Reflections on and from artist-activist and CCC19 participant, Zach Street; by conference convener, Stephanie Mines.
Zach Street is a long-limbed, contemplative man. His quiet presence barely suggests the ferocity of his passionate love for Nature that is revealed in his precise photography, sometimes paired with haiku-like poems. Some of these photographs grace the CCC19 website. Zach says he supports and will attend CCC19 because, “I am motivated on a soul level to share my love for our Earth with others who I can partner with to support the health of our home.” “Climate change is a mirror,” Zach continues. “It is urging us to live a different consciousness; one that recognizes the primacy of Earth and the kinship between all life. There is a Hawaiian proverb that says it best, ‘He ali‘i ka ‘āina; he kauwā ke kanaka’ which means the land is the chief; man is the servant.”
Though he was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Zach has experienced a deep transformation in Hawai‘i where he has lived for the last decade. After he leaves CCC19 Zach will take the resources and networks of CCC19’s action plan to share with his community in Hilo, a port town on the Big Island of Hawai‘i where he lives. Both Zach and his wife Trystin, a practitioner of the TARA Approach to Sustainable Health, have grown deep roots there. I first met them at a Poetry Slam in the town of Volcano, on the outskirts of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park where the Hawaiian Goddess Pele has been extraordinarily active the last few years, sending her fiery messages from the womb of the Earth as potent reminders of the power of Nature. Otherwise known as ka wahine ‘ai honua, the woman who devours the land, Pele resides at Halema‘uma‘u, the crater at the summit of Kīlauea. She is a passionate and compelling Goddess that must be encountered to be understood, and even then, remains a mystery. Now Zach is the Director of Admissions at the University of Hawai‘i and Trystin has a thriving healing practice in Hilo. Our shared visions for the health and continuity of humanity and healing trauma in communities around the world have united us more than once to share global adventures as healer-activists.
Zach and Trystin joined their allies in Hawai‘i in the fight for sacred Mauna Kea, a holy site for the Hawaiian people, when it was proposed that a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), one of the largest in the world, be built on conservation land. Indigenous people, joined by climate and environmental activists, are uniting more and more around the world, as they are for Mauna Kea, to protect sanctified land that should be honored and preserved rather than exploited. Zach and Trystin’s participation in the fight for Mauna Kea, the highest peak in the Pacific, taught them about the power that arises when people come together to create a unified force for congruent values. This is also what draws Zach to CCC19. Climate change encourages us to find the power in our unification as one people, one family of humans determined to take a stand for our lives.
Mauna Kea, on what is rightfully known as Hawai‘i Island, is a massive dormant volcano rising 13,796 feet above sea level (4,205m). In the winter it is blanketed with snow and its ecologically unique summit is considered the most sacred spot in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is described as the umbilical cord connecting Earth and Sky. Its cinder cones are known to be shelters for Hawaiian deities. Though the State of Hawai’i still seeks to develop the sacred summit, Native Hawaiians and their allies have so far been successful in protecting Mauna Kea both on the mountain, through peaceful blockades, and in the courts though legal challenges that resulted in the voiding of the permit for the TMT because it violated the due process of the Hawaiian people.
“I am a believer in doing what you can, where you are,” Zach tells me. “ Here in Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian community is leading the way. It is an honor to learn from them about organizing peaceful but powerful resistance against federal and local governments. This is now part of my reverence for life.”
These comments connect directly to another compelling aspect of what drew Zach to CCC19. Collaboration with indigenous people is one of the Eight Principles of Climate Change and Consciousness and Zach wholeheartedly supports Findhorn’s outreach to indigenous youth and elders. “I do not believe we can return to balance with the Earth without indigenous leaders and their communities guiding the way,” he says. In the fight for Mauna Kea the Hawaiian leaders are giving their youth reason to believe they can change the legacy of imperialism and halt the violation of the sacred. Through his active engagement in this movement Zach felt the joy of collaboration and the celebration of existence on and for this extraordinary planetary ecosystem. In a time when many of the people around him are paralyzed with overwhelm, Zach sees CCC19 as an exceptional opportunity for learning and advancing consciousness and inclusion, the singular formula for changing behaviors in order to continue life on Earth.
While activism is one of Zach’s expressions of his love for the Earth, he finds his own personal forms of potent protest through his art. “The most significant action I can take is my creative action,” he asserts firmly. “I want to inspire a consciousness of love through my photography and my poetry (patreon.com/zachstreet47). I want to show neighbors and strangers how to wake up to the wonder that is Life on Earth. I want to ignite, through my art, the gratitude and reverence that are the seeds of every outcome. I want to be part of a movement that recognizes that the land is chief and that puts the health of the planet and all of its creatures first.”
I would like to personally express my gratitude to Zach Street for his generosity in sharing his energy, through his art, with and for CLIMATE CHANGE & CONSCIOUSNESS: Our Legacy for the Earth. From its first inception Zach has been supportive of this movement. This support is further demonstrated by how he comes to CCC19 with the intention of serving his home community of Hilo. He will be an emissary from the Eastern edge of the Island of Hawai’i where he has found his home. Mahalo pumehana, Zach, mahalo nui.