pointing to with our bioregional terms “consensus-building congressing.” They gathered around and talked things through.
Most civilizations attempted to do away with consensus building through the establishment of a royalty who made all the big decisions and a peasantry and slaves who did what they were ordered to do. Yet even in those thoroughly hierarchical societies, consensus processing kept cropping up.
Representative democracy came into being as an attempt to move toward consensus processing once again. This was far from perfect consensus building, but it did demote the kings, or at least replace them with “wannabe” kings who have had to appeal to voters from time to time. Nevertheless, the natural process of consensus processing still cries out to express itself more fully in every society.
In 1984 this cry for consensus building manifested in a radical and satisfying manner in the meeting we remember as the First North American Bioregional Congress. Concensus builiding was discussed and practiced at that meeting and some of our lives have never been the same since.
Many of us have had our doubts about the need for consensus building. And our doubts are understandable, for consensus building is a very deep dynamic, not easily understood. Even people who understand it pretty well for small groups do not see how it applies to large groups, whole regions, whole movements, whole continents, or to the planetary decision making of the entire human species.
In small groups consensus building can be done informally and relatively easily if everyone there is willing to use this method. In large groups more formal means are needed. And on a national or planetary scale, we need to invent social devices that we do not now have.
One interesting suggestion in this regard is Jim Rough’s idea of Wisdom Councils which he describes in his book Society’s Breakthrough!. I will summarize his insights briefly. He recommends that each political body select at random 24 registered voters who are then paid to meet together for a month and build consensus papers for that scope of governance. Then these papers are published to all citizens, and they are expected to provide context for the formal legislative bodies. Rough sees this as the development of a fourth branch of government that provides another check and balance, a check and balance than honors consensus processing and citizen participation. Rough’s vision may be long-range, but it is a promising design.
Meanwhile, we who are the bioregional movement have the historical assignment to keep consensus-building congressing alive and evolving toward its full realization.
Next, let us look at ecofeminism. While ecofeminism developed out of many sources besides bioregionalism, it found a deep home in bioregionalism. Bioregionalism would not be the culture it has become without ecofeminism. It is a foundational understanding within bioregional culture that male prerogatives need to be set aside, and feminine energies in both males and females released.
In our early congresses we took pains to make sure that men did not do all the talking while women sat quietly by. This is no longer a problem. But in those early days we alternated men and women speaking to assure feminine participation in our meetings.
We have also had men and women meeting separately and exploring in those groups what is happening to each of the genders in these times.
Still more profoundly, we have understood that the same oppressive patterns that are oppressing women are also the patterns that are oppressing the planet. Just as men have demeaned women by consciously or unconsciously using them as mere resources for their “grand” aims, so human society has demeaned the claims of the natural planet in favor of humanly constructed uses of the natural world.
Some of our bioregional men have resisted the ecofeminist emphasis, but we need to understand that true feminism is not about the defeat of maleness. It is about the recovery of a dimension of humanness that has been culturally suppressed in both men and women.
The issues here are very complex and still deeply controversial. Nevertheless, the bioregional vision includes a full commitment to ecofeminism. Furthermore, ecofeminism opens up new depths in our ability to overcome racism, homophobia, and religious bigotries. Our picture of the bioregional vision is incomplete without including these culturally progressive elements.
6. Ceremonial Companionship
Finally, I want to speak of Ceremonial Companionship. This includes a very long list of things: pageantry, cultural sharings, singing, dancing, poetry readings, poetry composition, animal costumes, circles, simple rituals, sunrise and sunset ceremonies, fireside chats, go rounds, talking circles, drumming, celebrations, EcoTheater, peer counseling, representation of animal species, sweat lodges, Native American lore, and many other efforts to recover our deep connections with nature.
None of us do all these things. But all of us do some of them. These practices are not unique to the bioregional movement. So why are such ceremonies a core theme of the bioregional movement?
Because the bioregional movement is basically a cultural movement and only secondarily an economic and political force. It is a core aspect of our vision that the transformation called for by the outward sweep of our era is also a profound revolution in the inner beings of those who are responding to these vast challenges.
Specifically, bioregionalists assume that there is more mystery in a spoonful of soil than there is wisdom in all the libraries of humanity. Bioregionalists affirm what our best scientists realize – namely, that the more we know about nature, the more we know we don’t know. Good science is an exploration into the sheer mystery of reality. Good art and good religion is also an exploration into the sheer mystery of reality.
Being open to the ever-deepening mystery of everything is part of what it means to bond with nature in a bioregional sense.
Also, massive social transitions begin with spirit awakenings and with the cultural expression of new and deeper consciousness. Then that new cultural formation undergirds the political and economic transformations that are so obviously needed.
Understanding and embodying this theme is one of the strengths of bioregionalism. And it is one of the themes that draws me to bioregionalism. I would not want to be without it. And this theme is important for drawing others to this movement.
Underneath these ceremonial practices is the reality that bioregionalism is a Spirit movement. It touches into our essential human nature. It touches our awareness of Mystery and authenticity. It touches our awareness of sacrificial calling to bring justice and ecological health to the planet.
But Bioregionalism is not a religious movement and not a religion. It is an umbrella movement of people doing many religious practices: Native American, Christian, Jewish, Pagan, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu. Deep ecology is a sort of religion for some people. Permaculture is a sort of religion for some people. Some people even make bioregionalism itself their religion.
We have a mutual agreement to not force our specific religious practice on each other. We do not claim that every bioregionalist needs to handle their Spirit journey in the same way. We are an umbrella movement containing a vast variety of eco-philosophies and Spirit disciplines.
Nevertheless, we can talk with one another about Spirit matters and seek to work together to make the culture of bioregionalism a rich Sprit experience. This is important for our local organizing. We are tolerant, welcoming all. At the same time we want our meetings to have Spirit depth.
People come again and again to meetings that are nurturing to them. If they are not nurturing, they do not find them important enough to attend. Boring, arid, overly intellectual meetings can drive many people away.
Here are six reasons why I am a bioregionalist and have remained a bioregionalist for 21 years:
Reinhabitation of the natural planet
Legitimate Government that obeys natural reality
Human Scale or the Decentralization of Power
and Ceremonial Companionship
There are other bioregional themes that are also important to me:
Eco-Politics is an especially wonderful and controversial area.
Each of these additional themes is important, but I will not delve into them this morning. We want to spend the rest of our time in this session hearing from a few others. Ken is going to lead that conversation.
Other veteran bioregionalists then gave short talks.
Bea Briggs: "I can't help it. It makes the most sense." Through this movement, she found her life work, and a new home (Mexico), then, if that wasn't enough transformation, she discovered the South American continent!
Ken: Being of the land, peeling away layers that hid it; the seasons enrich him.
Laura Kuri: The bioregional movement is networking with allies of many places, to care for the land; find relationships within nature.
Glen Makepeace: CBCs are a re-emergence of the ancient tradition of ceremonial village, with purpose of occasional gathering to re-inspire each other with vision of how the universe works (very different from empire). The circle is the central metaphor; every voice is equal. The visionary function is healing. "Civilization is an auto-immune disease on the planet," he said. Our vision is a healing vision.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: “The reason I am a bioregionalist is the same as the reason I am a poet. It's about opening our senses to the planet and learning what it is to live in this body and on this body, stripping away the language that harms, finding our true voice and vision, learning to love better --ourselves, each other, the Earth. Like Beatrice Briggs, bioregionalism brought me to another land from where I grew up - Kansas, where I found my community, my husband, and my children. I thank all of you for coming back to this circle that I dream of and am healed by.”
Rudolfo Gonzalez: Living on an island (Dominican Republic) that was once part of the continent. Finding his place is a reason to reinhabit Earth. "Coming here inspires me a lot."
The plenaries were set up to decide our themes. The rules were: consensus, help the facilitator, raise hands, no speech longer than 2 minutes, everyone participates. Bea Briggs briefly described the consensus process. The planners of the Congress wanted a strong emphasis on creating "Tool kits" for local bioregional organizing. A tool kit could be resources, websites, books, organizing tips, bibliographies, updates, etc. A tool kit could also be a series of questions. "Breakout groups" were planned to generate these tool kits. These toolkits might then be distributed via the website. Katherine Adams has a bibliography on bioregionalism, there is also a bioregional reader and a "Sense of Place" course on bioregionalism from the NorthWest Earth Institute. Many felt the need to have more action orientation, more grassroots work, more emphasis on fulfilling basic human needs within each bioregion. Some felt that people who are comfortable are less likely to embrace change, and that it made sense to go to places like Mexico where there is a desperate need for water and for permaculture solutions. Others felt that our role is to inspire others to see the value of our place in nature. "The function of a ceremonial village is to inspire so we can become agents of transformation," said Gene Marshall.
For the two Open Space sessions, a huge variety of topics were proposed. Here are summaries of two of them:
GATT, NAFTA, CAFTA and "afta" - led by David Wheeler of North Carolina. These organizations of corporate globalization are forcing everything into corporate hands, destroying environmental regulations, labor unions, and democracy. The World Trade Organization can override environmental laws and safety regulations of any country if a company challenges them. Suits can impose economic sanctions for "barriers to free trade." There are no democratic controls. The World Bank sets rules about trade, NAFTA brings rules to the WTO to decide. CAFTA and FTAA are not yet fully created.
Many jobs have been exported to countries like Mexico for the cheaper labor and fewer environmental regulations. The popular belief is that jobs leave "because unions are rotten and environmentalists pass unreasonable laws that force corporations to move overseas." How do we respond? In Seattle and Cancun at least, meetings got stopped by the huge demonstrations. We need to educate people re: why Bolton is being pushed for a UN post (to "reform" the UN by making it less democratic). The WTO is behind putting holistic health purveyors out of business, making herbs illegal to grow: the "criminalization of alternative medicine." Instead, we need to criminalize corporate greed!
