This year’s People’s Climate March (PCM), you will recall, culminated with estimates of nearly a half million marchers from all points on the globe, who organized to challenge the world’s leaders on issues of environmental and social justice, the corporatization of natural resources, energy, and to shame the deniers.
Regardless of where you positioned yourself prior to the march, on Sunday, September 21st, an irrefutable turning point was reached in the argument for climate change action.
What was also clear to me, as one among the throngs who shared in that mesmerizing day of joyful protests and witnessing, is that while there remains a good amount that I can not alter, about our environmental realities, I could commit to small efforts that might deepen my personal knowledge and relational awareness to the conservancy of the planet.
On the last Saturday of October, a group of students from the Undergraduate B.A. Program at Goddard College, along with faculty colleague Bobby Buchanan and I, landed at Soul Fire Farm, located in the picaresque, farm town of Grafton, NY. It was a quintessentially brilliant, sun-filled autumnal day, when everything about the world felt renewable.
The questions that precipitated our visit to the Farm, led to emboldened calls for continued action, service and re-imagination for the health and sustainability of the planet that had been so energetically spurred by the march. Bobby’s wise passion in particular, incited within us a very simple goal — “to explore ways we can be more useful and impactful in the world. We can grow from where we are now.”
Indeed, our shared considerations hoped to explore what difference could our individual and collective small efforts make on any of these immense problems and what would they look like? Starting at the micro-level or “where you are” is critical to what I embrace as the “humane” approach to sustainable endeavors, and what we refer to at Goddard as “exercising self-care.”
Otherwise, you risk feeling overwhelmed, defeated, obsessive, or depressed about issues that require global resources and unified will. To appreciate how frontline scientists are finally admitting to serious psychological fallout, see the article, “Climate depression is for real.”
Responses and solutions informed by community-building and “doing the work”—more so than absolute answers—awaited us at Soul Fire Farm. We found them in the broadening of our backs and muscles when lifting hefty wheel barrels, filling gallon-size buckets with harvested produce, sinking our knees into damp mud while plucking weeds and Brussels sprouts and tilling rows of nutrient rich soil, then covering them with hay in preparation for winter.
At the end of the day, we celebrated with our awe-inspiring farm hosts Leah Penniman and Jonah Vitale-Wolff, a group of lively children and new friends, with a delicious sharing of fresh, wholesome foods.
We were also treated to a captivating set of traditional Latin songs and superb guitar accompaniment performed by Goddard alums, Taina Asili and Gaetano Vaccaro. See the video here.
When I arrived home that night, after a delayed train ride, I eased my fatigued body into a hot soak and massaged my sore muscles with lavender oil.
What a magnificent weekend I sighed, turning off my lamp. Saving the planet is a powerful, invigorating concept. It’s also exhaustingly, hard work.
Stay green, stay square, Pamela
For anyone who’s interested in visiting Soul Fire Farm and supporting their Community Share Agriculture (CSA) projects in the future, please checkout the website for updates. They expect to close for part of 2015 and here’s their thinking
“In 2015, we will pause the Farm Share in honor of Shmita, the Agricultural Sabbath. Read this link to learn more about our Shmita plans. There will still be the opportunity to order individual products, including whole chickens, garlic, and herbs. We encourage you to continue to be involved in the farm by joining our monthly community skills shares and helping us to raise the funds and resources that will enable us to achieve our ambitious food sovereignty goals.”