Why stories are subversive
The mystery of storytelling

On the power of beauty

Poets Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna

Rise: From One Island to Another is an extraordinary film project featuring two poets -- Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands (between Hawaii and the Philippines) and Aka Niviâna from Kalaallit Nunaat, Greenland -- using their words to link their homelands, each on the front line of climate change.

Please go here to watch this stunning little film, so rich with the beauty of the language of "sacred rage" that it makes my heart beat fast.

Then go here to learn more about the making of Rise: the ethos, the poem, and the journey.

Just yesterday I read an interview with the great American writer Terry Tempest Williams discussing the power of beauty in a changing world: grounding us, healing us, giving us the courage to keep fighting for our planet.

Black bear (artist unknown)"What I love," she says, "is that, in spite of everything, beauty holds us, in whatever form we seek it. Last week, I was so depressed; I cannot believe what is happening in this country. I’ve been in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem for the last month and the state of Wyoming is now opening permits so that if grizzly bears get outside Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park, they can be shot. We tried to organize, buy out the permits, 'shoot them with a camera, not a gun.' All this is political, right? And I thought, stop, too much noise. Too much rage. And I went into the park and drove through Willow Flats. On the edge of the Snake River, I saw the willows move. And there in the clearing emerges this immense being -- a grizzly bear. And I thought, first and foremost, above all politics, here is beauty on four legs. I just wept. My heart calmed, my eyes opened, and I found a compassion that I had lost. I went out and sat by the river, and all of a sudden there were millions of caddis flies, about the size of your little finger, a constellation dancing on the surface of the Snake River. Grizzly bears eat caddis flies, and I thought, here, now, this is beauty, this is the strategy for survival. The earth, the world, bears: on some level I truly believe they will survive us. I have to believe in those moments of beauty that take us to a place of transcendence where anything is possible. We have to hold on to that."

I couldn't agree more.

Terry Tempest Williams

I highly recommend Terry Tempest William's new book, pictured above...and all of her previous work. She inspires me constantly.


Old Sister, Young Sisters

Thank you for coming back to your place in the Art of Beauty and Strength, Terri. The short video and project that begins your post is such big medicine for me, an old sister of Islands.
I woke to a whirl of emotions triggered by a local community event that appropriates my Native Hawaiian Culture with Hawaiian-themed contests for their fundraising effort.
I took a fall this weekend as my head and soul lost ground ... the emotions needing to get to my heart so she (my heart) could again 'feel her toes.'
I found a message from a sister of the islands. She, like me, though of different blood, was born where concrete covers so much of what Island Sisters value. Respect.

I woke and found you, Sister of Story and Beauty, sharing a Story of Sisters.
Island to Island.
Moku Moku.
I watched.
I listened.
I broke fast.

The message from my sister said, "He may not be willing or ready to be informed."
I agreed, but, that cannot stop me, old woman of Islands.
Not now.
It used to stop me.
I woke.
I fell.
I woke.
I listened.
I speak.

The Hour of Land is a timely treasure

Ah, what a beautiful piece by Terry Tempest Williams on the power of beauty. I am reading her When Women Were Birds just now and save The Hour of Land for the long dark months to come.

Keep speaking out, Mokihana, in this fulcrum moment we need all the informed and informal voices speaking, shouting, crying out truth into the ears of the truth manglers.


I couldn't agree more.

I find myself turning to TTW's books when the horrors of the world overwhelm my soul. Her words save me, again and again.

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