Small local alternative movements are not enough, we need grassroots political action as well. We can educate people by showing videos like "The End of Suburbia," "The Corporation," "The Future of Food" (by Jerry Garcia's widow) etc. Let's reclaim our language, such as the word"conservative," which originally meant to conserve what is of value (such as our democracy, ecosystems, local economies). The neo-cons are radical in their plan to demolish all of these. The Bioregional agenda of building strong local economies and local businesses can appeal to many Republicans who are not convinced of the Bush agenda. The other way, giving huge tax breaks to large businesses to lure them to areas like N.C., is less effective in job creation or building the economy than micro-enterprise projects. "Sustainable Martha's Vineyard" promotes the local farmers' market and CSAs. Shares of wind power can be sold to residents of Cape Cod and the islands. The Farm & Food project in Albany, NY, brings farmers into the city and inner city so people can develop personal relationships with farmers. Windmills in N. Dakota are helping to save farms by providing their own power and some to sell.
As people lose their faith in collapsing systems, there is opportunity. Some talk radio stations can help educate people. Replacing centralized energy and power with wind and solar and conservation is a trend toward decentralization. Energy price increases can be good in that they make alternatives look better, but we must remember that the poor are usually hurt most. We need to help low-income communities become more energy self-sufficient.
Some churches are adopting environmental ethics. Ask people: "Who owns your food? What's source of your food?" "Who owns the electric power/gas/oil and where does it come from?" "Who owns your water and what is its source?" "What goods are manufactured in your locality?"
There was some disagreement within the group concerning the efficacy of visualizing sending love to those WTO leaders who are determining what happens to our food (irradiation, etc.) Gene Marshall did not want the Bioregional movement to be seen as "superstitious." Others felt that this was an experiment worth trying. Gene saw the need for more education; too many people believe the media. Arnold Ricalde of Mexico City urged northerners to come help Mexico City residents work on specific project, help build demonstration centers, rainwater catchment systems and dry toilets at this time of water scarcity. Improving conditions in Mexico affects everyone in NAFTA, he said, and will benefit all of us; Mexicans will be very receptive. Others agreed that this might be doing the most with the least effort, and helping stop the globalization of water by giving control back to the people.
In the evening, a group led by Angelica Flores and Ullrich and Ted came together to appeal to the higher nature of WTO members, sending focused loving energy. We meditated together to send our intention of love and opening their minds to seeing in a different way.
Wednesday: "We'll conserve what we love, we'll love what we understand, we'll understand what we are taught. So, teach each other what we love."
How can we best inspire and educate our local community? What is the contribution bioregionalism can make on each issue we are passionate about? Out of a sharing of our passionate issues, some themes emerged and were grouped in order to organize the break-out groups for the rest of the week. Themes were: health & healing; art & culture; spirituality & eco-spirituality; activism; energy; food & agriculture; systems thinking & permaculture; water; peak oil & economics; urban issues; intentional communities; bioregional organizing; local bioregional organizing; inclusiveness; and education.
Comunicacion: Los instrumentos en las diferentes escalas (inside and outside)
- Maria Susana
Positive connection with others;I want support and tools/suggestions for how to bring
the "bioregional conversation" to the greater community.
Finding universally acceptable language to communicate "outside the choir" what we already know/what needs to be done.
- Julie Clark
Eco-Spirituality-- As a means to help us learn the importance of living sustainably.
- Mary Armstrong
Creating art and design projects that inspire ecological transformation.
Art-Music-Sharing Eco-awareness with mainstream culture – spirituality and meditation; inspiring each other.
Spirituality; Tools to connect with one another more deeply
- Alex Edleson
Healing -- using personal health as a means to heal the earth
Health care: I want to learn, to integrate, and to access resources available here.
- Rafael Comp.
Ceremonial village in which we inspire ourselves with visionary rituals, stories, ceremonies, etc.
- Glen Makepeace
Nurturing connection with the life we are all part of – that’s inside ourselves and in our larger self – the one.
- Jacob Zammito (A&A)
To learn the skills necessary to magically empower, heal, & manifest divine will
Community creates Community
Internalizing the bioregion (feeling at home)
- Jane Schroeder
Terrorism & war
- Dennis Hoffarth
Raising consciousness -- love for the earth, care for each other, regeneration.
- Tad Montgomery
Symbiosis between the communities/ecovillages movements and the bioregionalism movement
- Josh Lockyer
Busco inspiracion para transcender la cultura predominante. "Civilizacion." Inspiracion - fuerza - Energia – Herramientas. Aqui he encontrado algunas . (I'm looking for inspiration to transcend the predominant culture. "Civilization." Inspiration - strength - energy - tools. Here I have found some.)
To connect with people in my geographic bioregion and my "heart/soul bioregion"* who are working on projects I can help with. (*"heart/soul bioregion": folks who may be geographically far away but are working on the same stuff as I am (humanure composting, microdwelling, etc.)
- Dragonfly Jenny
Attending the "water" breakout group were Chris Ricci, Fabio Manzini of Mexico, Barbara Harmony, Robert Eidus, and Cathy Holt. We thought it would be great to have a statement (resolutions on water) for the Congress to send out as a press release at the time of the 3/06 World Water Forum in Mexico City. There will be a group of "Hopi runners" going to Mexico City, and many environmentalists, a Citizens' Tribunal on Water, as well as the water privatizers (WWF). Fabio suggested we excerpt from the Kyoto resolution on water. Other ideas for resolutions: that all land owners with springs be given a tax break to help care for the spring. Permaculture has a set of ethical practices concerning care for water such as catchment and storage of water (on an appropriate scale), cleaning and reusing water with biological methods, and release of water gently and without damage to the environment. Small dams are viewed as appropriate for flood prevention, water retention in the landscape, agriculture, and small hydro. Water is to be preserved at the source (watersheds, springs); hence the need for conservation easements and restoration. Rainwater catchment from roofs is illegal in Colorado; it should be a mandate on all new buildings. We need to oppose privatization in every form, including purchase of bottled water. It's important to make the connection between oil and water. Fortune Magazine says that what oil was to the 20th century, water will be to the 21st. Now, while water is still seen as cheap and plentiful, it is used as a way to clean and transport coal; water pollution by oil and its many products is viewed as an inevitable side effect. Yet bottled water is already more expensive than oil. Humanity has lived without oil, but never without clean water.
The bioregional groups were to meet nearly every afternoon for an hour. The Katuah bioregion (Southern Appalachians) discussed the idea of creating an inventory of skills and services available locally, as a first step in contingency planning for the coming energy crunch. Such an inventory could be "a Master's thesis project for a Gaia University student." All attending but Rob Messick were from Earthaven Ecovillage. Peter Bane, fresh from the breakout group on peak oil and economics, introduced the group to some new information. Much of it came from Jeff Clearwater, a local person who sells solar and renewable technologies. Conservation should be #1; electric use should be cut and replaced where possible with locally produced gases, e.g., stoves and refrigerators can both be run on gas rather than electricity. Methane can be produced from landfills and many types of wastes. Stirling engines are highly efficient for electricity production, and also their waste heat can be captured for other uses. The best storage for excess electricity may be hydrogen, locally produced from many sources. Bacteria can convert swamp biomass to create hydrogen; wind power can be stored via hydrogen. Iceland is now doing hydrogen production on a large scale. The latest small hydroelectric technology allows for a better intake design so that 50-100 kw can be generated with small streams with quite minimal environmental impact (good news for our bioregion, with its myriad streams and elevation drops)! Neodamium (sp?) batteries are a new highly efficient battery.
One way to reach out and begin to bring in others to a local network of resources would be the Black Mountain Fire Hall potluck dinners. Also, Earthaven could offer free workshops to bring people in. We can start with existing networks such as SEEE (Southern Energy & Environment Expo, Ned Doyle's annual event). The Long Branch Environment Center (from Leicester?) promotes solar cars. A problem we have is that our bioregion is too large; even just our own Blue Ridge province is 9,400,000 acres and stretches from Georgia to Virginia. It's not just one watershed but contains the Eastern Continental Divide. Let's start from a controlled front, get to know and influence local landholders.
In the evening, the men and women met separately. The men went up to Hidden Valley, and I'm told that they all walked back in a line holding hands, eyes closed except for the leader, practicing trust of one another. They returned to the Council Hall just as the women were finishing their spiral dance, singing "Mother, sister, daughter, friend." and embracing with moist eyes.
"Circle of Woman-Time" by Fifty-six in Katuah
Human females, four months to seventy-one years, assembled in chronological spiral, filling the great Council Hall at Earthaven. Then we told our stories, starting with the eldest. What it's like to be where we are in our lives' journeys.
Some were brief and poignant. Some long and sweet. Speaking and moving eloquently. All beautiful. How different. How much in common. The sweep, the continuity. Grateful for each other. Young ones, listening intently, with shining faces. What a blessing to hear that growing"old" is not the curse we have been warned of. The illusions of age. But sixty ain't what it used to be. "How did I get to be sixty? My body looks fifty, but I feel twenty inside." So much still to do. Mentoring. Living without the restraints of "what others think." Letting go: of young bodies; of children; of dear friends; of leadership. Anticipating letting go of life itself.
The challenges for youth: So many ways to go. What is my work? Taking care of others. How to take care of myself? What about children, and when?
And the in-between times. The vagaries of hormones and relationships.
There is a strong line. Behind us, ahead of us. Very young ones, crawling and sleeping in our midst. And probably invisible ones, listening in.
We are in awesomely good hands.
Thursday - Deep Ecology
John Seed, deep ecologist from Australia, led us in a Truth Mandala and a Council of All Beings. He spoke of how the trees first called him to save the rainforests in Australia in the late 1970's, leading to the founding of the Rainforest Action Network in 1984. "We can't save the forests one at a time," he said, and asked, "What makes people think we can benefit by destroying our own life support system? It's as if the brain decided to mine the liver." The illusion of separation between humans and nature can be overcome by holding our breaths for a few minutes, he said. We need to trade in our view of humans as the top of the pyramid, to just a strand in the web of life; we need an ecological identity that goes beyond ideas. All indigenous communities have ceremonies to re-connect with the Earth, similar to our Council of All Beings. First we milled about the room and connected briefly with a partner, sharing an experience of connection with nature, then looking into another partner's eyes and seeing a person who loves the earth, or one who might die of cancer due to environmental pollution. In the Truth Mandala, we sat in small groups and heard each other's despair, fear, sadness, anger, and confusion. The Council of All Beings allowed each person to temporarily speak as another life form, sharing the unique viewpoints of fireflies, coyotes, streams, trees, cougars about the predicament of living in these times.
