Healing the wounds of the past—in the present—while creating a sustainable future
We stood in El Mina slave dungeon, on the Cape Coast of Ghana on a recent trip to West Africa, overwhelmed by despair, grief and rage. Without needing to verbalize it, we were both imagining what reaching this spot must have felt like for some long-ago, un-remembered African ancestor as she stood trembling on the precipice of an unknown and terrifyingly uncertain future.
It was hard to process the fact that for over three hundred years, millions of women, men and children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, brothers, potters, weavers, had begun their long and brutal journey of being captured, kidnapped, sold and enslaved from the very spot where we now stood the portal now infamously known as the door of no return.
Later, a passage from Saidiya Hartmans amazing book,Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, would give birth to a powerful vision of hope and transformative possibility. “It is said that when you spot a cluster of baobab trees it’s the sign a village one existed in that spot… These islands of baobab, shea butter, locust bean and fig trees preserved the history of the stateless; they were the archive of the defeated.” Reflecting on that particular passage, after our slave dungeon experience, an image emerged of hundreds of trees scattered across a barren African landscape bearing silent testament to millions of unnamed, unsung and unremembered lives.
Most African wisdom traditions hold the view that death comes in two forms. The first, is the natural physical death that is a normal part of the life process. The second, and most dreaded, is the death and erasure that occurs when you are no longer remembered.
Thinking about the millions of trees scattered over the African landscape bearing silent testament to once vibrant towns, villages, refrains from Alice Walker’s poem "Torture"also came to mind.
When they torture your mother
Plant a tree
When they torture your father
Plant a tree
When they torture your brother
And your sister
Plant a tree...
What emerged in the course of our African journey, was a powerful vision of helping to heal the planet from the ravages of catastrophic climate change while honoring and bearing silent testament to the "many thousands gone"--one tree at time!
In the depths of our despair, we realized that the seed of an idea had been planted. The truth is that it felt more like a calling than an idea.
WE HAVE RETURNED
WE DO REMEMBER
THE VISION: • TO HELP PLANT A MILLION TREES ALONG THE TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE ROUTE AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO HONOR AND REMEMBER THE MILLIONS OF UNNAMED, UNHERALDED AND UNREMEMBERED SOULS WHO WERE LOST DURING THE SLAVE TRADE.
• TO HELP COMBAT THE RAVAGING EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING AND CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE. DESMOND TUTU STATES, MAPLECROFT, A GLOBAL RISKS SECURITY GROUP, LISTS 28 COUNTRIES AS MOST VULNERABLE TO CLIMATE CHANGE, AND 22 OF THEM ARE IN AFRICA. • TO ACTIVELY HIGHLIGHT AND SUPPORT AFRICAN-INSPIRED SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS.
As we traveled across Ghana and Senegal we were inspired by the number of people engaged in sustainable practices and solutions. We were also struck by how often African-inspired sustainable practices were minimized or marginalized in the context of the global environmental movement. We realized how important it is to high-light and support these efforts.
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HELP US WITH OUR VISION WHILE HELPING THE PLANET
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With Gratitude and Appreciation ~ Growing A Global Heart ~