On Community

Brian Rowanby Brian Rowan Hawthorne

I grew up in a New England town and remember attending town meetings with my parents. From that early age, I valued the direct democracy of town meeting, and as I grew into adulthood, I looked forward to the day when I could join a community and become a part of that unique local system of volunteer government. Becoming a part of a tightly knit community was always where I was headed. 

Nearly 30 years ago, long before I was able to move out of the city and back to small town Massachusetts, I became a part of the community of EarthSpirit. As I moved around from city to town and from job to school to job, changed my career and started a family, EarthSpirit was always there, providing a community of interest at the local, regional, and national levels.

Now, as I move into the second half of my life, I am a member of one of those small New England towns. I attend town meetings. I serve on the Fire and EMS Department, the planning board, the broadband committee, and in numerous other capacities. I know all of my neighbors and most of the people who live in this tiny town. My childhood need to be a part of a small-town community has been fulfilled.

But, what I had not realized all those years ago was that I needed not only to be a blade of grass in a small local field, but also to be connected to the wider world. While I have set my roots down in the rocky soil of this New England hill town, EarthSpirit has kept growing, expanding from a local group of like-minded individuals into an international network reaching out to the interfaith community and building connections with indigenous religions here in the US and around the world. While I work at the grass roots level to help keep my town thriving, EarthSpirit works to connect me to people around the world who see the magic in science, the beauty in nature, and the spirit in place.

Over the last three decades EarthSpirit has always provided me with a connection to people of spirit: people who have become friends and family, colleagues and collaborators. Just as we sometimes take our families, our friends, and our community for granted, assuming they will always be there for us, I admit that I sometimes forget that EarthSpirit could be as ephemeral as any non-profit, and only continues to exist because of the energy and dedication of its volunteers and donors. If I do not feed it, some day I may find that it has faded away, and will not be there three decades from now when some young man or young woman in Boston or Scotland or Spain or Lithuania is looking to connect with a larger world of spirit.

EarthSpirit is now engaged in its annual fundraising campaign to help support the work we do both locally and around the world.  Learn more or please make a gift here.