What better way to celebrate
Earth
than to enjoy it.
And we did,
last Saturday—
a beautiful,
clear,
warm,
yes, breezy,
Oklahoma April day.
We learned about bees and other pollinators,
took the Cosmic Walk,
made seed bombs,
spun silky alpaca wool,
cooked in solar ovens,
discovered Smart Pots,
toured the house made of straw and mud,
walked the prairie labyrinth,
watched the goats and alpaca,
led children on a nature scavenger hunt,
climbed old Junipers,
danced, hilariously, to sweet fiddle music,
picnicked on grilled corn and bison hot dogs,
and thanked the Earth.

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May we be so attentive,
so appreciative,
so thoughtful about living our lives
with this magnificent planet
every
day.

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Youth from St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow
came Friday evening,
settled into the strawbale hermitage
and put up cots in the tipi
then checked out the moon and planets
through the telescope.
By early morning,
they were up early,
good scouts they also are,
and helped us set up
for the fifth annual Green Connections Earth Day Celebration.
They stayed all day,
and joined other guests engaging
in the events and activities,
meeting the animals,
touring the strawbale with Tom Temple,
and the solar shower,
which he set up again for the season;
walking the labyrinth,
sitting on the porch,
climbing trees,
visiting the high tunnel garden…

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The Transition OKC team
invited guests to make their own toothpaste
(mint or cinnamon)
and make bookmarks
using flower petals and other natural materials.

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Green Connections board members
Tom Temple, Bruce Johnson, Barbara Hagan,
Dorothy Gray volunteered all day.
Bruce cooked granola in the solar oven
and he and Barbara demonstrated
how efficient energy can be produced.
Our friend Deb Blakely taught
about wild bees and how to make a wild bee home.
Transition OKC team member Josh Buss
stepped up to build fires for the bison hot dog cooking
and grilled the corn on the cob.
Dave Conrad led a drum circle
that brought everyone into a zone
of relaxation and connection with Earth.
Patty and Bill Cummings and Matthew Hill
played fiddle music that heals the heart
and buoys the spirit.
Lisa Piccolo demonstrated the gentle art
of spinning alpaca fiber.
Tulsa Sierra Club members shared seeds
and Loblolly Pine seedlings.
Some walked the timeline of the creation of the universe,
the “Cosmic Walk.”
We joined together in a liturgy thanking all our Earth kin.

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The sun shone.
The breeze settled.
Late in the day I stood,
a bit apart,
for a moment
and reflected on this little scene:
People came to the prairie,
to a place where they could
for a day
spend time outdoors,
under a big sky,
learning, celebrating, being together,
being healed in the wind and the sun
and the quiet
alongside others. I’m not sure why
everyone made such an effort.
It is amazing that they did—
a glad moment,
sustaining all.

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It was a good day
in downtown Oklahoma City
Sunday afternoon.
Oklahomans who show their concern
about a warming planet
have gathered before.
But never as such a large
and diverse
crowd.
Hard to know the number
exactly. Perhaps between
300 and 400,
which is huge,
historically,
in this fossil-fuel producing
state; this state represented
in the U.S. Senate by the man
who literally wrote the book
on climate change denial,
calling it a “hoax.”
There were many groups,
some representing specific issues
around climate change.
There were groups historically
committed to protecting the natural world.
There were members of several religious groups
and churches marching.
There were indigenous people.
Of course Turtle Rock Farm,
who helped organize the event,
was glad to carry our banner
and the flag—that iconic image
of the beautiful blue marble
floating in space.
We joined with many friends
and colleagues.

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For an afternoon,
all these groups—
and many individuals—
came together,
to tell Oklahoma
government and corporate leaders:
Climate change is real.
It is caused predominantly by humans.
All humans must engage with the solutions.
We’re ready.

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The coming together
on a glorious September Sunday afternoon
heralds a new age
in Oklahoma’s consciousness,
in Oklahomans’ courage
to go public
with their concern for the environment.
Working together now,
we the people
are our greatest hope
for our continued life
on Planet Home.

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Because Green Connections’ Earth Day Festival
is on Saturday, April 19,
you have another opportunity—
on the official Earth Day,
Tuesday, April 22—
to plan to attend
an Earth Day Rally
for Climate Change Action.
Sponsored by our friends
at The Peace House,
Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign,
Citizens Climate Lobby,
and Peace Education Institute,
it’s at the Oklahoma State Capitol’s South Plaza,
5:30 to 7 p.m.

