Jeb is a zookeeper. He loves his job!
THE GROTTO OF HOPE
THE FIRST STAINED GLASS BIODIVERSITY CHAPEL
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
THE EXPERIENCE: People often enter art shows in the same busy state of mind and at the same speed in which they live their everyday lives. This is why The Grotto of Hope is the most important chamber in the exhibition. Imagine instead entering through a guided journey in a biodiversity chapel with 36 stained glass windows, an Earth prayer wheel reflected in water, the sounds of nature and a heartbeat rhythm. It feels good to pause and release the day’s thoughts. A voice guides you within, through a bird’s eye view into a spacious awareness you will never forget. Welcome to the harmony of UBUNTU.
The ancient South African principle, Ubuntu, is the essence of being human. I am what I am because of who we all are. I am because you are. Ubuntu is feeling connected to everything, realizing that what we do affects the whole world. In Hawai'i this is Lokahi ~ the oneness of people, nature and the Infinite. This truth has been lived by indigenous peoples throughout time. In Costa Rica, it’s Pura Vida, the goodness of life, when you are a peaceful, positive presence in your own body, stimulating your natural relaxation and healing responses. This experience takes you inside in a way that is immediately beneficial.
THE CHAPEL: When we really feel connected to life, we are happy. Stained glass has been used since antiquity to evoke this connection and stir the soul to awaken.
The Grotto of Hope will have 36 exquisite illuminated stained glass windows (42” square) featuring an endangered species from each of the Earth’s 34 terrestrial biodiversity hot spots plus two windows for the ocean, deep and reef. The life forms include spectacular flora, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Calley is working in concert with world-renowned wildlife photographers, and the chapel is an expression of appreciation and gratitude to honor all the photographers who have brought wild nature home to us. A central stained glass skylight of the Sun, Moon, and Earth illuminates the carved Earth Prayer Wheel below honoring the five high-biodiversity wilderness areas.
Native trees in handcrafted baskets stand in between twelve vertical panels, each with 3 windows of life.
The Grotto of Hope provides a window to step out of thinking and recharge through opening your senses, quieting your mind, and deepening ecological sensitivity. This pause will be rekindled throughout the exhibition. Pausing frequently is the most important thing you can do to access tranquility and understanding. Quieting the incessant conversation in your head provides relief, and space for important ideas to drop down into your heart, where they can be cultivated into health, energy and meaningful action. Only in peace can we reach for higher wisdom, and realize that healing ourselves is the same as healing the world. That’s good news.
We feel most alive when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
THE TREASURES: What is biodiversity? Biodiversity is the 5 to 30 million or more species that allow us to thrive on Earth. This variety of life or biological diversity comprises our irreplaceable living heritage. It is the foundation for health and resilience in every living system. This is the web of life upon which we sustain our lives, economic growth, our opportunities and our children. Whether it’s called Care of the Creation or conservation, all religions and cultures charge people with protecting and preserving life.
BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS: The windows give a glimpse of the 34 terrestrial biodiversity hotspots, where more than half of the Earth’s plant species, nearly a third of all the mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians live on less than 2.3% of the Earth’s surface. Two windows will show diverse life forms in the major ocean zones: the deep sea, and a shallow-water habitat such as an estuary, inter-tidal zone or coral reef.
Conservation International has established two strict criteria for the hotspots, which are constantly reassessed. The ecoregion must contain at least 1,500 species (.5% of the world’s total) of endemic plants (not found anywhere else on Earth) and, the area must have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. Most of these threatened areas are tropical, impoverished, densely populated, and fast growing. It is essential to understand the relationship of maintaining healthy, diverse ecosystems and intensifying agriculture in order to eliminate extreme poverty and sustain a good life for people. Through both global and local partnerships, these citizens can contribute to biodiversity conservation and enlarge protected areas by using abundant labor resources and knowledge.
Saving the biodiversity hotspots will be the single best investment humanity can make, yet few are familiar with these treasures and their importance.
High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas: The Earth’s treasure troves include the hotspots and five wilderness areas. In contrast to the hotspots, each of the five high-biodiversity international wilderness areas holds more than 1,500 endemic species, is sparsely populated and has remained largely intact, retaining more than 70% of the original vegetation. Together, Amazonia, the Congo Forests of Central Africa, New Guinea, the North American deserts, the Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Savannas of Southern Africa nourish more than 17% of the flora and 8% of the vertebrate fauna on Earth.
Keystone species are those flora and fauna that play a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of their ecosystems, disproportionate to their relative population and biomass. If a keystone species disappears, dramatic changes result. Understanding the ecological impact of keystone species will help us protect biological variety and sustain balance in the natural world. Foundation species are the dominant producers in an ecosystem, in terms of abundance and influence. Flagship species are species that have been chosen, by virtue of their magnetic nature, to represent and catalyze support for conserving species and ecosystems.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO WATER... In Hawai'i, the word for water is wai. The word for wealth is water twice, waiwai. Native people honor water as sacred. Water is life. The chapel’s water element symbolizes the Earth’s fresh water. 97.5% of all water on Earth is salt water, with just 2.5% fresh water. Almost 70% of that is frozen in melting ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland. Most of the rest is locked up in soil moisture or deep ground water. Less than 1% (0.007% of the Earth’s waters) of the world’s fresh water is accessible for human use, and only replenished by rain and snowfall. (University of Michigan)
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) freshwater ecosystems have lost more species and habitat than terrestrial or ocean ecosystems, with 34% of fish species in danger of extinction. A variety of threats including dams, channelization, over fishing, pollution, excessive and wasteful irrigation and climate change further endanger freshwater habitats. While most people live near water, and we all depend on fresh water for drinking, agriculture and employment, billions of people lack adequate fresh, clean water. There are effective solutions at hand ~ awareness, conservation, reforestation and local watershed protection. In short, loving life.
As we enter into this millennium, the time has come for the world to recognize that the geography and solutions of global poverty align closely with those of the biodiversity hotspots. Only by tackling these two agendas together will we truly be able to end poverty and conserve life on Earth.
Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO, Conservation International
Mitakuye oyasin. We exist only in relationship to the whole. All are my relations.
An International Traveling Exhibition of Endangered Species
Dedicated to the Children of the World by Calley O'Neill with Rama the Elephant
AN EPIC JOURNEY OF ART AND SOUL FOR THE EARTH
RAMA: AMBASSADOR FOR THE ENDANGERED ONES
Artists Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak