Speaking for the Earth:
Tribute to Connie Mahoney
On April 22, the Earth
Elders of Sonoma County will gather to celebrate Earth Day.
This tradition — now in its eighth year — is a
testimony to the difference one fiercely
dedicated elder can make. In the article below,
Nina Tepedino, a member of Earth Elders of
Sonoma County, writes a tribute to Earth Elder
founder, Connie Mahoney.
The picture to the right was taken of Connie at
the August 2005 Second Journey Visioning Council
at San Rafael, CA.
The challenge for today's elders, and for all of
us, is to transform
our way of living on Earth and find ways to fulfill basic
with integrity and in balance with nature.
The Vision of Earth Elders
The Russian River where
it meets the Pacific near the town of Jenner, on the
Northern California coast.
By Nina Tepedino
Mahoney might very well be an elder soul, reincarnated
from a remote Hopi village in New Mexico.
I have a
vivid recollection of Connie reading that wonderful
proclamation of Native American wisdom, “Hopi Elder
Speaks.” She is standing before the microphone in the
wooded grove at Jenner. Her voice trembles with a powerful passion for ALL
elders. At her side is Kay McCabe, who originated the
annual celebration for the Russian River. A strong wind
from the ocean is blowing Connie's silver hair back from
her face — a face that is smiling out to the whole
world, a face that communicates a fierce excitement for
beliefs now put into action.
was with this same energy and passionate advocacy that
Connie founded Earth Elders in 1998. Though she
saw Earth Elders as a global network — “Earth Elders
exists wherever and whenever an individual calls herself
or himself an Earth Elder”
— she worked with great energy to birth a
specific local organization in her own backyard of
Sonoma County, CA.
was to join together compassionate and wise elders
committed to caring for the Earth. Over the last eight
years — despite sabbaticals for family, traveling and
her stoic and brave battle with cancer — Earth Elders of
Sonoma County has continued as a vibrant legacy for
elders who share this beautiful corner of the Earth.
A prime annual activity of Earth Elders is the celebration of a
traditional Earth Day event on April 22. Plans for the event
this year —
the towering redwoods on Luther Burbanks Gold Ridge Farm
— are representative.
It will open with musical ceremonial welcome followed by a
Calling of Directions by local Native American, ChoQosh Auh-ho-Oh.
After the recognition of this year's
“Earthkeepers of the
“Earth Day Proclamation”
of the City of Sebastopol will be read by Vice Mayor Sam
Pearce. Songs for action by the Raging Grannies will lead the
participants into “A Walk
Through Time Into The Future”
encompassing many of the teachings of Thomas Berry. A closing
circle to express Gratitude, Appreciation and Commitment by all
attendees will be followed by an organic reception.
Through her motivation, meticulous organizational skills and
enthusiastic encouragement, Earth Elders of Sonoma County
continues with monthly gatherings that mark and celebrate
earth’s seasons. Its members are active volunteers in our local
and national political and environmental movements. Its
Environmental Book Study Group meets twice a month to discuss
books by local and national authors like Luther Burbank, Martin
Griffin, and Thomas Berry. Indeed, Connie's passion for one of
Berry's books, The Great Work, has been downright
Connie Mahoney has
inspired us. In the way she expects excellence she has urged all
of us to be the constant dreamers and to challenge the current
status quo for the sake of the generations yet to come. A quote
from Teilhard de Chardin accurately describes her impact on our
“Once the truth has made its presence felt in a single soul,
nothing can ever stop it from invading everything and setting
fire to everything.”