Earth Day week
is a fitting time to consider
what actions, changes
in your life you will take
this year
to help create a sustainable life
for all.
Here’s a list to consider,
provided by Nathaniel Batchelder,
director of the Peace House
in Oklahoma City:

– Ask a minister/priest/rabbi for a message on Harmony with Nature/Earth
– Write a brief  “Letter To the Editor”
– Contact a Congress Member and communicate:
“GlobalWarming is Real & Man-Made. Do Something!”
– Challenge a house-of-worship and/or school to adopt a “Green” practice
– Check out the website:  <350.org>
– Lead a discussion on Global Climate Change (Or ask us at Turtle Rock Farm to help with that.)
– Switch to LED light bulbs – more efficient than compact flourescent bulbs… and they last much longer.
– Plant trees, bushes, or ground-cover not needing to be mowed
– Plant a vegetable garden.  Conserves lots of energy.
– Consider Vegetarianism
Conserves lots of energy.   Contact Vegetarian Society of OK http://vegok.org/ for a presentation
– Recycle what you can. (Home recycling in OKC is less than 20%)
Conserves natural resources. Saves energy. Reduces pollution.
– Join SIERRA CLUB
Oklahoma Sierra Club http://oklahoma2.sierraclub.org/
Okla. City Sierra Club—http://oklahoma.sierraclub.org/cimarron/

 

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We also encourage
composting,
water conservation,
solar cooking,
spending time in nature,
giving children a chance to lead exploration
in nature.
Find a “Sit Spot”—
a place you can go to daily
to watch what’s happening
in the “neighborhood.”
Learn about your bioregion.
Take a hike or walk weekly,
observing the natural world.
Take a workshop at Turtle Rock Farm
or ask us to present a program or retreat
for your group.
Every day
is Earth Day.

Our October Newsletter:
Great Gatherings at Turtle Rock Farm

I first heard Earl Hatley
talk about his work as a Grand Riverkeeper
at the annual conference of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network
a few years ago.
Earl is a wise elder
who has spent his life
working for the planet.
As a Cherokee elder and an activist,
he is a model and a hero.

Christina Stallings Roberson is a Master Naturalist
who helps educate other master naturalists,
as well as school children of all ages.
I met her taking the naturalist classes
and not only learned a lot about
getting to know the natural world,
but also about how to teach
others how to get to know the natural world.
As a passionate environmental educator,
she is also a model and hero.

So it was especially meaningful
last Saturday evening,
to be with them
as they were each honored
by the Oklahoma Sierra Club.
Earl was given the Outstanding Environmental Leadership Award.
Christina was given the Environmental Education Award.
And Turtle Rock Farm: A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality and Healing
received the Oklahoma Sierra Club’s Earth Care Award.

It was encouraging to hear Sara Hodgdon,
who is Conservation Director
for the national organization of the Sierra Club,
speak about the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign
and its goal to reduce
the production of energy from coal
down to 30 percent
in the next three years.
Their efforts have helped bring the production of energy
from polluting coal down to 40 percent.
And they will continue to lead us in working toward
a cleaner environment.
We salute
the Sierra Club
for its steadfast commitment
to help us explore, enjoy and protect
a healthy planet.
And we thank the Oklahoma Sierra Club
for honoring the work
of Turtle Rock Farm.

From John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club:

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.

Travels in Alaska by John Muir, 1915, chapter 1, page 5.

Robert, Jamie, Tanner Installing Solar Panels

New Solar Panels

Solar Attic Fan

When we finally woke up
to the realization
that there are many, many changes
we need to make
to live in cooperation
and sustainably with Earth,
we were overwhelmed;
then relieved,
when we learned Sierra Club’s helpful slogan:
“Pick Two You Can Do.”
Pick two changes you are ready to make,
do them
and then pick two more.
Our list was long to begin with
and things get added to it
as we learn more.
We started with reusable bags
and compact flourescent bulbs.
As time has gone on
the things on the list are more challenging—
and have more impact.
We still have much more to do—
small things,
big things.
Today was a big-thing day:
Solar panels were installed
on both houses.
And a solar attic fan
at the farmhouse.
(Soon, a solar water pump
at the Big Pond,
to water gardens.)
It seems they were a long time coming.
Many thanks to Bob Willis
and to Robert, Jamie and Tanner,
all of Sunrise Alternative Energy.
We are thrilled
to be reducing our carbon emissions.
And thank you,
Sun.