Wind Boom in Rural America Defies Party Lines FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Wall Street Journal:Hundreds of wind turbines ring Fowler, their white towers rising for miles amid the golden-tipped cornfields and leafy soybean plants blanketing much of Benton County, pop. 8,650. More than half of the county’s 560 turbines are operated by BP, which has three wind farms here.Wind developers have made $17 million in payments to the county and have spent $33 million on roads, a boon for an economically struggling community that about a decade earlier considered hosting a waste dump to generate jobs and government revenue.The wind farms took hundreds of construction workers to build, and created 110 permanent jobs, mostly wind technicians—in charge of servicing and maintaining wind turbines—who, according to federal data, earn about $51,500 a year in Indiana.“Benton County didn’t see the recession until 2011,” said the county commission’s president, Bryan Berry, who has three turbines on his farmland. “The wind industry helped keep things open.”As wind becomes a bigger part of the U.S. electricity mix, it is becoming an economic force in rural communities such as Fowler, a development that is changing the political conversation around renewable energy in many parts of the U.S.Wind supplied just over 6% of the country’s electricity last year, and the industry employed close to 102,000 people—nearly double the number working in coal mining, according to federal data.President Donald Trump campaigned in part on reviving the U.S. coal industry, and has been critical of renewable-energy subsidies. But heavily Republican states such as Indiana, Iowa, Texas and Wyoming have embraced wind for the work and revenue it brings.More: ($) Wind Power Wins Converts in Rural U.S.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Colombia’s National Mining and Energy Planning Unit allocated 2.2 GW of solar and wind power generation capacity in the country’s first renewable energy auction, which was finalized yesterday. The exercise’s final average price was COP95/kWh ($0.027), and the highest bid reached only COP110.The authority said the auction will enable the country to raise its installed renewable energy capacity from around 50 MW currently to 2.2 GW at the beginning of 2022. No details were released about the assigned capacity of the eight winning projects, of which three were solar parks and five were wind power plants.The government department behind the auction added, the final energy price was around COP50/kWh lower than the average price of bilateral power purchase agreements (PPA) in Colombia.Projects selected in the auction will be entitled to a 15-year PPA and must come into operation by January 1, 2022. Contracts will be linked to the Colombian peso and updated based on a producer price index certified by Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics.More: Colombia’s first solar and wind power auction brings average price of $0.027/kWh Colombia renewable energy auction nets 2.2GW of capacity at an average price of $27/MWh
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Shell just did the thing CEO Ben van Beurden said no leader of the company would ever want on their record: cut its shareholder dividend for the first time since World War II.In slashing Shell’s dividend on Thursday from 47 to 16 cents per share, van Beurden made a dramatic statement on the global oil industry’s current predicament. But what the supermajor and its peer BP are not cutting is also very telling.Both BP and Shell released their earnings results this week, their first since the oil price crash and the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic — and since declaring their own net-zero ambitions. Despite the chaos in global oil markets, the pair of supermajors have committed to maintaining their low-carbon investment plans and spoken of an accelerating energy transition.A quarter of Shell’s planned $5 billion of capex savings will come from its integrated gas and new energies business unit, which is home to its renewable energy ventures. But van Beurden said Thursday that the new energies businesses would be mostly untouched. “I wouldn’t say we have ring-fenced them; that would be too much,” he told reporters. “[But] there is an energy transition underway that may even pick up speed in the recovery phase of the crisis, and we want to be well-positioned for it.”Meanwhile, BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney said his firm has not shrunk its pot of money for energy transition investments this year. “We’ve left our $500 million of low-carbon investment unchanged [and] untouched this year,” Looney told investors on a Tuesday call. “Where we cut elsewhere, we did not cut that back. So we will, over time, be working hard to do more in that space.”Looney said BP’s resolve to execute on the net-zero strategy it announced in February has only become “stronger” in the face of the multiple crises facing the sector. “We talked a lot about the negative prices for WTI [West Texas Intermediate, a light sweet crude oil blend] just a few weeks ago. At the same time as that was happening, Lightsource BP was doing 400 megawatts of solar contracts in the U.S.,” Looney said. “That sector continues to attract investment. It attracts investments because of its risk profile and its resilience.”[John Parnell]More: Shell and BP slash spending but renewables largely spared BP, Shell shield renewable spending while coping with oil price crash
Tim Sykes placed second at the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Va., last April. What is America’s toughest marathon? Ask Tim Sykes.The Lexington, Va., native placed second at the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Va., dubbed America’s Toughest for its long climbs and steep descents along the Blue Ridge Parkway. As a result, Sykes won free entry into the Mount Lemmon Marathon, ten miles north of Tucson, Ariz., which also claims to be “America’s Toughest Marathon.” Race organizers for both marathons have made light of the dueling slogans by offering entry into their cross-country counterpart for the top 20 finishers in each—a friendly promotion that Sykes took advantage of, despite being married for only a week on race day. (Perhaps tougher than the marathon was convincing his new bride to take a marathon honeymoon.)Sykes ended up winning the entirely uphill Mount Lemmon Marathon in 3:05. Hopefully, Sykes’ marriage will also go the distance.
