Thea at Monan's Rill inoculating straw wattles with oyster mushroom mycelium to protect the critical watershed from toxins in the ash of burned buildings
By Thea Maria Carlson
The climate crisis literally arrived on my doorstep this fall, as a raging wildfire devastatingly burned the land and community I call home, Monan's Rill, in late September. The fire destroyed hundreds of homes throughout our watershed and killed countless trees, birds, squirrels, and other living beings. Although the landscapes of California coevolved with fire and Indigenous cultural burning for tens of thousands of years, changing land use and fire suppression since European contact has resulted in tremendous buildup of fuels, which have combined with climate-change-induced drought and extreme weather patterns to create wildfires of much greater intensity, severity, speed, and devastation that break new records every year.
Through the dramatic and unexpected transformation of this wildfire, I have come to the poignant realization that it is time for me to transition out of leadership of the Biodynamic Association.
After a decade of focusing on helping other people to steward land and communities all across the country and around the world, I am now called to step more deeply into directly stewarding the land and community that is my home: to bring renewed health and vitality to the forests, meadows, creeks, garden, orchard, and pasture; to rebuild fire-resistant homes that use resources wisely; to endeavor to create a model for how humans can live in right relationship with each other and with a fire-adapted ecology in the midst of climate crisis.
Deciding to end my tenure as Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association was incredibly difficult, because there is so much I love about this work and so much potential to carry it further. When I started working for the Biodynamic Association in January 2011, I could not imagine how the organization and I would grow together over the course of these ten years. Back then, I was farming full time, and my initial role coordinating the fledgling apprenticeship program was allotted just four hours per week. Within a few years I had put farming aside to work full time for the BDA and was hiring new staff to expand our team, growing into leadership as we rolled out new programs every year. From innovating new ways of educating and training the next generation of biodynamic stewards, to transforming the biodynamic conference to a widely accessible event drawing up to 900 participants, to evolving our organizational structure and beginning the process of weaving principles of social justice and racial equity throughout our work, there is a great deal that we have to celebrate as members of the BDA.
And yet, 2020 showed us that there is so much more work needed to address all that is deeply broken within our society—in how we relate to other human beings, to food, to land, to the earth, and to the climate. The fire in my community is just one example of the wake-up calls that we are all receiving in this time of global pandemic and disruption. At the dawn of this new year, all of us need to reimagine what life could look like if we actually acted in alignment with our deepest values and highest aspirations for humanity and the Earth, as individuals, organizations, and communities. What are we willing to let go of, and what are we willing to put our energy towards, to make true healing and transformation possible? How can we draw on the insights and practices of biodynamics to bring about the change we wish to see?
As I step away from my role as Executive Director, others are stepping strongly into leadership, and I know that I am leaving the work in good hands. Building on the collaborative organizational structure we have co-created over the past six years, several of my colleagues on the BDA staff team are taking up the work I have been carrying in program development, communications, conference, and fundraising. In addition, the BDA and Demeter USA Boards of Directors have engaged Osiris Abrego Plata and David Byrnes as an interim leadership team to steward the completion of the groundbreaking unification of these two organizations into a new, integrated whole with much greater capacity to nurture and grow the biodynamic movement across the United States at this pivotal time in history. Look forward to hearing from them soon, along with more about recent and future work toward this holistic vision.
Although my employment with the BDA ends on January 31, I look forward to continuing to participate in the unfolding of the biodynamic impulse with all of you as a BDA member and biodynamic land steward. I hope that each of you, as members of the BDA, will also find your own ways to contribute to the healing and transformation that is so deeply needed in this time. All of the members of this beautiful and diverse community give me great hope for the future, and I am eager to see what all of us can make happen together.
With gratitude and affection,
Thea Maria Carlson
262.649.9212 x5 | firstname.lastname@example.org