Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Green Leadership Academy: The Power of Flight

Although I'm well aware of the pitfalls of anthropomorphism in scientific research, I believe that it is essential in the human journey to become environmentally aware and appreciative of this experience called Life. An aspect of the GLADE model draws from this idea. Nothing seems to transform humans more than connecting with a sentient being on a personal level. A bird in the hand has that power, so Tuesday GLADE adventures touched young lives in a remarkable way. Rudbeckia sp., a member of the Compositae family of wildflowers can do the same thing. With a complete flower forming each and every ray and disc, its stunning beauty is a result of the simultaneous blooming of many flowers, each supporting the other and filling its specific niche in the whole. Any member of compositae can serve as a living example for human beings, as we strive to see collective visions come into fruition. What an example for grass roots leadership training!

Does an acorn know that it will become a mighty oak? No, it doesn't. It simply senses a natural impulse to sink its roots deeply into the damp nourishing soil and to continually reach for the light overhead. If it falls in a thunderstorm, does it give up? No, it follows a natural impulse to regrow and continues to stretch upward. We can teach so much using these examples.

Birder friend and GLADE Project Admnistrator Lisa Berger wrote to me yesterday. "This morning a golden glow hangs over the White River Glades and Woodlands. Some say it's the energy emanating from sixteen exceptional GLADE participants' life transforming experiences." I'm not even going to touch the metaphysical aspects of her words, but I'm equally sure something significant happened in our social experiment in GLADE.

To sum up GLADE Wednesday, I'd have to paraphrase something I read long ago. I think it was in The Book of the Vision Quest...... "There is a gift to give away, a vision to perform, a path to follow, a light to bear."
Giant cane restoration was the order of the day, and the GLADE-iators were tireless and joyous in spite of the sweltering heat in the high 90's. They had discovered the joy of connecting with Nature...... and each other. By this time the media have discovered us, and they swarmed in on this serendipitous day! I think I'll let them tell the rest of the story. Click on the links.

The last days of camp were simply a joyous adventure for the students. We escaped the heat on Thursday as we studied the surface and sub-surface biology and geology of Tumbling Creek Cave and Dr. Tom Aley's Ozark Underground Laboratory. That evening, we collected noctural insects with Dr. Chris Barnhart of Missouri State University
On Friday we collected data on Bee Creek and Bull Shoals Reservoir, comparing lake and stream ecosystems both qualitatively and quantitively. We enjoyed an evening of microscopes and music, a perfect combo for our young naturalists.

Students reluctantly packed their bags and returned home on Saturday morning, but not without a renewed vision and a sense of empowerment. Each received a $100 grant to develop a "green" project in their home community. We now await the results of our experiment to shape communities in a clean, green, and sustainable way.
One thing is certain. We "acted today to shape tomorrow", and I feel honored and priveleged to have been there to tell the story. Here's what I sensed:

I listened
While 16 young people told a story of Life
As old as the Ancients
In a fresh, new way
With Green Hands, Warm Hearts, and Open Minds
The Roaring in their Ears
Led them to its Source
The River of Life
Where they plunged in
And were carried away
When they rose out of the depths
They found that they were
Cleansed, Renewed, Alive
And capable of Flight!


Mike said...

Brilliant, Greg. Sounds like an amazing experience!

Greg said...

Thank you, Mike. That means a lot coming from you. We'd love to see the model expanded.....