The Retreat at Gregory Ridge – Annually, the first Saturday of April is Project Blue River Rescue at Lakeside Nature Center. This year, the project brought over 40 volunteers to our forest. In October, fifteen parishioners from three church congregations across the metro came to plant trees with ten local neighborhood residents. With the assistance of Gregory Ridge Neighborhood Association President Carl Stafford, a rendering of forest renovation goals (below), was commissioned from artist Jonathan Lyman, providing a long-term vision for the project.
Neighbor-Grown Food Network – In 2021, fifteen household kitchen gardeners again grew food and spices to feed their families, using the nature-mimicking bio-intensive companion planting method we shared with them in 2019. Pandemic precautions made the original delivery model obsolete, but families report that they are still sharing the method and seeds within their social circles. At the Shiloh Learning Center Demonstration Garden, school volunteers weeded around self-propagated food plants seeded by the 2020 growing season’s first-generation plants. Families harvested produce at their leisure.
Nature Immersion Therapy – In 2021, drawing from a Nature Therapy Guide certification course being taken by one of our volunteer staff members, we publicized nature-focused mental health self-help aides through social media posts that reached
over 7,000 people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (e.g. the square images throughout this report). Two community in-person nature therapy sessions were led in the Retreat at Gregory Ridge during October. The first advertised in-person pilot sessions in November served eight people. Sessions will re-open in March, if public health guidelines allow.
2021 Study: Understanding another face of American hardship – For Joy Ellsworth, 2021 was a year of multi-day visits to Bodwéwadmi, Laḱoťa and Daḱoťa communities, and conversations with residents. Joy attended a 417-mile memorial horse ride conducted by a Laḱoťa man in her professional network to honor his late wife’s life.
Joy’s previous studies introduced her to the poverty-surviving shared wisdoms lived by residents of both the southeastern Missouri Ozarks and of the East Kansas City area. Participating in the ride helped us to learn another American perspective.
Joy's experience validated two aspects of the organization’s work:
Focusing on community-generated wisdoms is a uniting and healing action, especially for people experiencing hardship.
Indigenous smallholder lifestyles and land management practices are worthy of mainstream adoption and respect, due to their inherent environmental stewardship.