For the Love of Open Space

The_FieldColder weather has returned and flurries fill the air. Even so, the snow and ice are increasingly found only in the deeper woods. The maple sap is running only intermittently, although perhaps we will have a strong run later in the week. There is some talk of snow for Easter.

This post, like so many of mine, is firmly rooted in the Nature; the Natural World is a crucial part of Jennie and my lives and spiritual practices. Yet, as the Natural world collapses under the stress of human greed and malice, we find ourselves struggling to stay positive and useful.

Jennie and I have been speaking about documenting the beauty, and perhaps fates, of some of our favorite open spaces in the city. In prior posts I’ve mentioned some of the development threats that face open space here. I’ve been trying to understand how to address these issues in a positive way, to allow myself rage and not give in to hopelessness. I spent much of Saturday thinking about these things. Continue reading

The View From the Orphanage

View_From_The-OrphanageLast night we were honored to be invited by our Abenaki brothers and sisters to drum as part of the opening ceremony at an all city meeting. The event was a  Neighborhood Planning Assemblies meeting called to discuss the proposed development of a large lakefront parcel of land presently owned by a local nonprofit educational institution. The current proposal would place about 700 housing units on prime recreational open space, and is drawing considerable opposition even before the land sells.

Prior to being “owned” by the nonprofit, the building and grounds had been a large orphanage owned and administered by a major religious order. Over its nearly 100 years in operation, the orphanage built an almost incomprehensible history of abuse. During the 1980’s I was part of the legal team that represented about 80 adults who had been victimized at the orphanage as children. Over three years a colleague and I listened to the stories of these courageous people, and supported them as best we were able, as they faced an angry public. Sadly, their court cases were dismissed due to an expired statute of limitations. Back then, few people in the community believed their terrifying stories of abuse. As in many communities, that would change. Later, a few former residents of the orphanage received large settlements from the church. Continue reading