|Photo by Ilene Cutler.
The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen lead initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural and human resources. Since it began in October 2012, the Signs of Sustainability Project has recognized 24 local individuals and organizations by documenting what they have done. Each year the past recipients of the award are invited to join in the selection process. (Use Ilene’s photo of the SOS plaques)
Lifebridge Sanctuary—Barbara Valocore
The Lifebridge Foundation is a 22-year-old project created with the lofty goal of promoting the concept of the interconnectedness of all life. Under the guidance of Barbara Valocore, the Co-founder and President of the Foundation, Lifebridge Sanctuary was built on a hilltop overlooking the Rondout Valley and adjacent to Mohonk Preserve. The Sanctuary is a place where groups who are working in the diverse fields of science, art, education, spirituality, health and community building can conduct workshops and gatherings. These mostly non-profit, service-oriented groups are treated to the site’s awesome beauty and invited to hold responsibility for it while they are there. Guests compost, recycle, learn to live in community without excessive use of resources, and accept the role of stewardship of the green certified building (Co-Op America Certified) and the wild and cultivated land surrounding it.
Lifebridge Sanctuary is an example of how to live in the 21st century. A 13.2 Kilowatt solar array provides 85% of the energy for the facility. There are fruit trees and bushes and a plan for a 20-year permaculture project to develop the forest garden. Barbara, who is at home both on a stage performing opera and with her seat on a tractor, plants and maintains a thriving and productive biodynamic vegetable garden —a testament to the diverse talents of human beings. Each person attending an event or retreat at Lifebridge Sanctuary comes into conscious consideration of the interconnectedness mission because, while engaging their hearts and minds in lofty directions, they are in a facility that invites them to observe and participate in the regeneration of the environment.
Barbara explained: “The oneness of all life is no vague or abstract concept, but an established scientific fact. We know that our DNA is two clicks away from that of a butterfly and science has proven that matter is really energy and not solid at all. When we really think about what interconnectedness means, a shift is bound to happen that will lead to a more sustainable and resilient community.” In 2012 Lifebridge Sanctuary was awarded a Signs of Sustainability Award for its tremendous example of how to be a steward of our natural and human resources.