Place-Based Education #1


Place-Based Education #1

What I want to tell you is that I’ve seen a place

through which surges a crackling, shimmering Reality

I’ve seen a place where the creatures have taken on lives of their own,

rearing and devouring each other with mercy and grace

I’ve seen a place where the water pervades and permeates every possible niche,

where water is the Real and the metaphor of Spirit–

Spirit irrigating Form

A place where Spirit, constantly and incessantly, animates an electric,

soul-centric, biospheric Earth

trembling in constant birth


A place where wildness is not banished

but invited

A place where the land shapes the creatures and they in turn sculpt the land–

where streams lose meanders when they lose wolves–

where oceans lose kelp forests when they lose otters–

where people lose their sanity

when their guiding stories lose a land-manifested sanctity

I’ve seen a place where the intelligence of the universe, with impunity and at will,

can concentrate its focus through a pair of human eyes–

an aperture through which that universe, with its stars, dreams, ferns,

mountains and rivers–

can become aware of itself–

the optic nerve of it all

A place where the people are, always and unequivocally,

leaning forward from the front edge of their own evolution

A place where our eye-contact is experienced as an elucidation of unity,

our breathing a caress of constant sensuality,

and our imaginations a venerated instrument of a sacred sexuality

I’ve seen a place where the people are naked under their clothes,

and then further in, naked under their culture–

I’ve perceived their nudity to be a molten, pulsing lotus of Light–

a fire they did not start and could never extinguish, only relinquish

A place where words can create, and destroy, trophic cascades–

streams, mountains, and forests decimated

by a thought–

pipe-lines, tar-sands, coal-mines, clear-cuts halted

with an Idea

A place where people– lush, vibrant, life-quaking people

can sit at meetings and at readings and beside campfires–

their earthen-bodies and sensual organs and pan-empathy organs

tuning them to the moment– their fleshy, juicy minds tuning them to the moment–

I’ve seen how they get together to concentrate their energy

into a distillation of what matters–

on matters of vitality for all and fecundity for free

A place where the visions-worked-into-being by these people undermine injustice,

pummel ignorance with love, propagate awareness through poetry,

threaten entrenched paradigms, distill abstractions into actions,

and scare the shit out of those who would rather such groups of people never met

A place where our words can become works made visible–

speech growing ever more infused with the syntax of rivers, the grammar of galaxies,

the windy whispers of our own inner majesty–

I’ve seen a place where this Living Language can, will, and must continue

on its inevitable evolution, turning itself further toward the Beauty that inspired its rise

A place where We the People live in Earth, a place where we are Earth

ever-ready, ever-flourishing

towards that which makes us thrive

A place where you are a Native of this Universe

domiciled within, whilst co-creating dutifully

A place where you take up space


Because you are of this place


I have seen a place where we receive and transmit

this place-based education:

this place is your body

this place is your mind

take it as Soil

or take it as Spirit

but never forget

you’re one of a kind

of creature

who creates

the places

that create you

A place where we are forever wed to this moment’s widest truth–

“I do.”

Dream Local


Back from a hike one afternoon in the foothills of the Champlain Basin, where from a perch I’d seen the vast valley with is massive lake and its myriad rivers emptying into it, I came upon a message, written in the yellow pollen dust on my volvo: it read “Dream Local.”

That evening I lay down to rest on the windy lake shore, by the wide mouth of the Winooski River. The river delivered the snow-melt, creeks, and streams from the Green Mountains to the east. Consider then the old Abenaki people, for whom the seasonal dance between lake and river, valley and mountain, was a sort of cyclical, climatic tide– down to shores for a fishing summer, up mountain hollows for a hunting autumn, down valley floor for a long-house winter, up the slopes for a maple syrup spring– all backed by the nourishment the three-sisters gardens would bring.

I drifted to dream. A great being, Odzihozo to Abenaki, appeared– makes himself from nothing, but fails to give himself legs. Wanders a flat ash forest, drags himself along with tremendous hands that carve up the land. I stand on a small hill– he narrowly misses me as he rips off the side, leaves behind a u-shaped valley and a new stream– it immediately roars to life with waterfalls and fish and fowl.

A creative geographer, he crawls, gouges and scrapes, sculpts valleys and ridges, cliff- lined drainages, – I watch my homeland taking shape. Tired, he sits in the center, sinks down, the rivers rise around him…becomes a stone island in an azure lake, ringed by mountains. Eons of stillness bear witness.

He calls me. On his rocky lap I sit: watch the waves of my ancestors come carve– mountains cleared of trees, rivers dammed and wetlands drained– fracking planned and pipe-lines laid.

He turns to me, and in stone-speak says: “I am with you in the backhoe, in the shovel, in the plow– but you’ve wielded these tools too carelessly. Your destruction lacks life’s creativity. I beg of you: do better, or leave. I’ll carve again after you’re gone.”

And I awoke, at dawn, beside a set of turtle tracks in the sand. “Dream Local,” they read. I looked at my hands.


Published: Homestead Plums


In an era usually ruled by the dangerous doom and the lugubrious gloom, is a fine place to read about some positive stories of conservation work throughout Montana.

I have just had a piece published there, and you can access it here.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy it, and find some other inspiring stories while you’re at it.

Keep at it-


Together, Autumnal



Autumn carved into the land

like a grinned

snaggle-toothed pumpkin,

fleshy and crooked.

Leaves set themselves aflame

with a frost-bent ferocity,

starting in the secret mountain

hollows amongst crackling

streams and splintering

crows of rock,

then the tree-beings screaming

scraping off their pumpkin-orange skins

to darken valley dance-floors

spitting birds-of-leaves

whole flocks of darting leaves

to bury the fields

attack the rain gutters

and eclipse the ground from light

The creeping line of darkness advancing,

the warmth withdraws

south towards

days lengthening

and other leaves just now greening

swollen buds in a warmer night

But here the light

is running,

each day bleeding light

the hour-glass pouring

out leaves and light

A hasty retreat–

sucking south swirls

of currents and streams,

cold-fronts kicked up

like an icy dust,

while thick galaxies of wind

batter their way south,

throwing burnt chips of leaves

into blinding zephyrs of wet

glinting golds

as night reveals gales

of broke-knuckled stars

and the cold, old gore

of rotting pumpkins, icing

creek shallows,

and bare, bare trees.

While high above

the hard, gray

rock of the sky

chips, flakes off crystals

of white, ancient white

spinning off to slits of snow

that ghost before our eyes.

Yet amongst all this tumult,

all this leaf-brackish air grinding

down overhead

and all these threaded screws

of cold, turning

into these wooden bones

of (h)ours

You and I

still found ourselves

on that violently lit

blaze orange leaf-

strewn street corner

with our clacking knees

and watering eyes,



for winter.

Trevien Stanger

November 17th, 2010

Burlington, VT

note:  This poem also appeared in Thread Magazine