The Green Confessions of Nat Turner

Sojourners was kind enough to invite me write “The Green Confessions of Nat Turner: The Rich and Varied Roots of Black Environmental Liberation Theology” for the May 2016 magazine.

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The article begins:

WHEN ONE THINKS of black environmental liberation theology, the name of slave-rebellion leader Nat Turner might not immediately spring to mind. Perhaps it should . . .

The temporary link is available until April 11, 2016. Beyond that date subscribe to Sojourners.

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Harriet Tubman: Working Nature!

Several African American women in history stand out for me including Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Harriet Tubman. As for Harriet, she sure knew how to work nature to survive.

In 1822, Harriet Tubman was born enslaved in Maryland. She escaped to Philadelphia but went back thirteen times to lead other runaways from the grueling existence of plantation life which included planting and chopping tobacco. Harriet led a frightened people–most of whom had not been very far from the farms and plantations–at night and usually in the winter using the North Star to guide her back North. Perhaps Harriet learned the skills of surviving in the woods and other landscapes from Ben, her father, who worked the timber on the plantation. She was also familiar and comfortable with marshes because she checked and emptied muskrat traps.

Harriet Tubman: The Environmental Moses of Her People!

To learn more about Harriet, read Catherine Clinton’s Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom.

Wildflowers & Springtime at Sweetwater Creek

Now is the time to catch the wildflowers in places like Sweetwater Creek State Park in Lithia Springs, Georgia. The flowers are delicate, ephemeral. Take a look at the flowers among other sights in the woods:

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Being out at the park refreshed me with the sounds of birds and water.

Photos by Dianne Glave

Springtime: Wesley Woods in Atlanta

I am slowly tunneling out of the winter here in Atlanta. As spring comes, I find myself increasingly desiring to be outdoors.

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I traced the winding walk on the Wesley Woods, Emory Hospital Campus. Trees are blooming. Plants are budding. I too am beginning to be rejuvenated.

Photos by Dianne Glave

South Georgia: A Dashboard Picturelogue

I headed down to Tallahassee last weekend. To get back to Atlanta I drove through South Georgia. I think this was my first drive through the pine nurseries and stands, pecan groves, and cotton fields in the region. I snapped a few photos during a drive that took about five hours but turned into seven hours because I was fascinated by every little thing I saw on the road:

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I saw–smelled it too–prescribed or controlled burning of the pine on the road. The burn reduces the fuel to limit larger uncontrollable fires. The pine is fire resistant but can still burn. Yes, this stuff is delicate and is best left up to the professionals.

Later, I picked up a sack of pecans in the shell at Ellis Brothers. I shared some with co-workers and am still enjoying cracking a few open every day. There’s something powerful about eating food in the form closest  to the the earth, in this case from the branch to the limb to the tree to the trunk to the earth.

The trip is over but the pecans keep giving.

Photos by Dianne Glave

Winter Holidays

The winter and holidays are upon us. For some, December means great times. For others, the holidays evoke sadness.

Because of the cold, we often stay locked up in our offices and homes surrounded by the dry heat pumping through the vents. Give yourself a little nudge to walk around to look at the holiday decorations. And again, if holidays makes you blue dress for a short hike. The trees in the state parks around Atlanta cast a silvery grey like being in a natural cathedral. Treat yourself spiritually!

If the holidays are merry and bright, if these times are melancholy and sad–you decide–I call on you to simply care of yourself. You can do it outdoors even in winter.

Photos by Dianne Glave

2010 Keeping it Wild Gala

Sometimes it better, sometimes easier, to start with endings than beginnings . . .

 

With Shelton Johnson

 

I sat in the amphitheater at Zoo Atlanta listening to Shelton Johnson. He was the keynote speaker for the 6th Annual Keeping it Wild (KIW) Gala, and is a national park ranger and author of Gloryland. As I listened to Shelton, one row back from me I heard the rhythmic breathing of a six year old girl. Shelton’s passionate story-telling and cadence of that small child’s breathing mentally and spiritually took me outdoors.

I imagined being at Yosemite National Park, the source of many of Shelton’s stories. The adults–I was there too–were up late quietly looking up at the sky filled with distant stars and a crescent moon. We had tucked the children away in the tents and we could hear the distinctive breathing of each child, like different signatures on many pages.

So to beginnings. KIW hosted a wonderful gala. It began with a reception filled with people from so many cultures eating from their bamboo plates. Later, more guests filled their plates from a buffet with cornbread, black-eyed peas, and more.

In the amphitheater, the latter part of the evening, I felt love and joy seeing so many people of color listening to Shelton tell his stories. The Buffalo soldiers also drew me in. I cried when one of the soldiers stepped forward and affirmed Shelton in honoring the ancestors. Towards the end, a young woman strummed her guitar singing. We sang along with her about fighting pollution.

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I hope that KIW continues to grow and expands their good work. I may not always express my feelings in the moment but my heart was bursting and full last night, full of Yosemite National Park.

Photos by Dianne Glave

Post-Katrina: Remembering New Orleans Five Years Later

Zulu Parade, Mardi Gras, 2005

I am feeling a little melancholy, which is a familiar feeling at this time of the year. It is the five year anniversary of Katrina. I wonder should we use memorial rather than anniversary since the latter suggests a celebration like a wedding anniversary?

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I evacuated New Orleans five years ago. I’d been living on Perrier Street in the Garden District for a year, and loved being in the city. When Katrina started swirling in the Gulf of Mexico, Mayor Ray Nagin called for the people to evacuate.

I haphazardly threw some things into my car because I had evacuated the summer before in 2004 returning quickly to the city. I was working on a book so my files and computer were more important than my clothes.

I went to my brother in Stone Mountain and kept CNN on during all my waking hours. At first, the city was safe, the hurricane had passed. But then the levees breached. There was nothing but chaos in the CNN coverage. They were even showing the faces of missing children but then stopped.

I did not return to live in New Orleans as I did that first year. I stayed in Atlanta struggling with painful emotions in the aftermath for a number of years.

Mardi Gras. Audubon Park. Studio in the Woods. River Road. Algiers. Lower Ninth Ward.

Lake Lanier in Georgia: Pine, Water, Shells, Worn Paths, and Butterflies

Have you ever jumped in the car with one destination in mind, ending up somewhere else or expanding the original trip? I headed out to the North Georgia Premium Outlet. I spent an hour and a half there: I generally know exactly what I want so no wandering about shopping.

Footstep by the shore.

On the drive back on Georgia 400 to Atlanta, I turned off at the first exit for Lake Lanier. I had no idea what side the lake was on but I was determined to find it. Turning left off the exit, I could only hope for the best. I turned again making a right down a narrow winding street, really it felt like a Nantucket lane on both sides with each house having a personality of its own. No subdivisions here. I looked over to my left and was sure I saw water but no public access.

So I turned back onto the main drag from the 400 turning right this time. I didn’t see any water but felt I was driving in the right direction. As I looked to the left, I saw a car pulling a boat. I was getting warm.

Suddenly a sign:  Tidwell Park. My internal compass, passed down genetically from my father, had served me well.

all of my photos tell the rest of the story.

Pine. Water. Shells. Worn paths. Butterflies.

Photos by Dianne Glave