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Sep 09
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Touching the Earth Collective: September 2021 Newsletter

Shambhala Mountain Center
Offering Lessons in Earth Protection

By Mac McGoldrick

In 2018 Shambhala Mountain Center established our Healthy Forest Initiative. In this work, we sought to consider our complete ecosystem to ensure that we’re providing an all-inclusive, science and ecology-based conservation plan.  SMC is living into a plan that factors in ecological diversity, environmental stability, social responsiveness, and long-term forest health. Our overall goals for the forest and management practices on our land are modeled after nature and the natural disturbance patterns that are responsible for the native forest systems found in the region. In so doing, we’re co-creating capacity and resilience and working together with the land to renew, evolve, and thrive.

In 2020, the Cameron Peak Fire (the largest fire in Colorado history) burned through SMC.  What we learned is that the conservation we’ve done, with an extensive network of partners, had an impact on fire behavior and allowed fire fighters to get ahead of the burn on this sacred land. Click here to access an article, which goes into greater depth, and contains a link to an NPR interview.

Mac McGoldrick is the Senior Director of Master Planning and Project Management for Shambhala Mountain Center

Shambhala Touching the Earth Collective
— Elemental Expression —

Every month, we offer a space for one of the Collective’s members or friends
to share their work, art, or passion…

Herbert Elsky
Artist Statement
Theatre Las Balubas 
I have a very large barn where I have created a theater/sound installation.I create “Sound Journeys” using a variety of instruments that I either invent or buy, such as guitars, which are all played by electric fans connected to a control panel.I now have a vocabulary of over one hundred “instruments” which are my orchestra and I can create a large variety of sounds and rhythms and perform compositions.
Using electric fans is the only way I know how to play music. I have never had a music lesson.

My theater is also my laboratory. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught that there are “limitless ayatanas” and I explore and create with that in mind.

I looked up the origin of the word theater.
The roots of the word theater come from the ancient Greek, theatron, and from theasthai, which means ‘behold’.  I love that! Behold implies surprise and wonder! My motto is, “Discovering the Inconceivable”.

The listener sits in the middle of a soundscape where the relation between the sounds and the objects creating the sounds is mysterious, and the sounds come from all directions.


The Sound Journeys are intuitive, unpredictable and unrepeatable which creates an environment where awareness is heightened and communication is immediate.
The audience and I share the process of creation.One’s perceptions are awakened and each person creates their own story in their mind as the layers of sound are juxtaposed and articulate the space.I love sharing this direct experience of the living moment.
My inspiration and intention are to wake people up to new dimensions of possibilities for their own creativity.

In recent years many professional performers have come to improvise and create performances with me which has been a great joy.

Note from the editor: To get an idea of how magical Herb’s art is, please visit his website at lasbalubas.fr

Book Review

By Sherry Ellms

Suzanne Simard’s Book, Finding the Mother Tree-Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest,comes at a time when fires are ravaging the forests of the Pacific Northwest in the United States and in Canada, specifically the very forests Simard has devoted decades of her life to study, and now to protect.  Her story particularly affected me as a woman when she recounts her struggles with the dismissive, patronizing, male-dominated forestry industry that is her family heritage as well.  She comes from a family of tree-cutters, not tree huggers.

Simard is not afraid to show her vulnerability and her regrets that arise when she must confront the very patriarchal nature of the forest industry which disses her research and practically laughs her out of conferences when she presents her well-researched and peer-reviewed findings.  She introduces evidence of networks of underground fungi allowing connected trees to share resources, such as water, nutrients, and carbon, therefore, exposing how the age-old methods of the forest industry are flawed and, to this day, governed by profit and money.  Tree plantations are individual trees each competing for soil, water, air, and sun.  They do not survive over the long haul.  In old-growth forests, trees cooperate and care for each other.   Our economy is not set up for long-term “returns on the investments” but short-term profits.  This is opposite to the consideration of the 7th generation in societal planning.  Her compassion and blue-sky vision touched my heart.  I was inspired by her courage and persistence railing against the pervading culture that aggressively defiles the sanctity of Mother Earth through the oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the thousands of offshore drills in the Gulf of Mexico, to the Enbridge Line 3, which will plow through land sacred and vital to many indigenous tribes.

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash

She poetically interweaves her personal story with that of the environment, in the same way that Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass tells of the indigenous wisdom and organic nature of our evolution as a species, and in the same way that Terry Tempest Williams, in When Women Were Birds, describes the unconscious translation women (and men) have embodied and internalized in order to adapt to a culture that diminishes the feminine way of knowing, being, and doing.

Her exploration and study of how trees care for each other – even different species, gives her insight and support as she reveals her personal life of marriage, divorce, motherhood, and diagnosis of cancer.  It is an intensely personal and at the same time cosmically expansive rendition of our radical interconnectivity.  Simard appears in the acclaimed documentary, Fantastic Fungi (now available on Netflix) in deep resonance with Paul Stamets elucidating the brilliance of the underground networks that connect all of life.   She was the prime inspiration for one of the main characters in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Overstory and influenced the popular film Avatar.
To read the rest of this article, please click here

Upcoming Events

EARTH SALON: Sunday, September 12, 2021
Noon (Atlantic time)

Here Yesterday – Gone Today?
How to find a Drala Spot when the natural environment becomes increasingly less hospitable.
with Agness Au & Daniel Naistadt

Meeting Drala is described as riding on coincidence, or being at the right place at the right time with the right outlook.  But are such encounters with the intangible presence we call Drala singularly dependent on finding pristine settings?  How do we foster Drala when the play of the natural elements seems to be at odds with our aspirations? What internal resources can warriors utilize to support Drala experiences? Please join us for contemplation and conversation on finding our Drala Spots in these challenging times.

Click here for more details
Passcode: Sacred

Harvest of PeaceA Global Celebration 

Hosted by The Touching the Earth Collective and the Shambhala Sunday Gatherings

Sunday, September 19 at 3:00 pm (Eastern)
Click here to register

Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

Touching Planet Earth: Our Oceanic Heritage

With Cynthia Moku
Saturday, October 23 at 2:00 pm (Eastern)

Addressing current issues on the climate changing,
with knowledge being offered to the world from both ancestral traditions of Polynesian ocean culture and current science & innovation technologies.
How these topics interface with and can inform us
through art & meditation practices. 
Click here to register

Photo credit Holly Duane ©

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1 response to “ Touching the Earth Collective: September 2021 Newsletter ”
  1. Nicki Dayley
    Sep 12, 2021

    Wonderful newsletter!!

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