Instead of joining the barrage of critics’ best albums of 2013 lists, this year we went straight to the source. Check out five favorite 2013 albums as recommended by some of the region’s best musicians.Josh Daniels, The New FamiliarsTedeschi Trucks BandMade Up Mind Guitar hero Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band) and his wife, blues songstress Susan Tedeschi, continue their soul journey with this third studio album. Backed by a sprawling eight-piece band that includes a full horn section, the couple revives old school R&B through the scope of experimental rock.“I just love what they are doing by incorporating their own personalities,” says Daniels. “[They’re bringing back] a kind of Stax 1970s soul vibe. The band’s live show is incredible with horns and multiple singers. It’s wonderful.”James Wilson, Sons of BillJason Isbell SoutheasternThe former member of the Drive-By Truckers delivered a stunning redemption record after quitting the bottle and getting married to fellow songwriter Amanda Shires.“When I hear most self-proclaimed ‘Southern’ artists these days, I can’t help but feel like part of our inheritance is being prostituted,” says Wilson. “But Jason has always exemplified the region honestly. It’s pride and humility, virtues and failures—an emphasis on the story and simple language rather than ideas. But some of his songs also have that vicious other-worldliness of a true artist. Like Faulkner, there’s a part of him that wants to be the only one. He’s one of the best writers of my generation and I’m glad he’s finally getting recognized as such with Southeastern.”Patterson Hood, Drive-By TruckersT. Hardy Morris Audition TapesThe front man for Dead Confederate toned down his band’s usual psych rock on this country grunge solo effort. Morris sings with a haunting weariness, reminiscent of the late Vic Chesnutt, delivering dark themes with universal resonance, often accented by the perfect dash of pedal steel. “I can’t get his songs out of my head and I also love the playing and production,” says Hood. “Hardy is the real deal.”Travis Book, Infamous StringdustersLeagues You Belong HereThis Nashville power pop trio delivers a hard-driving rock sound with infectious melodies and big hooks. On this album, standout tracks like “Spotlight” become instant sing-alongs after first listen.“I’ve been a big fan of Thad Cockrell since my wife (singer-songwriter Sarah Siskind) and I landed a brilliant holiday record of his a few years ago,” says Book. “I hadn’t heard Thad in a few years before Sarah played me the Leagues debut album, but his voice immediately brought me the same sense of joy I had when I first discovered his music several years before. I’m a sucker for badass pop/rock music, and this record is as good as it gets.”Dan Lotti, DangermuffinThe Wood BrothersThe Muse Brothers Oliver and Chris Wood (Medeski, Martin, and Wood) continue to crank out gritty front-porch folk rock. Oliver Wood’s antique storyteller vocals and gritty guitar work meshes with Chris’ virtuosic bass runs to create a combination that includes high-energy acoustic funk and heartfelt blues balladry. The title track is a particularly poignant ode to family inspiration.“This album is fantastic,” says Lotti. “Oliver Wood is my hero. [He proves] that awesome songwriting is what it’s all about.”Compiled by Dave Stallard and Jedd Ferris.
