Heaven Is Under Our Feet

Lake County Record-Bee
Mount Konocti: West Coast Walden
By Mandy Feder
Updated: 08/27/2009 11:07:32 PM PDT

“Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. We need the tonic of wilderness.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I worked as a counselor for the California Youth Authority (CYA) before I fully dedicated my time to writing.

I had twice-weekly dealings with youth who robbed stores, homes, people on the street and one teen who shot someone in the face for his shoes, the day before Christmas Eve.

During a group counseling session, I asked the participants to close their eyes and picture the place that brought them peace and happiness and write down what they saw.

All of them answered with a place outdoors: the beach, the woods and the mountains in spring.

Now, with that said, I am reminded of the urgency to protect and nurture the places that bring peace and comfort, defrosting even frozen souls.

Nature is miraculous.

The acquisition of the Mount Konocti property almost immediately reminded me of the movement to save and preserve Walden Woods.

In “Heaven Is Under Our Feet: A Book For Walden Woods,” published in 1990 compiled by Don Henley and Dave Marsh, are essays written by: Paula Abdul, Kirstie Alley, Kathi Anderson, Chester, G. Atkins, Ed Begley Jr., Robert Bly, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmy Carter, Priscilla A. Chapman, Cesar Chavez, Tom Cruise, Ted Danson, John DeVillars, E.L. Doctorow, Michael Dorris, Diandra M. Douglas, Alan H. Edmond, Louise Erdrich, Mike Farrell, Carrie Fisher, Richard F. Fleck, George T. Frampton Jr., Arun Gandhi, Whoopi Goldberg, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Hanks, Jim Harrison, Don Henley, Jim Hightower, John A. Hoyt, Janet Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Don Johnson, James Earl Jones, Edward M. Kennedy, Michael Kennedy, John Kerry, Anne LaBastille, Dave Marsh, John McAleer, Thomas McGuane, Bill McKibben, Edward T. McMahon, James Michener, Bette Midler, Wesley T. Mott, John Nichols, Jack Nicholson, John O’Connor, Shigeyuki Okajima, Gregory Peck, Mary Kay Place, Paul C. Pritchard, Robert Redford, Pat Riley, Martin J. Rosen, Edmund A. Shofield, Wallace Stegner, Sting, Meryl Streep, Todd N. Tatum, Marian Thornton, Garry Trudeau, Paul Tsongas, Kurt Vonnegut, Floyd Red Crow Westerman and Bette Woody.

The essays in the book command and demand action.

The book assisted in “spearheading the fight to save the cradle of the American environmental movement.” It is a real call to action for anyone who cares about the environment.

The Walden Woods Project could serve as a perfect model for those interested in the acquisition of Mount Konocti.

In the mission statement found on www.walden.org, it is written that “Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”

The project achieves this mission through the integration of conservation, education and research in recognition of the worldwide literary, historical and environmental significance and the capacity to motivate others to identify, study and protect the Waldens that exist in their own communities.”

We have a Walden in our own community with Mount Konocti.

The geologic landscape on the far East Coast in Massachusetts, the petite pond at Walden and surrounding foliage differ greatly from that of California’s Mount Konocti and Clear Lake.

The concerns about losing precious parcels in nature are parallel.

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature,” Thoreau wrote in Walden.

Indian tribes consider Mount Konocti enchanted and sacred. It sparkles as it is surrounded by the volcanic glass obsidian.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to formally open escrow on its 1,500-acre purchase on the Mount Konocti mountaintop in September. The deal is expected to close in November.

The purchase is tremendously important to keep public treasures in the public domain for the purpose history and the environment. Mount Konocti could be the West Coast’s Walden, cared for in a manner that honors the earth.

“We are all schoolmasters, and our schoolhouse is the universe. To attend chiefly to the desk or schoolhouse while we neglect the scenery in which it is placed is absurd,”

Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 15 October 1859

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