After lunch, "the work that reconnects": people did various work projects to help Earthaven, although the usual afternoon thundershowers curtailed some of the work and many folks caught up on their sleep, laundry, or quiet time instead.
Thursday evening was a huge high point of the Congress as the Central and South American bioregions put on a cultural presentation that included songs about opposing genetically modified crops and how cheap corn for export is killing small farmers, an amazing shamanic trickster rap by John from Trinidad, power point presentations about Chichinautzin's Vision Council and the Tierra Viva punk-youth movement to plant gardens in Mexico City. These counter-culture young people teach permaculture, composting techniques, container gardening; there is a strong "do it yourself" ethic. Kids love to work with them. (see www.tierraviva.org.)
"Our mission is to unify diverse groups of people with different lifestyles and share our connection with Mother Earth," said Arnold Ricalde of Organi-K, where they have created a healing center, permaculture gardens with fruit trees and medicinal plants, and a multimedia production center. "Sacred spaces bring people together; when surrounded by beautiful nature, it's easier." They are also working to help thirsty Mexico City residents capture their rainwater. Urban kids are taken out to do reforestation projects.
In a village on the island in Lake Nicaragua, activists are introducing composting toilets, graywater systems, shade grown coffee, and tree crops. They taught us this song: Amada Tonantzin, Te vengo a decir Que tea mo de versa, Soy parte de ti. Gracias te doy por el maiz, el agua, la fruta, y todo de ti! (Beloved Mother, I came to say that I truly love you, I am part of you. I give thanks to you for the corn, water, fruit, and all from you!)
From the Colombian contingent we learned about the "Mama" (shamans of the Kogi tribe) who believe that whatever happens in the sacred peaks of the Sierra Nevada will happen all over the world and that they are the protectors of all humanity. "The Younger Brothers don't understand the Spirit, they think of economics only, so they cut and burn."
Another wonderful song: Spirita de Agua, Spirita de Fuego, Grande Spiritu, Limpia el alma. (Spirit of water, spirit of fire, great spirit, cleanse our soul. And another: La pachamama te calienta, te alimenta, Pachamama, Madre Tierra. (Mother Earth warms you, feeds you, Mother Earth.)
Then there were special sweets and drinks, and drumming and salsa dancing late into the night!
Plenary meeting minutes
Facilitator: Bea Briggs
Proposal by Ken & Caryn Lassman - Coordinating Council for next
1. Kimchi Rylander - Earthaven
2. Ken Lassman & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg - Kansas
3. Laura Kuri & Fabio - Mexico
4. Liora Adler - Mexico
5. Mary Meyer - Indiana, also Richard Cartwright
6. Barbara Harmony - Arkansas, Ozarks
7. Bob Randell - Houston
Proposal for Council Duties: Continuation of ties and business working group, not policy. Conduct email, conferences by phone. Regional phone sessions and conferencing. Commit to three face-to-face meetings before next Congress. Motion to adopt duties - full consensus by all.
Motion to adopt Coordinating Council persons till next Congress - full consensus by all.
More tours were announced for Earthaven and for Village Terrace Cohousing.
Bioregional groups are also meeting.
Small groups then developed the following recommendations for the Coordinating Council:
- Go to regional Congresses - hold yearly or bi-yearly. Hold Continental Congresses every 5 years?
- Have a separate track for newcomers
- Create this as a resource
- Train organizers for local groups
- Develop a more formal focus for elders
- Have space in Congress to integrate play, intimacy, music
- Road teams of experienced bioregionalists to educate groups who want
- Have maps available
- Local food for events
- Clarify our image/media
- Bioregional office/media center
- Master program
- Cuba as a role model
- Presentations to local groups
The afternoon was devoted to breakout groups.
Bioregional breakout groups
- Local organizing/communication/activism
- Bioregional organizing
- Permaculture/urban food
- Intentional communities
- Peak oil/energy/economics
- Eco-spirituality & MAGIC
Saturday’s afternoon plenary
Notes: Cathy Holt
Co-ordinating Council: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ken Lassman, Laura Kuri, Barbara Harmony, Mary Meyer, Bob Randall, Fabio Manzini, Liora Adler, Kimchi Rylander (Notes: Liora Adler)
1. BioRegional Congress could meet every 5 years. Others expressed need for more frequent meetings, every 2-3 years.
2. Support undeveloped bioregional groups to set up weekend workshops and events
3. Develop a more formal role for Elders
4. Have a space in the next congress to integrate (play, intimacy, music)
5. Road teams of experienced Bioregionalists to educate groups who want inspiration/direction
6. Liked food from local area (organic too)
7. Clarify our image/outreach to mainstream
8. Bioresource Center with office- Fundraising/archives
9. Master’s program in Bioregional Organizing through Gaia U
10. Cuba as a role model
video- Green Cuba
Community Services Inc. website
11. Presentations to local groups, e.g., Sustainable Pittsburgh
12. Next Congress at another Eco-Village or similar kind of site would be ideal.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg spoke about fundraising. $12,000 was raised over the past three years, largely to help our Central and South American friends get to Earthaven this year. $3000 was raised pretty much at the last minute, by Caryn and others. It isn’t easy, we’ve relied on a few foundations and individuals. However, if 40 people would tithe even $10 or $5 a month, we could raise thousands of dollars which could allow for more scholarships, travel expenses, and youth to be funded. The KAW Council (Kansas) is a 501(c ) (3) nonprofit which will serve as intermediary, so all donations will b tax-deductible. Caryn handed out blue pledge sheets to help people make a monthly donation by check or credit card/Paypal (or one-time contribution). Please send checks payable to KAW Council, P.O. Box 1512, Lawrence, KS 66044.
Bioregional Resource Center – a small center with large scope for networking, a staff specializing in fundraising and gaining logistical support for organizations, archiving, and developing the website.
Youth - One weakness of the CBC this year was the relative absence of a youth group: there were only three teenagers and no programming for them. The next Congress needs more of a focus on youth.
Next CBC and site – have not been chosen yet. Many spoke in favor of meeting at another Ecovillage, thus supporting that movement, rather than giving our funds to a kids’ camp. However, Ecovillages have size restrictions. Another possibility is to have a permaculture group go create the infrastructure needed in advance, in a National Forest type place. Several felt that 5-6 years between Congresses is too long and we should plan for 2-3 years out maximum. The idea that local groups would meet more if we wait longer has not held true in practice.
BREAK-OUT GROUPS & RESOLUTIONS
Three of the groups (Bioregional Economics, Water, and Peak Oil/Economics) sought the Congress’ endorsement of their resolutions, while two (Peak Oil/Economics and Education) sought blessings to continue their work. It was decided that Congress would publish each document in the Proceedings. Two of the breakout groups were asked to present shortened versions so that the plenary could ratify them; these were the Water group and the Peak Oil, Energy, & Economics group. Consensus was reached on these shorter statements. See below.
1. Peak Oil, Energy, & Economics Group
The plenary meeting reached consensus on the following proposal:
“Endorse the ongoing work of the Peak Oil, Energy & Economics Committees in developing comprehensive bioregional responses to these issues.”
Resolution proposed by the committee: (not ratified)
Our dependence on non-renewable and polluting energy technologies is damaging the biosphere and our social fabric. We call on all bioregionalists and concerned people to move toward energy systems that are appropriate for each bioregion and not harmful to other bioregions.
1. Peak Oil is a focusing issue that we should use to raise public awareness.
a. Bring a sense of urgency to the general public – making it clear that they need to act no matter what the time frame of Peak Oil might be
b. Be careful not to depend on Peak Oil as primary or necessary catalyst for our work because the powers that be may be able to draw its timeline out or use the crisis for their own ends to further control our energy future
2. Promote our bioregional visions of both transitional and long term bioregional energy picture
a. Promote conservation technology and a conservation lifestyle followed by promoting Solar, Wind, Micro & Nanohydro, and sustainable biomass (including biogas) energy sources
b. Adopt comprehensive practices to reduce, re-use and recycle all resources
c. Strongly promote conservation as a cornerstone policy reducing energy use by as much as 90% or more
d. Promote appropriate matching of energy quality to its end use (e.g., no use of electricity for heat)
e. Promote energy systems that can be produced & sustained locally & bioregionally
f. Promote research in new sustainable energy alternatives (as long as it's sustainable in economic, cultural, & social terms)
g. Acknowledge the spectrums of low to high tech & simple to complex technology solutions seeking appropriately low tech & simple applications where possible
h. Promote lifestyles that result in minimal ecological footprint
i. Educate the public on the true full-cycle cost of present non-sustainable energy systems & uses
j. One presented viewpoint of a total bioregional energy transition scenario was presented:
i. focus on systematically pursuing strong conservation & energy efficiency infrastructure shift as #1 priority
ii. pursue systematic matching of energy quality to use (e.g., utilize passive design & passive solar building techniques and locally produced biogases for heating & cooling)
iii. pursue zero-energy building approach to residential and commercial buildings
iv. develop decentralized renewable electric production technologies to “green the local grid”
v. develop community supported manufacturing facilities that utilize local renewable energy production
vi. promote lifestyles and bioregional planning that minimize the need for personal transportation while shifting public transit to local renewable electric
vii. develop local biofuels & biogas to handle transition to future sustainable options
viii. promote local distributed generation of electric power to offset need for massive transmission projects
ix. carefully develop nano & micro hydro power on previously developed rivers and smaller undeveloped rivers & creeks.
Recommendation to have long term committee to develop comprehensive bioregional energy platform that would be continually updated and refined.
2. Water Committee:
The document below, a shorter version of the original, was ratified by the CBC plenary group:
1. All people have a right to clean water. Water should not be commodified or privatized.
2. Water is best protected by local conscious communities.
3. We oppose over-development of watersheds, destructive logging, and destruction of habitat. We support replanting of native vegetation.
4. We support catchment of rainwater and water conservation and protection by agriculture, industry, and households. We support use of renewable energies.
5. In small human-made dams for power, flood prevention, or water storage—fish and silt must get through and people affected must be involved. We oppose large dams.
