Heady and heavy, mixed in a crucible of scary, and served with a measure of hope ... and a catch: such was the conference a PFJ board member and I attended earlier this month in Claremont called "Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization."
The "crucible of scary" we get--the usual litany that drives a sense of urgency born of numbers going the wrong way: Carbon Dioxide concentrations having soared past 350 ppm and now passing 400 ppm on the way to ... what? Rising temperatures. The shifting pH of the oceans. Melting ice. An indifferent public. Unresponsive leaders. Transnationals only too willing to fill the void. As Rufus Jones once said, "horse high, bull strong, hog tight." Still, a measure of hope (though with a catch) hovers around the edges..
and seeps through the cracks of what passes for "the way things are," for during this brief moment, science and philosophy, religion and theology, cultures ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, shared a common stage, re-imagining and reinventing nearly everything.
Picture music ("God's Counting on Me," Pete Seeger, et. al.) and poetry (June Jordan, "we are the ones we have been waiting for"); Pete Seeger speaking from "beyond" (having taped a greeting for this very conference); hints of heresy (a no-growth economics ... really?); flashes of lost wisdom (soil, a nonrenewable resource more valuable than oil); a strange image (Pando Populus)--in other words, a mix of peoples and disciplines comfortably together, together providing the leadership out of "scary" and toward hope ... with a catch.
Hope ... with a catch: the catch, of course, is that reversing numbers going the wrong way takes a lot of work in multiple arenas simultaneously. Illustrating the point, it was noted that a monumental effort some years ago saved the whales, but now a new threat to whales has come in the acidification of the oceans and its potential to disrupt the food chain on which whales (and other living creatures) depend. Having saved the whales once, now we must save the whales again (not to mention other living creatures).
If it seems like it never ends ... there's a reason: because it never ends, and while the tendency is to run away and hide, might I suggest an alternative: Pando Populus. For starters, bookmark this website and then forward to those other places you work and serve, saving whales, living creatures, and even the planet.
We have a sophisticated environmental community on the Central Coast. Making it a sophisticated Pando environmental community will strengthen our work by linking us together in a common root system and, not incidentally, building in some encouragement when the mountains look too formidable to move with our little shovels.
In Pando fashion,
Richard R. Kurrasch
Dr. Richard R. Kurrasch
Following forty years of pastoral ministry, Rich and his wife, Ann Marie, retired to the Central Coast where in addition to the opportunities of the SLO life generally, he divides his time between PFJ, the Rotary Club of Five Cities Eco (one of three Eco/environmental Rotary clubs in the country), and writing a memoir.