Category Archives: imaginement®

Are you tuning into Nature’s music (part 2 of 2)

The environmentalist, Thomas Berry, sees nature with the eyes and ears of the ancestors. The ancestors were much keener at perceiving the rhythms and undertones of nature and were wise enough to recalibrate their own rhythms with nature—as if listening to a tuning device. Berry writes

Our present Earth is not Earth as it always was and always will be. It is Earth

at a highly developed phase in its continuing emergence. We need to see the

sequence of earthly transformations as so many movements in a musical

composition. In music, the earlier notes are gone when the later notes are

played, but the musical phrase, indeed the entire symphony, needs to be heard

simultaneously. We do not fully understand the opening notes until the later

notes are heard. Each new theme alters the meaning of the earlier themes and

the entire composition. The opening theme resonates throughout all

the later parts of the piece (3). 

That may be why Paul Hawken sees this time as a watershed moment in history.

The heating planet is our commons.

It holds us all. To address and reverse

the climate crisis requires connection

and reciprocity. It calls for moving out of

our comfort zones to find a depth

of courage we may never have known.

Try this the next time you are out in nature—the garden, taking a walk on the beach in the mountains—to listen. Take in the sounds, audible and silent, and sense the rhythms that resonate deep within your being. Listen, truly listen …

Hawken, P. Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one generation. (NY: Penguin,2021), p. 9.

Bessel van der Kolk What is Trauma?

Berry, Thomas. “The Gaia Hypothesis: Its Religious Implications,” in The Sacred Universe: Earth, Spirituality, and Religion in the Twenty-first Century (NY: Columbia University Press, 2009), pp. 107-108.


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Are you tuning into Nature’s music? (part 1 of 2)

It seems that no matter what platform you go for information, you are likely to see tracks or courses offered to both general audiences and professionals on “trauma.” Once associated  with extreme cases such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, that affected veterans of war going back as far as Viet Nam war in the sixties, we know better today that it is even more common  given the stresses of ordinary daily life: our jobs, relationships, life and current events and the way trauma is held in the body and continues to evoke similar responses even long past the original event (1).

Where does Mother Earth turn with the stresses and trauma inflicted by human beings over the past decades? This is usually the place we shut down because it is too overwhelming even in the face of climate change events—fires, floods, melting glaciers. Environmentalist Paul Hawken (2021) offers hope in his book Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, a self-regenerative system as a leadership model that would not only reverse the climate crisis in the most compelling, prosperous, and inclusive way but also would result in the regeneration of life in all its manifestations, human and biological (2).

Bessel van der Kolk. What is Trauma? youtube.

Hawken, P. Regeneration: Ending the climate crisis in one generation. (NY, NY: Penguin,2021), p. 9.

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Happy 150th Birthday Yellowstone Park!

Happy retirement to ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, age 100!

In the 19th century, the USA government depended on expeditions made up of surveyors, photographers and artists to document the vast western reaches of the new nation. Subsequently, Congress got a sense of the country viewing photographs and sketches of the picturesque landscapes. Yet it would be the monumental painting of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone by Hudson River School painter, Thomas Moran (1837‒1926) painted in 1872 that would move Congress to set aside designated public lands (see below).

The result is the nascent National Park System of national treasures for future generations, the first of its kind in the world, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. The fledgling new nation likely adopted from First Peoples’ Nations, consciously or unconsciously, the concept of stewardship of the land for future generations.

According to the park’s website, Yellowstone is located at the point of convergence of the Great Plains, Great Basin, and Columbia Plateau where 27 Native American Tribes have historic and modern connections to the land and its resources. For over 10,000 years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans lived, hunted, fished, gathered plants, quarried obsidian, and used thermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.

