Hello my Pachamama Friends,
I am enjoying being part of the new group for Climate Action. How inspiring to have someone from Kenya and also Romania as part of my group. Rights of Nature in Romania! How cool is that? Anyway, yesterday I was asked to speak at All Faiths Unitarian Congregation in Fort Myers. here is part of what I said....Part of my "Sermon" this Morning"
Clipped some parts out but it's still long.
This week, we are being called to recognize how deeply our relationship with Earth and our work for environmental justice is intertwined with all of our spiritual and religious traditions. This is a day to be in wonder, to rediscover Nature and our place in Nature- the interconnected web of life. Today we join together to celebrate our Mother Earth - and also to hold our hope and our pain together, in that celebration. Yes the pain, our planet is crying out to us for sure.
The time has come that we must transition from an Economy of Extraction to one of Regeneration and Resilience. This is a big transformation that needs to happen. Earth Day now is also a day to feel our sorrow, and let that sorrow motivate us. Sorrow for almost 500 dead manatees this year because of such poor water quality, our local waterways remain highly impaired, (Billys Creek, Manuels,Branch) and man-made ecological disasters like Piney Point. We are in crisis my friends, this is for sure.
Well, as the ancient Chinese Oracle, the I CHING says: Crisis equals Opportunity.
We are at a critical turning point, Let us each ask what is our part that we are being called to to? I believe that we can transform ourselves and support others to be better Earth Stewards. Let us look at embracing Eco-Spirituality on a deeper level. I believe it starts by being in Nature ourselves. When our activism is grounded in Nature, we become more centered and loving advocates for justice and healing. So many people are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder - and this separation from nature is another form of “Othering” that we need to heal.
My own spiritual path is deeply rooted in the practice of nonviolence and a call to work for Peace and Justice. The older I get, that call is grounded more and more in my love of Earth and commitment to work for Clean Water.
Before moving to Florida I was a Peace Activist with roots in Earth Based traditions. When I moved to FL from San Francisco n 2003 I met anti war activists as the war against Iraq had just broken out. In addition to finding a small tribe of activists, (any of you remember EPEC?) I fell in love with Florida's precious ecosystems, the springs, the migrating birds, the gumbo-limbo, cyprus, saw palmetto, live oaks and palm trees. I fell in love with the Everglades and all of our beautiful rivers and lakes. When I first moved here I loved swimming and floating in the Gulf. But now I will not go into that water because of the possible risks to my health. How sad.
Not long after moving here I met the late Ellen Peterson, a Force of Nature herself, and she mentored me about the environmental issues that we were facing in SWFL and ways to engage in grassroots activism here.
One thing led to another. I co-founded the SWFL Pachamama Alliance Community and shortly after we introduced SWFL to Project Drawdown. - (hold up book) It became my bible! We even brought Paul Hawken here to talk to us all at FGCU and The Collaboratory.
Drawdown is: the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change — as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.
Yesterday I just opened up the book (like one might do with a bible) blindly with a question, “What Drawdown Solution is most important for us right now?” and this is the page I opened up to: “Nutrient Management” with this photo of blue green algae flowing out into the sea from an impaired river. Wow. The latest fly over of the lake on Thursday showed there is a lot of it up there right now at the Franklin Lock about to be released downriver again.
Drawdown transformed my life, and gave me hope. Once I became a trained Drawdown Convenor and offered a five week intensive study of these 100 ways to reverse global warming, I became more focused in my own environmental activism. I chose one Drawdown Solution to work on- Restoring our Coastal Wetlands. Well, about 25 people also got really committed to work on at least one Solution and some of us, including the legendary Bill Hammond formed a Climate Action Fund through the SWFL Community Foundation to provide funding for Drawdown Solution projects in SWFL.
After that 5 week intensive, I realised I needed to deepen the Drawdown commitment I made, to protect our coastal wetlands. I was already part of a growing Interfaith Water Ceremony Movement and leading Sacred Water Ceremonies ceremonies for the water, along with my friend Betty Osceola; but I needed to do some hands-on work as well. So 3 years ago I joined Calusa Waterkeeper and got trained as a Waterkeeper Ranger- part of a great team of citizen scientists committed to being the eyes and ears on our waterways as well as water quality testers of our watershed all the way from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf and Estero Bay. Because I am a retired Community Health Nurse, I have kept my license active so that I am a more credible spokesperson in Lee County when advocating for Clean Water as a public health issue.
Well, then another convergence happened almost two years ago with the formation of the SWFL RESET Center which is now a 501C3 located on the UUCFM campus. We made Regenerative Agriculture, and the Rights of Nature Movement two of our main initiatives. We are also collaborating with FGCU to create food forests and permaculture demonstrations not only on our eco-preserve but also in neighborhood community centers.
So I share much hope because We have been invited into a new Beloved Community of evolutionary activism and have brilliant tools and movements available to us. I would like to mention some of these grass roots organizations that have also taken off in the last few years.
The Rights of Nature Movement is so powerful and awesome, Learn about FRONN, LeeRON online and on FaceBook. Their first success in Florida was legislation passed in Orange County guaranteeing the right for all people to have clean drinking water… giving actual rights to rivers and bodies of water is the next step and is in the “whereas” section of the legislation. Instead of granting personhood to corporations- let us give our rivers and lakes rights.
Growing Climate Solutions
the SWFL The Pachamama Alliance,
Citizens Climate Lobby
Elders Climate Action Network
And...internationally of course we have Greta Thurnberg and….
I mentioned my friend Betty Osceola - she has been emerging as a spiritual and political leader and an Indigenous Grandmother speaking out for the Water and the Everglades.
Presently she is raising awareness about the 404 permitting for coastal wetlands being given back to the EPA. As soon as that permitting was handed to Florida DEP, 2 weeks before #45 left office, Burnet Oil got their permits signed and are preparing to drill in Big Cypress Preserve, home of the Miccosukee tribe.
Betty has been leading prayer walks in Big Cypress and around Lake Okeechobee which raise consciousness and awareness about healing and protecting water, restoring the Everglades and stopping Big Oil and Development. I love this example of Prayer (walking in silence listening to Nature) that leads into taking action to change policy. Check out the hashtag #DefendTheSacred
interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
What if we started each day honoring Earth by thanking the elements: Water, Fire, Air, and Earth? When you turn on the tap in the morning say thank you for clean water. Go outside and say hello to the sun out loud. Take a deep breath of fresh air and as you exhale let it be a breath of gratitude. Stand on the earth and feel your feet if you are able ...maybe even barefooted… and breathe in Earth Spirit.
So let us recommit ourselves today, to come into a deeper covenant of stewardship and creation care. Let us come to know that a truly Beloved Community includes All Our Relations, the winged ones, the scaly ones, the four legged, the creepy crawlers, the trees, the springs, the flowing rivers above and below the surface of earth and yes we two legged creatures. We are made for these times and if we listen deeply we will hear that still small voice inside leading you to your next steps as an awakened evolutionary agent of change. Find that voice in Nature and I will see you on the trail.