Taken from our latest newsletter, to close Gaia’s year, Gaia’s Director Liz Hosken offers reflections for the solstice season and shares poetry, photos and video of some of this year’s highlights from Gaia and our partner organisations around the planet.
As the year draws to a close, many of you will be enjoying welcome respite from the accelerating pace of life – the dangers of which we explore in Gaia’s newly-launched report, Wh@t on Earth!? Taking time to pause, reflect and reconnect, with ourselves, each other and Mother Earth, is becoming ever more important.
The challenge of our time- ‘the great unravelling’, as Joanna Macy calls it- is how to stay positive and proactive amidst the political and social upheavals, the stark warnings from this month’s climate talks in Poland, and ongoing ecological breakdown.
The stubborn determination of many to see ourselves as separate from Nature, with a fixation on dominating and controlling Mother Earth, reminds us of Einstein’s words. Diagnosing this perceived separateness as an optical delusion, a prison of consciousness, he called on humanity to ‘widen our circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature in her beauty’. This is a practice we try to uphold in all of our actions.
In this context, where friendship and solidarity for the long-haul are essential, we thank you sincerely for standing with us during this year. Together with our partners we generated lots of positive energy, building on the work over the years and strengthening connections around the world. Below, we share some stories of hope and resilience from this work.
Lastly, a reminder of the exciting convergence of solar and lunar cycles this week, as we celebrate the winter/summer solstice and full moon on 21st & 22nd December. An opportunity perhaps to reflect on Wendell Berry’s poem below. ‘What we need is here’, if only we quieten our hearts and minds to notice.
With warm wishes and gratitude,
Liz Hosken, Director,
and the Gaia team
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
Excerpt from The Wild Geese, by Wendell Berry
ECO-CULTURAL MAPPING IN UGANDA
“We have started a very serious journey to help generations to come to understand the importance of indigenous knowledge.”
After three years of intensive intergenerational dialogue accompanied by Gaia, this November indigenous communities living along the shores of Uganda’s Lake Albert came together to map a future for themselves; a future of abundant indigenous food, cultural pride and restoration of the wild.
Theirs is a remarkable story of revival despite spiritual persecution, colonisation and climate change…
DEFENDING LAND, WATER AND LIFE IN COLOMBIA
“It’s possible to fight the giant and to win!”
The battle to protect territories of land, water and life, and to bring peace to Colombia, continues. Despite a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court (now being hotly contested), communities across the nation are holding citizen-led local referendums (‘popular consultations’) giving people the right to decide for or against new mega-projects, like mining or fracking, in their territories.
This is ecological democracy in action, says Gaia advisor Mariana Gomez. In this interview she shares the story of Cajamarca, a Colombian town that voted to ban a huge gold mine and is developing alternatives to extractivism.
The first week of December was Seed Week, celebrating the small-scale seed producers growing and selling seed across the UK and Ireland.
Real Seeds in Wales, the Irish Seed Savers Association, Vital seeds in Devon, the Seed Cooperative in Lincolnshire and Brown Envelope Seeds in Ireland were all featured daily in the campaign and short films captured the voices of seed savers across varying landscapes, from Moy Hill Farm, where surfers are seed saving on the coast of Ireland, to Poyntzfield Nursery, where varieties of herbs are gathered and cultivated from high alpine regions. Seed Week gave a unique glimpse into the lives of committed seed savers from the coast to the mountains.
EARTH JURISPRUDENCE PRACTITIONERS EXPLORE CUSTOMARY LAW & ORIGIN
The second course of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners gathered in Towerland Wilderness in December to deepen sharing and reflections on African cosmology and what it offers at this time.
Exploring the significance of stories of origin – from which laws of origin or customary laws are derived in Africa and elsewhere – they considered how these underpin customary governance systems, in which sacred natural sites and their custodians play a critical role.
All of the participants are actively working with communities across Africa, and this understanding will support their work in accompanying communities to revive and revalue customary governance systems.
Read participant Gertrude Psawarayi-Jabson’s reflections on Earth Jurisprudence and the course.
WE FEED THE WORLD EXHIBITED GLOBALLY
After a phenomenal ten days on the Southbank in London, We Feed the World continues to be enjoyed around the planet in the village halls, barns and shopping malls of the featured farming communities. Each was sent an exhibition pack to use and display locally, and so far exhibitions have taken place in Sweden, Slovakia, the Philippines, Scotland, Indonesia, New Zealand and Nicaragua.
If you are looking for an unusual Christmas present this year, take a look at our full We Feed the World catalogue to select a limited edition print.