During a recent weekend workshop attended by a full crowd of very intelligent, for the most part successful, well-educated individuals from many places around the world, I paused at a point early on to ask if anyone had heard of the Great Green Wall. To my amazement, no one in the room raised their hand. The implications are troubling and complex across a wide field of considerations, but let me leave that for now. The more significant immediate consequence is that one of the most audacious, enormous, uniquely visionary projects of this century is not being recognized by (obviously) a very significant portion of the (mostly occidental, mostly privileged) population.
Which is really too bad, not necessarily because one should keep up with international affairs or the evolution of the planet we live on, but because the underlying idea of personal development or acquiring wisdom or the search for meaning in our lives involves getting our heads out of the desolate sand long enough to see and experience beauty beyond our own little spheres of anxieties and preferences, which requires enough curiosity and expansive inquiry to notice something else of significance. As I mentioned in the seminar, this is a lot like getting out of school and into real life.
Anyway, I like the idea that imagination comes closer to reality simply by building a bridge of knowledge between the two, so I thought I’d take this opportunity and space here to inject some investment into the Great Green Wall myself. A little research into the links here would give you a good idea of what it’s all about. The most accessible, condensed version of facts seems to be here. For those with more time and interest to spend, there’s this longer, excellently researched and very well-written article. And this short official video is quite likable and edifying for its simple clarity and tone…
Certainly there is an endless list of worthy causes we can all find. And I’ve always thought that the best worthy causes are those we happen upon through the course of our normal days, where, if we remain vigilant and sensitively perceptive, the opportunities to influence, help, heal, and generate inspiration and resolution are already endless. Then again, sometimes there are some uniquely visionary projects that can speak to our imagination in ways that remind us of (the need for) a grander vision of life. These can impact us, communally and individually, in ways that are tremendously therapeutic.
Someone along the path of envisioning and designing this project said, “We are in the process of creating the Eighth Wonder of the World.” That may or may not be true, but at least the intended spectrum of influence is boldly compelling, from the macrocosmic impact on climate change and desertification of the planet, to recreating entire social, educational, agricultural and economic paradigms, to reconfiguring mankind’s interaction with nature, to resolving widespread violence, to transforming scattered ineffectiveness and depletion into a resurgence of wholesome, interconnected village traditions — and, more importantly, perhaps — to making it possible for a young child to just plant a tree and watch it grow into something life-sustaining, where she can go pick some fruit and sit safely in the shade with some sense of peaceful relief and real accomplishment.