The Sacred Earth Network Masthead

The Sacred Earth Network Newsletter - Spring 98

Issue #12 Page 3



Deep Ecology Page

One of the gifts of the work we do at Sacred Earth Network is connecting with magnificent, empowered people who are each doing their part to create harmony and balance on this beautiful Mother Earth. (In fact, this is the heart of our work communicating and honoring the interconnectedness of all life.)

One such person is Dan Kerlinsky. Dan, who is a Child Psychiatrist and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, e-mailed Sacred Earth Network after reading our web page. Thus began a dialogue which has warmed our hearts, and magnified our vision. His expression of wholeness, wisdom and compassion was a joy to find awaiting us in our e-mail In-boxes.

"I grew up in Western Massachusetts so I enjoyed looking around your website. In the early 80's I had my introduction to sweatlodge and aboriginal views of "modern civilization" and what our ecocidal technology is doing to the planet. In the late 80's I was one of the instigators to get Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) to see that instant nuclear annihilation was just the most dramatic image of the destructiveness of what we are doing ecologically... and we needed to reframe from the acute "stroke" to the chronic illness.

PSR <www.psr.org> has been focusing on the human health impacts of environmental threats while I continue to pull for the ecological and cosmological understandings that when we separate "mind" from "nature" we treat nature as a non-sentient object and lose our own access to the larger whole, our cosmic identity as the universe itself.

This fundamental error of western consciousness sets up our disregard for the
destruction, ugliness and imbalance we have let loose... as if the toxic waste would just affect somebody or something else.

In my field, child psychiatry, overcoming the false sense of separation is considered dangerous because the people we see who break down boundaries are usually unstable and ill. This century has seen terrible cruelty from Stalin, Hitler, and others who were able to manipulate the setting aside of the usual collective moralities so any adjustment of mental boundaries is viewed with suspicion.

In our sacred work on behalf of life on Earth we introduce people to so much pain, so many beautiful species near extinction, so few sacred groves left anywhere that took thousands of years to shape, so many threats... that we must also help people find the bliss, peace, and inspiration that comes from deep within when we begin to believe we can be part of making things right on the planet.

The other night I was going through old cassettes and found a tape of "We Are the World" and I remembered the upswelling rush of energy I felt to hear all those familiar voices from the pantheon of music stars... and those words, even if people took the title figuratively and not literally.

Just for a moment the chance to feel our hearts at peace with the image of bringing the human and all the hundred million other life forms on the planet back to balance... what a miracle that would be!

I've been planning to start a Deep Ecology chat room off Physicians for Social Responsibility's website. I think a priority action is to create the opportunities online for a pursuit of the awarenesses of deep ecology.

Workshops and sweat lodge and yoga practice and meditation, and nature hikes and camping are not enough. We need to help grow the culture of deep ecology by making the set of insights more readily available... and by stirring each other to communicate.

With the profound ecological devastation under way and our growing awareness of the pain of such degradation... I believe we recover our sense of value primarily by accessing such higher states for the benefit of all terrestial beings.

Daniel Kerlinsky MD

<DKerlins@cph.unm.edu>

We read the previous words and told Dan that we thought his perceptions were exceptionally heartfelt and articulate.We asked him if he wanted to add anything. This is what he said:

Thank you for the tears that come to my eyes on reading your kind words and imagining others interested in the views my note expressed. It is sad to have felt alone for so long.

PSR's website has won some recognition but we haven't set up our chat room yet. Maybe we should call it a "Deep Ecology Cave"... instead of a room.

There's a place I go to sit on the edge of the mesa-top cliffs when I come down from the Los Alamos National Lab and need to clear myself from the worries and struggles about nuclear weapons. Looking down like a bird flying over a stream wandering through the trees several hundred feet below, I balance on one foot in the Tai Chi crane pose or sit still and do pranayama breathing and try to imagine myself as old as the rocks.

There is a layer of rock shaped into figure-like forms across the way and light often dances across their faces as the clouds blow over the mountain ridgetop and break up. I think of them as the ancestors.

Down the hill a bit is an Anasazi ruin called Tsankawi tiny meditation caves and trails cut into soft volcanic tuff. Sound resonates inside and doorway views look off 30 miles to the mountains. "Carry these prayers to Washington" I used to imagine; wholeness, eternity, the present moment in time as the funnel between past and future, the place where sand falls through the hourglass. All life that will be... coming through this generation.

Then walk down to Belly Rock - an umbilical protuberance between and below two caves big enough to put your arms around and hug pressing gently against your abdomen.

Can one describe the feeling of coming back home to Mother? What a thrill of delight goes with the sadness, as we lay down the sense of isolation and separation from the living world.

