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A Billion Acts Of Green: From Tokyo to Aysén

A Billion Acts Of Green: From Tokyo to Aysén
April 27
16:58 2012
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Celebrating Earth Day in Aysén by planting a Plum Tree.

This year’s theme for the International Earth Day was “A Billion Acts of Green” and people around the world pledged their support.  Announced their intention to help make the planet a better place by planting trees, creating gardens, consuming less, and recycling.

AYSÉN –A lot of people acted in groups, and others acted individually contributing to a “Billion Acts of Green”. Pledging to recycle or to walk to work may seem small, but together it can create monumental change.

This is the beauty of positive action and this is the essence of Earth Day. It seeks to  unite individuals and organizations around one common purpose: to re-establish mankind’s connection to the planet that we all need to exist.

Living here in Aysén with my wife Konomi, building an earth-bag house on the side of a mountain with no road access, has been a real lesson in how the energy of individuals sharing a common purpose can change an entire landscape. In our case, it was simply adopting a “one step at a time” approach.

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Sun Rise Illuminates Melimoyo Volcano

At first the task seemed gigantic. We had a whole hillside to re-develop, to turn from cattle-eroded land into a place of life-giving beauty capable of feeding us and our friends in the years to come.

Two and a half years later, we’re still digging, building and planting. Only now, we’re reaping the harvests of our labor. We live in a cozy cabin, eat organic foods plucked straight from the garden, and walk paths that were once badly eroded gullies. We imagine them in twenty years, when the trees and bushes we’ve planted mature.

What starts out as a small hole ends up as a foundation. What begins as a foundation ends up as a house. The house does not come first, even though it is the goal. Hence it is far easier and much more rewarding not to be consumed by what you want, but to be rewarded by what you have done. That tiny act of putting the shovel into the ground is the beginning of something great.

“A Billion Acts of Green” is the shovel in the ground for millions of people around the world. Each tree planted is a brick in the foundation of a strong and sustainable relationship with the earth.

Earth Day dawned beautifully here in Patagonia, with the sun shining from morning until night, and we did what we seem to do best. We dug!

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Ishin Nakatani With Freshly Harvested Zucchini

The first tree in the ground was the Plum Tree that we’ve grown in our greenhouse since our friend Ai Nakatani and her three-year-old son Ishin planted the seed on Earth Day last year. Next came three Lengas, a ground-hugging tree that can be seen at the top of the tree line easily at this time of year thanks to their seasonal red leaves. We next planted three Coihue, an indigenous species that can live hundreds of years and reach great heights and widths.

The trees were planted around a large path carved out of a badly eroded track and will look grand when I am 172 years old!

Following the tree planting we wandered around the land digging up and transplanting Chilco, a pretty bush that grows like a weed in this part of the world.With its red and purple flowers, and fruit that hummingbirds, songbirds and bees love, the Chilco will form into a beautiful  living fence to enhance the freshly planted herb garden behind our cabin.

As the sun set over Patagonia, our contribution to “A Billion Acts of Green” was complete. It was a drop in the ocean to be sure, but a drop nevertheless.

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Paul was born in the UK and now lives with his wife, Konomi, in the small community of La junta in Aysen, Patagonia, where they are building their unique earth and turf home. He is an environmentalist who has walked over fifty thousand kilometers through 39 nations, planting trees along the way. He has been the ambassador to the "Culture of Peace" in the UN designated Peace Messenger Initiative since 1994. He is an author, journalist and public speaker who loves creating fairy tales and turning them into reality. His wife Konomi is also an author and winner of the World Summit of Women's 2010 "Rural Woman of the Year" award.

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