Our treasured Aspens across the West are facing SAD (Sudden Aspen Decline.) Utah and Colorado have lost over 50% of their Aspens in the last few years; Arizona lost over 90% of theirs in but three years. And what of ours in New Mexico? Are they, like our forests and mountains and rivers and deserts and diverse cultures, not part of who we are, part of our very identity?
This issue of identity, of what it means to be human, is critical to our future and to the future of the aspens as well. The pragmatic cleverness of the human mind can and will do much to help us meet the enormous challenges we face, but it is this same cleverness of mind that created today’s problems. Something more is required to envision us into a world Beyond Sustainability – into Restoration and Re-Creation, into Thrive-ability.
The Aspen Grove, as the world’s largest known individual life form, offers us a primal and imaginative window into our own deep identity and nature, and into a dynamic vision of a world of thrive-ability. As medicine for our time, aspens invite us into the vital experience and knowledge of our wholeness; this is a radical affirmation of the sensorial resources of deep satisfaction, pleasure, and joy as guides into our evolutionary future.
It is my belief that aspens are an iconic image for the fragmented world we find ourselves awakening within, and for the deeper wholeness we are innately also part of. To walk among them, to lay on the ground above their rooting, staring at a blue sky and bathing in the forest odors, is to experience being inside the body of an organism!!!
Aspens even provide my home state of NM with a major influx of tourism dollars. And the ecological value they provide for wildlife and for domestic forage is likewise significant. And yet it is relatively unknown that they, like the polar bear and other iconic species, that the aspens are in trouble.
I believe that the sudden decline of aspens across the west offers us an opportunity to tap our common love of aspens for the well being of our wholeness. To this end, I am interested in creating partnerships… hence I recently presented at the Western Region ASERVIC Conference (New Mexico Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling), at the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance Conference in Taos, and will be offering a free public multimedia presentation tomorrow night in Santa Fe Soul, as well as several upcoming Forest Quest Day Hikes and other workshops.
Below are a selected list of links that will lead one to additional information regarding aspens and their ecology, including SAD, as well as a few of my own posts on Aspen-Body Wisdom.
Aspen Delineation Project
Aspen Ecology in the Western US: 2004 Managing Aspen in the Western Landscape Conference
Fading Gold: The Decline of Aspen in the West
Managing Aspen in Western Landscapes Conference 2004
Restoring the West Conference 2006: Aspen Restoration
The Unplanned Organization: Lessons from Nature’s Emergent Creativity, Margaret Wheatley
Aspen-Body Wisdom Quotes
Change Hardiness and Learning Agility: What the Aspen Know
Forbidden Knowledge and the Aspen-Body