Feeling the pulsation against the soft rock... is this the "pre-birth" circulation? Can one feel so sensual with a rock, with the sunlight, with the wind? And yet, at times, that same sunlight can burn so intensely and the wind can move so powerfully... how do we get over our grief when they drive us indoors?

After the hippie years wore off and the meditation years began the understanding that there is a joyful buzz inside all of creation budded.

Bliss states can we talk about that too? There is so much despair and suffering at
our sense of separation, at our guilt as a species, at our limitations, that we might need the joy, bliss, and peace that comes to us when we declare ourselves members of the Mammal Party, pebbles in the stream bed, fully immersed in the infinite flows of life.

Ooops! there I go rambling again. Did I ever tell you about meditating on the water that moves through the clouds as being part of your body? Or what happens when you lay on the ground at night and invite the galaxy to enter your little body? What sort of challenge is it to an Infinite Being so large to heal the ills of a body so small?

Dan


"Nature's ecosystems have 3.8 billion years of experience in evolving efficient, complex, adaptive, resilient systems. Why should companies reinvent the wheel, when the R&D has already been done?"

-Gil Friend





In Memorium,

Diane Gilman 1945 - 1998

Diane was one of the guiding lights of SEN and founder of the innovative "In Context" journal (now on the WWW). She was one of the first citizen diplomats to the Soviet Union and saw, early, the pivotal role the peoples of that land would play on the global environmental stage. Enthusiastic and open-hearted, she devoted her life to, in Buckminster Fuller's words, "a world that works for everyone." Deep ecology and land-based community development flowed passionately through her being. She will be sorely missed.

See: www.context.org/memorial/



THE SNOW LEOPARD PROJECT

SEN's Eurasian Snow Leopard Project (ESLP) continues to expand and gain momentum by forming new partnerships, providing small grants, and educating the public. The generosity of the Weeden Foundation has allowed us to further support the efforts of the IRBIS Club <IRBIS@kbcenter.freenet.bishkek.su> which is solely dedicated to the preservation of snow leopards. They distribute a quarterly bulletin to educate people about snow leopards and their need for protection. We also continue to support the work of Dr. Evgenny Koshkarev <kbraden@u.washington.edu>, the leading snow leopard researcher in Russia and Central Asia.

Since midsummer, priority has been given to supporting our northern Eurasian partners. Less emphasis is being placed on public education and fundraising via slide shows and merchandise in the U.S. We decided that public education efforts should be targeted toward the citizens of northern Eurasian countries where poaching of snow leopards is seriously increasing. A comprehensive action plan for this is currently being developed. We are also seeking an in-country coordinator to organize our educational and anti-poaching efforts in Eurasia. Further networking and research into potential small grant recipients is also being done in order to allocate our funds most effectively.

Our efforts to save snow leopards in this region are quite timely since recent alarming reports estimate that 80% of the former snow leopard population in Kyrgyzstan, one of the last strongholds of this species, have been killed by poachers. Demand for pelts as well as bones (now being used as substitutes for Tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicine) is increasing. We are currently networking and strategizing with several international firms who are working to increase enforcement efforts and mobilize forces to save snow leopards in this region.

Consider making a special gift for this important project!


ECODOM (ECO-HOME)

The development of the Ecodom project is continuing full speed ahead!

Not long ago it received support from the Russian government's "Your Own Home" communal housing program. Ecodom developed a program for mass construction of energy-efficient houses on the basis of returnable credit. In recent months Ecodom has received proposals from eight administrative "oblasts" of the Russian Federation to be included in this environmentally sound housing construction program. Some private developers have sponsored the construction of environmentally sustainable "Ecodom" housing in a suburb of Novosibirsk, and this construction
project is approved by the elected and administrative authorities of the town. The long-term plan is to construct an eco-village of 64 houses in the area.

"Ecodom" houses are relatively inexpensive. A house of 1180 square feet costs $31,700 when purchased through the Ecodom architectural/construction program. In the Novosibirsk region, a similar size house (not an Ecodom) costs a minimum of $50-60,000. It's possible to construct a house of any size using these principles of environmentally sound housing construction. It's even possible to reconstruct apartment building to fit this environmentally sound housing model--this has been done in Denmark and Belarus.

Igor Ogorodnikov, Ecodom's Project Director, presents one of his model homes.



LETTER FROM CONGRESSMAN OLVER TO US AID

In December 1997 , Bill Pfeiffer made a trip to Washington, DC to see what could be done about increasing support for environmental NGOs in northern Eurasia. He discovered that his Congressman, Rep. John W. Olver, turned out to be on the Appropriations Committee. An excerpted version of Olver's February '98 letter to Brian Atwood, the head of US AID, follows. If volunteering in this area interests you, please contact us.

