Seven months have passed since the fellows met at the first retreat in Washington where they presented preliminary project ideas and explored the main principles of spiritual ecology. Now, after recently finishing their third retreat in Northern California, the fellows are well on the way to transforming visionary ideas into tangible pilot projects.
Projects embody both promise and diversity; tying together the main principles of spiritual ecology with varying themes around community health, waste, design, art, peace and reconciliation, climate change, education, maternity care, navigation and social and ecological justice. The outcome of the projects will be delivered as online courses, blogs, ceremonies, events, in-depth interviews, letters, and workshops, among many others.
Swords to Plowshares (working title)
To highlight some examples, fellows Brontë Velez and Kyle Lemle are working together to create a dynamic two-city pilot project that will transform weapons into shovels to be used in ceremonial tree-planting at sites of violence and spiritual significance in their hometowns, Atlanta and Oakland. Combining Kyle’s knowledge of urban forestry and sacred trees with Brontë’s poetic integration of the arts and social justice, the project embodies a marriage of creativity and skill. The pilot is a first step in carrying out a long-term vision to restore the ecological foundations of sacred spaces within urban geographies by rekindling relationships of reverence with each other and the Earth.
The Haumea Collective
Living on the Big Island of Hawai’i, Charlotte Leger’s project The Haumea Collective offers interwoven place-based community building resources for women throughout all stages of pregnancy, focusing on postpartum holistic healing, women gatherings and access to birth options and care within the Hawaiian Islands. The project was inspired by the question: “how do we respond to the global crisis while supporting the complexities of local identity, traditions and culture?” It centers on motherhood as a rite of passage to revitalize a strong community ecology, recognizing that women are pillars of earth-based change-making.
Focusing on bridging community health and spiritual ecology, Vy Tran’s project Echo-HEAL seeks to address the “pollution pain points” that are deteriorating both our inner and outer ecologies. The pilot version of the project will take place in a small Maya fishing village off the southern coast of Mexico where she currently resides as a Fulbright Scholar exploring alternative approaches to community health that integrates local Mayan values, culture and ecology. In witnessing the deleterious effects of globalization on community and ecosystem health and wellbeing, the project seeks to explore how pollution can be transformed into a source of physical, spiritual, cultural and emotional healing for current and future generations within the community.
Earth Is `Ohana
`Ohana: The Hawaiian word for family; Meaning to plant or plan for the following generations.
Photographer, writer, and climate change activist Kailea Frederick, is designing an adaptable education course called Earth Is `Ohana that will serve as a cross-pollination between spiritual ecology, earth systems science and the humanities. The course incorporates group discussion, reading, reflection and prayer in an exploration of the key question: “What does it mean to be a human being today on our rapidly changing earth?”