By Aimee Danch, Pacific Grasslands
If you can hear the part of you that knows a more beautiful world is possible, then some part of you already knows what takes place during a Women in Ranching (WinR) gathering.
Farmers, ranchers, and land management professionals bear a disproportionate amount of the disconnection between humankind and the rest of the natural world. In a broad stroke, our lands are telling a story of impoverishment and severance, and those tending them bear these wounds most acutely. The parallels between extractive agriculture, the over-specialized disciplines within our natural resource agencies, and the mining of the humans tasked with managing these systems are not a coincidence. These gatherings nurture and refuel the courage, dedication, and creativity that dwells innately within each participant. Essential space is given to focus attention on the restoration of the whole person so that each person can continue to tend to a whole landscape.
Belonging to one of the WIR circles is to experience the alchemizing passage of our most inner self being protected by an entire room of others—others that were most likely strangers before the first gathering. It is a space to see yourself reflected in others. The group becomes its own living entity acting on behalf of its members, creating something ineffable during their time together that stays carried on the wind, blowing through each of their respective communities long after the event itself.
It may sound self-evident that the work of land managers does not exist in a vacuum; however we do very little to show that we understand this principle. Backing the WinR initiative is a direct act of support that sustains the individuals who are already engaged in transforming the way we eat and the way we run our businesses. Collectively we are faced with a tremendous cultural opportunity, the Ecological Revolution. It can be no more fundamentally altering to our lives than the Agricultural, Industrial and Information Revolutions have been. However, birthing a new story within the crumbling yet still powerful edifice of the old is not work that can be done alone. The strength to carry that totality, to unapologetically carry on the healing work needed to forge a new model of living within the complexity of our times does not come without leaving its mark on those engaged at this level. There is no such thing as seamlessly birthing a new story; and its writers need a house to rest within and re-tune, even if it is just once a year.
The women involved in land management in our country already have purpose. The whole story resides naturally within them; and these gatherings lend durability to the ledger of their daily work. If we have any hope of transforming the grief-stricken histories of our public and private lands, cycling them back into self-sustaining systems, then these circles are an agent for that goal—a harmonization that ripples out at a landscape level. It is nothing short of an explicit investment in stabilizing the voices of the feminine archetype during this time when no greater task exists.
About the Author
Next year will be an exciting year for Aimee Danch and her family. After years of working for and building out diverse grazing systems raising good meat for established outfits, Aimee and her partner Jeremiah will be expanding their custom grazing and fabrication business Pacific Grasslands to include the purchase of their first property, in Oregon. Their blood, sweat, tears and joy will finally fall into their own equity—along with the marketing of their own products. Catch back up with them and their new meat company in early 2020, raising grassfed beef, pastured pork, grassfed lamb, pastured poultry and roots. Until then, follow their journey on Instagram: @pacificgrasslands.
About Women in Ranching
Learn more about Women in Ranching here. If you are: not yet part of a Circle but want to be; own or manage a ranch, and able to host 20+ women for 3 days; or interested in becoming a corporate sponsor or learning more about different ways of supporting Women in Ranching, contact Amber Smith: Amber@westernlandowners.org.
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