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.

One of the issues that’s very difficult to keep on the table with the city is the simple truth that the spaces under threat are sacred to many people here, Native and non. It seems we are not allowed to speak about the sacred, as it is not quantifiable in dollar values. Traditions of use going back hundreds of years are also insufficient cause to preserve the land, as is the presence of Native sacred sites and, most likely, burials. Unimportant, too, is the likelihood that development will displace endangered species.

Last night, after a very long day, Jennie sat down and wrote the first in what she plans to be a thorough chronicling of these last undeveloped spaces. She gave it the engaging and evocative title, The Nature of Space.  I would like to share it with you.

The Nature of Space

In the last few days, nay, months, nay really years, I have reflected on the nature of space. I count myself as blessed to live in a city that has green spaces all around, including my backyard. In the last year, our mayor, a developer, has been working, with help from elected friends, to erode the green spaces that make our city so special. In the last few months, I have been working with a grass-roots organization (Save Open Space-Burlington) to support our elected officials in becoming more accountable, and to educate the public on what is happening in all our backyards. Its been eye-opening for me, and illuminating, to discover how intrenched our political landscape has become, and how, like one of my colleagues said, that we as a community have become complacent and, well, sheep like (no offense to the lovely sheep out there simply being themselves). I have been simultaneously encouraged and depressed. After three major actions in the last three months, I now know that there is a lot of interest in our human community about open space.

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11 thoughts on “For the Love of Open Space

    • Smilecalm, this project we share, that of holding the Earth dear, demands empathy, doesn’t it? Yet empathy seems so illusive at times. Today being Easter, we are reminded of this.

  1. One of the most beautiful seaside towns in my area is being grossly overdeveloped with condos and hotels and all manner of buildings, to the point where you can no longer see the river as you drive along the streets. Before, this town had antiquated charm, with trees and a glorious water view. Granted, this isn’t an “open space” like you speak of, but the principles are still the same. It all comes down to money. Thanks for a great post.

    • Kate, our culture seems incapable, as a whole, of grasping there are more important things than making money. The destruction of communities is so often an act of greed, with long term harm. Here the Italian community ( a few square blocks) was destroyed to make room for our, now floundering, mall… Recently the city put up a memorial plaque! It did not, however, undo the harm.

  2. I don’t think that our culture a whole is incapable. I don’t think we should be so cynical about it. There are many great examples of innovative space protection and reclamation projects going on in different places around the world. Granted they are never at the pace and extent we would like. But they are happening, and they are growing in momentum. Take a leaf from some of the more successful campaigns going on. Here is a great website it will help inspire enthusiasm. Let’s give gratitude for what has been achieved and by doing so manifest more of it into being. http://www.ecotippingpoints.org/our-stories.html

  3. A poignant post and urgent call for action..or maybe ‘non-action’ in a way of “live and let live”.
    “Only when the last tree has been cut down, last river been poisoned, the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money”, isn’t it?
    I was redirected here by Andrea (through Kate’s bloggers’ post). I feel resonance with your blog and take time to further explore it Michael.

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