Full Version of Water Resolution proposed by the Water Committee (based on Cochabamba Declaration, which was ratified by the Continental Bioregional Congress in 2003; also summarizes previous CBC Water Committee resolutions) – not ratified
Preamble: Since water is life, let us give thanks to the water every time we drink and use it, recognizing water as a gift and blessing. Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world’s water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected. All forms of water in the ground, the air, and on the land are connected. There is no new water; it is a closed system, which for eons has had a natural cleansing process—a process which we should not disturb.
1. Protection and conservation:
Because we seek protection for water at its source, we oppose logging and over-development of watersheds and support the replanting of trees to protect streams from sedimentation and land from erosion, and restore the natural hydrological cycle based on transpiration from trees. We support citizen monitoring of waterways for greater awareness of water’s health.
We support catchment of rainwater, conserving water through water saving appliances, and advocate use of dry composting toilets, cleaning and reusing wastewater with biological methods, and release of water without damage to the environment. We oppose using water as a carrier of waste.
We recommend that agricultural policy mandate installation of drip irrigation to conserve 60% of their current water use and improve yields while protecting soil from salinization.
We recommend that industry adopt a zero emissions policy requiring treatment and recycling of the waste stream to prevent pollution from entering the air and waterways.
We oppose ground and surface water pollution from toxic rain, soil erosion, agricultural runoff, draining of marshes and channelization, municipal waste water, landfills for municipal or toxic waste, dumps for radioactive waste, deep well injection of hazardous waste, depletion of aquifers, or any other degradation of water.
We seek protection for the fragile interfaces between water and land: the coastal zone including estuaries, coral reefs and the outer continental shelf, as well as wetlands.
When dams are necessary for small hydroelectric power generation, flood prevention, or water storage, provision must be made for fish and silt to get through. People affected by dam building must be consulted, compensated, and given a share in the benefits. We oppose large hydroelectric facilities, which damage ecosystems and people.
2. Opposing privatization
Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government, therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These rights must be enshrined at all levels. In particular, an international treaty must ensure all people on Earth have a right to water regardless of ability to pay, and all beings have a right to water.
We oppose use of bottled water, because it promotes privatization and contributes huge amounts of waste plastic to the natural environment and landfills; bottled water is not as regulated as tap water and is often less safe.
3. Other Policies
We are already seeing increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods, rising oceans, and desertification. The burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of climate change. The most vulnerable are impoverished and indigenous peoples. We support developing renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass and small hydro, in order to protect the natural water cycle. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil and all their byproducts are a major source of water pollution.
We should consider the present importation of water as a carrying capacity indicator of the whole watershed. Other indicators include: inches of rainfall (potential catchment), groundwater, and surface water.
Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with water managing entities in the protection, provision, and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water.
3. Education: Bioregional Certification Course
Will you help us create a Bioregional Certification course?
We are imagining an 80 hour (2 week) course. The first week would be an intro to bioregionalism (Intro to Bioregionalism: concepts; context; analysis; skills & tools).
The second week would be the practicum. Students could either study where the course is being held for this week OR they could go home to their own bioregion, fulfill certain requirements (such as attend a bioregional gathering) and then report back to the instructors. Other ideas? Please add them to ours!
Intro to Bioregionalism: Concepts & Context
Economics: cooperative trade/mutual aid, sustainable use of local resources, value-adding, trade policy (extra-regional), import substitution
Council of all Beings
Art & Culture
Intro to ‘Sustainability’ Movement (permaculture, village design, etc.)
History of the Bioregion
Also, make curriculum holistic, involving body-mind-spirit. Could they receive a certificate at end of course that would help them get jobs as community organizers?
Defining a Bioregion
Identifying Regional Pollution Sources (water, air, etc.)
Resources: people, organizations, bibiliographies, websites, other regional feedback, natural resources & potentialities, characteristics of the bioregion as determinants for natural design and appropriate activities
Identifying Regional Business Sector
Identfying Cultural Diversity
Bioregional Carrying Capacity
Determining Key Political/Economic Issues
Skills & Tools
Mapping as Tools
How to Organize a Bioregion: event/workshops/network
Marketing within Bioregion
Designing/Envisioning Regional Systems: agriculture, economy, energy, land use
How to Become Economically Sustainable as a Bioregionalist
Hands on Approach
How to Teach
Ethics & Empowerment
Communication: expression, presentation, listening
Creating a Directory of Bioregional Resources
Ritual Connecting to Place and All Our Relations
Teaching to Children (learning styles)
Developing Gathering of Youth
Primitive Tools & Skills
Media & Production Company/Center Group
4. Urban Resources Group
Houston (Bob Randall – Urban Harvest)
New York City (Stephen Cardella, Jane Schroeder)
Toronto (Andre Stefaniak)
Los Angeles (Lois Arkin – LA Eco-Village)
Eattle (Keith & Joyce LeCompte – Mastenbrook)
Pittsburgh (Carole Walsh – Urban Farming Initiative)
Gainesville (Gloria Chynoweth)
Focus: Urban Food Growing
1) Community gardens – growing food for selves
2) Urban farming – food to sell
3) Neighborhood education
6) Farmers to Chefs
7) Food banks
8) Medical facilities
9) Urban Eco-Villages
- International Association for Public Participation (www.iap2.org)
- Trust for Public Land
- American Community Garden Association
- Interfaith Hunger Association
- Urban Harvest (www.urbanharvest.og)
- Green Markets
New York City:
- East N.Y. Farmers Association
- Open Road
- Red Hook Farm
- Just Foods
- Project Green Bridge
Union Square Market
- PASA (Pittsburgh Assoc. of Sustainable Agriculture)
- NESAA (NorthEast Sustainable Agriculture Assn.)
- Hunger Action Coalition
- Just Harvest
- Food Bank
- Cornell University Extension (Urban Gardening with Youth)
- Food Co-ops
- Farmers to Chefs (Yale Univ. Food Service)
- Dzialk (Polish Community Gardens)
- Shelbourne Farm
- Penn State University (& Extension)
- Cuba Video (Rudolfo Pierre, Dominican Republic)
- www.Edibleschoolyard.com (Berkeley, CA)
Bioregional Economics, Local Bioregional Organizing, Bioregional Organizing, and Ecospirituality breakout groups also reported.
5. Bioregional Economics
Peak oil is real, and might stimulate a populist resurgence, but corporations will try to extend their power. We must stimulate the reorganization of local economies and keep wealth in the bioregion. Restraining and replacing corporations as the locus of political power is key. Fair trade markets must replace globalized world markets. The first priority is to protect our “ecological capital,” the value of the ecological services of nature, and recognize that infinite growth is impossible. Investing in healthy communities builds social capital. We need land trusts and co-operatives, local currencies, local manufacturing for local consumption.
David Wheeler of the Katuah Bioregion proposed this list of questions to begin dialogue in local communities.
1) How are our basic needs provided?
- What percent of our food is imported, and where does it come from?
- Who provides our energy, and where are the sources?
- What percent of the materials for our housing is imported, and where do they come from?
- Who provides our water, and where does it come from?
- Who provides our medicine, and where does it come from?
2) Import substitution
- How many items that we presently import could be made in this region?
- How much would we save by keeping that money in our community?
3) Regional resources
- What unique resources does this region offer that could be traded to our advantage?
- Can we add value to these resources (e.g., make cabinets from wood, jelly from berries) so we could sell finished products rather than raw materials?
6. Local Bioregional Organizing
We need a bioregional inventory, a directory of skills and needs. We need to train leaders, perhaps following the Highlander Center model (use the Bioregional course, add leadership training).
The Earth Charter advocates respecting the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and nonviolence. We might ask City Councils to endorse the Earth Charter as a wedge to halt harmful practices, garner support for green building, etc.
7. Bioregional Organizing
We have the total responsibility to shift the world cultural dynamic!
1) History, “stone tablets”
2) Take charge of food & water supplies. Hold mock bioregional decision-making councils to give people advance practice.
3) Virtual office for the bioregional network (businesses sharing this vision) – “Shadow continent,” consumer hotline
4) Increase frequency of local and larger bioregional events, including traveling roadshows to involve more people.
A “toolbox” would include questions to provoke dialogue, to help empower people. Ask, “What kind of world am I trying to create? How am I interconnected with the cosmos?” (Alex has a list of these questions.)
The Hopi Elders’ prophecy is also a wonderful tool:
Hopi Elders' Prophecy
Oraibi, Arizona, June 8, 2000
You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you
must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are
things to be considered. . . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.
To my fellow swimmers:
here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift,
that there are those who will be afraid,
who will try to hold on to the shore,
they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
and keep our heads above water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally,
least of all ourselves, for the moment we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
For we are the ones we have been waiting for.
Quotes from around the circle about the Congress:
A sense of community with which to melt the ice of individualism.
A cross between a spiritual retreat and a political seminar.
Gave clarity in my activism and in my spiritual connection with nature/earth.
The Truth Mandala was the deepest counseling work I’ve ever experienced, it got me in touch with a deep well of emotion, helped me reach the bottom of it.
Humility at seeing the young people of Mexico City doing the great work.
How do we reach those not yet in this movement? Through entertainment and education mingled together!
Saturday night’s living Council of All Beings unfolded on the village green, as elephants, spiders, birds, many butterflies, dragonfly, coyote the trickster, a family of mewing cats, several salmon and the river they swam up, danced together. The sound of the frog (made by a wooden instrument) was startlingly real. Many of the children had made fairy costumes: bamboo fairy, flower fairy. A male impersonation of Mother Earth was splendid.
Tierra mi cuerpo
Agua mi sangre
Aire mi aliento
Fuego mi espiritu
We honored the bridge between the North and the South which we are renewing. The most important thing is relationships. Our social relationships are far more valuable than material wealth. To rise in power and esteem, give more than something is worth. True wealth means having many connections. If we always expect reciprocity, giving leads to a feeling of indebtedness; we reflexively give back to avoid obligation.
