Giving Thanks to Our Earth

Planting trees

Our objective is to compensate in a living way for the unavoidable environmental damage caused when our conference guests travel by air and/or automobile from far away countries. The solution – one already in practice in countless places – is to plant trees for the sake of making a living contribution to the ecological footprint. Often, however, such plantings are anonymous and unmanageable. So we sought out initiatives that have arisen in connection with Anthroposophy and the Christian Community, which have an individual character and have been created by people with whom we can be in constant contact. This opened up a new outlook on the question of how to make a genuinely sustainable contribution – not only for the earth, but also for society – by planting trees. After all, nature and humankind belong together! In our search for personal initiatives, we were able to find three already existing projects, which we would like to present to you briefly:

Fruit Garden in Argentina
In Missiones, a state in the Northeastern part of Argentina, live the Guarani, an aboriginal tribe, in the tropical bushland which is their home. Due to massive clearing of the rainforest, the habitat not only of plants and animals, but also of these people has become increasingly endangered. A few years ago two young German women, Paula Kiefer and Elisabeth Ryback, traveled to Argentina after finishing their schooling as part of a Friends of Waldorf Education volunteer service, and lived there for two years with this indigenous tribe. Through their commitment, a Waldorf kindergarden for die indigenous children of the Guarani was established. Their initiative is being carried on by two natives who have immersed themselves in the thoughts and practices of Waldorf education (film about it). We turned to the anthroposophical physician Mariana Mapaey, who practices there, with the idea of planting a citrus fruit garden for the indigenous children. Dr. Mapaey responded by creating a tangerine orchard, the fruit of which will be available to the children of the Guarani for years to come. 
Green Labyrinth
About 10 years ago, the couple Grace Zozobrado-Hahn, physician and curative eurythmist, and Walter Siegfried Hahn, a gardener and expert in the field of sensory experience, founded a biodynamic farm on the Philippine island of Palawan. It was the first biodynamische farm in the Philippines (see film). Their work cultivating roughly 200 different varieties of plants, including vegetables, grains, fruits and medicinal herbs, has created a space in which the idea is thriving that all life on earth can be renewed and healed. When we approached them with our request that they plant trees on their farm, they responded with the idea of growing a green labyrinth with hedges, bushes and trees. The labyrinth will be created in a public park and is intended as an invitation for people to walk the path to the center – a small, covered pavilion – and to experience a moment of pause, in prayer or meditation, so that they may then turn again to the outside world with renewed strength.
Tree Cross
The Tree Cross is a tree planting initiative that was called to life by Joseph Beuys over 30 years ago. Along the former border of East and West Germany, planting was begun on a three-row avenue of ash trees, which stands and grows as a living sign of overcoming the borders that caused so much suffering and cost so many human lives. The avenue of trees gives testimony to people who felt within themselves a sense of freedom. Their courage, strength and steadfastness had a counteracting effect on the power of a totalitarian regime, and ultimately led to its breakup. Planting the avenue is still work in progress. Linked to this initiative is another project called “Omnibus for Direct Democracy”. While the firmly rooted trees of the Tree Cross bear witness to the past even as they exemplify the present and the future, there is a highly mobile bus traveling throughout the country, and this bus has a message. The idea of the Omnibus came from Brigitte Krenkers, the initiator of this successful project. The Omnibus has been traveling throughout Germany and Europe for almost 30 years now, and is currently a business enterprise staffed by a number of persons. The Omnibus for Direct Democracy will also be in attendence at our conference and will be accessible to you in the form of words and deeds. With our contribution we would like to help some of the trees in the avenue grow, and in this way to support the impulse of freedom within the sphere of the intellect and the arts, as well as the impulse for the preservation and advancement of the precious asset of democracy. All three tree-planting projects live in the consciousness of priests and congregations of the Christian Community, and they are involved in these projects’ implementation.