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Letters by Sarah Vekasi
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My Dearest Friends,

Thank you so much for being with me throughout this past year. It was not what I expected or wanted, but having your support throughout this past year made all the difference. Now it is time once again for me to ask for your continued financial support for the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative. I feel funny asking since this year was so focused on my own healing; but the world heals as we do, and I am determined to continue this work and follow through with this calling.

This past year I stayed at home in Black Mountain, NC and nested like I have never done before, while helping my immune system balance. There was some grace to it – I now have a happy flock of chickens, and have established myself as a studio potter in this small art town (www.sarahsunshinepottery.com). For the first time, I know how the light changes in my home as all the seasons change. Now that I am recovering, I am ready to bring the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative back to the forefront of my life again, albeit in different ways.

I live just outside of the coal seam, so we do not have surface mining here, yet I reflect daily about the horrors of mountaintop removal, and am committed to this region as we continue to fight it. I also have listened as the blight of hydraulic fracking and mega-pipelines, tar sand extraction and genetically modified crops, clear-cutting, inhumane incarceration, the insane criminalization of activism, and a deepening disparity of wealth that continues to spread throughout the land. I hear cries of frustration, anger, and despair, paired with strong community-organizing in defiance, resilience and determination for a greater turning toward a life affirming society. From where I am, I see two divergent paths, and I know which path I want to help inspire and nurture people through.

The purpose of the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative is to support the activists, organizers, community members who are confronting the systems of oppression and destruction present in our time, who are working toward a more life-sustaining and life-affirming society. So far I have been able to work closely within the movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, and I am determined to continue to do so as I am able. I am also looking ahead to spreading the work and this field I coined by writing and teaching. This winter I plan to write a book, with the hope of inspiring how movements organize, i.e. with more support systems built in to address the full aspect of the change we are working on, as well as garnering interest to train future Eco-Chaplains. In order to do this, I need your help.

I know it is unusual to live by donations, but your generosity has allowed me to develop a field of support for activists for these past four years, and I ask that you once again donate to the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative. In order to keep focusing on this work, I need to raise $12,000 which will cover about half of my expenses. I will raise the rest of the money I need to survive through workshop and counseling fees, and of course by selling pottery. Each donation counts, and is tax-deductible. You can donate online at http://www.ecochaplaincy.net/donate.html, or in the mail at Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, PO Box 1114, Black Mountain, NC 28711. It is an honor to be able to do this work, and I am so grateful you all have helped make it possible.

Thank you so much. All my love,