In meeting the challenge of climate change, the USA has a longstanding heritage in restoring an emerging attitude grounded in what David Orr (1992) sees as ecoliteracy – the ability to “observe nature with insight resulting in a merger of landscape and mindscape” (pp. 85–87). When you marvel of Yellowstone’s role as one of the last and largest nearly intact natural ecosystems on the planet, its thousands of hydrothermal sites and active geysers, adds to its natural wonder at Yellowstone and any number of the many national parks’ pristine vistas.

We could all do well to follow in the footsteps an inspirational advocate for the parks the behalf of us all–ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who retired yesterday at age 100—thank you Betty!

Thomas Moran Painting Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone completed and displayed to Congress in 1872. Thomas Moran Oil on canvas mounted on aluminum. H 213, W 266.3 cm Department of the Interior Museum. Check the museum website for its reopening to the public and go see this amazing exhibit.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone completed and displayed to Congress in 1872.
Thomas Moran
Oil on canvas mounted on aluminum. H 213, W 266.3 cmDirect capture

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Involving Your Community in Exhibit Planning

The following is adapted from a panel presentation for museum professionals at the American Association of Museums AAM annual meeting in 2001 held in St. Louis, MO. Though written from the perspective of a small museum, The Trenton City Museum NJ, its concepts apply to any museum that needs to tap the resources within its community on how to get started.

1.  Realize that the center of your universe is not the institution, but the community.

One way is to stop focusing on internal issues is to get outside your organization and ask people what they think of it and what they want from it. In planning for the baseball exhibit titled “When Trenton Baseball Roared Like Thunder” the museum sent out a call to the public through the press for baseball memorabilia. The response was overwhelming from the serious collectors with large amounts of memorabilia, families of outstanding players as well as individual collectors. Many of the owners wanted direct involvement in the planning so the museum formed an advisory committee made up of academics, business people, sportswriters and other interested baseball fans.

2. Make a decision to be open.

The first step of reaching out is an inside job. A community can sense an attitude from the institution. In some cases, the community approached us with ideas for projects, such as a hat exhibit reflecting Trenton’s former cottage industry. Whether you go out to the community or the community approaches you, as project facilitator it is strongly recommended that you stay open to possibilities as well as trust in the process.

3. Think locally as well as globally.

While it is essential to know what is going on locally, know also that it can mislead you. Keep up with regional news as well. It was only when a major Philadelphia news channel reported about the construction of the brand new baseball stadium in Trenton that we realized just how newsworthy the topic of baseball in Trenton was. If we had only been informed by the local news, we would not have even considered the baseball exhibition because the local newspapers listed almost daily only the mishaps during the stadium construction  and reflecting public cynicism for the project. (It would fail–taxes would increase to cover the shortfall, etc.) Now in its eighth season, Trenton holds the record for attendance for the entire league the past 7 years.

4. Have an agenda not to have an agenda.

Good planning requires a road map, of course. But make sure to leave space for creative turns. You have a great, innovative idea for a collaborative project. The committee is in place. Enthusiasm is high and everyone is set to get to work. Though it is you that will drive the project and keep it on track, in the early planning allow for the creative process to unfold as it builds successively on the suggestions and talents of those on the planning committee. The baseball advisory was a treasure throve of talent: a graphic designer scanned all the images, produced the outputs and publication design while two academics wrote the grant narrative and edited the proceedings from the symposia which was the museum’s first ever publication. Your motto must be that of Alexandre Ledru-Rollin  “I’ve got to follow them; I am their leader.”

5.  Become adept at collapsing boundaries and at drawing them.

Keep in mind that this entity that we call community is today an organic life form. At times there will be boundaries and pockets of self-identification to establish who is “in the community” and who is not, which is critical to a communal sense of identity. However at other times these can be seen as problematic in a world that seeks to eliminate those boundaries that divide and wound. (Mayeski) At the museum I learned about an important borderless community, the people who were “Trentonians at heart”—children and grandchildren of former Trentonians. Though they grew up in the suburbs, they defined themselves as Trentonians and were eager to contribute.

(to be continued)

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