SL Winter Theme: Reconnecting with Nature

I read an article posted on recently titled “Why I’m a Climate Change Denier.” What? I wondered out loud – Medium would never promote such nonsense. I opened it up and discovered to my surprise that the author did in fact share my concerns about climate change after all. The title referred to the various ways the author, and really most of us, accept the facts about climate change, but only on the abstract, conceptual level. On the emotional and gut levels, we fail to act like it’s true. The author believes that we are effectively “climate deniers” in that we have not yet acted to demand the radical actions required to make tough political decisions likely to disrupt the status quo. The author argues for the need to make a moral effort to spur our commitment to act in proportion to the seriousness of the crisis we face.

Surely the moral effort is important, and we can see it manifesting in the work of Interfaith Power & Light‘s Religious Response to Climate change and Rev. William Barber’s Repairers of the Breach movement.

These and many other encouraging efforts are emerging to address climate change. Electric cars powered at home by solar panels and a greening energy grid, recycling materials using a zero-waste approach to energy efficiency, and the local food movement from agro-ecological farming to healthy, organic and plant-based food options – all keep us moving in the right direction. How might these trends gain faster traction to meet the rapidly closing window of years (12 according to the 2018 IPCC Report) before irreversible disruption of the earth’s climate system occurs?

Our Simply Living Vision: Creating a compassionate and sustainable world through personal, community and cultural transformation.

To achieve this vision, we must ask: How can Simply Living inspire more people to actively engage with global movements to make the transition to a compassionate, sustainable, clean energy future? Our response is embodied in the Winter issue of Simply News: let’s call it “Reconnecting with Nature!” But why is that necessary? How might reconnecting with Nature make a difference? Let’s first step back and consider the larger context and consider why we so many of us have lost the close, intimate relationship with the natural world enjoyed by our ancestors. Surprisingly, it starts with one of our highest values: literacy!

Literacy has given humanity the symbolic power to create amazing civilizations with beautiful art, brilliant science, and institutions that bind us together. The downside of this power, however, has been our capacity to separate ourselves from nature and dominate the natural world to meet our needs, often at the expense of the ecosystems, the flora and fauna, soil and water that sustain life on the planet. This has been our Way for 5000+ years.

In the past 300 years, science and industry combined to tap the energy from fossil fuels and create a global economy. As we now know, the Industrial Revolution has released massive quantities of CO2 and other gases that trap heat in the upper atmosphere when we burn coal, oil, and natural gas. The result is global warming that is disrupting the relatively stable climates of the past 10,000 years.

The global economy depends upon the burning of fossil fuels and is currently operating in “overshoot,” meaning that we are using more resources than the earth’s ecosystems can replenish. Until we transition to clean, renewable energy systems from the sun, wind, and water and create economies that align with nature’s ecosystems, human civilizations and many other life forms are in danger of harm, even extinction.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

When we separate ourselves from nature, Native Americans observe that we are breaking the bonds with what they call “All Our Relations.” Pre-literate, indigenous cultures live immersed “in” nature and have adapted to their natural environment in ways that have sustained them for hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. Modern science has reached a similar understanding of the importance for humans to live in relationship to Nature and ecological systems. Physics, chemistry, and biology all agree that the entire universe exists in deep interconnected relationships from the microcosm of atoms and cells to the macrocosm of stars and galaxies. Scientists estimate that the number of cells in a human brain is roughly the same as the number of galaxies in the universe. Ecology now frames our understanding of “all our relations.” The earth itself is considered to be a living system according to the Gaia hypothesis.

Reconnecting with nature means healing our relationships – as individuals, as communities, as a culture. We must first acknowledge that our literacy, our power to control, to dominate, and bend nature to our needs is only part of the story. The climate crisis can be the opportunity we need to deepen and expand the story of who we are in relation to Nature. When we reconnect with nature we begin to feel our deep, sensual connection with the air, the water, the soil beneath our feet. We become intentional about living more simply, eating more consciously, living locally, and valuing relationships with people and nature more than material goods.

Our lead article in Simply News is The Healing Power of Nature, written by Becky Allen, a Simply Living member who has been studying nature for many years and has lived the experience of reconnecting with Nature. Her insights provide a broad frame for the remarkable series of films that we will be screening this quarter. Each film features gorgeous cinematography that captivates and draws us into the beauty and wonders of the earth while exciting our intellect with commentary by thought leaders and visionaries. In the tradition of our Documentary Films and Local Solutions series, we are assembling panels of local leaders who will share their work and facilitate a dialogue with the audience.

Sunday January 27 2 – 4 pm
Love Thy Nature: Key to Saving Ourselves and the Planet
Studio 35. 3055 Indianola Ave, N High St, Cols, 43202
Narrated by Liam Neeson. This beautiful film shows that a renewed connection with nature is key not only to our well being, but also to solving our climate and environmental crises.

Tuesday February 26 7 – 9 pm
Planetary: Reconnect to Something Bigger
Drexel Theater, 2254 E Main St Bexley OH 43209
This remarkable film is a cinematic journey, that explores our cosmic origins and our future as a species. It is a poetic reminder to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us – to remember that we are PLANETARY.

Sunday March March 24 2 – 4 pm
Journey of the Universe: An Epic Story of Cosmic, Earth and Human Transformation
Northwood High Bldg, Room 100, 2231 N High St Columbus 43201
JOURNEY OF THE UNIVERSE is an epic film about the human connection to Earth and the cosmos. Renowned scientists, scholars, and award-winning filmmakers weave a tapestry of scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology, biology, ecology, and biodiversity with humanistic insights concerning the nature of the universe.

To further reinforce our theme, the Simply Living Book Club has selected the book that inspired the film version, Journey of the Universe. Authors Brian Swimme, the acclaimed evolutionary philosopher, and Yale University historian of religions Mary Evelyn Tucker, tell a big story in a small book – one that inspires hope for a way in which Earth and its human civilizations could flourish together. A discussion on the Simply Living blog will be open to all and will include references to related works by Brian Swimme, Thomas Berry, Elisabet Sahtouris, and others.

Finally, for those inspired to take local actions intended to address the climate crisis in our community, you are invited to attend Simply Living’s Transition Hub gathering.

Thursday, January 31 6-8:30 pm
Meet the Central Ohio Transition Hub Team
Northwood High Bldg, Room 100, 2231 N High St Columbus 43201
We’ll start with refreshments, introductions, and a discussion of the Transition Town movement. For background, read The Big Picture by Richard Heinberg. We’ll show the film, Transition 2.0, for inspiration as we imagine new projects to make our communities resilient as we confront the climate crisis locally.

For Updates, connect with Simply Living on Facebook, Meetup, Twitter, Instagram. You can also visit the Simply Living website and follow our blog. Questions? Email or call 614-354-6172.

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