From 1996 until 2005, I taught Environmental Studies Classes at the University of North Dakota. I had 965 students across over 60 majors. Down deep, almost everyone knew there was a problem and we were part of the problem and its solution too. However, prior to the Classes, very few had committed to the substantial shifts needed.
In those years, I often felt like an "island in the stream". I felt I was swimming upstream. While I was committed to the practice and had considerable energy for it, I was tired and weary. I thought: When will this become "mainstream"?
These days, things are changing. For 1 thing, the 3 of us made a radical shift in our Life Styles. Richard and I left our University Careers, which we loved. Instead of just speaking about sustainability, we determined to practice it. We gave up on that "outer world". We gave up on waiting for someone to fix it. Instead, we decided we had to do something about it. Melanie eagerly came on board too.
About the same time that we moved to our Farm in 2007, Ethan and Sarah Hughes moved to Wren Song (the "Possibility Alliance") which is 3 miles down the gravel road. They are "petrol free" and electricity free. They bike wherever they need to. They are reclaiming old skills integrated with new which are lighter on the Earth. Plus, they are teaching others about it. To date, over a 1000 people have come to their Farm: some as interns, others for church camps and trainings, others for tours. Some who are passing through give 1 to 3 weeks to support the work of the Farm and to learn and grow themselves. Ethan and Sarah's audience have roots in varied places beyond the U.S.: France, Ireland, England, Israel, Ethiopia, New Zealand. The people who find themselves at home there have widely travelled to get the best of training for work vitally needed now. Their commitments to this work are inspiration and catching.
Our Neighbors to the South have introduced us to some of their Fellow Companions. On this day, Ethan brought Severine von Tscharner Fleming who is Director of Greenhorns. Greenhorns is a documentary film on young adults who are returning to the land. Severine wanted to interview us. Richard and I chuckled about whether our 60 something gray to white hair would fit the category of young adults. (I jokingly noted that I could put some dark shoe polish in my hair prior to her visit.)
Upon our sharing of our "limitation", we were told that they found interest in the cross generational work that we were doing with our daughter. I would add that I think we are all Greenhorns in doing this work. Considering where we are coming from as a Society, how could we not be? http://www.thegreenhorns.net/home.html
Ethan also brought Bee Laughton, who is from England and author of Surviving and Thriving on the Land, published by Chelsea Green. Bee's interest is to support the sustainability of Farmers themselves which had previously gotten little attention.
Ethan, Severine, and Bee biked the 3 miles to Butterfly Hill Farm. It was cold and windy with intermittent Blue Sky and Clouds racing overhead. We 1st gathered around the Kitchen Table for Freshly Made Hot Homemade Biscuits, Butter (made from Raw Cream), Molasses and Honey which was recently harvested, and Brewed Teas from Fresh Herbs in the Garden. Those Biscuits and Teas were the perfect warming to begin our conversation and sharing. Afterwards, we headed to the Garden to share and play.
My feelings are shifting. I could clearly see that on this day. I no longer feel largely alone nor part of a tiny minority in doing this work. Adopting an Earth-centered practice surely is popping up in the Mainstream. Yes, sometimes it is watered down and sometimes it is "corporatized". But something far deeper is shifting in these times.
I now see myself as a part of a vast sea of Individuals who are leaving the comfort of the Shore to swim in Waters we have not tried before yet yearned for. We know that something is wrong and that we must do something about it.
Things are changin'. We are inspired. We are alive. We are on fire. I am mystified at the examples that I see around me. Some of them just happened to sit around our Table and dance through our Garden today.
The world is changing. It's about time.