Elephants in the Ganges

Dear Lovers of Ecological Balance,

Just an hour ago I heard the inspired ecological prophetess, Vandana Shiva, report with great delight that elephants were returning to the Ganges.  I felt a distinct thrill of recognition run through me as I connected this to our struggle to protect the San  Lorenzo River from commercial and recreational development and to preserve it as a wildlife area.  No matter if the river is in India or America, when we humans back off a bit, the original inhabitants may return.  I am a little sad that the City of Santa Cruz has of today officially opened the Riverwalk.  I imagine there are wild creatures out there who have enjoyed the brief respite from humans.

Vandana was live streaming  this morning on  a Webinar sponsored by the Right Livelihood Center at UCSC on the subject of Covid19: Crisis and Opportunity.  She traces the Covid 19 crisis directly to commodifying food, commodifying nature.  Protection of the forest, protection of a diversity of seeds, protection of wildlife is required to truly protect our health, she says.  That was her message in a nutshell- that we have to change our relationship to nature, and to farming,  if the earth is to be healthy, and if all of those of us  locked down on this earth are to be healthy.    If we don’t get this balance right, we are condemned to continuing pandemics, social breakdown and of course, climate chaos.   Her message helped me make new connections and inspired me with the need for international solidarity.

Here you and I are, in an already over-developed community, trying to protect a small patch of urban river from the the growth addiction of big developers and their willing and self-interested  collaborators like the local Chamber of Commerce.  Profit-motivated designs for our river as a backdrop to upscale restaurants, hotels and luxury condos, never seemed right to most of us.  That’s why Jane and I started this blog – to see the river through the lens of its original occupants rather than through a lens of human pleasure and profit.   But it’s so helpful when a visionary like Vandana Shiva helps us make the connection between growth addiction and a pandemic like Covid 19.  It helps us understand a little better how we all fit into the larger picture.

Shiva has just widened the vision of what we are doing here in our blog, and what hundreds of thousands of small groups of people around the world are doing, to honor the natural world and stop the forces of development that threaten this world.  She is helping us understand the connection between elephants in the Ganges, an obscure and microscopic virus, and protecting wildlife wherever we find it – not only in the pristine wilderness areas, but in our own urban backyard in Santa Cruz.  She is helping us understand what it means to achieve real health in a world currently controlled by powerful anti-health forces masquerading as promoters of health, i.e. Big Pharma, Agribusiness and so many more.  The ecological disaster caused by these players has created the real pre-existing conditions, including mass poverty and ecological destruction,  that underlie the current pandemic.

Keep washing your hands and practicing physical distancing – or whatever else it takes to stay alive in this emergency – so that we can continue to create an international ecological movement for a healthy world.  That is Vandana Shiva’s vision.  I will try to include a link to her talk in my next post.

My computer has crashed again and I’m writing this laboriously with my thumbs!  I had some good stories and photos, especially about a hungry juvenile hawk and a hapless squirrel.  Those  stories will have to wait until next time.  But I wanted to tell you about Shiva’s talk right away.

As we go back into the local parks, including the Riverwalk, I know I will be even more motivated to treat the wild plants and animals with all the respect they deserve, knowing that our health and their health depend on living in balance with each other.

Amazed to be alive at such a dramatic moment in the earth’s history.






2 thoughts on “Elephants in the Ganges

  1. Thankyou Barbara, such truths! We heard a hoot owl in the middle of the night the other night – here on the west side!! It was worth the wake up, so beautiful, peaceful …my heart was full of joy. My best to you, Susan Martinez


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