Monday, November 30, 2009

BEN Thanksgiving Special 2009 : Inspirational Passages & Holiday Appeal

Janisse Ray & BEN Publisher Pat Byington

Dear BEN Readers:

I want to thank you for your readership and your support for Alabama's environment. Please make

sure to read the special "Thankgiving Passages" (this from Alabamians Rep. John Lewis, Chuck Leavell (pianist for the Rolling Stones) and Janisse Ray) after our annual Holiday appeal supporting BEN charities.

Today is Cyber Monday (description here - ), and in the spirit of making gifts during e-commerce's "Black Friday" the Bama Environmental News (, asks it’s readers and friends to make tax-deductible contributions to the following BEN's charities this holiday season:

The Wilderness Society -

Southern Environmental Center-

Visit our donations webpage at for details about our three additional charities:

Sheffield High School Foundation – Environmental Public Service Scholarship

Camp McDowell – Byington Scholarship

University of Washington – Rose Scholarship

As you can see on the BEN donation page, these charities each have a special connection to me and my family. For over 10 years, we have asked people to contribute to the BEN charities in lieu of a BEN subscription. We have raised over $10,000 from 1998 to 2008. Please consider giving to one of these very special organizations.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington

BEN Publisher

Thanksgiving Passages 2009

"... Praise Thee, wondrous God for the blessed watershed that is Alabama, pliant to man's needs, gracious to his questing spirit. May her sons and daughters not forget Thy bounty, nor fail to deserve Thy benediction through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

From the state of Alabama Prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.


Walking through fields smelling the wildflowers, touching the ancient oaks, poplars and pines, I learned wonder. Drinking from a fresh water spring, I learned purity. Fishing with a simple cane pole, I learned contemplation and patience. Feeling the dirt and pine straw between my toes, I learned the wilderness is part of me - I cannot and never will seperate myself from its beauty and peacefulness...

Part of the problem we have in our society, particularly in urban centers, is that we don't lose ourselves to what is natural. In our rush to progress technologically and to grow economically, we sometimes forget about the things that give people a sense of fulfillment and happiness. People have busy lives and difficult priorities- raising families, educationg their children, trying hard to get ahead. But it shouldn't be an either/or choice when it comes to protecting wilderness. We must be willing to move beyond our selves and our problems and consider the larger impact of our actions and legacy we leave for our children. If we don't, we will lose part of our humanity we can't replace...

- Alabama native and civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis commenting in the The Wilderness Society publication, "Why Wilderness: What the Last Remaining Wild Lands of the Southern Appalachians mean to the People of the Southeast."


"Trees are like music. It's fun and soothes the soul to play an instrument alone and express oneself. Many an hour, I've poured out my emotions on the piano instead of on a psychiatrist's couch. But it's a lot of fun to share the tune, to take the sounds from others--to be surprised by the richness of each other's sound-- muscial heritages blending together, if you will. Each instrument so different, but all so important to the song.

... Each tree-- each forest -- has its own song and we must listen. And while we are listening and unraveling the mysteries and gifts of the trees, we should always take a monent to sit under a tree, look up and be thankful."

--Chuck Leavell, Alabama native, conservationist and pianist for the Rolling Stones.


Let us put our minds together and give thanks

for the life we've been given,

for the chance to dream and wake and go out

among the meadow beauty, raising its many

velvet faces toward the sun.

For the cypress standing in sleepy congregations

like cloaked women in prayer.

For cubbyholes and cavities, grass beds and hollow

tupelos, for branch forks and underbanks.

For the open throats of pitcher plants

singing like bog frogs in the dusk.

For wild persimmon and huckleberry and hickory nut,

cattail and Ogeechee lime.

For reefs of flowers sweetly exhaling.

For beakers of rain poured liberally

from an archangel sky, the alchemy of rivers and bogs.

And thank the lightning that sparks heaven's love for earth,

conductor of fire.

Let us put our minds together and give thabks

for all the two leggeds and four-leggeds and six-leggeds,

the many leggeds and the no-leggeds,

near to far.

Let us especially thank the two who gave us life.

And thank Mother Earth, Elder Brother Sun,

Grandmother Moon, Sister Star, Families, Safe Journeys.

Let us put our minds together and give thanks.

-Poem by Janisse Ray, From Pinhook, Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land

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