I am one of four people who upon hearing the call of an ecosystem restoration camp immediately put everything in life aside and travelled to this disturbed landscape to embody this dream. It is an honor to be here and at times feel like an astronaut on a mission, exploring a distant planet―aware that my being here can only be due to the tremendous work of ground control. Similarly, an on-going joke around here is that we represent the pirate committee of this operation, as we chose to move on sight before all logistical details have been finalized. And as a result, during these first few days we have had to exercise some patience. At first this impediment has caused some anxiety here as we are all excited to get to work.
With time and some deep breaths, we have managed to soften our sights and discover what has proven to be very important work, which I believe will live on into the far future of Ecosystems Restoration Camp. The first few days, thus, have been spent setting up practices that tend to the cultural zones of Ecosystem Restoration Camp.
These practices begin in the morning over breakfast where we have a check in time in which each camper has the opportunity to express how they are doing and share reflections. After breakfast we meditate. In the evening we have a checkout, allowing another opportunity for reflection.
We have also been developing an educational component to life here as well. One of our practices is to take turns hosting classes after dinner. The structure is quite simple; one person takes 15 minutes to introduce a topic, followed by discussion. Conversely, someone can use their time to request a lesson from fellow campers on a topic they know little about. There have been mini Spanish classes, a class on the unified theory of change and a lot of talk on local ecology. We have also used these times to read and discuss Mollison´s Permaculture manual.
Another luxury which our time has offered us has been the opportunity to study the land. While exploring various micro-climates and their ecologies we practice imagining restoration work. When we find a sight of erosion, for example, we ask, what could we do here to slow the flow of water and capture sediment? We then go back and forth about various options and decide what order they should be implemented. When observing a sight where over farmed valley meets an over timbered hillside we ask, what would the first thing we would do to restore this sight? What would the second and third thing be? Slowly in our minds we are playfully creating a personal vision of what happens on this land, how it will be done and what the culture will be like to make it so.
And from these simple exercises I am noticing results within the non-material zones of this project: the relationships.
Thus we can say that zone 1 is the self. And here I can report a softening since I have arrived, a simple and consistent joy, a drive to be earnest and bring my entire being into presence.
Zone 2 is the relationships between campers. I have witnessed ever greater comfort, discoveries of how we complement each other and can support each other’s growth. When we look each other in the eye there is love.
Zone 3 is our relationship with the land. In expeditions we enthusiastically discover new species, different soils, water and airflows. We ask many questions to the land and listen to its answers. And through this dialogue there is a subtle feeling of trust and belonging I detect.
As we gear up to get to work I feel a wealth of gratitude for this buffer period. There is something in the air which is forming-something electric. I have the sense that as this project grows so too will the culture we are building. We are discovering our place in the universe.