Some beautiful tributes were made to bioregionalists who are no longer with us. Barbara Harmony spoke of Sue Nelson, who had worked for 45 years saving 1000 acres in the Santa Monica mountains of Southern California. She was also an eco-feminist writer. Her youngest child, Peter, has attended bioregional gatherings. A tireless worker, “she never stopped,” said Barbara. Chris Wells memorialized Fiz Harwood (Dr. Frances Harwood) Her foundation actually helped fund some of this congress. Glen Makepeace spoke about Frasier Lang from British Columbia, who embodied the spirit of Bear—sometimes in your face with a ferocious growl, sometimes playing a great saxophone, but mostly, as a government hydrologist, devoting himself to saving the salmon and the rivers. He died suddenly of a heart defect. “He left a hole in the bioregional movement that cannot be filled,” Glen said. Tad Montgomery remembered Jacinta McCoy, coordinator of the Maine Bioregional Congress. She was an African-American woman who developed and headed up the Turtle Island office at Evergreen State College. “One day I was bicycling and had only a T-shirt and shorts, and it got very cold. Jacinta gave me a silk sweater and I treasured it for 15 years,” said Tad.
There was a blessing of the children performed by the oldest man (Moondancer) and the oldest woman (Carly) present. Moondancer, with his amazing hat, reassured the children: “Adults sometimes act like they’re better. Remember you’re as good as any of us.” Said Carly: “Imagine a golden string from your navel that goes down to the Earth. If you are happy, or sad, think of that golden string connecting you into Mother Earth. Each petal, each seed, all are there to connect you with Mother Earth, who gives joy and love and happiness!”
For the Sunday morning closing circle, we all processed up to Hidden Valley, where we had begun nine days before. Angelica smudged us and we were given toasted corn with sugar and cinnamon, used ceremonially in Mexico as a form of communion. Angelica: “Every fire is in each of your hearts. Make a heritage to each future generation. I give you my spark, an eternal connection. The ancestors live in harmony.”
We had trouble limiting ourselves to one sentence in expressing what the Congress had meant to us:
We’re strengthening the ties between North & South.
This is a marriage of different traditions.
Thank you for all who found their way home.
We’ve inspired and inspirited each other.
It’s been a festival of celebration!
This is why I came to live at Earthaven: to transform ourselves and the planet.
Lynn Armstrong’s vision of the A&A house filled to capacity with wonderful visitors has come to pass!
We grew both roots and wings.
Homage to the plants and animals, gratitude for kinship.
We are messengers, healers, builders.
Experienced both spiritual and intellectual connection and co-operation.
Thanks for those who speak for the voiceless.
Cross-fertilization – the mind of the Earth.
We’re on the cusp of big changes; keep the fire burning.
Let’s see this circle repeated in dozens of places on the continent!
Let’s hold the vision for the hurting rust-belt cities—Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo—let’s pour our loving energy into these concrete jungles.
The world changes through joy.
Thanks for caring for the children; indeed it takes a whole village.
We celebrate unity.
Learning and receiving inspiration from those from the South.
You are my community; Bioregionalism is my religion.
A prayer for the evolution of all our consciousnesses, because we are already one with each other and the plants and animals around us; we only forget our connection. What connects all spirit is love; the greatest necessity is to love and be loved. I pray to Great Spirit not to let us sink into depression when seeing what’s happening on Earth. Let us live the connection, remember every day the seventh generation ahead of us. I’ll always remember the song, “What can one little person do?” We are all shining lights, don’t hide your light!
We are one continent from Canada to Patagonia.
Send blessings to the South and to the Caravan—see you in Brazil!
Thank you for all the rhythms, spiritual and mental.
I came for hope, and found it. Curing our bodies, the Earth, the Great Turning—we can look back on this, and know that we can do it!
Keep the light inside you that connects you to your heart and to all your relations. Thank you to the invisible ones.
Let go of all that stands in the way of experiencing our complete identification with the cosmos.
Thanks to the translators!
Be matriots, terra-ists, friends of the plant and animal kin-dom, you Gaians!
We traveled far to be here—in consciousness as well as in distance.
Be strong in our connection with Mother Earth. I used to think the U.S. was only armaments and capitalism, now I see that I am you, you are me, our heart is in all corners of the world.
Thanks for the connection with Mother Earth and all the elements.
We’re each the ripple on still water, spreading out forever.
I was hungry for what food can’t give; now I am nourished.
Who are we and who can we be?
We’ve been in the company of world leaders and world change agents!
We released the directions and headed back for our final meal together before departing.
Healing and Creative Arts Thread
by Zev Friedman
Among other innovations, the 2005 CBC was enhanced by a Healing and Creative Arts Thread. This “thread” consisted of a schedule of workshops that was separate from but concurrent to the main roster of plenary and breakout sessions. The alternate schedule, which became playfully known as our parallel universe, was intended to feed our collective learning process with practical skills and healing modalities that complemented some of the more cerebral discussion central to the Congress. It included a wide variety of topics, from primitive pottery and yoga, brewing and sauerkraut artistry to old-time banjo and plant walks, friction fire-making to traditional Mexican energetic healing. In essence, this thread provided a format for continuing to ground our bioregional vision in a set of practical and beautiful skills for living and healing on planet Earth.
For the most part, these activities simply teased out into the open the talents and skills that had been with us all along, as all classes were facilitated by CBC participants. At past CBC’s, there were spontaneous classes and sessions on many of the same topics. At this Congress, there was an organized central schedule on a large chalkboard at Hut Hamlet Kitchen, so everybody could check it after breakfast to see when that plant walk with Frank Cook was, or how many plenary sessions they might have to miss to form and fire a primitive cooking pot with Susan Richards. Or, an individual like Angelica Flores might become empowered by the existing list of topics and approach me about leading a session of her own concerning how parents can read a young child’s behavior and energetic language in order to heal or respond more effectively. In this way, a fluid but structured Healing and Creative Arts Thread became a new and unique part of many participants’ experience.
Not surprisingly, there was some controversy concerning the form that this thread took. Most people attended at least a couple of H & C workshops during the same time slots as the plenary or breakout sessions that many veterans consider to be the heart of the work at a Bioregional Congress. This overbooking was an accident in the first place, resulting from a somewhat mysterious miscommunication that probably had to do with a subconscious lack of willingness on my part to not schedule H&C stuff during plenary sessions. But as it turned out, I noticed that many of the younger attendees gravitated towards hands-on workshops instead of meetings in the Council Hall, and quite a few young people told me they got more out of those workshops than out of the plenaries; several elders told me that they were tempted to do the same thing, but felt a duty to attend meetings. I see our behavior and this apparent conflict as bringing up at least a couple of larger questions:
1) Why are meetings not attractive to young people, is it a problem that they aren’t, and if so is there some way that meeting formats and/or content can be changed to engage young people more?
2) Are the kinds of activities that were showcased in the Healing and Creative Arts Thread appropriate as a main focus at a CBC, or are they skills that can be learned during less energy intensive parts of our lives? In other words, when we have flown in from all over the continent should we focus on group decision making and the primary bioregional education topics or should we also be inter-weaving it with the crafty stuff that is probably available to many of us wherever we are from?
These questions are probably only a few of many that are worth conversing about over the time until we all come together again; nevertheless, I believe that most participants from the 2005 CBC will agree in retrospect that this additional dimension was very valuable as a first try.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s “Weather reports”
Rain. So much humidity that my sleeping bag is always damp. Thick green, layers upon layers. Small, light mosquitos. Rushing cold water. Sudden bouts of sun.
But today the outer eastern bands of Hurricane Dennis seem to be all about -- starting last night with popcorn rain, then rushing rain, fierce rain, light rain, dappled rain, stopped rain, and more rain.
We stood in circle this morning under the orange-yellow tent beside the council hall. We began with the Cherokee morning song, "hey a-wahoo, hay a-wahoo, hay a wa, hay a wa, hay a wa, hay a wa, wa-hoo." We sang to the four directions. Then we have the intention of the day, first introduced by me (I'm co-focalizing the ritual committee with Angelica Flores, the medicine woman from Mexico) as opening ourselves to learning from each other and the other species. We introduced silence into which anyone could step into the circle and offer a song, poem, gesture, dance. There was a plethora of rounds given -- we sang "We are hollow bamboo," "The river, she is flowing," and several others. Angelica came and spoke of how intentions are not always enough, and asked her to give what we could to each other, and also release, breathe out, what limits us. She smoked us in the circle, and then we sang the Cherokee morning song to the four directions.
Now workshops are happening -- this new format of having a two-day conference-like time together before we congress together in plenaries is a brilliant approach. It helps new people -- and most of the people here are new to bioregional congresses -- integrate, and everyone get to know each other, the place, and the pleasure of sharing and receiving information and connection.
Last night, our first cultural sharing focused on Katuah with storyteller/performer extraordinaire Doug Elliott entertaining us with stories of groundhogs and many other critters among us. People sang beautiful songs -- like Sweet Honey in the Rock's "Your Children are not your children" and "Down by the riverside." A young girl who lives at Earthaven sang a powerful song about tolerance and peace. Dancing on the edges, singing all around, stories told to everyone together and off in corners here and there.
The clans are meeting each day at lunch, and other meetings pop up at meals or in between. The bioregional groups meet each day from 4:30-5:30, a time to connect and network with people from your bioregions. I'm in the Great Prairie Biome group with about 20 people from Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and other prairie states, and we're finding incredible diversity and wisdom already among us.
Right now the rain has paused, the green out this window shines and shimmers a bit in the light wind. Lunch is on the breeze, and then the rest of the day encompassed in trails through the woods, standing in circle, eating and laughing, getting bitten by various insects, peeing in the woods, dancing over a bridge, avoiding the poison ivy, and hanging out in the cafe here, admiring the myriad and creative dwellings all around that show us how sustainability and community work here.
Love and beauty to all,
We have learned many things at this congress so far, including what happens when you're at a bioregional congress when the outer bands of Hurricane Dennis sweep through. In an obvious word: rain. It rained so hard for about 24 hours that often, when sitting close up with someone, even in the council hall (a building), you would have to yell for that person to hear you. The rain, beginning Sunday night, came in waves, alternating between light and thunderous, but mostly thunderous. It was the beat of the sky, constantly the backbeat of our night and day and night again. When I facilitated an ecopoetics workshop -- outside under a big tent, we wrote and spoke to the rhythm of the rain. And David Abram, if you're reading this, at one point, I said your name, preparing to read something you wrote about the reciprocity between our bodies and the earth, and the skies suddenly opened up. Scott, helping facilitate beside me, looked up at the sky and said, "okay, David, enough!"
