Blog Post: The Face of Haven . . .

January 24, 2016

in Workshops

. . . has changed forever. The familiar forest fencing characteristic of Canada’s amazing and unique North West Pacific nature is no longer framing Haven’s entrance.

The trees have been sacrificed to . . . put up a parking lot.

And now I am feeling an array of paradoxical emotions.

Whenever I experience myself in reaction, in order not to fixate into a rigid position, I am called to examine the continuum of my thoughts and feelings, a few of which I share here.

Not being a Facebook regular and away for a few weeks at the time the forest felling began, I was simply stunned the first time I drove down Davis Road toward Haven. As I approached the entrance I became utterly disoriented. When I asked what was happening and was told the trees were being cleared to make a new parking lot, immediately strains of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi began strumming in my head:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I am extremely grateful for the video and information about Haven’s Master Plan that Rachel posted on Facebook just before the trees were felled. Although I didn’t see it before I encountered the change, it has since been helpful by providing more context and soothing particular concerns. It is assuring that there was some consideration and care taken for ecological impact and that this is in the service of Haven’s carefully crafted long-term Master Plan done in collaboration with respected and knowledgeable professionals. Things such as the mindful transplanting of the understory is of solace.

During my first day back at Haven the howl of the loggers’ chainsaws was cutting through the air as sharply as it was cutting through the tree and through my heart. A few of us walked as close as we could get to the site. We humans are so small in comparison to these gentle giants that are integral participants in sustaining our lives, recording and accompanying us through our generations. In addition to seeing the size and abundance of the freshly downed beauties with their interiors lying freshly exposed, the oozing of their powerful scent impacted me profoundly. I said out loud “the trees are crying.” They were not alone.

One of the many highlights of 2015 for me was a profound deepening of my recognition that I, like all humans, all animals, and certainly all trees are indigenous to our earth. I use the Latin ancestry of indigenous whose parts Inde and genous anciently signify “inside” and “born.”

In Martin Prechtel’s “The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun, a Mayan Tale of Ecstasy, Time, and Finding One’s True Form”, he exquisitely examines the roots of language. He explains that when an American settler says, “This is my land, this land is mine,” a Mayan translation would come out as “This soil carries my people, we belong to this land.”

He writes:
“People who do not know that the soil carries them in the same way a branch carries its fruit or that owning the land is much different than belonging to the land (not to mention utterly destructive to the land it pretends to own), make it very hard for their indigenousity to have a place to make any kind of a home on this earth, much less a land where they could actually feel “born into” or indigenous.”

The felling of our trees has illuminated for me the profound implications of what this means, and how I, and my culture, are living, as he puts it a “conquerer’s mentality.” I am grateful for the wake up call.

Condemning Haven’s skilfully crafted Master Plan is not at all my desire or intention. I fully acknowledge that I am a player in the commonly accepted definition of progress. There are several positive, exciting changes of face underway at Haven, such as the wonderful new website about to be launched. Our Word of the Year says it. Haven is Happening. Change is happening, and with it comes benefit and loss. And I have feelings about each. While grieving our trees I am supportive of the intentions of our Master Plan, and have faith that a different beauty will emerge. It has taken me a while to reconcile that I can grieve loss and appreciate benefit without locking into an either/or position.

In this moment, I am compelled to share what is honest for me about the felled trees. My feelings run deeply. Just as I was sitting at my desk deciding I was too busy to write, an old document popped up with notes I had made from Meg Wheatley’s inspiring talk at our 2006 Haven symposium. She quoted Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about something we care about.”

I mourn the loss of our trees, I feel sorrowful. I honour their life, the profound significance of their existence and the priceless gifts they gave simply as they participated in, endured, and recorded our, including our ancestors’ history, bearing all within themselves in quiet dignity.

What can I do now?

I dedicate myself to supporting wholeheartedly whatever potentially positive outcome there will be for Haven, our participants and the world around us. I further dedicate myself wholeheartedly to continue to wake up, become as mindful, considerate, participatory and grateful as I possibly can while living my interdependent relationship with our more than human world.


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Linda Nicholls

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jill Talbot April 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Would people be condemning it if it weren’t The Haven? What if it were the government or Walmart? Can I condemn/question and still be respected?

Thank you for writing about this matter, though I fear that the reason you have been able to so beautifully articulate it is that you have no role that can be threatened.

Respectfully (really, nobody believes it but this is true),


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