The BRO MicroBrew Madness is pitting the best craft breweries in the South against each other in a March Madness style bracket that has neighbors against neighbors, Davids matching up with Goliaths, IPA’s versus IPA’s…It’s a veritable fight to the death. A bloody cage match where only the mightiest beer will be left standing, towering above slain pale ales and porters.Okay, most of that fierce competition is going on in my head. The fact is, craft brewing is one of the friendliest businesses I’ve ever witnessed, particularly on a local and regional level. What other business could a small start up call the company who dominates the market and ask for advice? What other business do you see cross-company collaborations. Sierra Nevada invites other breweries, small and large, to brew at their facilities in California every year. Terrapin is known for whipping up some ridiculously creative collaboration brews with other Southern breweries. I can’t remember the last time McDonalds collaborated with Burger King to offer a special sandwich.I recently went to the opening of the Catawba Brewing Company’s new tasting room here in Asheville, and half the people in the room were representatives of some sort from other breweries here in town. And they were all genuinely happy to have Catawba open up shop on their home turf.Are these breweries competitive with each other? Of course. I have no doubt that every master brewer is trying to one up his neighbor brewer with off the wall experimental batches of craziness. Sure, the breweries push each other, which is why America has become ground zero for good beer in the last decade. But it’s a friendly push. A soft nudge. Like how you push your riding buddy to go over that kicker that both of you know he shouldn’t go over.I like brackets like this Microbrew Madness. It gives brewers a chance to go head to head and work out some of that competitive spirit in a friendly way. I’d also like to see a brewery-only basketball league, where each brewery fields a team, and head brewers try to create a super-hydrating beer that doesn’t cause everyone to throw up after running crazy on the court for 20 minutes. Elbows would be thrown, fouls would be called, but after the game, they’d all go back to being friends and frenemies, gently pushing each other to be better.Visit the Microbrew Madness tourney brackets here.
Highlining is one of those adrenaline-powered sports that makes casual onlookers with even the slightest fear of heights cringe.Pioneered by the late climbing legend Dean Potter, who recently passed away in a wing suit mishap, highlining emerged on the extreme sports scene sometime in 2012 and has become increasingly popular ever since.If you’re at all squeamish about daredevil stunts preformed at dizzying elevations in the complete absence or ropes or safety harnesses then you might want to look away because the cringe-worthy footage below shows experienced slackliner Spencer Seabrooke breaking the world record for free solo highlining.The stunt, which took place on Aug. 2, required Seabrooke to walk just under 250 feet on a slackline rigged across the Chief North Gully in Squamish, British Columbia— a canyon that plunges to depths of nearly 1000 feet.Somewhere around the 20 second mark, Seabrooke loses his balance only to hang precariously on the line before mustering the unfathomable fortitude required to resituate himself and continue to the other side.
“Leaves of three, leave them be.” – A quote from every mom ever.I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. My great-grandmother, grandma, and mom have all embedded that into our family’s heads. We grew up in the country, so when we wanted to play, we went outside. When you’re a little kid running around in the woods in your underwear, it’s good to know what Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac look like.Photo Courtesy of poison-ivy.orgPoison IvyThe easiest way to identify Poison Ivy is by the cluster of three leaves on the end of a (usually reddish) stem. The leaves may have barely ruffled edges or can be completely smooth, but they are always oblong and pointy. The plants grow as a vine up trees or as a stand-alone shrub.It’s important to be aware of the changing appearance of the plant throughout the year. In the Spring, new leaves have a reddish tint to them as they grow. During the summer they are larger and dark green. In the fall, they are actually beautiful, matching the changing foliage by turning red, yellow, and orange. For a great reference and more detailed photos, check out Poison-Ivy.org.Photo courtesy of poison-ivy.orgPoison OakVery similar in appearance to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak plants have three leaves at the end of a stem as well (though on rare occasions you might see 5-7). The leaves, however, are more scalloped in appearance than Poison Ivy. The tips are more round, closely resembling those of oak. Stems are always staggered, and never grow side by side.Another major difference between the two plants is that the berries on Poison Oak, also known as drupes, are fuzzy. Like Poison Ivy, Poison Oak grows as a vine or small to medium-sized shrub. The leaves also change color in the fall.Photo courtesy of poison-ivy.orgPoison SumacPoison Sumac looks much different than it’s other poisonous friends and it’s usually easy to recognize from a distance. The leaves are round with pointed tips and the stems are a purplish-red. Though green in the Spring and Summer time, the plants turn a red, orange, and yellow in the fall.Usually found near lower lying wetlands, Poison Sumac plants are rare in mountainous areas. In spring and early summer, they