The following excerpt is from our very first Global Earth Exchange in 2009. The writer, Meredith Little of Big Pine, California, chose as her wounded place the Owens Valley, a once fertile riparian area whose water was diverted in the 1900s so Los Angeles could prosper. Meredith describes her feelings of anger and sorrow as she walks on the dry, dusty land. Then:
I look up, and down the road a Department of Water and Power truck is coming slowly, stopping to make adjustments at the water regulators. I walk slowly back to the road. I recognize my tension around the DWP driver. Is he the “enemy”? I feel my resistance to him as he drives closer, then passes me with a blank face. I let in this feeling of “us and them”. The truck turns to return up the road, and I wonder what I’ll do. I suddenly break into a smile, and wave. His face transforms into a very big smile, and a very big wave. We share this wound and this wounded area.
I think how very loud a wounded area speaks. I wonder why I have avoided walking here before.
Amazing things happen when we reach beyond what we think we know, what we think we can give, or how “creative” we assume we are. Sometimes these surprises come from a shift in the land or the weather, sometimes from another person, and sometimes from a simple gesture that arises in us that we could never have predicted a moment we enacted it.
This year, on June 22, Radical Joy for Hard Times holds our 10th annual Global Earth Exchange, the day when people around the world go to places they love that have been hurt or endangered and give them attention and creativity.
Our theme is Daring to Bear Witness. It takes courage to face a place you love that has been paved over, polluted, flooded, or cut down. But, just as facing the dark places in ourselves helps heal them, so we heal the relationship between our places and ourselves by visiting them, sharing our stories, and making the RadJoy Bird or other gift of beauty.
Every day we lose more beautiful places. Let’s not wait any longer to show our love of them.

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:

  • Dale Wilson: Dale Wilson


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.