The fate of the Earth is in our hands
— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —
“Real change will only happen when we fall in love with the Earth.” Thich Nhat Hanh
There is a meeting this summer in Italy called “Our Sacred Earth…Responding to Ecological Crisis.” It asks, “How can we rise to the challenges of global environmental and ecological crisis?” The conference is intended as a conversation where people, already well informed, participate actively, engaging as widely as possible in dialogue and debate. A major focus will be “exploring how we can each make a difference and take urgent action to be the change in our daily lives, continuously echoing and reflecting on the question, ‘What am I going to do differently?’”
How could I resist going? I couldn’t. Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says: “real change will only happen when we fall in love with the Earth, and to fall in love with the Earth means we need a relationship with her.” Thus I will hosting a panel, bringing the voices of the animals, plants and the Earth into the human–constructed world of words and ideas, in an effort to foster that relationship.
The conference is “an invitation to have a voice, to help shape our collective future, and to take an active role in propagating the New Consciousness Revolution and build a world for the common good.”
I invite you to share with me how I might bring your voice to the conference. Email me your ideas. To give you some ideas, here is what I and the panel will be bringing:
Our Sacred Earth Panel
Unheard Invitations: All Life is Calling Us; Calling for Connection, Calling for Help
Abstract: The idea of Oneness or interconnectedness of all life is becoming widely accepted, but it is an abstract idea. What if we grounded it in a vivid, visceral sense so that each of us feel it, know it, in our blood and bones. Revel in it. How might that change our actions? What if we expand our sense of family to truly include all living beings? Include their perspectives, needs, and gifts in our thinking and planning. What would the state of our environment be then?
Three human representatives: one for the animals; one for the plants, and one for Mother Earth, will make vivid to us our connection to all life. Using these heart-based insights, a representative for the human world will discuss ways we can turn them into action, including giving nature the protection and dignity of legal standing.
Piercing the Veil Between Species. — Susan B. Eirich. Ph.D.
Abstract: The wild animals are lonely for us. We are lonely for them. We have become disconnected from each other. This needn’t be. There are great riches to be had when we find one another again. Join me for profound stories of human connection with the animals of Earthfire, illustrated by powerful slides.
Susan B. Eirich, Biography:
Co-founder of Earthfire Institute, a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and retreat center near Yellowstone National Park, Susan is an inspirational voice for all life. She has lived with rescued wildlife native to the Rocky Mountains of North America for 25 years. With degrees in psychology and biology, she works to bridge scientific and spiritual understandings of wild animals and connections between all life. She has lived and taught around the world, always trying to see through others’ eyes.
Honoring Our Relations: Plants, Plant Consciousness and Plant Communities. — Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD
Abstract: Plants are often overlooked in our society, considered a resource for humans to use at best, or a meaningless part of the scenery at worst. Yet despite seemingly being stationary, more and more we are learning that plants live complex lives. We now know that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots. Similarly, there is strong evidence that plants have senses like sight and smell, a domain argued to belong to animals. Indeed, the impression that plants don’t do anything but sit there may be the result of time-scale prejudice; we are simply blind to actions that unfold over very long, drawn out, slow time scales. Put the plant on fast forward, in a film, say, and it would become harder to deny that plants can solve problems and act on the basis of what they learn. This talk will explore evidence for plants as sentient and sacred beings.
Maya-Shetreat-Klein, MD Biography:
Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD is a neurologist, herbalist, urban farmer, and author of The Dirt Cure: Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child (Simon and Schuster, 2016), which has been translated into ten languages. She has been featured in the New York Times, The Telegraph, NPR, Sky News, The Dr. Oz Show and more. Dr. Maya is founder of the Terrain Institute, where she teaches Terrain Medicine™ and School of Sacred, earth-based programs for transformational healing of all living organisms. She works and studies with indigenous communities and healers in Ecuador, and is a life-long student of ethnobotany, plant medicine and the sacred.
The Call of Mother Earth. — John Thompson, Transformational Psychologist
Abstract: Mother Earth calls us back to the ground of consciousness all has emerged from. In responding to this call we become part of a vast spiritual network many indigenous and wisdom traditions speak of. Our individual and collective knowledge acquired in separation is integrated with existing wisdom, and a dynamic map of a way forward emerges. Transformation of mind, identity and worldview becomes possible, along with the ability to enact solutions. In this talk, I will be sharing information and experience from my work assisting people responding to the call of Mother Earth: the simplicity of reconnection, what Mother Earth offers us beyond food and the material, and what becomes possible when we step into our roles of co-creators with Mother Earth and each other.
John Thompson Biography:
During an extended period of nature immersion in the 1980’s John responded to Mother Earth’s call to be a voice for ‘those who could not yet hear.’ He went on to study psychology, transformational systems, various wisdom traditions, and continued his exploration of earth connection. His work as a transformational psychologist is directed toward reconnection with Mother Earth and understanding the powerful creative and transformational processes at work. These processes enable us to step into our roles as co-creators with Mother Earth and each other. John points towards a peaceful collaborative pathway for a sustainable and just future.
Title: Taking a Stand for the Earth:
Legal Rights for Nature. — Mumta Ito, Attorney
Abstract: Ecosystems and species are alive. Yet the law treats them as objects separate to us. This has wide-reaching social and economic consequences that drive the environmental crisis. Rights of nature is a game-changing solution that brings fundamental and systemic transformation to our legal and economic system by re-characterizing nature (ecosystems and species) as a subject of the law, with legal personality and tangible rights, that can be defended in court by people. This brings Nature into our legal, economic, social and political decision-making as a powerful stakeholder in its own right, reversing the old paradigm. Integrated across all policy areas, this ensures that economic activity operates to enhance rather than undermine the resilience of ecosystems so that humanity can thrive in harmony with nature. It forms a powerful counterbalance to corporate rights, a viable alternative to the financialization of nature and starts to heal the separation that we have created in the perception of our relationship with nature. In doing so we tackle the root cause of the ecological crisis, save humanity from its own destruction, and secure the fundamental basis of our own right to life by securing the rights of that which gives us life.
Mumta Ito, Attorney, Biography:
Mumta sees law as a vehicle for social transformation in a paradigm of environmental restoration reparation and healing. A former top ranking financial lawyer in the City of London, she represented governments, multinationals and investment banks. Next she set up an NGO to create a people’s movement to successfully save an island of global ecological importance and bring about legislative change. She is now the Founder and President of Nature’s Rights an international non-profit organization dedicated to establishing legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species and transforming our inner and outer relationship with Nature.
Again, importantly, I would like to bring your voice to add to the voices at the conference, be it through good wishes; poetry; ideas; meditation to send your energy to the proceedings that we might succeed in finding a path forward; what you personally are doing that might inspire others. You have until August to email!
More information on the conference:
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.