As long time friends, Jamie and Colleen have been ever-inspiring individuals and their community throughout the years. The first time I saw a giant heirloom tomato growing on a vivid green vine was in the backyard of Colleen’s parent’s house, where her dad transformed the backyard into a garden oasis. I remember the nostalgic smell of tomato plants and mulch as Colleen and I made hemp jewelry together on her picnic table. Colleen is a horticulturist, an herbalist, an artist a homeschooling mother and a goddess of all trades. Jamie is a very talented potter and musician who has been inspired by his ancestry, The Wyandot Tribe. I feel privileged to have introduced such an amazing duo. Jamie and Colleen are a perfect example of how younger generations have followed their own paths and dreams and have kept homesteading traditions alive.
Each “Spotlight on Stewardship” will focus on answers to the following five questions:
1) What inspired you to be a steward of the earth?
2) What major obstacles have gotten in your way?
3) To you, what are the 5 most pressing environmental issues?
4) What would be your 5 solutions to those issues?
5) What steps are you taking personally to contribute to a brighter future for the planet?
As long time friends, Jamie and Colleen have inspired me and enriched my life for many years. Below are their answers to their five questions.
1. Jamie and Colleen have each been inspired to be earth stewards from childhood; Jamie has always considered the Earth as a sacred expression of the spirit of life and Colleen discovered a deep connection with plants in her teenage years and gardening seemed to ground her and connect her to her family history. As adults, we see the Earth as a holistic unit, where everything is connected. We feel like it is most important as individuals to engender respect and reverence for small places like creeks and farms in our local area. If we make a difference on a small scale then we might be able help with the bigger "issues." Doing good for the Earth is nourishment for the soul.
2. The main obstacle facing us today is the prevailing world view that assumes that we are somehow separate from the rest of creation. If we forget that we are connected to the ever-flowing source of life we can lose hope. Like the permaculture activists like to say: "The problem becomes the solution." Throw love at any insurmountable obstacle and it will dissolve into satisfying work.
3. It is really easy to get depressed about all of the seemingly mountainous problems facing the monoculture-heading human environment. Just a few problems include; War, Pollution, Soil Deficiency, and widespread Apathy. It seems like the major cause of all these problems are human’s loss of connection to the Earth, to their ancestry, and to their food source. Now most of our water on Earth contains toxins due to miss-use of natural resources.
4. People have to wake up to stop following the broken way. We all have to do it together. Each individual human is one unit of the Human organism. We need to change as a unit. Any power that we have is given from the eternal source of life. Peace is not impossible. Human relationship with the Earth is not doomed!
5. As parents, our most important role now is to help to connect our children to nature so that they will respect the Earth and to give thanks for life. We grow our own food and eat wild edibles. We are working on small solutions to end our dependency on fossil fuels. Living a simple life and knowing our neighbors is our activism. Global prayer and meditation are our strongest actions for a better future. We feel we can make more of a difference locally. Energy focused locally spreads out in waves across the human spectrum. Colleen leads the homeschooling of our two daughters and is growing another child in her womb. She gives herb walks and lectures in hopes to reconnect people to their local food and medicine. We live and work in a two room schoolhouse that Colleen's grandmother owns. We are restoring this hundred year old building. We currently haul all of our water, which makes us have to slow down a little and cultivates gratitude within us as we receive it as a gift. Jamie supports the family by selling his ceramic artwork which is made in the home. He sees his artwork as a vehicle for connecting to ancestral life ways. By studying ancient indigenous pottery motifs he feels he can continue on the story told on those ancient vessels. We have a local stream team and encourage our neighbors to take part in land stewardship. After being inspired for years by friends and Dancing Rabbit Ecovilliage, we are finally ready to root down and start building our straw bale/cob hybrid solar house in the pines. We have been researching many permaculture methods for collecting water, building with natural materials and growing more food. We try to keep fear at bay and don't dwell on negative issues. Prayer is a source to continually connect us to the creator and all that surrounds us. Changing isn't easy, but we are making tiny steps in our life. Every day is humbling and full of new learning opportunities. With supportive partnership, our life paths are able to blossom.
Jamie is a master potter who creates beautiful hand coiled pots. Check out Jamie’s website www.jamiezanesmith.com/