Walking paths in hard rain, and in the dark in the hard rain (without a flashlight as I did a few times), was also an earth-connecting experience, learning to trust my tentative step, hoping for something solid to land on (and not a Copperhead as Ken almost stepped on last night). So much rain too -- coupled with some good wind -- that most people, from what I gather, had watery experiences one way or another in their tents. My son's tent filled with water, and so he slept in our big tent, everything in it damp to soaking. We lay upon wet with wet over us.
The rain isn't the only thing landing on -- there are also the insects, out in full force, driven from the trees or dirt in multitudes by the storm (then again, I could just be imaging this while counting the no-see-um -- but sure feel-um -- bites on my legs).
There are also the joys of this place -- the rain so tremendous that it's more of a Gonzo-Fellini experience than a sad one. The cold water in the streams rushes over toes and ankles as we walk across. The green climbs in story after story, tunnels of lights shimmering upward, the leaves shined to high gloss because of the rain. We saw a small red lizard under a dead branch, and a groundhog standing on the edge of the road.
There were also the things we did in the rain: workshops on bioregionalism, permaculture, mapping, energy, ecotheater, and more. Hanging out in the White Owl cafe (new favorite place) to drink beer or soda late at night, laughing in small groups and perusing the clothes and jewelry for sale from south of the border. Sitting under the tented eating area, meeting and checking in (clans or improntu clans). And during lunch, a man and woman -- both of white hair and spontaneous energy -- took off their clothes during a downpour so intense everyone stopped eating and watched in awe (inspired of course by the downpour), and they pranced through the flowers.
During dinner, I facilitated a wonderful and awe-inspiring meeting between people from six countries and in two languages, to plan a ritual that came to several people: building, out of careful and well-throught-out visualization, a bridge between what we believe and care about on this earth, and the leaders of the World Trade Organization, currently meeting. The ritual will be held tonight at 7, and the general plan is to create a space in which those who feel so called can step into the center and do this intense visualization while others who feel so draw circle around the visualizers and send them light, love, energy.
The cultural sharing featured more singing, stories, and lots of spontaneous dancing. Nelson Denman performed, as did Stan Slaughter, Moonshine (or Moon?), and others in the council hall.
This morning -- in a shock of sunlight -- we gathered in morning circle for the Cherokee morning song, the intention for the day (gratitude) and the calling out of what we're grateful for while Angelica smudged us all, more singing, an explosion of announcements, and then an incredible and stirring presentation by the founders of the bioregional movement. Organized and planned by Ken Lassman and Gene Marshall, it featured an astonishingly all-encompassing and moving talk by Gene on bioregionalism -- and the ideas/philosophies/passions behind it he discussed in terms of reinhabitation, ligitimate governance, human scale, consensus-based process, ecofeminism, and ceremonial companionship. Ken, Laura Kuri, Bea Briggs, Glen Makepeace, and a wonderful man from the Dominican Republic stood up and said why we were bioregionalists. Glen reminded us that we make a ceremonial village together, and one of its main functions is healing.
Lunch, and now the plenary is happening -- our first one, to be followed by "open space," time open for workshops and meetings as needed and desired by the group (and we'll have more open space in future days). In the evening, we'll do the ritual to reach the members of the WTO, and then cultural sharing, and surely more dancing, singing, and more of it all in and out of the rain.
love to all,
Hurricane Dennis liked the congress so much that once he swung through, he rested a bit elsewhere, and then come on back in -- wild, thick and unrelenting rain for a while this afternoon, and added to that, we had lightning strikes very close. There's now a beautiful and impressive hole in the ground right next to the White Owl Cafe (where some of us like to hang out -- it is DRY), where the lightning struck down.
The congress continues to go well though, although wet and well. Some of us have moved inside -- our family of five is now installed in the Hobbit House, Rod Rylander's amazing Hobbit-like house (round door and all, and gardens growing on the thatched roof). Others have moved in elsewhere. There's a 70-80 percent chance of rain for the next few days, so what can we do? We walk and talk in the rain, we marvel at the surprises of sun, and everyone is sometimes completely soaked.
The ritual last night to try and reach the WPO was very powerful for all of us (I believe I can say this based on our faces) in attendance. It felt like something connected, and it connected deeply. Some of us went to the center and sat in a circle, seeing the faces of those we were trying to communicate with about the need not to pass rules that would increase irradiation, destroy local economies and communities, and devastate health care and healthy food production. Some of us sat in a circle around the ones in the center, sending energy to the center ones and holding the space. Thanks to Angelica and Alrick (sp?) who created this and held the space.
Speaking of names, the storyteller I named yesterday is Moondance, not Moonshine. Okay, so it's a strange slip but an earnest and easy one to make on all these wet surfaces.
We also had plenaries today and yesterday, and in today's, the idea of forming/reforming a coordinating council was introduced succiently by Ken Lassman (and developed by Ken and Gene). We also went through the always-difficult and sometimes-frustrating process of figuring out what kinds of breakout groups we wanted to work in, and from there, we formed groups looking at the likes of bioregional organizing, arts and spirituality, education, and much more.
I write this in the light of the oncoming women's and men's circles, soon to happen. And tomorrow we spend the morning with John Seed doing a Council of All Beings, and in the afternoon, it's local work projects at Earthaven.
love to all,
The rain and rushes of it have somewhat subsided with just occasional storms, which seem like not even worth mentioning considering what we've seen. Maybe it's the weather -- or the place -- or the time, but being here has felt even more profoundly like being in a ceremonial village than before for me. Perhaps the rain makes the core of our lives just seem much more ancient.
There has also been ceremony extraordinaire and in large quantities since last I wrote. On Wednesday evening, we had the men's and women's circles. In the women's circle, we stole Alberto Ruz's great idea from what he did with the men's circle in Kansas in '02, and we arranged ourselves in a spiral, starting with the oldest -- Joyce Marshall, 71 -- to the youngest -- Anakestia (sp?), 4 weeks. Each woman stood and said whatever she wanted, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life to hear what was said. Maybe it was the arrangement of age, but what came through was a profound outcoming of what it feels like, what it means to be a woman in her 60s or 30s or teens. While it would be a breaking of confidence to go into specifics, I can say that certain themes emerged more at certain ages: times when sex and love were massive parts of our lives, times when being alone or doing passionate work or connecting with children and grandchildren filled our days. I marveled at each woman, and like many there, I felt deeply honored to hear what my elders and youngers said. It is true what Cathy wrote: we of middle or elder age are in very good hands when it comes to the younger women. I was completely dazzled by all, but so overwhelmed with gratitude for the women in their 20s and younger especially -- for their vision, beauty, eloquence, clarity and wisdom. For their strength and courage.
After sleep --- this time with my family in the Hobbit House ("I feel like Gandaf," Ken said, bending to get into the round door) -- I woke Thursday morning to make my way down to the beginning Council of All Beings with John Seed, which went from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Again, it was extraordinary and also a way to truly touch base with the ordinary: the ordinary and massive pain and despair, beginnings of anger or life-long rage, numbness and the guilt and shame that sometimes come with it, quiet or loud confusion about what to do -- all in response to letting ourselves feel what we really feel, who we really are, in relation to the devastation of the living earth. People expressed all of the above with weeping, crying, pounding the floor, trembling, yelling, holding still, swaying, shaking, speaking or holding silence. We also evolved into listening to John tell the story of the universe, and then assembling into councils, where we spoke for another species. I sat down in my group a bit late, and leaned over to Glen after hearing a few people speak as rabbits or owls. "Can I be a plant?" I asked. "You can be the sun," he answered, "Anything!" Eventually, we merged into lunch, and then working around Earthaven (although I went to do laundry since our clothing was starting to grow our food). Anyway, for more information on the Council of All Beings -- including many exercises local groups can engage in -- please google John Seed's name and follow, follow, follow.
The evening exploded into the magic and power of Latin American night: stories, songs, slides, power point presentations and more on the astonishing variety, depth and extent (truly mind-boggling in how many thousands of people are touched by bioregional ideas and approaches) of bioregionalism in Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico, and many other places. We were fed Mexican candies and passed bottles of tequila, and eventually, we did what we had to do: salsa and other drum-invoked dance. And there was also a beautiful presentation of eco-theater scenes interspersed with two-harmony singing by Gene and Joyce Marshall from Texas (which, since it's its own country, might as well be part of Latin America).
Today we began with a morning circle, small clan-like meetings, the usual teaming announcements, and then plenary. And we did some big things: we approved the new plan for the coordinating council presented by Ken and Gene a few days ago. And we approved a slate of people who will basically work hard on email, phone conferencing and in person to hold the congress together between congresses. Who we are? Ahh....the list, and as some of you might see, most of the people on this list were core organizers for congresses, and others have ample experience in much-needed areas, so the collective wisdom and experience is deep (please note that couples serve as one slot -- two for the price of one sort of):
1. Kimchi Rylander
2. Ken Lassman and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
3. Mary Meyer and Richard Cartwright
4. Bob Randall
5. Liora Adler
6. Laura Kuri and Fabio Manzini
7. Barbara Harmony.
The congress approved the formation of the coordinating council and this slate of its members unanimously by consensus (no stand-asides) after some questions and discussion.
Right now, I am listening to (on the other side of my head in this council hall) the reporting of small groups that came together to brainstorm on what ideas they want the coordinating council to consider as its main work. Great ideas and possibilities abound!
As for those you not here and wondering where and when here will be next, no group or individuals have decisively emerged yet with an interest and way to host/organize the next congress in a few years or more, but we still have time in plenary to come, and if nothing emerges here (or emerges fully-cooked enough yet to announce), the coordinating council will almost definitely have as one of its main task finding the way and place and people to do the next congress. And whenever and wherever it will be, we want you all there!!!
