We created our Global Earth Exchange on the border of a parcel of land on which there is a proposed manufacturing facility that will produce steel and precast concrete bridge decking. The proposed factory is almost entirely surrounded by the Bluestone Wild Forest, a state-protected woods with two clean public lakes available for swimming and boating, and many walking and mountain-biking trails. The project would entail clearing 21 acres of trees, blasting 405,000 cubic yards of rock, and construction activity that is expected to involve nearly 12,500 trucks over a five-year period. It will be on the site of a previous bluestone quarry that in the 19th century supplied many of the sidewalks of New York City, as well as where there are archeological remains from the native people who lived here before the European invasion. There has, understandably, been a considerable community outcry against this project, and a public hearing with the town planning board is coming up shortly.
We walked on a pristine forest trail surrounded by flowering mountain laurel bushes under a pine and oak overstory. We were seven; almost all of us have participated in Global Earth Exchanges together since 2015. A large part of the pleasure of the day was simply gathering after the year of isolation: this was the first time we had seen each other in the flesh face to face. What a joy!
We found an open area, stood in circle and had some moments of silent meditation. Then we fanned out through the woods, silently, for twenty minutes, communing with the land and gathering material for our RadJoy bird. We were on the edge of a ravine that was probably a bluestone quarry more than a century ago. There was very little noise, only the occasional call of a bird. We saw tiny red newts—efts—on the path.
We built our bird out of branches and ferns, with a rusted tin can for its head. We adorned it with gifts we had brought from our homes, as well as with the RadJoy banner.
The primary feeling of our group was not grief, since the land we were on has not yet been destroyed, but rather anticipatory outrage that anyone would think of building a deafening, polluting industrial facility deep inside these magnificent woods. After feeling these feelings, and then experiencing our warm human connection, we succumbed to laughter and joy.