The Case for Spiritual Environmentalism


My friend, Brigitte Fortin, recently created this video, musing on the spiritual dimension of the environmental movement. It so perfectly captures my own feelings on this subject that I asked her blessing to post it here. The video is part of her graduate work in Environmental studies at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT.

Brigitte’s thesis is on spirituality and nature. As a social activist for many years, Brigitte saw that we can do and do and do, but unless we make fundamental internal shifts, then nothing will change. She is convinced that what’s inside of us is reflected outward. If we get our minds and hearts right, then we’ll have the right foundation to make big changes.

After Hurricane Katrina, she had a dream that she couldn’t shake. It told her more people are ready and open to the idea of embracing the spiritual dimension. This led her to working with plants and habitat restoration. The more she worked on the issues, the more she worked on herself. The path became clearer as she walked it, and teachers and fellow travelers have joined her along the way.

In her thesis research, she has been mining scientific writers to extract the pieces that do touch on spirituality. The more deeply she thought about what needs to happen, she realized it’s really a communications issue. Her work is a reinterpretation and a reiteration, coming from the heart. The western mindset has put everything on science, on the mental aspect. Looking at the Four Directions, which she references in this video, the mental is only one of four aspects. We are shortchanging our understanding if we leave out the physical, the emotional, or the spiritual.

Even the most conscious people are so entrained in their lifestyles that old habits are hard to break. Her advice is to follow the obvious, do the things that you know you need to do. Like taking that walk in the park instead of on a treadmill.

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Julie,
    What an incredible ‘movie’. I would love to post it to all my spiritual friends (and those still in the dark) on Facebook. Any problem?

  2. Please DO!! The more people who see it, the better! Thanks, Jack.

  3. Attending to the spiritual implications of the environmental crisis is an important part of getting that balance right between acknowledging the threat and embracing the opportunity for action. Thanks for posting this as it resonates on many levels.

    Have you, Brigitte, or others reading these posts heard about The New Cosmology? It seems to offer a really long view on our dilemma, putting human existence in the context of “deep time”. Brigitte does not mention Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry’s work on The Universe Story. That’s an interesting piece of the puzzle, with a lot of spiritual implications. It adds new dimensions and ways to think about the human impact on the biosphere. Also Joanna Macy.

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