There is a spark inside all of us; a vitality that inspires us to make the world better for having been in it. We can make the choice to tend to that spark and kindle a flame; to contribute to the beauty and goodness of the world, or we can let it go out. Our mission at the Northern Appalachia School is to tend that fire inside others and help transform and return our local ecosystems and its inhabitants to a state of vitality.
The health of the land and the health of its people are intimately intertwined; you cannot have one without the other. The premise of nature-deficit disorder indicates with diminishing time spent in nature, our physical and mental health is declining. How strange a time we live in, to think of nature as something other than ourselves. It is not merely connection to nature we have lost; it is connection to our true selves.
What we strive to do is to help others reintegrate into rhythms of nature; to learn to listen again to the land and to our own bodies. To connect to plants on a deep level, and re-awaken the ancestral knowledge within us so that we can live as stewards of the land instead of contributing to its destruction.
We have seen first hand the healing that can be accomplished through working with plants-some of which has been accomplished through consuming them, and much of which has not. The rise of interest in herbal medicine has illuminated a place of weakness-we are still approaching plants as a resource to be taken from the land; a commodity. We must step away from consumerist herbalism and return to our roots by developing relationships with our bioregional plants and the land from which they come.
The land is our teacher, our ancestor, and our home. It is calling us back.
See the flowers, so faithful to Earth.
We know their fate because we share it.
Were they to grieve for their wilting,
that grief would be ours to feel.
There's a lightness in things. Only we move forever burdened,
pressing ourselves into everything, obsessed by weight.
How strange and devouring our ways must seem
to those for whom life is enough.
If you could enter their dreaming and dream with them deeply,
you would come back different to a different day,
moving so easily from that common depth.
Or maybe just stay there: they would bloom and welcome you,
all those brothers and sisters tossing in the meadow,
and you would be one of them.
-Rainer Marie Rilke