05 Nov Vision of Anaia
I open my eyes and wake up to the sound of birdsong. There is a glint of dawn through the window in all her radiant colors.
I slip on my robe and slippers and pad downstairs of my Oakland home. I open the gate to my garden and am awed as always by the explosion of color, the silence of the human world and the whir and song of the insects and birds. Beyond the gate I can hear the quiet swish and happy dings of the electric bicycles as my neighbors go to work and start their day. The buildings around me shimmer with their active solar cells, each building silently powering its own needs with the sun, shifting like leaves to catch every sip of sunshine dropped from his golden rays. I check on the water level in my cistern, swish out the leaves from the evening and peer down into its depths.
I read the sign posted there, colorful and handwritten, “We thank you Water for the life you bring that sustains all. My your pure and nourishing spirit be blessed and multiply” I touch a drop to my forehead, sip its coolness from my hands, repeating the words on the sign out loud.
I say hello to the flowers and trees some heavy with fruit, others turning gray and brown, but rattling with seeds in the breeze. I pick some fresh herbs, breathe in their fragrance, clearing my mind, and set some water to boil. As i wait, I check leaves and fruit, soil moisture and texture, seed production and decay – each experience providing information on what is needed for the longevity of my family’s garden that supplies our family with food and whose bounty is traded for that which we need in our neighbors’ gardens and pantries.
I pick 2 fresh vegetables and and 2 fresh fruits – one to enjoy now and one for my lunch in the forest with the children. I eat the vegetable first, enjoying the smell of the whole plant, savoring the crunch and flavors as I chew. My tea ready, I breathe in the smell of the herbs and take a sip.
My child appears at the gate and enters, barefoot into the garden, selecting her own breakfast and lunch, I love watching her amidst the bright flowers and experiencing the squish of the dark earth in her toes as tho they were my own toes.
“Can I ride the magnetic rail to school today?” she asks. Yes that’s a good idea I say “Since its your school’s turn to be the Voice of the Children at the Regional Council of All Beings and arriving a little early to school would give you time to listen in circle with your schoolmates a bit longer. Let’s collect some of these herbs to bring for tea time.”
I hear a familiar bird call. “Its Jerry,” “Jerry the nuthatch always knows when its time for us to get ready to go.”
We say our thanks to Jerry and all of the other birds who have come to sing our morning chorus and gather our fruits.
I take one last look over our clear and glistening cistern of our water, how the reflections from the buildings amplify in the water, my eyes rejoice in the color of the flowers and trees that crowd and explode in our small plot of earth, our ears begin to turn towards the quiet whirring of bike mobiles on our checkerboard street tough ground cover interspersed with pavement made from our recycled materials. We open the gate, feeling the sun on our back. Loop our arms together, me with my mind to the adventures waiting for me with the preschoolers in the forest, my daughter looking forward to how she and her school will best lead our country in creating policies that take care of one another for now and generations to come.
We close the gate. And pad back upstairs, dark earthly footprints following behind.
Chilean forest school started by one mom now has 64 nursery schools in economically deprived areas of Santiago. We are delighted that children at these schools have outdoor learning opportunities every day on site. Pete Higgins ignited everyone’s commitment and worked to bring together NGOs, the government, educators and the academic world, in order to achieve a collective dream of bringing nature into the daily lives of all children in Chile.
He teaches on a range of Outdoor Education and Environmental Education programmes. Of these, and notable for its 40-year history is the Postgraduate Diploma and Masters degree in Outdoor Education which is unique in Europe and one of the few in the world. It has a high national and international reputation, attracting students from many parts of the world. He teaches both academic and practical aspects of these and other sustainable development and education programmes in the university. He has recently been active in developing on-line approaches to ‘learning for sustainability’, including a University of Edinburgh Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) in the field (UofE LfS MOOC), which in 2015 was followed by over 12,000 individuals in 166 countries; and a similar joint venture with Cornell University (USA) (Environmental Education: A transdisciplinary approach to addressing wicked problems). He is currently (jointly) developing an on-line course in Sustainability that will be available to most students in the University from 2016-17.