feature small green flowers and drupes, which look like berries. Unlike Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, Poison Sumac does not grow on a vine.Why It Hurts and What To DoUpon contact, the rash you develop is thanks to a lovely chemical compound named urushiol. It’s an oily resin that coats the outside of the plant’s leaves, stems, vines, and roots. When you come into contact, the best thing to do is note where and what it came in contact with. Try your best not to spread it to other parts of your body. Wash the affected area with soap and water ASAP.The blisters and rashes form on your skin because of a complex reaction to your immune system. If you’re sweating, as most hikers and bikers are, the sweat can carry the oil down your body, increasing the affected areas.The resin loves to hang out on your clothes and pets fur too! I’ve gotten a rash two days after a hike while doing laundry. A lovely little surprise from the woods.Poison IvyProblems With Lookalikes…To make identification more difficult, the plants have a number of twins in our region. As a rule of thumb, if you have to question what it is, just avoid it altogether. Recently, I put up a poll on the Blue Ridge Outdoors Instagram account to test some of our follower’s poison ivy knowledge. I showed one picture of poison ivy, and then 5 pictures of lookalike plants from our region. The question was simple for each one: What type of plant is this? Poison Ivy or…Plant 1: Boston Ivy 81% got it rightAn attractive climbing plant, Boston Ivy usually resembles Poison Ivy in it’s younger stages of life. A deciduous woody vine, it is a flowering plant that is a part of the grape family and is closely related to the Virginia Creeper. It’s widely used as an ornamental plant used to cover buildings, fences, and more.Photo courtesy of poison-ivy.orgPlant 2: Poison Oak 54% got it rightThe leaves of three rule applies to this plant as well. Poison Oak closely resembles Poison Ivy, though it’s leaves are usually not as rounded and have more ruffles on the edges. Regardless of it’s close resemblance, leave it alone.Plant 3: Virginia Creeper 77% got it rightLike the Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper is grown as an ornamental plant, used to decorate walls, fences, and other facades. In it’s younger stages, it also can be confused with Poison Ivy. It’s very prominent in our region and looks especially beautiful in the fall!Increasing the Itch – Study Says Climate Change Brings More Poison Ivy with Greater PotencyDAVID SIEREN/VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBISPlant 4 Kudzu: 78% got it rightAt first glance, Kudzu leaves can be hard to tell apart from Poison Ivy. Extremely common around the Southeast, Kudzu is an invasive species, introduced from Japan in the late 1800s.Photo iastate.eduPlant 5 Boxelder Maple: 61% got it rightBoxelder Maples are common around our region and while they have 5 leaflets per stem, they are still confused with Poison Ivy due to the three leaves on the very tip of the stem. Though they are rare in the high country, there are five different species that live in the low lying areas of our region.According to my little Instagram experiment, it seems that most of our followers are knowledgeable in identifying these poisonous plants. That being said, I will leave you with one piece of advice:If you’re unsure of what it is, just walk the other way.Do you know of any other look-alikes, have any home remedies, or any other tips on these plants? Let us know on Facebook!Justin Forrest is an outdoor writer and fly fishing addict based in Asheville, N.C. He posts pictures of cats and fishing on Instagram sometimes.
Cancer causing pellets are being dropped along the Mountain Valley Pipeline path in WV Pellets used to prevent erosion and provide soil stabilization have been dropped near the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Greenville, WV. The pellets were dropped from a helicopter and have been found to contain a cancer-causing chemical called acrylamide. Organic farmers in the area say the pellets were dropped on their farm, a quarter mile away from the pipeline, and that the pellets contaminated their soil, risking their livelihood. Complaints about the pellets were made to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and to Mountain Valley Pipeline but the pellet drops have continued, this time in Monroe County, WV. The Conservation Fund in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service has announced the addition of 186 acres to the Cherokee National Forest. The land is located in the tri-corner area of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, less than 20 miles east of Abingdon, VA and only two miles from the Virginia Creeper Trail. Known as Divided Mountain because of its location spanning the Tennessee Valley Divide, the property protects headwaters of Whetstone Branch and Valley Creek of the South Holston River watershed and Big Horse Creek of the North Fork New River basin. The new purchase connects over 127,000 acres of contiguous public land. The property will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of Cherokee National Forest. 186 acres added to the Cherokee National Forest
