Belonging to the Earth by Michelle Katz
Last weekend I found myself in the land of clearing smoke post wildfire, in a place that just days before was home and refuge for those who were evacuated, in a landscape were tall trees meet misty ocean air, the sky had cleared from the past weeks happenings, the sun could be felt, and the people around were full of inspiration and hope.
The Bioneers conference offered so much in a time of uncertainty, most notably but not limited to, incredible hope and inspiration. The variety of offerings included in-depth sessions and keynote speakers addressing human rights, nature rights, indigenous storytelling and spoken word arts, our youth, our elders, new energy economies, politics, healing.
Every session I left feeling a sense of promising solution to the issues our world faces today.
The insight and new perspectives into issues invited deeper understanding. I felt my mind being blown, and I loved it.
The weekend, for me, began with the first speaker, Dean Hoaglin, opening us into the weekend with one simple and true sentence: “What we do to this earth, we do to ourselves, let us be good relatives, good care-takers.”
Humans are part of nature.
The weekend continued with an insightful look at how true this is. First we looked at trees, and how they teach us by example about many things: Diversity, living in harmony side-by-side without judgement; Roots and fungi may not be seen but they keep a community strong through connection; Purpose, responsibility and unique role in our world. Trees offer us a crucial lesson about survival and creating a life in balance.
The conversation moved then to how to create a world that embodies social justice. The answer inspired me: “eliminate limiting beliefs and encourage imagination. Inclusion is about a spectrum of possibilities,” said Victor Pineda. Bringing in a way to sit with question of how do we live with barriers, how do we recognize that humanity is also about weakness as well as strength, that in understanding our vulnerabilities we may create bridges and be able to response to the needs of a whole population. The conversations and speakers continued to inspire as the days continued, from issues of how to create a One Fair Wage, acknowledging the unfair conditions of restaurant workers across our nation and forcing us to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in? If we can survive climate change, what is the world we want to inherit, what kind of society do we wish to be part of? The earth issues are human issues and the human issues are earth issues.
I then heard a Din’e Storyteller, Sunny Dooley: “When you are born, you are already someone’s grandmother, mother, aunt…” She spoke about how the ancestors whisper stories in our ears, and we must hear them because those are our stories as well. She spoke of how everything we do on the surface of the earth is connected and related to everything else. It is our mission to authentically address every experience of our lives. And her continually repeated line : “We are epigenetically predisposed to survive.” I felt her words in my heart, though, even more, I felt them in my bones, it was such a deep ancient truth she told.
This was only half of the first day!
The conference continued and each offering reached parts of me I would have forgotten if not given the opportunity to be reignited by this event. On Saturday night, I saw the community come together and drum in circle on the land and among the trees. The beat felt to be one beat. The experience spoke of a story of belonging to each other not only as people but as the grass and soil at our feet, the trees in circle with us, the sun at dusk and the moon beginning to show, the ocean sound on the other side of the hills and the ducks landing in the pond across the way. john a. powell spoke about this belonging on the last day of the conference, talking about it as a place of healing through deep listening and empathy, and stating simply that this is what is critical to the survival of the planet. He asked, “Who belongs to the circle of human concern?” Can we create a we that no one is on the outside of? Belonging changes the structure of society, as all “their” lives are in ours.
Inspiration and hope. Join this circle of human nature belonging with Oaks Counsel.