Jean and baby Teton Totem the grizzly bear share a moment of play and kinshipPhoto by: Roger Holcomb

We are ending the year here at Earthfire Institute in Driggs, Idaho with a great sense of joy and possibility. Some might even say “naïve” joy and “foolish” sense of possibility. But we don’t think so. We believe in fact that we are on to something… and you are, too.

These feelings have been percolating among us as we have been sitting around our virtual meeting table, working together on each week’s activities, and discussing our goals and plans for 2018. Not all of us are in Driggs—Nikki, our digital media manager, is in Helena, Montana; Chelsea, our community coordinator, is in Pocatello, Idaho; and Richard, our advisor, is in Oakland, California. But thanks to the miracle of video conferencing, we have gotten to know each other very well, and have started to feel like family. Which, by the way, we are.

This is perhaps the most important thing we’ve unearthed this last year. Our joy, and our sense of possibility, comes from our feeling of kinship with each other. And not just each other, and not just other human beings. Our work—the work of Earthfire Institute—is showing us daily our deep kinship with all Life. From that very real kinship springs joy. And from that joy, we know that it is possible for humanity to strike a new relationship with nature that treats all Life as family.

This isn’t a romantic conception or wishful thinking. We humans share over 70 percent of our genes with all Life—plants and animals alike. When we look at a beautiful flower, or a bird, or a bug, we are seeing ourselves. We believe strongly that if humans can connect viscerally with this basic truth, then we will most certainly find a way out of this environmental crisis that we find ourselves in. We will do it for family. We will do it for ourselves.

From kinship springs joy and possibility | Photos by Earthfire and Roger Holcomb

So in 2018, we are putting joyful and hopeful effort into helping other humans find this basic truth within their own hearts, through a year-long program we call the Earthfire Council of All Beings. Its theme will be simple: “Showing Up for Life on Earth.” Through the same video technology that has brought our team together as a family, we hope to widen our circle of kinship to include all Life. Nothing less than that is our goal.

You are already part of this family. We are so grateful for the support of different kinds—financial, moral, and otherwise—that we have received this year from you. It inspires us to continue work that some might think naïve or foolish, but which we know to be what humanity needs at this time. We look forward to deepening our kinship with you, and with all Life, in the year ahead.

With very best wishes for the holiday season,

The Animals and Staff of Earthfire Institute

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