Rather than celebrating the planet one day each year, renowned author and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams says she considers it more important to build "a conscious relationship with the Earth every day."
"What I'm more interested in now is how we see environmental issues as issues of justice," said Williams, who was in Colorado Springs earlier this month for the State of the Rockies conference at Colorado College.
The symposium was designed to address environmental and social issues facing the Rocky Mountain West, and Williams' topic was "ground truthing" -- or, in her words, "if we listen to the land, we will know what to do."
A native of Salt Lake City, Williams is perhaps best known for her memoir of her mother's fight with cancer, Refuge. A critic of the current Bush administration's environmental policies and the war in Iraq, she asked CC students: "Where is our outrage? And the question that follows that is: Where is our love?"
To the students she offered this advice: "Question, stand, speak, act."
She said she was glad to travel from Utah to this "beautiful mountain community on the edge of the Front Range called Colorado Springs." But she noted that the State of the Rockies project had opened her eyes to the city's sprawl.
Avoiding a degraded, unhealthy environment here will require mental awakening, she said. "It begins with listening to each other and what our needs are. That would include not just human beings, so we're thinking about the Front Range beyond our own species."
And the more of this place that can be saved, she said, the more we can relate to our environment.
"Open space creates open minds," she said, "which ultimately creates open hearts."
-- Dan Wilcock
Photo by Collan Fitzpatrick
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