Submitted by Chris Wojnar
I attended an Indigenous Peoples walking tour of Concord this summer with a group from First Parish Church. This was part of a year long church program inspired by Robyn Wall Kimmerer’s book, “Braiding Sweetgrass”, which highlights the reciprocal relationship of humanity to the rest of the living world.
We learned that the colonists of Concord took Native lands as payment for fines imposed on the Natives for practicing their traditional ways. The land was cleared for colonists’ farms, for wood, and for ranching. The once natural landscape had been in a sustainable and reciprocal relationship with people who saw the trees, plants, land, and animals as members of their community to be respected for their contribution to life.
There’s so little landscape today that’s allowed to live and thrive in its natural web of life. When we do find that space and immerse ourselves in it, we experience an aliveness that nourishes our souls.
Have you heard of ‘forest bathing’? Guides take you through natural settings to ‘tune into’ the breathing/living woods to feel our relationship, our camaraderie with the earth that holds us. In Japan, where forest bathing originated, hospitals and healing centers are surrounded by these natural landscapes because of the proven healing qualities.
We need these healing places, allowed to be as they naturally should be, especially in our fast-paced and stressful world.
The land taking for the construction of the bike path along the Reformatory Branch Trail reminds me of the reasoning of the Concord colonists…this improvement will be for the benefit of the community.
Deeply disturbed by the colonists, and then for the railroad, this land, only in the last 60 years, has been allowed to begin to re-establish its natural balance, which many enjoy.
Beyond the perimeters of the tree cutting and construction, there will be far ranging impacts on the larger ecosystem, including the impacts of increased usage of the trail through Great Meadows in Concord.
I believe the construction of the bikeway will be a huge loss for the people of Bedford.