What Prairyerth means to me

Our members share their remembrances, why they joined and what makes this congregation special to them.

Jean Berube

"Prairyerth is made up of an every changing group of people who are stewards of the Earth and all life that live in natural harmony on the Earth. The group studies the natural balances and life cycles of the plants and creatures of the Earth, shares what each has learned, and supports efforts to bring those natural cycles back into balance where chaos is occurring.

The group studies ways to peace.  The group recognizes that natural chaos is part of life, but also recognizes that part of man’s journey is to help bring about balance wherever chaos is occurring.

Prairyerth tries to support extraordinary efforts that are being made by individuals who educate and bring about understanding, who teach non-judgment and respect for all life, who have the skill to bring groups of different thought together to find common threads of understanding, and to people who help others understand the complexities and beauty of the webs of life.  This is done by publicly recognizing the individual’s contributions through the Living Treasures Award and by giving emotional, spiritual, physical and mental support to these recipients as they continue to make a difference in the world through their respective work.  In giving recognition to and showing appreciation of the life works of these individuals, the recipients become role models for all of us and emulate what can be accomplished.

Prairyerth promotes humility and dedication. The members value the “gifts” (abilities) that each person offers to the group, society, the environment, the world.  This valuing of each person helps each develop more positive self-esteem and thereby enables each to become all that they can be.  As one becomes what he/she is intended to be, the gift of giving back becomes a natural part of one’s life (the ultimate point of self-actualization).

Prairyerth’s logo, drawn by Melinda Perrin, shows a diversity of plants living together. It shows the roots from which the plants grow which are often bigger than the above ground part of the plant that reaches for the sun.  This drawing is also a metaphor for all of us. We need each other to survive. We each bring different talents, abilities, understandings to a group.  In sharing, we all grow and we become empowered to make a difference.  Knowledge of our roots from which we came helps sustain us and gives us direction.  Our connection with the Earth helps us understand our own journeys and as we learn about and take on our intended journey, we become closer to Creator.  As we become closer to Creator, we are able to give more completely to those around us and to ourselves just as the plants are doing in Melinda’s drawing.

Prairyerth was begun in North America, but its goals and philosophy are for the world.  In our recent pilgrimage to Cohoes Falls where the Mohawks tested the Peacemaker (Deganawidah) to determine if they should adopt his teachings or continue their warring ways, I realized that peace, love, understanding and brotherhood often occur only when or after there is terrible disasters, chaos, and bloodshed.  Cannot man, Creator’s gift for thought and creativity to the world, evolve to a place where people in conflict can come to a table to discover common thoughts, actions and behaviors which in turn give the soil needed for compromise, understanding and partnership?  Can we humans come to a place in our minds and our hearts where all life is valued and recognized for its contributions to the whole? The Peacemaker had some kind of impediment that made it difficult for him to share his thoughts and beliefs with others.  Hiawatha (Ayowenta) became his voice.  Is this not a perfect example of how we can use each other’s understandings and abilities to achieve an ultimate goal and a common good?  The Peacemaker and Hiawatha listened to the advice and wisdom of Jikonhsaseh, the first woman to embrace the Peacemaker’s message of peace, and they learned her gifts for song and words.  In respecting her thoughts and wisdom and learning the songs and words she gave them, they were able to win over their greatest opponent, Tadodaho (an Onondaga chief) in the making of the Peace Treaty that lasted for 500 years.  Are we listening so we too can bring the wisdoms of others to the table of peace and unconditional love?

The Peacemaker was one.  He brought five warring nations together, later joined by a sixth, in a sustainable peace.  What role can Prairyerth accept in bringing love, understanding and peace to the world?  Chief Leon Shenandoah wrote: “…. The Creator desired that there be no bloodshed among human beings and that there be peace, good relations, and always a good mind.” (p. 14, White Roots of Peace by Paul Wallace)  Is not the ultimate of our being to give back to society and the Earth that which we have learned?  If we all learned to do this, wouldn’t the human race evolve to higher levels of being?  Do those of like minds, such as members of Prairyerth, have this responsibility?

Thank you Melinda for sponsoring this pilgrimage and for bringing us together.  Thank you too for opening our eyes, our minds, and our hearts.  May we find peace and love with each other and share what is there with those around each of us.  This is how hope is born.  With hope, all things are possible.  