...As you know, the FY 1998 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill has provided $770 million for the former Soviet States for FY98. I supported the 23 percent increase over the previous year. Indeed, the social, political and economic development of this region is of vital importance to the United States and the entire world.

Unfortunately, from 1994-97, only a small percentageat most 5.3% of the total assistance for this region has been spent devoted to public health and the environment. It is particularly distressing that only a tiny fraction of that figure has been allocated to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are active in the field. This is alarming because NGO development has been a strategic objective of U.S. foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There are numerous ways that NGOs have made a difference in the past 5 years, from creating national parks to the closing of polluted nuclear facilities. Their efforts deserve increased support from the United States, both ideologically and financially. ISAR, formerly known as the Institute for Soviet American Relations, has administered highly successful grants programs as well as cooperative partnership agreements, which should be re-instated and fully funded.

Within the overall field of environmental protection in the NIS, the International Affairs offices of EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service have years of experience. It is important that those two agencies, if not directly administering assistance to NIS NGOs, are acting as advisors in the process.

The conference report for the FY 1998 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill placed strong emphasis on the need for improving the health care system and the environment in the NIS. Local NGOs provide a proven, cost-effective means of ensuring both that US funds are well-spent and in support of these strategic interests . Consequently, I would appreciate your affording indigenous NGOs utmost consideration as recipients of US aid...


ENVIRONMENTAL LAW IN RUSSIA

Expanding the Network

In October, SEN started up the Environmental Law thematic component of the ETP by collaborating with Ecojuris Institute (Moscow) to hold the first seminar for eighteen members of the network of specialists in Russian environmental law. Participants discussed 3 particular "cutting edge" and controversial areas of environmental law: the construction of the St. Petersburg-Moscow high-speed rail, environmental issues surrounding Sakhalin oil field, and radiation safety. In addition, they received training in World Wide Web use for these and other environmental law issues, and they brainstormed how to improve communication among themselves and other members of the expanding environmental law network. Upon conclusion of the seminar, participants wrote and passed a cooperative resolution "On Support for the Bill 'Rights against Dioxins'." They also contributed comments and proposals for the Bill "On the Rights for Information Access," and unanimously passed an agreement committing to provide needed information and help to all members of the environmental law network.

Yekaterina Khmelova <ecojuris@ glasnet.ru> , (Ecojuris Institute), was selected to serve as the Thematic Coordinator, responsible for facilitating information exchange and following up on equipment recipients on behalf of the group.

Shortly after this seminar, Ecojuris scored an important victory. Erika Rosenthal <erosenthal@igc.org> , a lawyer and founder of the Russian Environmental Law Project, reported the following:

Ecojuris Institute Wins Precedent-Setting Nation-Wide Forest Protection Case

After three tense days of hearings, the Russian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ecojuris Institute today, declaring illegal a series of government decrees withdrawing protections from over 36,000 hectares of strictly protected "First Group" forest land. The decrees, signed by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, had been issued without the legally mandated environmental impact review, or Expertiza.

Forests with important watershed protection value, river banks, greenbelts and endangered species habitat are classified as "First Group" forest. The government decrees would have allowed First Group forest parcels throughout Russia to be clear-cut and used for commercial or industrial development.

This case marks the first time in Russian history that a nation-wide complaint brought against the government by citizens and NGOs from across Russia was heard and decided by the Supreme Court. Moreover the case sets important legal precedent marking the first time that government decrees were declared illegal and invalidated by the Supreme Court based on failure to comply with the 1995 Law on Environmental Expertiza, a cornerstone of Russia's new body of environmental protection law.

Thinking the case was lost, Ecojuris Institute decided to risk a bold protest move in closing arguments. Ecojuris Institute lawyers, lead plaintiffs and expert witnesses all stood up at the close of the hearing and condemned the Justice's illegal actions. Both Ecojuris Institute and the Russian Prosecutor General's office stated that they, along with the many citizen and NGO plaintiffs in the case, had done their best to protect Russia's forests and unique biodiversity, as well as citizens' constitutional right to a healthy environment. Now it was the Supreme Court's responsibility. They reminded the Justices that citizens and press from across Russia and around the world were watching.

The Justices recessed for almost two hours to deliberate their historic decision.

For further information, please contact: Vera Mischenko or Olga Yakovleva at Ecojuris Institute. <ecojuris@glasnet.ru>

 


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Revised June 11, 1998