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, is arguably the most popular form of mental health treatment available now. A therapist specializing in CBT may challenge a survivor’s negative thought patterns, encouraging them to recognize they are safe now, that the trauma was not their fault, and to process their emotions by recounting the experience in a safe environment. Though effective for many people, research is beginning to show that CBT may not be as effective for PTSD, and can even re-traumatize survivors by asking them to relive painful experiences. Granny Women (or Granny Witches) were tough by definition. Surviving until old age meant surviving childbirth, illness, and injury in the most unforgiving landscape of the New World. Safe to assume they knew a thing or two about a thing or two. With no medicine or libraries within reach, they relied on Old World folk wisdom, Cherokee tradition, and their knowledge of the plants and land to take care of their own. During camp, survivors hike trails, cook, do yoga, make art, and participate in guided activities that heighten their senses. Survivors are invited to take off their shoes and put their feet in the dirt, listen to the sounds of the forest, or taste sassafras if they can find any. I was surprised to learn how simple it was, and how short in duration: only three days. No medicine, no hospitals, no doctors. That was life for early European settlers of the Appalachian mountains, and they preferred it that way. The fiercely independent Scotch-Irish immigrants wanted nothing to do with the ruling elite of the northern industrial cities and were willing to face off mountain lions to prove it. Isolated and self-reliant, the settlers had only one option in the face of medical emergency: go fetch Granny. TMI is more than an acronym I use when my friends overshare about their sex lives — too much information is a serious problem in the digital age. Reading, talking about, and researching a problem can feel deceptively like doing something about it. In reality, we end up stuck in the purgatory of analysis paralysis, making no decisions at all. And if the problem is emotional trauma, searching for the “right” answer might be the worst mistake you can make. In a way, Appalachia’s ecotherapists are kindred spirits. Though not out of necessity like their counterparts, and with more access to modern amenities, they still hold sacred the healing power that permeates these blue hills. After my experience in the labyrinth at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, I knew I needed more answers. Watch an infant sleeping and observe how his belly naturally rises and falls. Most people don’t seem to do this anymore, holding their breath in their chest. When I mentioned this to Zehr, she nodded. “Shallow-breathing — that is, not belly-breathing — is a trauma response. A lot of people don’t realize that you won’t likely get through this life without experiencing trauma at some point, and no two people experience traumatic events in the same ways.” At the Center for Earth-Based Healing, participants didn’t talk about their trauma. They hiked trails, did yoga, ate oranges in the forest, practiced breathing, put their feet in the water, hugged trees. They immersed themselves in sensory experiences. I noticed some overlap between somatic and ecotherapy, perhaps because they both demonstrate that you don’t always need to poke around in the mind in order to heal trauma. I’d heard of this notion at various workshops in the mental health field, of trauma trapped within the body. When a person experiences a threat (emotional or physical), the body revs its engines to prepare for fight, flight, or freeze. The heart races, muscles tense, adrenaline spikes, and breathing quickens. In the case of serious trauma, however, the body might remain caught in a state of arousal long after the threat is gone. But at camp, both Eden and De La Mora found a supportive network of fellow survivors and trauma-informed staff. Before starting a long hike, survivors talked about their fears. What are you expecting from this walk, what are you thinking, what are you feeling, what animals are you afraid of? “Everyone came into the woods with some fear and some challenge,” said De La Mora. “I wasn’t alone by a long shot. Nature levels the playing field. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, disabled — everyone experiences warm, cold, and fear.” A Different Kind of Granny Witch And yet, the results spoke for themselves, survivors lives permanently changed. One woman overcame injuries she believed were permanent, regaining the ability to hike and do yoga for the first time since leaving her violent marriage. Another woman, originally homeless and unemployed, found a job and her own apartment two months after completing camp. Within two months of completing Camp Mabon, Eden had found an apartment and a new job. Now, she works as the Director of Social Media and Customer Service for a health and wellness company, living in her own home with her son and a loving, supportive partner. Eden still carries scars that remind her of the painful life she once thought she couldn’t escape. Now, she plans to cover each of them with a reminder of the strength she discovered in those woods, the first of which is the emblem for the Center for Earth-Based Healing. “In that weekend,” said Eden, “I found the power buried deep inside me. The same power that allowed me to survive for years in a situation that was in all honesty un-survivable. The power that had been lost in pain, depression and hopelessness. I rediscovered the person I was supposed to be, the person I had lost. I found her and I won’t ever let her go.” Healing injuries, solving homelessness? Without physical or talk therapy? I’ll admit it sounded like something you’d hear from a snake oil salesman or a faith healer’s tent. As a mental health professional, my primary goal was to get people to talk. But after my own ecotherapy experience processing the loss of my father without talk therapy, I was ready to believe. Both Eden and De La Mora were