What a coincidence! Here I am packing up my home and home business and getting ready to move to the place where I have a part-time job with a Conservation Foundation. Why? So that I can live locally with the land that I’m working to conserve. And this week’s word is LOCAL.
Living where you work, working where you live, eating what grows on the land where you live, using your energy to shape your life — not extravagantly, not wastefully, but sustainably — is important to me. I think it makes good, common sense. So, here’s a gallery of my office, my new home, and the surrounding area that’s in the land trust.
“Death Valley is all about water.” So we were told by Jay Snow, the National Park Service ranger, an Okie character with an over-the-top presentation. It’s the lowest point in the country, parts of it falling below sea-level. It would make sense that gravity would bring a lot of water to that place. And it does. It’s just below the surface of the salt flat. Fascinating! Water does not behave in ways we often assume it will. It remains mysterious, a shape-shifter. It goes from warm color droplets…
…to sharp-angled crystals…
…it will eventually dissolve and transform even rock, paper, or scissors.
Water is life, practically the very definition of it. What would we “dew” without it?
It may threaten to destroy us; at the same time, we can’t live without it.
For all of these reasons, H2O commands awe, wonder, reverence. We ought to treat it with a great deal of respect and not tamper with it in its natural state unadvisedly or lightly.
Back in 1997, I self-published a book of poetry called The King’s Gift: Poems and Parables. It contained this one that I titled “Change”:
In autumn, the trees start to sing once again
of the bittersweet mystery of change.
Is it beauty or pain
now attached to my soul?
Is it grief…
In the scarlet and gold,
the blood-red of life’s hold on my heart
and the warmth of its love
mingles memories and years
into afternoon tears
…to the ground.
I feel this way every fall. The change in light makes everything seem altered and thrown back into the past — until my eyes adjust and my brain catches up. Then the brilliance of the season kicks in. I really love Fall for its ability to draw out a range of emotion and hold it, fully aware and unashamed, in its transient environment.
Text and photographs © 2016, Priscilla Galasso. Poetry © 1997, Priscilla Galasso. All rights reserved.
At this point in my life, I am Over the Hill for sure. The sun is setting – how rapidly is anyone’s guess. Anticipating the unknown sounds like an exercise in futility. Any build-up is likely to increase anxiety. I think what is more important is simply practicing being the character I want to be. I am not on a quest to challenge my mortality, but to be at peace. I am looking forward to moving to a more rural part of the state in a month, on 56 acres of restored prairie that’s owned by the Conservation Foundation where I work. My quest will allow me to spend more time in Nature and more quiet time writing. We’ll see how rapidly that sunset arrives. I’m not looking to jump on any fast trains to get there.
This essay originally appeared in The BeZine’s September issue, for which I was Contributing Editor.
“Environmental Justice” is a rather fancy framework – two words with seven total syllables to convey a concept. Let me give you a simpler structure – one question to ask yourself as often as possible. How will I behave here? Five important words make up this question, and each one can continue to yield insight the more time you spend with it.
Let’s start with the subject – ‘I’. Bringing awareness to how you think of yourself is a huge step in understanding – not just for environmental justice, but for Life in general. Know thyself. What are you biologically? How do you fit in the ecosystem or the food chain? Do you have a beginning or an ending? What does it take for you to survive the middle? Who are you psychologically? What has influenced that and what makes that change?
The direct object in the sentence is ‘here’. What is the Here that you relate to ? I suggested in the writing prompt “Tell Me: What IS Environmental Justice?” that our contributing authors may look at the environment from a perspective of Nature, Place or Community. As you ask yourself this question on a daily or more frequent basis, Here will be increasingly specific.
Now the verb: ‘behave’. It’s the act of acting; perhaps it’s all verbs in one. What we do matters. In my work as a volunteer at a Nature Center, I learned a short maxim for Environmental Education. It was made up of 4 words beginning with ‘A’: Awareness, Appreciation, Attitude and Action. Action is the outcome of our character. A lot goes into making us who we are, but it’s who we are that will most influence what we do. There are those who hope to influence action from the top down and employ legislation, incentives and consequences. There are those who hope to influence action from the bottom up and employ education, compassion and liberty. Behavior is often the event that gets a conversation started, the outward and visible sign of internal forces. We see video clips in the news and wonder, “Why THAT behavior?” (the Oregon rock tippers, graffiti in National Parks, buffalo calf rescuers, photographers disturbing marine life, etc.)
The word ‘will’ in the question can be both a verb tense and a noun and makes a great pondering point. What is your Will? What do you desire, hope for, intend, long for, want, choose and champion? You get to bring all your personal energy into this question. You will behave in some way. You will act or refrain from acting one way or another, and this will make a difference.
Finally, we’re left with the very first word: HOW? This is where we’re invited to expand our imaginations and reach toward infinity. This is where creative people can lead and model and catapult the status quo toward a more distant target. It is also where we can entrench ourselves in habits, in conservative approaches that allow for little or incremental change, in comfortable measures of disturbance offset by self-congratulation. This HOW will be the expression of our will and our identity.
So, think and ask: How will I behave here? That is how you will engage in Environmental Justice.
And you will engage, whatever you do.
Text and photographs © Priscilla Galasso, 2016. (unless otherwise noted) All rights reserved.
This is what I’ve been working on. Besides editing, I wrote 3 pieces and Steve wrote one. Please click on the Be Zine link and enjoy all the contributions! I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about sharing. This is a hugely important arena, encompassing life, health, and EVERYTHING!
September 15, 2016
The Environment is a complex array of interconnections and interbeing (as Thich Nhat Hahn would say). Steve & I have various metaphors for this. He likes to refer to “his bowling pins”. He imagines setting up a toy set of pins on a lawn and bowling at them. When they scatter, you set them back up exactly where they landed and bowl again. This takes you all over the neighborhood in endless permutations. I think of “trophic cascades”, changes in an ecosystem that originate at an extinction or other dramatic altering of balance, similar perhaps to “the domino effect” but less linear. However you try to wrap your brain around it, the nature of Life on this planet is intricate and incomprehensible. We are wise to approach it with the utmost humility. Because we are intrinsically involved, however, we must not fear to engage. We are already…
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