We've also made contact with a couple of local non-profit organizations to discuss our partnering with them on certain projects. This might lead to work like helping to clean up the area near the Gowanus Canal, which is a recently designated Superfund site, and planting trees as part of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pledge to plant a million trees in the city.
Up in Mount Tremper some of the Monastery residents and the students living locally have gotten together to plant gardens, some are members of food coops, others are helping us do research into better sources for our food—like local farms, for example.
MR: Part of my understanding of the model of the Earth Initiative was that it was democratic, in the sense that the structure isn't so much top-down as it is a place for really people to bring their own passions and questions to the table. How is that actually working, in terms of structure?
Sensei: Well, let me clarify the process a bit. The Initiative is structured to work on a more horizontal basis than we often do in our formal Zen training. Yet, we do have a planning committee that I and Ryushin Sensei oversee to help develop the vision and mission of the Initiative, and plan how that is to be implemented in our ongoing meetings and work.
MR: When we spoke last year, you talked about this as part of our Zen training in the MRO—that's what you were hoping, that it would be integrated that way. Can you say more about that? How is engaging the Earth Initiative as Zen training different than oldfashioned Earth activism?
Sensei: First, traditional environmental work is gong through many changes. It's evolving as our understanding of the profound complexity of the earth's condition evolves. Many environmentalists are speaking of the need to let go of the traditional dualities that have guided activism in the past.