We all know the Earth can’t read, right?! But what if it could, what would you want to say to it, knowing what we now know about how ‘we’ – collectively as humans – have contributed to the destruction of its beauty and depletion of its bounty?
Published in early 2019, Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis is a collection of letters, poems and reflections – expressions of how a wide range of people feel about the negative impacts of ‘climate and ecological emergency’ and our role in causing it.
What makes this book so engaging is that the contributors really do vary widely, so there are many different perspectives: from parents and children to politicians and poets, actors and activists to songwriters and scientists. I’d recommend turning straight to page 72, where you’ll find Tabitha’s touching ‘What have we done to the Planet’. Aged 7 and 11/12 (as she writes), Tabitha is the youngest contributor, but in one short, beautifully crafted lament, her words distil a myriad of emotions from gratitude to grief, articulating what many of us may feel but never tried to communicate.
There is no right or wrong way to approach this book – it’s up to you, take it at your own pace. The ‘letters’ are grouped under various headings: ‘Love, Loss, Emergence, Hope and Action’, but you could read them at random by opening the book to any page, or select the ones you like the look of, or even digest them all by ploughing through from cover to cover.
Whichever way you tackle it will be worth your while, as you’re bound to find some nugget of truth in there that resonates with how you feel, or a gem of wisdom that makes you think about something differently than you have before. But is there a danger of an overwhelm given the nature of the content, you might ask? Well, my experience of dipping into it had quite the contrary impact, (and I can be a bit of a ‘doom and gloom’-ster!) It made me feel joyful about how much goodness there is in our humanity, and hopeful…
And there’s an added dimension – a wonderfully informative website which not only tells you how this project came about and provides educational toolkits with many useful resources; but also enables you to submit your own letter, if you feel moved to do so.
To quote from the ‘Community & Education’ section of the website, ‘Writing a Letter to the Earth can be a simple and powerful way to deepen our connection with the natural world and the people we are sharing it with.’
Absolutely! Why not give it a go? It could be very cathartic…
By Maz Hamilton, Sustainability Coordinator