apprehensive when they arrived at camp. Eden admits she almost canceled several times, unsure of what to expect, or how it could help. Confined to her home and addicted to social media, she was concerned when informed there would be no cell phone service at camp. When De La Mora arrived at Douthat State Park on a chilly April weekend, snow still coated the ground and the forecast called for freezing rain. Almost in tears, all she could think was, “I can’t do it.” Needless to say, bodies are not meant to function in a highly aroused state for long periods of time. The consequences can manifest in headaches, earaches, insomnia, nightmares, itching and rashes, digestive problems, fatigue, hyperactive behavior, lower immune response, and much more. Trauma affects more than the mind, it can decimate the body. From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s easy to see why information might be so addictive. More information meant a greater chance of making the right decisions, and thereby a greater chance at survival. But when information is infinite (as it is with the advent of the internet), it can be more of a hindrance than a help. I’m always impressed by the lexicon we’ve created to define our new world and this phenomenon is no different: information overload, infobesity, infoxication. Goofy terminology, but accurate — with the world at your fingertips, gorging on information is the new normal. As the name implies, CBT relies on cognitive analysis. We want to understand ourselves, to make sense of the world, and discover solutions to our problems. We want information. But when arousal is high, as with anxiety and trauma, logic and executive functioning collapse. From someone who has experienced more than a few panic attacks, telling myself that I wasn’t actually going to die wasn’t convincing because the logical part of my brain had left the building. So how does that work? I asked Zehr point-blank: “If participants aren’t processing or talking about the trauma, how do they heal?” “There’s magic that happens in those woods and it’s not something that I can truly take credit for,” Zehr said. “That’s Mother Nature.” I met with Michele Zehr, formerly a U.S. Marine, M16 rifle instructor, automotive technology professor, and self-defense instructor. Despite the list of impressive accomplishments, however, I hadn’t arranged to interview her about any of that. Zehr left it all behind to pursue what she thinks may be her life-defining work. Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Earth-Based Healing (CEBH), Zehr now dedicates her life to helping trauma survivors. Twice a year, the CEBH hosts weekend ecotherapy retreats free-of-charge for survivors at Douthat State Park in Millboro, Virginia. Zehr explained the significance of the image: based on the autumn and spring equinoxes, the time of year with equal parts light and darkness, positive experiences can bring balance to the shadow parts of life. Chronic stress impacts the body similarly to trauma: increased headaches, depression, heartburn, insomnia, rapid breathing, weakened immune system, risk of heart attack, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, and even fertility problems. If the stressors continue, says the American Institute of Stress: “just as any machine wears out… so do living organisms that sooner or later become the victim of this constant wear and tear.” Perhaps in the case of treating emotional wounds, logic needs to go out the window. As useful as the human language can be, sometimes we have to stop talking, stop reading, and stop trying to make sense of painful things, because sometimes the answers will come in a form other than words. And in order to find them, we need to get out of our heads and into the real world. Click here to read the whole article It took Jae De La Mora three years to leave her abusive marriage. When she finally got out, her injuries were so severe she spent most of her time bedridden. “I loved the outdoors, hiking, yoga,” she said. “But I thought it was never gonna happen again.” She left the state for protection, devastated by the ordeal and clueless about her next steps. A local women’s resource center suggested she apply for Camp Ostara, a retreat for survivors of domestic violence offered by the CEBH. “I really didn’t think it was going to help very much,” she said. “I thought I wasn’t capable — I had gained weight, I had injuries, I was out of shape. I figured, here goes nothing.” Healing from the Neck Down In spite of not talking about her trauma, De La Mora discovered that she didn’t need to explain herself. “Trauma changes you,” she said. “Everywhere you go, you don’t fit. But in this place, you belong.” She learned about other women who had finished the camp with a variety of challenges — one morbidly obese, another woman blind in a leg brace. “If they could do it,” she thought, “I can too.” “A lot of the magic of ecotherapy is nervous system regulation,” said Zehr, who has received training in Somatic Experiencing through Dr. Peter Levine’s SE Trauma Institute. “Our minds may not completely pick up on what’s going on. But our bodies do. When we go outside, our body is like, ‘Oh, there I am,’ because our bodies are made of the same elements from which the Earth is made. In a sense, the body calms because it recognizes itself in nature. And when the body is calm, it opens the mind to things that are often painful, things we avoid. Things like introspection and growth.” After my father died, I remained trapped in a never-ending to-do list in my mind. The list was rigid, it had rules, it had deadlines, it made sense. But it kept me from feeling anything, probably as