Waves of grief and anxiety wash over me. At a time when the world needs a hug, we just can’t. And all the public entertainment is gone--sports, movies, bars and restaurants. Even dining in the home of someone you love puts you at greater risk. I’ve given up seeing my 2-year-old and 6-year-old grandsons.
It's heartbreakingly sad, and everyone is saying the worst is ahead of us. Death will come to some we love. But rebirth is all around us because spring is here and there is resurrection in that green wood. You can still find peace and great joy. Go outside. Go to the woods. Be very present. Let your thoughts pass like the clouds and really see what is here now and your stress will disappear.
Unlike those in Italy and China, we are not confined to our homes. We live in a beautiful green garden. This is the blessing. This can be our salvation. Go. Walk around your yard. Yell across the driveway to your neighbor. Decide where you’ll plant your garden. Feel the breeze. Listen to the birds. See the trees reaching upward to the heavens. You can stretch and reach, too. You can put your arms around that tree and hug it. Believe me, it will help you heal. Neuroscientists have studied it. It can also boost your immunity and is a tonic for stress and grief. It could save your life.
Jesus went to the mountaintop to pray. Buddha sat under the spreading branches of a fig tree with its heart-shaped leaves. They found the “peace that passeth understanding.” You can, too.
Water heals. Turn over the rocks and see the life on the underside. Skip a stone. Take your kids fishing. Walk alongside a stream. Listen. The sound of water, the gurgle, babble, splash soothes. So much life abounds it will renew your hope.
--Kathleen Williams-Mooradian, Southern Conservation Partners Board Member
(Essay originally published on April 9, 2020, in The Tennessean )
In this time of peril and anxiety, we at Southern Conservation Partners offer our best wishes for health and security to our community of friends, supporters,website visitors, and all stewards of nature. None of us know the forthcoming full dimensions and consequences of the expanding pandemic on our society, on the economy, on our own families and loved-ones. The quarantines, travel curtailment, and cancellations further stress and isolate us. We can only hope for recovery and return to better health and sensibility.
The current global human health, economic, and political crises—and the cascading deterioration of the Earth’s biota and ecosystems generated by our altered global climate—hopefully give us pause and cause for reflection and sincere thought about how we humans are profoundly interconnected with the health of our Earth’s environment and its support systems. A central lesson to be learned or reinforced is to more keenly realize the interconnections among us humans and with the natural world.
We recommend that you and your family and loved ones find solace and inspiration outside in nature. Without access to most of our regular activities—with our work places, schools, restaurants, stores, museums, public libraries closed—try to increase your time in nature. Find outdoor recreation and restoration of spirit in a local park, walk a trail, bike a greenway, paddle on a favorite pond or stream, cultivate and expand your home garden and native wildlife-friendly plantings.
It’s extraordinary to step outside and reconnect with nature. You will find solace and satisfaction and peace in the “wild places” that are immediately close by. Nature and wild things around us offer to stitch back together the health of our planet and communities—the place we know as Home.
Take a pledge in these unsettled times to be a better friend of nature and better citizen of your whole human and natural community. Slow down, breath deeply (best done on a natural trail or even in your own backyard), and recommit to preserving and restoring wild and natural places. And help your neighbors and community to survive and recover. Keep on fighting the battles for right thinking and actions. Be hopeful and contribute to making your community and country and Earth more healthy and resilient.
Now step outside into your own piece of nature!
[And if the weather or time isn’t right for outside spiritual restoration, we suggest you add reading more of our website’s Viewpoint essays, along with re-reading from your stockpile of favorite inspirational books at home or on the internet.] —Chuck Roe, president, Southern Conservation Partners
We post below excerpts from an essay by Paul Kingsnorth titled "Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist," which appears in a 2017 collection of essays of the same title. Kingsnorth is a Brit and cofounder of the Dark Mountain Project, a global network of writers, artists, and thinkers in search of “new stories for a world on the brink.” We found the following words to be remarkably thought-provoking. Please visit Kingsnorth’s website and consider buying and reading his books. And let us know what you think!
“I became an ‘environmentalist’ because of a strong emotional reaction to wild places and the world beyond the human. . . . But these are not, I think, very common views today. Today’s environmentalism is as much a victim of the contemporary cult of utility as every other aspect of our lives, from science to education. We are not environmentalists now because we have an emotional reaction to the wild world. In this country, most of us wouldn’t even know where to find it. We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called ‘sustainability.’ What does this curious, plastic word mean? <<continued . . . >>
Nick Haddad, previously a professor of ecology at NC State University and presently senior ecologist with the W.K Kellogg Biological Station in Michigan, recently authored a fascinating and thought-provoking book, The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature (Princeton University Press, 2019). His quest involved determining which of half-a-dozen butterfly species is most at risk of extinction—regrettably, most of them barely clinging to survival in southern U.S. habitats. <<continued....>>
Populations of the world’s wild animals have fallen by more than 50 percent in recent decades and humanity is to blame. The popular news magazine, THE WEEK, reported on February 22, 2019, that the swelling human population (now 7.5 billion and mushrooming) has already had devastating impacts on the Earth’s wildlife. We’ve driven thousands of species to the edge of extinction through habitat loss, overfishing and hunting, trophy animal collection, introduction of harmful invasive species, toxic pollution, and climate change. Over the past 40 years, the number of wild animals–mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and marine life–have plunged by 50 percent. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that populations of higher-order vertebrate animal species have decreased by an average of 60 percent since 1970. <<continued . . .>>
This year, with clear evidence that the Trump Administration is jeopardizing many U.S. environmental conservation and protection programs and policies, with hugely damaging consequences, Gary E. Machlis, former National Park Service science advisor (and Clemson University professor of environmental sustainability), and Jonathan B. Jarvis, retired NPS career professional and national director from 2009 to 2017, co-authored an important and inspirational book. The Future of Conservation in America: a Chart for Rough Water (University of Chicago Press) asserts that we are in a period of “rough water,” affecting many environmental assets and conservation programs. The authors identify three major environmental and social threats (and the dangerous irresponsibility of denying them) confronting America: climate change, species extinction, and economic inequality. Actions are required to navigate through the very rough waters facing us. It is essential to assure that the conservation movement is understood by Americans (and especially by young people) as critically relevant to public health and interest. A general re-commitment to environmental conservation and protection is necessary. <<continued>>
Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land.
There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers.
From the President
SCP President Chuck Roe looked at land conservation along the route of John Muir's "Southern Trek."
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following questions: