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Transformative Conservation to End Tragic Death

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Just a few days ago a colleague of mine was murdered in Guatemala. His name is Pedro Viteri Aggiola. It’s true that we can’t be sure what the murderers had in mind when they shot him. But, we do know that he was at put at risk by nefarious elements previously. Just the day before he was killed, Pedro had led authorities on a tour of his ranch with our project, COLORES, because poachers were targeting the yellow-naped amazon, which is the endangered parrot that COLORES members protect. Pedro had asked us to help him protect the nests, because he feared that the people coming illegally onto his ranch would take them. We mourn with and for his family, to have suffered such a loss on their ranch where they were building an eco-reserve to protect the wondrous wildlife of Guatemala.

Pedro Viteria with authorities protecting his ranch the day before he was killed

(photo by Manuel Galindo)

I know that environmentalists are killed with impunity throughout the world, and Pedro is just one of many. But even one is too many! Every day I hear of at least one protector of life murdered or some area lost due to the economic interests of those who would use power and domination to take what is someone else’s, so it can be theirs. Our beloved La Moskitia in Honduras is under deadly threat from criminal land invaders butchering the forest, building an illegal road and leaving maybe, at best, 100 great green macaws left in that country, and probably closer to 50.

A road currently being built, going through indigenous lands, where there should be no road

I am tired of tragic death! I want to work for life, risking all that I can to live a life centered on the transformation from violent oppressive domination society practices to a world where the biotic community can flourish.

I don’t know how to do this! I don’t want to do it alone. I feel despair, and yes, anger, but also perhaps a foolish sense of possibility.

Please, if you feel any of this, I seek your company and partnership and begin with this invitation below:

An Invitation to Centering Transformative Conservation

We are LoraKim Joyner and Meredith Garmon, who together are moved to action for the sake of the co-liberation of people, parrots, and all beings. We acknowledge who we are – a white married couple in our 60s in the USA who have spent our lives embedded in and benefiting from colonial culture. LoraKim is a wildlife veterinarian, Nonviolent Communication Certified Trainer, and Unitarian Universalist community minister, and has worked in parrot conservation for 34 years in the Americas. Meredith is a former philosophy professor, current Unitarian Universalist parish minister serving a congregation, and a leader of a Zen sangha. LoraKim and Meredith are both board members of One Earth Conservation, whose organizational practices adopt transformation and solidarity as a guiding principle. We have given our lives to service and justice, and now seek in our remaining years to go further.

The harms of the colonial culture of domination have been vast, tragic, and heart-rending to people and ecosystems. Who are we if we do not take concrete steps for the liberation of us all from systems of domination? Thus, we are called to organize in community for transformation. The ongoing damage to the Earth, to its many species, and to our fellow humans calls us out of our privileged position . . .and into what?

We admit that we don’t know, yet we claim not-knowing as a necessary condition. If we knew in advance how the transformation would go, it wouldn’t be transformative.

We do know this much:

● We cannot do this alone; transformation is a community practice.

● The community practice of transformation entails human community embedded and interwoven in surrounding ecological community.

● Transformative Conservation will entail spiritual/inner transformation and communal commitment to a spiritual discipline.

● A Transformative Conservation Center will seek to foster connections – interpersonal and interspecies – that yield results and methods we cannot foresee.

We begin with an intention to center ourselves in transformation and conservation, to de-center the sources of our privilege, and to start to build a viable alternative to a domination-based society. We expect that the concrete meaning of these intentions will evolve as we go.

We are investigating possibilities for buying land for a physical intentional community. That may take a while. In the meantime, we want to begin using electronic conferencing for asking questions, learning, and being transformed in other’s experiences and reflections.

Will you join us in this centering practice of transformation?

We join our spiritual practices of Zen and nature/multispecies connection with transformative conservation practices and offer what we have to a bruised and aching world. We begin with an invitation to a free, virtual conversation about Transformative Conservation – how do we center this in our lives and how do we build a center. What is it? How do we do it? What are the questions we should be asking? Can we build a virtual community?

We will meet on Saturday, March 13 at 5 p.m. EST (New York – 10 p.m. UTC) for Spanish speakers and Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m. EST (New York – 7 p.m. UTC) for English speakers. Register here for English speakers and regístrese aquí para la versión en español.

For more background on Transformative Conservation, please see this article and, read LoraKim’s blog here on Transformation Conservation. In addition, you can learn more here and here about Unconditional Solidarity.

A rescued yellow-naped amazon parrot being released in Nicaragua

(photo by Christiana Martyknowski)

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