Healing the landscape, healing ourselves

 

I felt compelled to share these thoughts with you after  I read “Down the Dark Mountain” by Brian Calvert (HCN, 7/24/17). I spent seven years working for the U.S. Forest Service cleaning up logging slash in clear-cuts. Although I actively provided input to timber-sale projects, the decision was always to log. My personal answer to my feelings of despair was to decide that people needed to see this damage. I led groups of friends through clear-cuts and camped with them in the late ’90s on the Sierra National Forest in central California. I thought that people seek out places of beauty, but they really need to go to places of environmental damage to confront unabashedly the landscape after it has been damaged. We would walk around the clear-cut and give thanks for the trees and what they had given us, ask for forgiveness and welcome and encourage the new trees and other returning vegetation. I am not a very touchy-feely person, but I felt called to do this after hearing a logger congratulate himself for not cutting down a tree with a raven’s nest in it — not, that is, until after the young birds had fledged.

I also have observed a wonderful one-woman 30-minute performance piece called Ode to the Polar Bear. Allison Warden, an Inupiaq, is intimately aware of climate change but avoids the usual artistic handwringing and political haranguing. Her performance is based on traditional Inupiaq stories of the polar bear, which she takes a step further — not just recounting anecdotes of an honored old friend, but, more importantly, bidding it goodbye as it transitions. This last aspect is something we all need to start doing: saying goodbye to the creatures that will be moving on as a result of climate change, and welcoming the new ones that will come.  

Although beauty can be a powerful incentive for protection, I believe a more comprehensive and psychologically mature tactic for we Euro-American types would be that after we have fought to change outcomes, to witness the effects with a detached and compassionate mindset, cultivating gratitude and respect for what is left and a renewed commitment to fight for what has not been damaged. The emphasis should be on turning toward the landscape to help it heal, and we will heal in the process.

Mary Kwart
Ashland, Oregon

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY RADIO PROJECT
    Community Radio Project, Cortez, CO (KSJD & the Sunflower Theatre). Visit ksjd.org and click on the Executive Director search link. CRP is an EOE.