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Letters by Sarah Vekasi
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May 6, 2012


Dearest friends,

I am leaving early in the morning for West Virginia, beginning nearly a month of travel throughout West Virginia, and culminating here in North Carolina, where I am helping lead a ten-day intensive with my mentor and friend Joanna Macy. This spring has been a rich and full time, and as we transition into summer, I hope to see many of you.

The delay in my writing has not been for lack of activity, rather because it has been hard to squeeze in the time. Anyone know what I mean?!

In March I traveled to New Mexico to teach about Eco-Chaplaincy at the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. What an experience! It was so meaningful for me to teach in a room full of Buddhist Chaplains-To-Be. I showed slides from these past three years of work in Appalachia, demonstrating each of the primary roles of a chaplain through the lens of eco-chaplaincy: pastoral care provider, religious witness, healer and change-agent. If you would like to hear that talk too, well, let me know.

I returned home in time to enjoy the dogwood blossoms and ramps in the woods, and quickly settled into a routine of pastoral counseling over skype, conference calls, and volunteer work with the Alliance for Appalachia and Mountain Justice, interspersed with ample time at the pottery studio (when not in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky or West Virginia!). Work as an eco-chaplain continues to expand and deepen; particularly in terms of mediation and restorative justice based reconciliation work, and individual pastoral counseling. If you are interested in receiving counseling or in need of a facilitator or mediator, please contact me.

Meanwhile, spring has sprung here in the south, and with it the fruit from the winters’ organizing work is already visible in the movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining. I am careful to keep enough space in my schedule so as not confuse the role of an eco-chaplain with that of an activist or an organizer, however with that said, there are a whole lot of events coming up which the organizers I work for would love yall to know about, so mark your calendars in case you can attend any of these events:

 -UN Tribunal on Women’s Health Impacts from Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, May 10th, Charleston, WV, http://ohvec.org/events_calendar/05-10-UNTribunal.pdf

 -Mountain Justice Summer Camp, May 19-26th, Southern Appalachian Folklife Center, Pipestem, WV, www.mountainjustice.org

 -Work That Reconnects Intensive focusing on Energy Issues, with Joanna Macy, May 25th – June 2nd, Mebane, NC, http://www.stonecircles.org/event/theory-practice-work-reconnects/

 -Mountaintop Removal Awareness Week, Citizen lobbying with the Alliance for Appalachia, June 2-6, Washington D.C., http://ilovemountains.org/wiw

 -Appalachia Rising Action, June 6th, Washington D.C. http://appalachiarising.org/

 -Keepers of the Mountains Festival, June 30-July 1st, Kayford Mountain, WV, http://mountainkeeper.blogspot.com/

           The Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative is nearing its third year anniversary! I am still living by your donations, and am so grateful. Please consider signing up to be a monthly donor online at http://www.ecochaplaincy.net/donate.html, or send a check or money order to PO Box 890, Swannanoa, NC 28778.

 I have been making some great pottery when I am home and I would love to send you a piece of pottery for any donation over $150, or sell you pottery online through www.sarahsunshinepottery.com.  

There is so much more I want to tell yall and it will just have to wait until next time since I have to leave at dawn for West Virginia. Much love to all of you!


Love and Solidarity,