Anne Pearson's Acceptance Speech:
I’ve been following a path through forest – that foxes walked before me – I breathed their scent - they followed the scent of grouse, snowshoe hare and voles whose lacework footprints followed blueberry stems into safe caverns beneath the snow . . . a path graced by the voices of warblers whose music filled my ears, who let me know them, who became my companions. Spring brought them home to fill the trees by the hundreds, their colors brilliant among the evergreens. They sharpened my senses.
We were wind-sculptured, seasoned by freezing salt sea baths, as we fought the fast currents that filled the inner Bay on each tide . . . skin-to-nature . . . taught by the powers of that place to know OUR place in its life.
I learned to let those powers guide me. When winds and waters would allow safe travel with boat loads of hay and groceries and kerosene for the lamps. I learned the inner power that is part of knowing my limits among other species . . . warblers, almost weightless, know instinctively when the winds will carry them on their thousand mile voyages . . . as they navigate by the stars.
Aborigines talk of power places . . . but we lose that closeness of spirit when we bulldoze the forest, live with roads leading from subdivision to shopping mall. We lose touch with the power of the land. We need to let go of our assumed power - to heed our sensory perceptions - the ancient wisdom, the connections that will guide us to make the rules that fit this special planet, this water planet. We are 75% water . . . Novalis says, “Our bodies are molded rivers . . . ”
Over 90% of our decisions are made by the subconscious mind, only ratified by the conscious mind. We have more bacteria in our bodies than cells, bacteria from the soil, without which we couldn't live. E.O Wilson says human life would be impossible without ants . . .
So this path led me to seek the first funds from Chesapeake Bay Trust for what became a series of Summits Toward a Community Vision. to bring innovators to revive those ancient connections for decision-making, the connections to forest, earth, air and water . . . Sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Program, Maryland DNR, Office of Planning, City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, we were asking the Trust for a departure in policy and it was difficult for them. Fran Flanigan, then a trustee, said, “You’ve got to fund this woman!!” And our work forged a beginning for the City and County, installing raingardens and living roofs…a start toward making the rain sacred to our lives instead of cast off into pipes eroding the creeks and rivers, the veins and arteries of the Chesapeake Bay.
The most recent raingarden was funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on Bestgate Road…an oval filled with blooms that ponds to the top with rain from the parking lot, rain that seeps gradually into the earth cooled and cleaned, a constant natural flow to Creeks. The Congregation made tiles to place around the garden expressing the sacredness of the rain, our relationship to it, and the pastor asked for benches for meditation and a natural stone altar for services. Its sign says, “Every part of this Earth is sacred. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is sacred. The rivers are our brothers; they quench our thirst, the perfumed flowers are our sisters. The Earth does not belong to us . . . we belong to the Earth.”
We are still on the path . . . with Governor elect O’Malley’s pledge to establish a fund to match Counties that initiate fee-based Watershed Restoration Funds to restore the Creeks and Rivers. I aim to continue that journey by working, as I pledged Leadership Anne Arundel, to unite business, faith-based, and environmental communities in a Constellation of groups fired by a renewed understanding of our place among the myriad extraordinary species whose diversity makes life on earth rewarding, healthy, spiritually fulfilling.
Octavio Paz says: You open land, your mouth full of water, your body gushes sky, you burst, land, your seeds explode, the world grows green.”
I can’t celebrate those words without all of you and everyone you can entice into this process . . . my colleagues who have come with me down this path, Steve Barry, Kincey Potter, Dick Lahn, Irene Hantman, Jim Gracie, political leaders who have Wayne Gilchrest’s courage on difficult issues, committed businessmen such as Lex Birney and Kent McNew who do not wait for rules to install Living roofs and Cow Power, Church leaders like Angela Shepherd whose insight is inspiring, County leaders like Ron Bowen, funders like Keith Campbell and the Trust, which has kept me from starvation all these years.
So, I ask you to join me to forge this new Constellation: We Belong to the Earth! Together we can prevent its continuing degradation so it can nurture us . . . Join me please: We Belong to the Earth!