College Hill is what they call it. It probably had a settler's name once, and a native American one before that. For me, though, it will always be...College Hill.
It stands like a beacon--drawing me, every five years to be precise, to a reunion of souls who come like moths drawn to brightness, and who briefly alight in a transient gathering. But in the short time there, a remarkable thing happens. Squinting a bit harder at nametags than we used to, dusting off memories, sharing a laugh and taking in the fleeting magic of this granfaloon of a community--remember Vonnegut's 'balloon without its skin'?--we then turn back to the here and now. We find ourselves seeing the future just a bit more clearly.
For me, the clarity comes from many conversations, and snippets thereof, about sustainability. With former classmates now in teaching, the arts, business, or at non-profits--representing dozens of different viewpoints. Yet almost all seemed attuned to the issues we face, and aware of the grappling taking place on many fronts with climate change, pollution, waste, and finite resources. Some are active themselves, and others more indirectly affected.
At this year's gathering, some of us were fortunate to mix it up with Bill McKibben, and John Elder, who inspired with their stories--delivered in styles that were miles apart yet somehow connected by a passion for informing and activating. We learned of the subtle but inexorable changes brought by global warming to the declining Vermont maple sugaring industry--far more than just a livelihood for this state. And of the power of a few young minds to rally the masses for the recent Step It Up campaign.
Between encounters and miles of hoofing it back and forth across this hilltop, I came to realize that there's an entirely different kind of renewable energy in the air here. It's the energy that fuels our understanding and fills our spirit, and enables us to work towards solutions--and not become mired in inevitability.
I look out over the surrounding town and farmland, reaching to purple mountains in the west and green ones to the east. I close my eyes briefly to capture the snapshot that will sustain me the next five cycles. I turn to take it all in one final time, and then head off to do my work. Knowing that eConsciousness is alive and well and at this moment moving in a hundred different directions from this place is more than I could have hoped for. Peace.