The Follies of “Sustainable Development” – a Brilliant Cartoon and some Thoughts

I discovered this on Facebook this morning. It is very brilliant. And speaks to so many of my passions – indigenous people’s rights, quality of life and sustainability, native wisdom and sustainability, and the blind arrogant interests of western ‘development’ around the world over the centuries.

When I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment in the late 80’s, a small group of us found the time to organize the Rainforest Action Movement – RAM – in the midst of our crazy, crazy graduate school work load. I still don’t know how we did it. But we did, and we researched deeply and became US based activists to raise awareness of the rainforest destruction taking place globally. At one point, we were one of the most active locally based rainforest groups in the US. During that time, I became familiar with groups such as Cultural Survival and other Indigenous rights groups, along with Rainforest Action Network and other national and international groups that were desperately working to stem the tide of deforestation.

This was in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. It is now more than 20 years later and the sad reality is that things have only gotten more desperate around the globe, from an ecological and indigenous rights perspective. And I’ve wandered in my career to focusing on spirituality, eco-spirituality, becoming an author, a humble gardener, and a student of Native teachers. And I’ve come to learn that there is powerful, powerful wisdom in the ways of Native peoples in how they relate to the world around them and their sensitivities and abilities to communicate with plants and animals. And how humbly they see themselves in the larger, beautiful dynamic of sacred life on Earth.

And how I wish that I could share this with those decision-makers who think that the ‘right’ strategy is to go in and ‘develop’ some ‘backward’ territory filled with ‘savages.’

Here are some good groups that I’m aware of that are working with local peoples, indigenous peoples in many cases to help them protect their surrounding ecosystems for the well-being of all, locally and globally. I salute them and try to send them donations when I can from my simple gardening and writing budget. Kudos to them for their valiant efforts in these challenging times.

Ecologic – “EcoLogic works with poor, rural communities to help them become better environmental stewards in order to save their forests and water and improve their living conditions. We put local people in charge, by providing communities with the tools they need to sustainably manage their natural resources. EcoLogic currently operates in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belize and Panama.”

Forest Guardian - photo from Ecologic -

Community Conservation – “Community Conservation strives to establish community-based conservation programs with a strong emphasis on voluntary local participation and respect for rural people as being the best stewards of their lands.”

World Wildlife Fund – “At WWF we protect wildlife, preserve habitats and empower people to conserve resources while improving their livelihoods. We understand the close relationship between humans and the environment, and incorporate elements of governance, gender relations, health and education into our conservation work. Our community conservation program links improving human lives with conserving biodiversity. Through WWF initiatives, communities are given the opportunity to reduce poverty, improve socio-economic conditions and become environmental stewards for the natural places WWF works to conserve.”

And there are more groups…

Now, if we could only get our dominant Western mindset to start thinking differently about what development truly means and how Sacred the Earth is, instead of a pile of resources to harvest (as in mine, deforest, pave over, disrespect, destroy, toxify, etc), we might really start making some changes in the right direction.

For the truth is that we are all connected. And what happens in another part of the planet or city is going to eventually impact us. And if we continue to Frack, or release radioactive waste, or toxify our waterways, etc., it’s going to come back and bite us. And it already is… Climate change, cancer clusters, mass extinctions, etc.

Time to wake up… it is time to wake up and come back to Earth, and remembering our humble role as part of this incredibly beautiful, complex web of sacred life on Earth.  Sigh…

About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, Medicine woman/Lightworker and healer. She has also been told by another gifted elder that her work with Earth Mother is in the prophecies. Her books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother"; and "If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America". She has studied with Native American teachers for twenty-one years and sat on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings for three years. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness and more. She is the visionary and producer of the 1000 Goddesses Gathering in Washington DC. Mare loves to be involved in Ceremony. She is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home.
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