Deepening our roots in Land Ethic in order to heal and nurture our lives, livelihood, and diverse local ecology.

Our guiding vision is to restore, regenerate, and heal ourselves, our community, and the land, for they are not separate entities. By expanding our realm of awareness and responsibility, we may learn, and therefore act, from the wisdom embedded within the native ecology. Everyday we strive to realize through action what Aldo Leopold called the “Land Ethic”, which “simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” We engage in daily practices of self-healing, self-sufficiency, community-building, and land-healing.

1. Self-Healing — meditation is a core practice here at Prairie Oaks. Through daily meditation among workers and weekly meditation alongside members of the Quad Cities community, we learn to slow down and to simply show gratitude and appreciation for the space we share. For more information about the sangha that meets here weekly, email joycelsingh@gmail.com. By practicing mindfulness, awareness, and clarity in our daily action, we are able to engage with our own processes of self-knowledge. Communities created around self-healing are supportive and encouraging.

2. Self-Sufficiency — self-sufficiency encourages us to implement self-knowledge by engaging with the world. Practicing permaculture, seed saving, and daily systems of self-reliance are all ways to practice. Every day offers new opportunities and new angles through which we can creatively engage in the process. When we practice self-sufficiency, we may move in truly resilient collective action.

3. Community-Building — we build community by engaging creatively with the land here at Prairie Oaks by bringing in community members of the Quad Cities. The land is our teacher. Prairie Oaks invites people of the Quad Cities to learn and practice Land Ethic by working alongside the community here, to share their talents, skills and wisdom. Committed to community, we are open to volunteers on the land and to new participants in our meditation practice, as mentioned above.

4. Land-Healing — this is the major initiative that brought Prairie Oaks to life. Through the regeneration of this native ecology, we may encourage and support the life of all members, from the microbiota within the soil, to the birds within the oak trees, to the people of this area who wish to understand their place within the dynamic and resilient ecosystems of Iowa. The land has taught us the importance of community, and it is to the land that the community may always return for wisdom and insight.


Motivation

An expansive 70-80% of Iowa used to be tallgrass prairie before it was cleared and converted into cropland, which we now see as monocultures of mostly corn and soy. Less than 0.1% of the original tallgrass prairie remains in Iowa today (1). Similarly, the oak savanna used to be one of the most common types of vegetation found in Iowa, however since the mid-19th century it has been largely fragmented and destroyed by clearing for cropland, overgrazing, and increasing numbers of invasive species. “Oak savanna now shares equal billing with tallgrass prairie as the most threatened plant community in the Midwest and among the most threatened in the world” (2).


(1) http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Neal_Smith/wildlife_and_habitat/tallgrass_prairie.html

(2) http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EndangeredResources/Communities.asp?mode=group&Type=Savanna

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