The 9th Continental Bioregional Congress
Earthaven Ecovillage, July 2005
Over five months later, we offer these highlights from Cathy’s daily reports:
People came from all over the country, from the Ozarks, Chesapeake Bay, Minnesota, the Great Lakes, Florida, California, Puget Sound, Texas, Mississippi, and Maine; from as far away British Columbia and Mexico; from further south: Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil; and from regional islands: the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Puerto Rico. We were all assigned to “clans,” called by such names as Crow/Cuervo, Butterfly/Mariposa, Deer/Venado.
Tours of our growing community of 60 people were given. Opening ceremony was held in Hidden Valley, to which we hiked, chanting “Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit.” Around the ceremonial circle, spirits of the directions, future generations, and great living souls were called to be with us. Everything was translated into Spanish.
Two hundred people spoke their names and bioregions, offered a silent prayer, and tossed a symbolic stick into the fire. Then came drumming, flute playing, dancing and celebration late into the night. Sunday morning we gathered on the Village Green, where the outline of North America had been traced in grain, each of us standing in our respective bioregion.
Later, inside Council Hall, where a huge patchwork turtle created by a previous Congress had been hung on one wall, our team of facilitators helped focus on the week’s activities. Besides scheduled speakers and workshops and a Council of All Beings led by John Seed, time was left for “Open Space” meetings. Children’s plant walks, puppet making, painting, and singing activities were planned. A schedule of healing and creative arts took shape, including yoga, massage, music jams, tai chi, plant walks, and natural fermentation.
On Monday, Angelica Flores, a traditional healer from Mexico, smudged us with copal smoke, intending for all: “That every day, we care for ourselves and others; let go of egotism we bring from outside; join hearts and will as one being with the permission of the guardians of the sacred, all the elemental beings and the force of the Spirit who lived here long ago.”
The Bioregional agenda of building strong local economies permeated many of the week’s workshops and conversations. One evening, men and women met separately. The men went to Hidden Valley and walked back holding hands, eyes closed except for the leader, practicing trust. They returned to Council Hall just as the women’s spiral dance was ending, the women singing “Mother, sister, daughter, friend,” embracing each other with moist eyes. High point!
On Thursday evening, our Central and South American participants put on a cultural presentation including songs about the dangers of genetically modified crops and cheap corn for export. There was rap poetry, power point presentations and tales of shamans among the Kogi of Colombia. Then special sweets and drinks were offered, followed by drumming and salsa dancing. Plenaries full group sessions to work on the mission, positions, and future plans of the Congress rounded out the week in a whirlwind of consensus-based decision-making processes.
Weather-wise, we had rain, rain, and more rain while hurricanes pounded the East Coast. Campers kept spirits high and handled conditions amazingly well. Many new friends were made, old friendships rekindled, and hopes and blessings for our precious world were reinvigorated.