Restoration: A Primer
"When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other." - Margaret J. Wheatley
Your journey to restoration begins here! More below...
Restoration aims to return communities "to an unimpaired or improved condition" (Merriam-Webster). All human activities, indeed, all life, depends on the "ecosystem services" freely provided by nature, such as clean air, clean water, food, and materials for shelter and tools. There would be no human economy without nature, which is why when we sacrifice people and planet for profit, we ultimately are hurting ourselves. We need not only a physical restoration of community, but we also need a spiritual (or philosophical) one. Change starts with us, and as the Stoics sagely observed, "Character is fate."
Restore is a verb. It calls for our action.
Ecological Restoration involves activities to minimize human impact on nature/Creation and repair the damages humans have inflicted on our life-sustaining planet. Planting native species, restoring local ecosystems (forests, rivers, wetlands), and encouraging native local wildlife, from bees to birds to bears and bobcats, helps nature improve human health and protect us from both "natural" and not-so-natural disasters, such as human-caused extreme weather and other forms of climate chaos. Here in the South, ecological restoration can involve planting mangroves on our coasts, using "controlled burns" to prevent dangerous wildfires and restore longleaf pine habitat in our coastal plains, and removing invasive species such as privet and kudzu so that our native upland plants and animals can thrive.
Economic Restoration isn't looking for a return to some imaginary past greatness, but rather the elevation of people and the local community to a level of economic and community health they likely never have enjoyed. Economic restoration gives power to the people and keeps dollars (economic power) in the local community, where they belong. As an example, we point to programs like our Weatherize Every Residence in the South East (WERiSE), which uses low-cost caulk and weatherstripping to save folks significant money on their electricity and gas bills. A train-the-trainer approach and the formation of local, worker-owned cooperatives keeps economic power local while "sharing the wealth" with the Southeast -- and beyond.
Ecumenical Restoration is where change begins: with (in) us. To paraphrase Gandhi, we must be the change we wish to see in the world. And in the words of Margaret Mead, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." A great deal of toxic theology has contributed to our present ecological, economic, and social/spiritual crises. We must combat toxic theology with restoration theology/philosophy. Instead we must embrace the diverse beauty of the various cosmologies and theologies that can contribute to the healing of Earth.