Our loss of connection to the natural world is creating a downward spiral of alienation, violence and ecological destruction. The present ailing state of California oak lands illustrates this downward spiral. However, oaks also have mighty potential to illustrate how we can shift these negative patterns and heal the land, our culture and psyches.
Oaks are essential actors in our landscapes and most members of the oak ecosystem are disproportionately dependent upon them, yet, Californians routinely destroy vital oak habitats for development and agriculture. Additionally, since 1990, more than a million oak and tanoak trees have died from Sudden Oak Death (SOD) and at least another million trees are currently infected.
All over our beautiful Earth, legends foretell that our precious relations in nature will cease to exist when humans stop honoring, celebrating and caring for them. Embedded in this world view is that we must follow Nature’s three R’s – Respect, Reciprocity, Relationship. Ceremonies that honor the earth demonstrate respect, create a relationship and reciprocate the gifts we receive. It is this relationship that ultimately instructs our sustainable management of our resources because these celebrations reorient our hearts and minds to a place of belonging within the web of life. When we act from this place, we can only act in a way that mutually benefits ourselves and our relations in nature. When we change our relationship to nature, we change how we impact our environment.
The majority of Indigenous Californians took part in acorn ceremonies that honored the oaks and celebrated the acorn crop. From the Indigenous perspective, the relationship between humans and oaks is fully reciprocal – our love, care and appreciation for our oaks is returned by their gratitude in the form of bountiful food, shelter, tools and spiritual connection.
Go Wild Institute envisions that future generations of Californians will look to our oak landscapes and feel a sense of belonging, inspiration and nourishment. We strive to develop integrated, holistic community-based land restoration projects that feed our bodies, minds and spirits.