Great-Grandmother Emily’s Vision of Universal Peace -1915

I was awestruck when I read this 1915 article about my Great Grandmother Emily Hoppin (the inspiration for Eliza in “The Desk”) after she was elected President of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Mrs. Hoppin 1915

“Mrs. Hoppin is an optimist . . . even in the face of the greatest war of all ages (WWI), she still hopes that work for peace, which she feels must be largely woman’s work, will not – cannot – be in vain. She anticipates that the condition we pray for, the prevalence of an effective sentiment for universal peace, may come about suddenly and unexpectedly, likening it to the movement for the abolition of slavery, which seemed a far, Eutopian vision in the minds of its supporters. Practically all they dared hope for was the restriction and limiting of the traffic – and then, of a sudden, Emancipation! – more glorious than their fondest dreams! And so she prays it may be with the peace sentiment.”                                               (The Overland Monthly, 1915 – “The New Executive in Feminine Clubdom”)

Though I also consider myself an optimist, I get easily discouraged by what feels like a tsunami of greed and self-interest. I lose hope. Think of today’s big issues: gun control, the Afghanistan war, reproductive choices, the right to marry, genetically-modified foods, etc. (obviously reflects my liberal perspective). Sure, I sign internet petitions, donate to causes, make an occasional call to elected representatives, but I recognize a little voice that says, “I’ll do what I can, but it’s probably hopeless – too much money and corporate interest backing it.”

And then I read my Great-Grandmother’s words and come face to face with the paucity of my vision. Remember Ken Keyes’ book, The Hundredth Monkey? He wrote: “When only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness reaches almost everyone!”

I return to Great Grandma’s vision that “universal peace may come about suddenly and unexpectedly, likening it to the movement for the abolition of slavery, which seemed a far, Eutopian vision in the minds of its supporters. . . then, of a sudden, Emancipation! – more glorious than their fondest dreams!”

I realize now my work is to join with others to hold a strong, clear image of the world I want. A world where guns are registered like cars, and users are tested for skills and safety. Where any committed couple can marry. Where the earth has a sustainable population because women can control conception. Where we learn to live with less energy … and so on. I encourage you to think about the images you hold – and how they can add to the tipping point.

 

© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.

Nature Forced into Unnatural Acts.

Row of trees cut for powerlineIt’s such a common sight near power lines, but every time I see this, my heart aches for the beheaded tree.

It was growing there long before man ran his electricity in straight lines and chopped off anything that got in his way.

 

Driving across the Sacramento Valley to Woodland where my ancestors settled during  the Gold Rush, I took lots of photos.

Most were scenes of vibrant mustard flowers carpeting the ground of cloudy pink fruit orchards. But some Mustard in fruit orchardorchards were bereft of any ground vegetation.Furrowed field I thought the fields of dark earth all furrowed and ready for planting were stunning at first, until I noticed the absolute absence of weeds.        Hmmmm.

Man’s need supersedes that of  nature most times.  I’ve learned recently that oil companies are hovering like bees a bit south in the central valley in one of the richest deposits of oil in the United States called the Monterey Shale.  Get ready for the next Gold Rush made possible by hydraulic fracking.

Fracking creates fractures in rocks thousands of feet below the surface by injecting them with water laced with chemicals and sand, allowing oil or gas to flow out.  Fracking received a specific exception from the Clean Water Act in the 2005 Energy Bill, so oil companies don’t have to reveal what chemicals they use.

Again, with no regard to Mother Earth, some 30 chemicals including hydrochloric acid, are injected into her body to extract oil. Fracking and disposal of fracking waste has been linked to groundwater pollution, drinking water contamination and earthquakes.

How long until Earth fights back, like an abused woman who’s finally had enough?  In the meantime, as Dick always says, Go Gently.

Links to read more on the Monterey Shale:

http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/fracking-boom-looms-in-californias-monterey-shale/

http://www.newtimesslo.com/cover/6555/californias-silent-oil-rush/

Thanks Debra!

The Year 2088?

357What would your world be like if you lived in the year 2088?  As my novel goes 75-100 years into the future, I’m imagining the details of my great-granddaughter’s existence and that of the planet.  I was struck by a recent report in Nature magazine:  Approaching a State-Shift in Earth’s Biosphere. An international team of scientists concludes that our planet’s ecosystems are careening towards an imminent, irreversible collapse much sooner and much worse than currently thought.

