When you go to a wounded place to do a Global Earth Exchange, you may have a certain idea of what’s going to happen there. You show up, share stories or, if you’re alone, simply pause and reflect for a while on the impact the destruction of the place has had on you. You conclude your time there by making a gift of gratitude or consolation for the place. But what makes the event so rewarding and mysterious are the surprises that so often pop up.
The following story came from Paul Fearon of County Cork, Ireland. For his 2015 Global Earth Exchange, Paul made a pilgrimage to Gallows Hill, a site in Waterford that had been used for hangings in the seventeenth century. He went to pay homage to a place that had been forced to stand for cruelty and violence. What he discovered was quite different:
I arrived at 1:45 and drummed for ten minutes. At exactly 2:00 PM a young boy showed up on his scooter and drummed, shook the rattle and gave me a huge hug of welcome. As I waited and sat with the Hill, other boys showed up and drummed, something they never had tried before. They were naturals.
After some time, I said, We are going to create a bird from materials lying around. We can use vegetation or anything. I began to collect beer cans and bottles and asked the boys where will we make the bird. As I picked up articles and the boys suggested where they should be placed.
The young boy in the photo showed up with his brother, and he set to rearranging the bird and making suggestions for feathers. It was like he was born to do this. I told them it’s ok if the bird breaks up or is blown away.
This boy even created another bird behind this one; his brother said he did not want to be in the photo. Wouldn’t it be great when they see the bird and the wonder who did that? he said.
I told the boys that others all about the world were doing the same thing today. Their creation will be seen throughout the world.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Fearon: Paul Fearon

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