Charlie Fischer

To me, Prairyerth's heart and soul rest in the authentic and deeply respectful connections it makes with the indigenous Native American and First Nations people of North America.

Prairyerth consistently sets a warm and embracing tone of harmonious community for its gatherings, activities, and events; powerfully inspired by and embedded in the natural rhythms of the earth and universe; inspired by the ancient ways of native peoples.

Fond memories of my involvement with Prairyerth include:
• Participation in a "seeds of change" program led by Melinda, and well-attended, in Joshi Auditorium in the early-mid 1990's --envisioning transformative life change, symbolized by the promise of new growth encapsulated in bean seeds.
• Production of a benefit concert at the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale, presenting an array of musicians of the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale and folk music artists from the first eight years of Acoustic Renaissance Concerts; culminating the Prairyerth Living Treasures of North America day honoring Dan and Melinda Perrin.  
• Participation in the planning and carrying out of the Prairyerth Living Treasures of North America events honoring Ray Schulenberg and Pete Seeger.  
Prior to the event for Ray, I was blessed by some years of Ray's kindness, friendship and Socratic teaching style.  So it was a particularly personal honor to help honor Ray.  Another reward for me in the honoring of Ray, was the opportunity it afforded me to conceive and produce the decor in the event facility.  In keeping with the modernity of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, the decor was simple.  It was limited to selection and placement of specimen granite cobbles, probably from Wisconsin, 5" to 7" round, one cobble set at the center of each dining table.  To transform the ceremonial stage, Karen Stasky provided grand arrangements of dried Illinois prairie grasses and forbs, sourced from a special place Karen knows well!  To display the dried material, Karen loaned some of the larger clay vases she had crafted in her studio. The cobbles were a greater hit than I ever would have imagined, and, when offered, most were lovingly adopted by event attendees to adorn attendee's homes or gardens.

The honoring of Pete Seeger is a truly peak experience in my life.  I distinctly remember a "We did it!" high-five that Roy Fleet initiated with me during the concluding standing ovation in the auditorium of the Chicago History Museum; "We" being an expansive team of Prairyerth volunteers. The venue was packed with 400 some people for the evening concert that was broadcast live on WFMT-FM, featuring, in heartfelt celebration and to our great joy and privilege, Mr. Pete Seeger himself and the many other folk luminaries Prairyerth had assembled.  Kudos, kudos, and more kudos to Melinda and Dan Perrin for their key parts in that assembly!
Peg Saintcross

Peg Saintcross is one of the founders of Prairyerth.  Early board meetings were held around her dining room table.  She is also the founder of the the 2nd Whirling Rainbow Lodge and served as President of the CMwD region's Women and Religion, on the Continental Board of UU Women's Federation.  Currently she is a designated Wise Woman.

Peg’s Solstice Dream

In my Dream, many of us were gathered for ceremony and celebration. Dozens of women and people who we all know had gathered in a sanctuary for a weekend of retreat. I watched and participated in rituals and sharing times. One of the ‘vendors’ had created a marvelous invention. It was a bundle of beads, some little, some medium in size, perhaps tiny stones as well. They were wrapped in copper wire and hung on a cord, much the length of a necklace. Like the infinity balls - you know, you start them going and they all begin to move and continue until you still them – these began to vibrate and pulse and bounce against each other when shaken. When it was placed on my very tight and painful back, it immediately relieved the pain by massaging through its energy all the muscles, and released toxins which then flowed away.  What I remember the most are bright colors and many were seed beads and some of glass as well.

 

Late in the dreams I was preparing a meal for the friends who remained after the event was finished. I was cooking bacon on a grill of sorts. It was almost ready when I saw a bear approaching – not a nice bear. A cross between a black bear and a grizzly and he was HUNGRY. In the moments of interaction followed by my flight, the bacon began to burn, but he didn’t mind at all and he gobbled it up!!!

 

So many symbols of the Solstice were in the dream – ceremony, camaraderie, handmade items of beauty and of course, the bear.  I woke feeling very strongly that I needed to share the word about the vibrating beads and have passed it along.

We will be making strands of these vibrating beads at the meeting February 3rd.  If you cannot be there but want to prticipate, please send you contributions of tiny beads, bells, shells, seeds, etc. to Peg or Melinda.