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John Caddy
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History and Philosophy
of Morning Earth

 

History
I have been a teacher and publishing poet for forty-some years. My poems have been honored by the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Bush Artists Fellowship, among others.

In 1994 I was fortunate to survive a stroke that left me paralyzed on my left side. Soon after the stroke, I found myself so pleased to be alive that I fell in love with Mother Earth all over again, and resolved to spend the rest of my allotted time combining two things most precious to me: writing poems of celebration and helping people renew and strengthen their innate bonds with Earth.

In the mid-1990s I began a program called Self Expressing Earth (SEE) at COMPAS, a St. Paul Arts organization. After a year SEE moved to Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education, a distance learning pioneer. Our goal was to train teachers, teaching artists, and interpretive naturalists to help kids learn the nature of life on Earth through making art—visual arts, dance, sculpture & pottery, and, of course, poetry.

      For seven years SEE conducted powerful summer workshops to train these educators. We created extensive art activities for simultaneously learning art-making and the principles of ecology.
     
      SEE also created a large teacher-resource web site.
     
      SEE also built a classroom presence through direct paid subscription. SEE subscriptions included a daily poem of celebration that I would email M-F.

SEE was a fine program that eventually became inactive for lack of funding.
However, I continued writing and sending my daily poems to teachers and friends. It became my daily practice. I called this the Earth Journal Project.

In 2003 Milkweed Editions was kind enough to publish a collection of my Earth Journal entries as Morning Earth: Field Notes in Poetry.

In late 2004, Morning Earth, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(3c) educational non-profit organization. Incorporating the SEE website and greatly expanding it, www.morning-earth.org went online in Sept 2005.

By the end of 2007, the website has garnered over 17 miillion hits, many from schools, so it is fulfilling its mission.

Philosophy of Morning Earth
 
We will not protect what we do not love.
Stephen Jay Gould
 
     
 
We are as large as our loves.
Baruch Spinoza
 

 

Morning Earth helps people renew and enhance their innate connections with the natural Earth, from three directions:

      Daily Photo/Poems in Celebration of Nature
     
    Graphic introduction to Ecology: How Does Life Work?
       
      Text-based Primer in Ecoliteracy: Yearning to Be Round
     
    Artist/Naturalist Pages that celebrate artists whose primary concern is our connection with Nature.
       

Morning Earth’s focus is to help people of all ages to discover and adopt an eco-centric world view. Such a view sees humanity not as above nature or in conflict with it, but as a literal part of Earth, with a body made of Earth. An eco-centric world view recognizes that to injure the natural world is, ultimately, to injure the self.


The impact of Morning Earth depends on showing people our actual and true membership in the community of life on Earth, which is a personally intimate and intuitive membership. If this has been forgotten or dulled in a person, it can, through the power of art, be revived.

Poetry is the art that chose me. Writing and teaching poetry for a working lifetime has taught me many things:

    We all arrive equipped to create art. Art-making is as natural to our kind as spirit.
     
   

As we humans said poems around the campfires of 50,000 years ago, we shared them for the same root reasons we still do:

• Celebration,
• Healing,
• Learning

     
   

In such sharing and discovery, we discover the twofold gift of art:

• Shared pain shrinks.
• Shared joy grows.

       

Art and artmaking have the power to heal—as we experience the arts, we learn that none of us is alone. When we take our pain out of ourselves and transform it into a poem, a song, a painting, a dance, it becomes outside of us, which enables us to deal with it in a way we couldn’t when it was locked inside.

Turning the leaf, when we celebrate our joy and transform it into a poem, a sketch, a twirl around a room, our celebration becomes shareable, our joy is passed to others. It expands. It makes our single selves become part of a larger whole.

Poetry is a path to the heart. Engage the heart, and the mind will follow.

Morning Earth sends a daily EarthPoem Entry to over a thousand subscribers. Each entry is a small poem that is based on some gift I have received from Earth. Poetry is an art of moments—brief intense experiences that are the grist of our lives, and help us continue on. My entries are all celebrations, of seeing a natural thing I haven’t noticed before, of hearing trees creak against each other in wind, of laughter at the antic spiral a nuthatch draws upon a trunk, of awe at beauty, of the intricate spiral of a thistle flower, the surprise of squirrel scold, of learning truths, sometimes painful. Learning Earth’s teachings is a joy delayed, and helps us grasp the whole.

Morning Earth’s philosophy has been strongly influenced by the social movement called Deep Ecology. Here is a brief introduction.


John Caddy