Now it's time to eat again, the wind blows lightly throught this window, the sun is almost out, and my clothes are only slightly wet. Life is good, and we miss many of you not here, but we carry you in our hearts (Stephanie Mills, Alice Kidd, David Haenke, David Abram, all of KAW Council, Laura Ramberg, Dixie Lubin, Marnie Mueller, you great Planet Drum folks, Suzanne Richman, and so many others -- deep apologies if I didn't name you right here).
hugs to all,
We're at the final full day, and behind me the plenary is hearing reports from committees that met. Right now, the bioregional organizing committee is talking about how to increase and educate on local organizing. The education committee has put much time and effort into developing an 80-hour bioregional course. Other reports abound and will surely make their way to you.
Yesterday, it hardly rained, and that was somewhat disconcerting at this point. We were sitting in the White Owl cafe last night, eating hot apple pie and drinking beer with Peter Bane, talking about the weather. Daniel (our 16-year-old son) spoke about the lightning strike near the cafe the other day, the one that left the big hole in the ground. Later he told me it was like every strike of lightning and beautiful sunset, and a whole rock concert all happening in a second. His ears rung and body shook (he was about 15 feet away). "How much rain do you think we had, about 3 or 4 inches?" I asked Peter. "More like 10 or 11," he said. And he told us stories of last September's hurricanes sweeping over Earthaven. Our kids' favorite story was of the man in his car at Earthaven, quietly reading CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD when he heard something at his window. He turned to look and saw rushing water. He managed to get out of the car fast enough to run to higher ground before his car took off down the creek. No word on whether CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD went with him or the car, but the non-book version surely made its point.
We've also been comparing insects here with our bioregional insects. At lunch yesterday, Joyce, from Texas, and I listened as something announced there would be a workshop for dealing with chigger bites. It seems some of the people here refer to no-see-ums as chiggers. "I know chiggers, and these are not chiggers," Joyce said. Later, our son told us that we could import these chiggers back home where our chiggers, far more devious and deeply-probing of the nether-regions of the body, could whoop 'em. In any case, some of us are peppered with chigger-no-see-um evidence.
Last night, we had a committee meeting to plan tonight's closing ceremony (although there will be a closing circle Sunday too). We plan to start with an All Species parade to the council hall followed by the children singing, and then a memorial service for people very dear to this movement who have passed on: Fiz Harwood, Sue Nelson, Leah Garlotte, and a few others. From there, the eldest among us will give the children a blessing, and the children will lead us in a few more songs followed by big dance.
There is overall a lot of energy, particularly among new people, and many young people to the movement. A lot already is coming out of the congress, particularly along the veins of education and organizing. And as usual, there's enormous bouts of inspiration and regeneration happening among us, the kind of thing almost invisible and yet it keeps the home fires burning long after we pack up our damp clothes and red-mud-stained tents, taking some of the local chiggers and dirt and rain and opening, widening green of this place home with us. Years ago, between the Mexico and Kansas congresses, Ken said to me that the bioregional movement in the U.S. especially was in a coma, and what were we going to do about it? After the Kansas congress, we realized the movement was awake and sitting up on its bed, but not yet in motion. Now the movement is walking across the room, putting its hand on the door and getting ready to step out. My dream is that this movement strengthens itself into a long-distance runner, spanning the continent with energy and grace, helping people see another way to live, another way to be -- in conscious relationship and balance with our home places.
From the mountains and the quiet green of this moment,
Memorial for Jacinta McCoy
Jacinta McCoy gave me an old sweater back in 1988. I had flown into Seattle with my bicycle and was passing through Olympia en route to NABC III in Squamish. It was mid summer, but cold and Jacinta gave me this dark green, raw silk sweater to keep me warm. It was rather plain looking, but over the next 200 miles I fell completely in love with its dark softness, and wore it for years on many a bicycling excursion.
For those who did not know her, Jacinta was an administrator at Evergreen State College and ran the Turtle Island Office for the two years between NABC II and NABC III. I remember listening to her describe the hundred odd tasks and responsibilities that went along with that role, and wondered how she was able to pull it off with a steering committee spread out across North America. I wonder still.
This afternoon I resurrected Jacinta's green sweater from the bottom of a bin full of old clothes. It's all tattered, and has the sweet smell of the Port Orford cedar I used to keep the moths away. I send a blessing out to Jacinta for the unknown hours she spent keeping the bioregional congress together those two years, and to all of the other silent organizers behind the scenes who keep us on the slow, sure path to a future where life is celebrated.
Por la Tierra,
A PAMPAS GRASS LOVE POEM
(For the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion)
By Garth Harwood
Written at the 3rd Continental Bioregional Congress in Squamish, British Colombia, Cascadia bioregion August 22, 1988
We had better learn to love the pampas grass(1).
The best of us try
to be like it.
Invasive by habit and history,
and finding ourselves on ravaged soil,
we start to rebuild it
the work days of our lives
doing what coarse pampas-spears do, too:
adding instead of subtracting
in the great break down.
Neither life will count for much when done,
except that others follow similarly
and the soil, the richness of life,
returns at a pace unbearable to thought.
The new land will have no place for us
nor for pampas.
Pampas grass creates topsoil but cannot sprout in it
because it can't compete with the new plants that brings;
so, we, land- and culture-building,
create a new people who would not understand
our killing origins
and our long tolerance of greed.
We too will die out to be replaced by something native.
In this day,
to love the redwood forest
is to love past the trees to the soil
and its builders:
and we had better learn to love
the pampas grass.
Bioregionalism and the Political Act of Sustainable Community Living: A Report from the Ninth Continental Bioregional Congress at Earthaven Ecovillage, Katuah Bioregion.
by Joshua P. Lockyer
I came to the ninth Continental Bioregional Congress, not as a bioregionalist per se, but as a cultural anthropologist studying the intentional community movement. My studies had brought me to Earthaven Ecovillage for a 6 month stay during which I wanted to learn about ecovillage living and about the lives of Earthaven members in particular. As serendipity would have it, Earthaven hosted the Ninth Continental Bioregional Congress during my stay. As a result, my understanding of the communities movement is forever changed. I see that it is but one part of a larger movement of movements focused on social justice and greater sustainability for the planet and her people. This movement of movements includes many: bioregionalism, permaculture, eco-spirituality, human rights, indigenous movements, environmentalism, slow food … the list goes on. And participants in many of these movements came together for nine days at Earthaven to celebrate achievements, share perspectives and knowledge, plan for the future, and empower each other to proceed. This convergence of symbiotic social movements is a hopeful beacon on the troubled seas of the 21st century.
During the CBC, I directed my attention and energies to intentional communities and ecovillages-related events, so I spent a lot of time around people from this movement: Laird Schaub, Tony Sirna, Albert Bates, Lois Arkin, and the Ecovillage Network of the Americas group among others. Incredible events and interactions were abundant - Peter Bane’s passionate talk about permaculture, meeting bioregional activist and academic Mike Carr, learning about Gaia University from Liora Adler and Jennifer English, and meeting an array of inspiring people doing significant work in all directions east, west, north, and particularly south. However, what follows is a report grounded in my own interest in the communities movement and in the ways that the politics, economics, and socio-cultural dynamics of community living can lead to a more sustainable future.
An appropriate entrée for anyone interested in the communities movement was Laird Schaub’s discussion of the idea of intentional community living as a political act. I knew I was in the right place from the start. Laird’s conceptualization of intentional community living as social change work – as the translation of cultural criticism into daily life and living – coincided well with the way I have conceived my dissertation research. While acknowledging that living in community itself is a political act, Laird encouraged community members to empower themselves and others by reaching out to those outside the movement by demonstrating alternatives and building bridges. This included a cautionary note: community living is about taking responsibility for your choices and their impacts on others, including how others might perceive your views about and actions towards change. In other words, we must acknowledge others’ perspectives as legitimate and find common ground rather than taking an adversarial approach to social change. In the ensuing discussion, many expressed frustration with the difficulty of this kind of action, but this was balanced by optimistic, inspired voices and a few examples of successful bridge building.
Another theme from Laird’s discussion group carried over to several other events and to the CBC as a whole: community living and the path to sustainability. Albert Bates’ beautiful visual presentation of his world tour of ecovillages reinforced the ideas that there are many factors in the sustainability equation: ecological, economic, social, political, spiritual … Albert presented ecovillages as an necessary component of sustainable development in the context of Peak Oil and the changes that will accompany it. His idea of ‘compost modernism’ drew laughs and reminded us that many modern ideas and technologies will continue to fertilize the ecovillage movement as it strives for sustainability, and even as it seeks to dispose of those parts of the modernist vision that have grown rotten. While emphasizing the challenges that the ecovillage movement faces, Albert ended by framing ecovillages as a new paradigm whose driving impulses – social egalitarianism, economic and land use efficiency, and eco-idealism/eco-spirituality – all speak to the significant role that ecovillages will play in moving towards a more sustainable culture.
Arjuna da Silva’s presentation on Earthaven Ecovillage provided a concrete representation of topics discussed previously by both Laird and Albert. Arjuna, one of a dozen co-founders of Earthaven, introduced CBC participants to her home village as it has evolved over the last 11 years. What is now a community of about 60 members on 320 acres of the Katuah bioregion started as fragments of a vision in the minds of a geographically dispersed group. What they all shared was a desire to create change. The main drive for starting Earthaven was the imperative of changing human culture – i.e. learning how to deal with who we are and how to change to who we want to be. An evolving cultural experiment in sustainable community living, Earthaven values consensus governance, personal development, spiritual growth, permaculture, natural building, appropriate technology and serving as a learning and teaching environment. Starting over 10 years ago, Earthaven has developed common physical infrastructure, including roads, buildings, water systems, agriculture, and long range land use planning, all with a view to greater ecological sustainability. It has developed a system of community governance that encourages face to face interaction and problem solving and equal opportunity for input and creative control. And Earthaven is incubating a culture that values sustainability, spirituality, social justice, equality, and caring for each other, the land and its inhabitants, and for the future. A village in constant evolution, Earthaven embodies sustainable community living as a political act, continually providing tours and workshops so that others might get a glimpse of a more sustainable world.
Perhaps the most inspiring part of CBC9 was the fact that it took place within an ecovillage. Earthaven is a place where some of the principles that the bioregional movement advocates are experimented with and lived on a daily basis. Earthaven is certainly not able to live up to its ideals 100 percent of the time, but an honest effort is being made. As the bioregional movement had not before congregated at an intentional community or ecovillage, the experience was empowering. Doing so allowed the bioregionalists to feel a little closer to their vision. Being part of an ecovillage community for nine days, the participants in CBC9 got a sense of the exciting potentials and potential pitfalls of living according to bioregional types of ideals. If each CBC participant begins to engage in the political act of sustainable community living, the bioregional movement will be one large step closer to accomplishing some of its goals. And the whole world will benefit from the work of creating cultural change for greater sustainability.
Joshua Lockyer is a Doctoral Candidate in Ecological and Environmental Anthropology at the University of Georgia. He studies the intentional communities movement and believes that the work of creating cultural change for greater sustainability is invaluably important. He can be contacted at Shazzbahnahnoo@yahoo.co
The Fundamental Role of the Bioregional Movement
A view of one bioregionalist: Gene Marshall
The fundamental role of the Bioregional Movement is to catalyze in every ecologically awake group, in every group concerned with human justice, and in the general population as a whole a deeper sense of what it means for humanity to construct a mutually enhancing relation with planet Earth. This includes a new sense of home, a sense that our true home is not a zip code district, state, or nation but a living region of the natural planet with all its flora, fauna, fungi, and microbes as well as humans.
1. The commitment of the bioregional movement to a mutually enhancing relation with planet Earth includes a commitment to fresh forms of human governance, governance that obeys the limits and possibilities of the natural planet. Only such governance is legitimate. Its laws are valid because they are developed in concert with the laws resident in the rocks, soils, trees, plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of the natural planet.
The typical anthropocentric civilizations of our time obey the laws of kings and elected rulers and assemblies while minimizing or ignoring obedience to the ecological necessities that form the primary law that makes human governance legitimate.
2. The commitment of the bioregional movement to a mutually enhancing relation with planet Earth includes the decentralization of political and economic power to smaller units of population and land. Such decentralization need not mean that no decisions are made at national, continental, and planetary levels of decision making, but all decisions that can be made locally need to be made locally, and only then regionally, continentally, and planetarily.
The typical anthropocentric civilizations of our time are centralized and centralizing structures that insist on rulership from the top down. Great power is thereby made possible for the few while the many are excluded from decision-making and their due share of the common wealth.
3. The commitment of the bioregional movement to a mutually enhancing relation with planet Earth includes fresh forms of economic relations, an eco-economics that preserves rather than destroys clean air, pure fresh water, rich soils, adequate forest cover and health, oceans well populated with fish, viable well-managed ecosystems, and much more. These revised economic systems are also designed to keep wealth at home in local communities rather than sending it hundreds or thousands of miles away to big wealth seekers. These revised economic systems also include the restraint of large business institutions not only by their investors and customers but by firm, fair governmental regulation and well-informed public opinion.
The typical anthropocentric civilizations of our time are ruled by an aristocracy of wealthy investors who use the public stock-selling corporation as their means of ruling the world, doing away with true democracy, ignoring equity issues, and thoughtlessly devastating the natural systems of the planet.
4. The commitment of the bioregional movement to a mutually enhancing relation with planet Earth includes creating a fresh common sense about all the above issues and about specific ways of living responsibly and creatively in our home Earth regions. It also includes creating a fresh common style of living which features conservation of energy and materials, ecological beauty in our buildings and transportation systems, communal associations that foster true consensus building about living lightly upon the Earth, and more. In addition to a new common sense and common style of living, the bioregional movement is pioneering a new mode of fully affirmative depth relatedness to the mystery and wonder of the natural world.
The typical anthropocentric civilizations of our time are locked in insensitive, emotionally arid, rigidly rationalistic, and exploitive attitudes toward nature. They seal humans in social cocoons, assisting them to hide from their subtle and not so subtle forms of fear and aversion to the mysterious actualities of nature and their responsibilities for the planet of which they are part.
From the South-South, greetings from Subcoyote Alberto
On June 1st. 10 years after we decided to attempt taking the Bioregional gatherings from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, with 9 members from the Caravana Arcoiris we arrived to Ushuaia, the most austral city in the continent, in Tierra del Fuego. Behind us, we left the trace of several 1st. Bioregional Vision Councils in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. In 2003, we hosted the "Call of the Condor", and many of you came there to support our efforts. Thanks for that, and also, for the "Mazorca", the bus that began the journey in Huehuecoyotl on July 18th 1996, donated by the Bioregional Congress, thanks to our sister Bea. In The Meztitla Council of the All Americas Gathering, that same year, we committed to organize another large international event in Brazil, and tomorrow, we begin our journey, from Mendoza (north of Argentina)to Alto Paraiso, in the heart of Brazil, to host a 13 days gathering for Bioregional Action groups from the whole continent-Sept 17th-29th. (www.ochamado.org).
After "The Condor`s Call", two gifted caravanistas, Jason Gutzmer and Gabo Zapata edited a powerful documentary that I would like to ask you to be presented at one of the evening cultural events in Earth Heaven, as our conribution from the South to this congress. Please ask Liora to contact them to bring a copy with her, or have one sent to you. It will mean a lot for us here in the South. Also, I want to thank you all for making it possible that our mexican family, headed by Laura and Fabio, would be present this year in Earth Heaven, and I hope that my son Odin will be there with you all, to remind you from the Old Coyote`s eyes and tales.
We know it will be difficult for many of you to meet with us in Brazil, but even a few, would be a great support to our southern bioregions, and some of you speakers and presenters of the Movement, would add a lot to the coming Council. Please try to adjust it into your plans, and add our "Beijaflor Call" to the upcoming bioregional events in your communications.
Wish us good luck, we have 5000 kms ahead us, and our old trucks, as myself, are now 10 years older that when we started the journey. And if there is any foundation there, individual, group, movement, that can help finance the coming of elders from the different nations from the South, and the Caravan itself, very much in need of funds, please contact us, through our page, or directly to me. We will be very thankful for ANY support for this purpose. We send you much blessings, love, strength, faith and I wish I could duplicate myself and be there present with you all...but our technology is not advanced enough.
Sorry. Con todo mi amor, siempre...
El Subcoyote Alberto
Seven Direction Prayer (ancient Mayan)
Contributed by Joscelyn Proctor
Form the East house of light, that Love-Wisdom opens up in aurora so that we can see things clearly.
From the North house of night, that Love-Wisdom moves among us so that we can see things from the inside.
From the West house of transformation, that Love-Wisdom transforms in right actions so that we can do what has to be done.
From the South house of the eternal sun, that the right action gives us the harvest so that we can enjoy the fruits of the planetary being.
From the Superior house of Paradise, where the people of the stars live on and the ancestors give us their blessings that will get to us now.
From the Inner house of Earth, that the pulse from the Crystal Heart of the Planet will bless us with its harmonies so that there are no more wars.
From the Central Force of the Galaxy that is everywhere at all time, that All is recognized as a source of Mutual Love.
AYUN HUNABKU EVAN MAYA HE MAHO.
Save the harmonies of the mind and of nature
Healing Systems from Edgar Cayce
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Historical Documents (thanks to Barbara Harmony for these)
Heal the Waters
Originally written in 1980 for the National Water Center (Eureka Springs, Arkansas) by David Haenke, this has been a part of the bioregional resolutions. The proclamation was signed by then Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton in 1982.
As the air is the living breath of our planet and the trees are its breathing, the Earth’s Waters are its living blood, coursing through its streams with a flow as vital to us as the blood running in our veins…
Through all our lives, the Waters have sustained, nurtured and healed our bodies and spirits; in return for the gifts of the land, the nutrients in the food, that pass through our bodies to become what we call “waste” to be returned to nourish the land. To use the Waters as a carrier and dump for “waste” nutrients is a deep wrong which impoverishes the land, and brings sickness both to Water and to us as we participate in this injustice.
Since human “waste” must become a nutrient on the land, not a pollutant of the Waters, we must realize that though we continually strive to develop new technologies to deal with our problems, the greatest innovation is conservation. As we conserve precious Water, we can also conserve and enrich our soil through the recovery of human “waste”…
All over the Earth, the rivers, lakes, and oceans have struggled to cleanse themselves of our thankless waste, but can do so no longer by themselves while we still have the measure of grace and health they have given us by their struggle, we must join them to conserve, protect and HEAL THE WATERS…”
The Cochabamba Declaration
… "Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world's water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected."
… "Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government, therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These right must be enshrined at all levels of government. In particular, an international treaty must ensure these principles are noncontrovertible."
… "Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with governments in the protection and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water."
Welcome Home Statement adopted by the first North American Bioregional Congress (NABC) in 1984 and reaffirmed at NABC II and III in the proceedings.
A growing number of people are recognizing that in order to secure the clean air, water and food that we need to healthfully survive, we have to become guardians of the places where we live. People sense the loss in not knowing our neighbors and natural surroundings, and are discovering that the best way to take care of ourselves and to get to know our neighbors, is to protect and restore our region.
Bioregionalism recognizes, nurtures, sustains and celebrates our local connections with:
Plants and Animals
Springs, Rivers, Lakes, Groundwater & Oceans
Families, Friends, Neighbors
Indigenous Systems of Production & Trade
It is taking the time to learn the possibilities of place. It is a mindfulness of local environment, history, and community aspirations that leads to a sustainable future. It relies on safe and renewable sources of food and energy. It ensures employment by supplying a rich diversity of services within the community, by recycling our resources, and by exchanging prudent surpluses with other regions. Bioregionalism is working to satisfy basic needs locally, such as education, health care and self-governance.
The bioregional perspective recreates a widely-shared sense of regional identity founded upon a renewed critical awareness of and respect for the integrity of our ecological communities. People are joining with neighbors to discuss ways we can work together to:
1. Learn what our special local resources are
2. Plan how to best protect and use those natural and cultural resources
3. Exchange our time and energy to best meet our daily and long-term needs
4. Enrich our children's local and planetary knowledge
Security begins by acting responsibly at home.
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