Lots of novels and films have depicted a dystopic, future world:  Soylent Green, Day of the Triffids, Feed, Waterworld, 2012, The Day after Tomorrow, On the Beach, Logan’s Run, the Matrix, The World without Us, Wall-E, The Great Bay, Canticle for Leibowitz, Andromeda Strain, the Stand, and my favorite written in 1949, Earth Abides – to name a few. Causes vary from rogue viruses, aliens, asteroids, technology gone amuck to nuclear disaster.

Given both the positive and negative trends already underway, suppose mankind is unable to do enough to ward off an irreversible, planetary-scale tipping point.  What’s the outlook for our great-grandchildren if the corporate bottom-line continues to lead us into the future, or GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) continue to alter the biology of our foods and bodies?   How will man communicate or move around the planet when there’s little left to extract from the earth for energy or manufacturing? Extreme heat and rising sea levels will probably eliminate traditional ways to grow food or live.    What if man himself has tipped the earth so far that it’s no longer hospitable to humans?

I’m looking for images, ideas, imaginings. Tell me how you think a person would get through their day 75-100  years from now. I’m curious about details. With your permission, it might make it into “The Desk.”  Leave a comment here or email me at sdickard@gotsky.com.  Thanks!

 

© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.

Migration

Swans in Rice Field

Swans in Rice Field

I was surrounded by a cacophony of swans and geese.  Such a perfect word for the exuberant conversation of migratory Tundra Swans, Snow, Ross and White-Fronted Geese that  arrive every winter to the flooded rice fields in the upper Sacramento Valley.  I spent the afternoon with them recently, amazed as I imagine people have always been at this seasonal flyway.

Two hundred years ago, a Patwin woman – one of the valley tribes I write of in my book – might have looked up at the first honks of returning swans, knowing it was the time for gathering acorns and manzanita berries.  Spanish, Mexican, then European settlers from the east probably saw the migration as the arrival of protein for their winter larder.  But for me, it’s the anticipated arrival of wonder.

People migrate – some.  Migrant workers follow the ripening of spring lettuce and winter squash.  As a rural school nurse, I knew certain families would show up in the spring when the weather was warm enough to camp out at the river.  They stayed until the first frost, then moved on.  Now it’s the seasonal folks who arrive in fall with their trimming scissors to work the local cash crop.  When the harvest’s done, they too move on.

I wonder how the long-term impact of climate change will affect the signals that trigger migration?    2012 was the hottest year on record – a recent report by NOAA  (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Earlier springs, longer, hotter summers, harsher wildfires, droughts, crop losses. Will my great grandchildren tell their children of the days when swans used to overwinter where farmers used to grow rice in the Sacramento Valley?

Stone mileage marker hidden in rice fields

Stone marker hidden in rice fields

Mileage marker between Marysville and  foothill towns

Mileage marker between Marysville and foothill towns

I like my present-time roots.  I feel them deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but I also feel them across the valley where my ancestors settled in 1849.  I like making that trek. I feel the pull of my own winter migration when the returning swans call me to drop what I’m doing, and meet them in the valley.

Evolution of The Desk

Stone Portal 2Do we have the ability to influence our ancestors?  Or our future descendants?  On a restless night several years ago, I found these thoughts changing the course of my novel.

I started out inspired to write about my Great Grandmother Emily who settled during the 1849 Gold Rush in the Sacramento Valley.   But I didn’t want to write yet another biography of a head-strong, determined western woman.  The book shelf’s already full of those!  So I stepped back to look at the larger landscape.

3. Misty Autumn Back Road.Camptonville 11.07Of course…we’re all spirit, and if time transcends the here and now, we all have access to each other’s lives.  What if I could slip back into my great-grandmother’s life and tell her what she’d need to know that might ward off future ecological devastation?  Or hear my great-granddaughter imploring me to build now what she’d need to survive when she returns to our abandoned homestead in the far future?

PetroglyphAnd what if we’re all connected by the vision of an ancient woman of wisdom who saw it all?  Shima’a found a portal that transcended time.  From the heartwood of an oak tree (that as an acorn grew from her heart when she died), a small oak writing desk became her means of inspiring women to gather their power and create new ways of living together. The old, aggressive masculine constructs have run their course. If earth and humanity are to survive, the feminine has to ascend.

 

© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.