Journeys of Hope, Reflections and Pictures 2023
Our Epic Journey to Renewable Energy
Note: This was written by a real person–me. All pictures by me unless otherwise noted.
One of the most inspiring moments for me this year was the emerging sight of land along the coast of Cork, Ireland. We were on a ferry from Roscoff, France. The lush green fields on the top of the cliffs emerged first and then strange poles of some sort. As our ship got closer, I realized that what we saw were windmills producing renewable energy. It gave me a great sense of hope for the world’s transition away from fossil fuels.
We are in an epic, wonderful, challenging, and frustrating journey to 100 percent renewable energy. I hope to see it in my lifetime but for sure these students from James Madison University will. All epic changes face uphill challenges and opposition from the uninformed and those resistant to change. But such changes are happening, all over the world. Solar panels and windmills are going up everywhere. Electric vehicles are on car lots in Virginia. Electricity generation from solar energy is now the most economical form of electricity.
“I am speaking today on behalf of my generation and future generations,” stated JMU student Elena Fenelli at our county’s public hearing for several utility-scale solar ordinance amendments. We lost that night, but this will not stop the movement. The renewable energy genie is out of the bottle, and the inertia of a changing planet is underway regardless of those resistant to change.
Journey of Hope in Genetics
And like the journey to renewable energy, this Restoration American Chestnut 1.0 has overcome seemingly unsurmountable challenges to bear fruit. This tree has overcome the fungus that killed a billion trees, destroying its vascular system. It overcame the invasive beetles that ate its leaves. And yet there it is, the protective bur that holds the next generation. We received three nuts in 2015 from The American Chestnut Foundation and planted them. This one survived, grew tall and straight, and now eight years later, life came through—it bears fruit.
Journey of Hope in Regenerative Farming
Jeanne is so dedicated to regenerative farming. She gives her all to the herd of cows she has been selecting for decades. Our cows are cellulose-digesting, mobile, protein, and fertilizer factories. They help build soil health and provide all-natural, no hormone-added, antibiotic-free food.
Journey of Hope in Trees
We have committed 15 acres of land to riparian buffers; six acres at the river farm that were planted to hardwoods in 2004, and nine acres at Whiskey Creek in 2021. These trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere, create wildlife habitat, and help produce clean water. This picture shows the buffer along Buffalo Gap Highway in its second growing season.
Journey of Hope in Environmental Activism
This year the Endangered Species Act is 50. It’s the most comprehensive law in the world protecting imperiled species from extinction. Because of the Endangered Species Act we now have nesting American Bald Eagles in Swoope. Environmental laws like the ESA, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act happen because of activism. Your voice and your actions, especially at the ballot box, result in a more resilient, diverse, and stable world. Here’s an oped piece I wrote about the ESA published in the Virginia Mercury.
Journey of Hope for a Restored Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries
This year the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay arranged for us to meet up with the folks at Hold Fast, a nonprofit that helps veterans reconnect with the joy of life through Bay experiences like oyster farming. Here, our Border Collie, Val, observes the production of seed oysters at Hold Fast’s facility in Gloucester, Virginia. The Bay is a lot cleaner now than it was in 1966 when the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was formed and we have just two years to meet the goals of the 2014 Watershed Agreement. Find out how you can help here.
Journey of Hope in Medicine
Our friend Bruce Rinker and Jeanne board the Virginia Scenic Railway in Staunton. I felt the delight of my youth as we traveled over and through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bruce has survived seven years with a glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor. Doctors, nurses, medicine, technology, caregivers, and friends, together with Bruce’s deep spiritual well-being, make him an exceptional survivor.
Journey of Hope for Our Grandchildren
My grandson is seven. At Whiskey Creek he learned about America’s epic journey: the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Corps of Discovery. Here, Conley is using a replica of a pipe-tomahawk that Captain Meriwether Lewis purchased at Harpers Ferry to trade with the Native Americans for supplies.
Journey of Hope for America
In this photo, the Statue of Liberty is shrouded in smoke from the wildfires in Canada. Politics in America is sometimes shrouded in lies, alternative facts, misinformation, and denial. My hope is that truth and justice will prevail.
May we have peace on earth and empower women all over the world.