my subconscious had intended. In the labyrinth, I had no logic to fall back on, no rules to abide. But I felt the numbing cold in my fingertips, felt the vicious wind batter my face, felt the exhaustion in my arms as I carried that heavy stone. And I felt relief when I let it go. She smiled, surely having heard this question more than once. Eden specifically remembered the blind woman in the leg brace. As fellow participants of Camp Mabon, they hiked the trails together while Eden served as her guide. She narrated the environment, helping sidestep stones and large roots. On one of the hikes, the woman’s brace broke, and Eden and the staff fashioned an improvised splint using a flannel shirt, duct tape, and trowel. “She wanted to do it,” said Eden. “She just needed a little bit of help.” “How do you describe the power that is felt between a group of women who have all experienced trauma but never speak about it to each other?” asked Eden. “I’m not sure I can.” But participants do not process their trauma during camp — in fact, they are asked not to talk about it. Talk therapy, Zehr said, is extremely helpful and often necessary to conceptualize and understand traumatic experiences. “But, we are not cognitively processing past trauma at our programs. We create a space to remind survivors and their bodies that you are not there anymore, you are here, in the present moment.” And before you dismiss this entire section because you believe you’ve never personally experienced trauma, think again. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over half of all adults and over 60% of men have experienced trauma in their lives. Traumatic events can include rape, domestic abuse, terrorism, war, natural disasters, childhood abuse and neglect, and prison stays. But you may be surprised to find that common life experiences may also be traumatic, like the loss of a loved one (including pets), divorce, illness, and even moving to a new location. Douthat State ParkPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel “From the neck down.” Eden C. felt a similar sense of surrender by the time she was recommended to Camp Mabon, a retreat for survivors of sexual violence. After escaping her abusive marriage of ten years, she and her four year-old son moved across the country where they didn’t know a soul. She had always been the breadwinner, but holding down a job was out of the question now. Just the sound of the doorbell would set off a panic attack. “I wasn’t just homeless,” she said, “I was hopeless.” People have used drugs to cope with emotional problems since the dawn of drugs. But in the 21st century, one of the cheapest, most accessible drugs is information. And I don’t refer to information as a drug for the sake of hyperbole. Literally, our brains treat it the same as a bump of coke. Both give us a pleasant hit of dopamine, our brain’s way of saying “gimme more.” Douthat State ParkPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel “A lot of people have no idea what ecotherapy means,” she said. “Once, someone asked if it involved doing psychedelics in the woods.” She let out a big, warm laugh. “The answer is no. A lot of people get ecotherapy from things they already do without even realizing it. It’s not a foreign thing, it’s just putting a name on something that has been healing us for thousands of years.” Trauma Trapped in the Body Michele Zehr at her home, where she runs the operations for the Center for Earth-Based HealingPhoto credit: Sarah Vogel To understand how nature heals, Zehr explained, we had to first understand the meaning of trauma. “It means too much, too fast. Anything that overwhelms our nervous systems and our natural capacity to process something and stay regulated is a traumatic experience. Our body remembers those traumas and holds on to them if we are unable to fully process and integrate the traumatic experience in the moment that it happens.” “We are just animals,” said Zehr. “We are unique animals because we have the capacity to construct buildings, do complex math problems, and write articles. But the shadow side is that we can use these capacities to get around dealing with our stuff. We can dissociate, avoid, suppress. Sometimes we enable avoidance.” New modalities have emerged in the last few decades to address the limitations of talk therapy. Somatic therapy is one such option, proven to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, chronic stress, addiction, and other mental disorders. The goal of a somatic therapist is to help the client identify and release physical tension stored in the body after a traumatic event. Survivors Maybe it was the relief to finally feel what I had been avoiding for so long — the pain of knowing life sucks sometimes and there is absolutely nothing to be done about it. No amount of analysis or preparation would protect me. And yet, somehow, I would still be okay. Appalachian homestead cabin at the Mountain Farm Trail outdoor museum, MP 5.9 on Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo credit: Sarah Vogel Maybe. But for once, I’m going to try to stop putting it into words. Said Zehr, “Mother Nature is trying to show us all the time what we need to do to heal ourselves, but she doesn’t speak in our language. We have to learn how to listen with both our minds and our bodies.” — Since this article was written, the Center for Earth-Based Healing‘s primary source of funding (a federal grant) was discontinued due to a lack of available grant funds. If another reliable and sustainable funding source can not be found in 2020, the Center for Earth-Based Healing will be closing its doors. Click here to read the whole article