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Native Traditions-Contemporary Life, Part III. Sustainable Community

native traditions sustainable community ashevilleIf you are following this three-part series you might recall that I suggested that we might choose to weave threads of Native wisdom and traditions into a contemporary tapestry. Then our lives and times could by seen in the larger context.

Referring to traditional Native governing techniques, for example, we would note that villages were governed democratically. Adults gathered to discuss matters of import in the council house; members of a community sat with and learned from the Elders. Effective remedies for life in the region were introduced and applied.

And this is the subject of Part III , this post -- the key elements of a sustainable community from the perspective of the first citizens of this Land.

A Sustainable Community and Native Traditions.

It was not long ago that the voices of tribal council were heard in gathering places, perhaps along the very river you see in the photo above. Back then, the citizens of this Land  

•·         Held those in power accountable

•·         Reached out to protect the hills, streams, wildlife, the mountains and the people who share Earth

•·         Spoke kindly but firmly at council meetings, even if they did go late into the night

•·         Listened, learned, and stayed informed

•·         Sent out messages to those they loved and those they wished not to do harm.

In that regard, I sometimes wonder how are we doing today. . .even in our on-line social networking places.

Here in Asheville, North Carolina, a vocal contingent continues the above model of stewardship in the community. That's one reason why so many of my clients indicate they choose to   relocate to our area. But, let's face it... some members of the community  (regretfully) seem to have misplaced the model. Maybe we could spend more evenings by fireside under the stars, enjoy  relaxed conversation with family and visitors, come face-to face with our "green roots, delight in  "hearing" the voices  of nature-of rivers, streams, waterfalls, of valleys, hills, mountains, of wide expanses and deep-deep green forests, and even, if we are lucky, the twinkling sound of falling stars above the land?  

An impetus for stewardship naturally unfolds from such moments as these.

 Stewardship calls us to clarify our values. Questions arise. Skeptics and lobbyists come forward with words to attract an audience.  Some say the majestic mountains are at risk. Others say this is untrue. Some say pollution (sewage dumping into pristine streams, and toxic chemicals off-gassing into the air we breathe) risks lives in North Carolina and Georgia. Others deny those risks. Some see the land they tend running down the mountainside and cry out, loudly in protest... Others say, "That's just the price of progress."

Native Peoples remind us of the intention to preserve and protect the environment, the natural beauty, and the abundant resources for the many generations to come. Seeking a path of balance in a fast-paced world, we look to the cultural heritage of our area. We note that both Native American and European traditions admonish walking a path of well-considered consensus. "Passing the talking stick," we can encourage responsible development. We can make conscientious choices about what is in the best interest of all concerned... for today's. . . and for future generations.

IF you are relocating to Asheville or already live here and would like to know more about how native traditions can come to bear in contemporary life, here are some Community Resources that may interest you: 

Save Treasured Rivers

From the French Broad River to the rushing rapids and meandering streams that touch Georgia's rivers and serve as sources for clean drinking water and pleasant sites for fishing, camping and hiking a call comes for help.. You can help them thrive.


  RiverLink's Muddy Water Watch trains citizens to recognize erosion control violations and how to report those violations. First trainings begin in November. Contact: 

  The Green Building Council

The WNC Green Building Council is proud to announce that the nation's first locally based carbon offset program, Appalachian Offsets,  Whether you are a business, individual or part of a group such as a church, homeowner's association or employees of a business, you can do your part to combat global climate change TODAY!

Green Walk-about

One of the best times imaginable can be arranged for "free." Learn about Warren Wilson College's sustainable campus practices. On my walk-about, I visited the EcoDorm, the LEED-designed Orr Cottage, and edible gardens. I got better acquainted with the farm and why it received the county's "River-Friendly Farm Award."  Master Gardener's, State's Park Scholars, REALTORS® working toward their ECO designation, and community leaders all recommend this adventure.

copyright© greenolina 2007




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