In the summer of 2015, delegates from Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education (WE) joined friends and allies on the Walking Water (WW) pilgrimage, a 300 mile journey by foot from Miwok, Mono and Paiute territories in the eastern Sierra Nevada to Tongva territory by the sea (Los Angeles, CA).
During the pilgrimage, the group often fell into long spells of quiet. The conversations that arose from the cadence of walking bodies came naturally — unrushed and without agenda. That sort of easeful talk emerged late one afternoon, to the pacing of tired footfalls on a dirt road layered with the finest clay dust, so soft underfoot that many of us walked barefoot.
Our feet landed with gentle “poofs” alongside tracks left by black bear, rabbit and road runner — all imprinted with exquisite detail. These tracks in the dust reflected the shared path we were and are always walking — an undeniable relationship between us and our wilder cousins. And what of our relationship to ourselves and one another? Walking the path of stolen water through stolen lands invited an embodied meditation on the devastating consequences we are bound to.
Alternately inspired and dismayed, we spoke in measured tones about inevitable, yet mysterious futures: strength in numbers, resilience in diversity, guidance from nature, and the terrifying feeling of what will happen if we fail to divest from the failing projects of domination, colonization, supremacy and unchecked industry. These conversations reverberated in the landscape.
“The biosphere is collapsing.
Human systems are the cause.
It is already bad. It will get worse.
We don’t know how much worse.
I can’t fix this. Neither can you.
But perhaps we can. What we do matters.
The bigger the we,
the more it will matter.”
~ Sam Edmondson, Weaving Earth Associate Director
From WE’s 2020 article in Loam Magazine,
“Collapsing into the Future’s Arms: Tools for an Ideological Migration”
Weaving Earth (WE) gratefully joins a chorus of voices rising throughout time who know and imagine that humanity is capable of much more than systems and legacies of destruction and division. Many people and communities already embody this, and have for a long time. We witness humanity in a moment of mythic proportions where our struggles and wisdom are being put to task, with everything riding on our ability to collectively respond — in interrelated and differentiated ways — on behalf of the survival of the whole. We are aware that we do not, and cannot, have all the answers, though we are committed to the part we have to play.
Amidst the severity and vulnerability of this moment, we ask the questions: how will we face this collapse? How will we educate for these times? Relational Education is our evolving response.
Our approach aims to interrupt unjust cultural systems that have perpetuated inequity and pushed the planet to the brink of collapse, while at the same time recollecting a felt sense of interrelationship with all life. With this foundational praxis beneath us, we support people to take actions that meet the imperative to care for both people and the planet.
The past 12 months have been yet another embodied meditation on devastating consequences. Record-setting wildfires, flooding, heat and hurricanes. We’ve witnessed unrest and protest, met by unsettling opposition from militarized police and citizen militias. And last month, record voter turnout further illuminated a deeply divided country in an election that remains unconceded, despite its very clear results. As the calendar year concludes, the US continues to shatter records for COVID-19 cases and death tolls every day.
It’s a lot to be with. Systems of dominance have such inertia that at times it feels as though they are dragging us all down with them — and they often are. One of our core values at WE has been helping us with this:
“Systems change is urgent — the quality of our response doesn’t have to be…when we rush, we run the risk of reinscribing patterns of dominance and oppression. We seek to slow down and prioritize relationships over results.”
Our connection to Walking Water, which has grown stronger with every passing year is a testament to the importance of mutual support and resilience born of relationships. We are so grateful to the Walking Water team for your wisdom, inspiration, guidance and many forms of partnership. And we are humbled to be able to give back — serving as fiscal sponsor, and continually discovering new ways to collaborate. We have found that we are stronger together.
“I can’t fix this. Neither can you.
But perhaps we can.”
It has been five years since our clay-dusted footfalls carried us in prayerful action on the pilgrimage, and we continue to be fueled by the embodied memory. We can feel the thread stretching between then and now, and how resilience is revealing itself through the webs woven between us. How do we increase that resilience in the face of so much instability? How do we continue to walk in a way that honors the past and protects the future? The choices we make today will inform the storyline to come. We are creating it as we go. “What we do matters.” May we continue.
To support the work of Weaving Earth, please visit: www.weavingearth.org. Current fundraising efforts will support a new collection of offerings aimed at increasing access to our work: a “field guide” to relational education; youth radio shows; a distance-learning programming; an online bird language series and more. The collection will take participants through the four core areas of study and practice: Earth Intimacy, Co-Liberation, Embodiment, and Prayerful Action.