Imagining the World in Your Hands

Imagine. Imagine a fine china bowl, hand painted with an image of the world, embellished with forests, grasslands and mountains. The oceans, flowing rivers and streams are brushed with detail and the bowl is adorned with fluttering birds that look as if they are flying overhead. It has been in your family for generations and you love it for its beauty and the history it holds. Somehow, unaware, it slips from your hands, falls to the floor and lies broken. What do you do?

The Cheyenne RiverNow imagine another bowl that you hold in your hands, it is the Earth itself. It too is a beautiful hand painted masterpiece, but greenhouse gasses fog the clarity. Melting glaciers and excessive rainfall blur the exquisite strokes of paint. Fine lines are evident from severe drought and a film of smoke from raging fires choke the details. Hurricanes have chipped away at the edges. Tsunami’s roar and the earth quakes in revolt - shaking the bowl from your hands. It falls to the ground and lies in front of you broken. What do you do?

Sandhill CranesSometimes it is difficult to personally connect with environmental change. We may feel detached, think that it’s cyclical or that it’s not our problem. But when it becomes personal and you experience Mother Nature’s retaliation first hand, we connect. The truth is we all need air to breathe and water to live. Those two things alone connect and unite us, and give us all a dog in the fight. When we make that connection and realize that like a fine piece of china the natural world too is our heirloom, the answers to both scenarios above become the same.

Jilian Jones Wild Idea Buffalo CompanyWithout a second thought, we fall to our knees and pick up the pieces carefully, trying to limit any more damage. We gather tape, glue, and other things necessary to piece and secure it back together. We will handle it more carefully now with the knowledge of its fragility. We do not want to part with its beauty or history, and we desperately want to pass it on, intact for future generations. We want them to behold the beauty and to add their hands and layers of history to it, making it even richer and more valuable than we could ever have imagined. Imagine.

In addition to our part, the wildlife of this world are critical to its health. Have a look at the newest soil builders on the Cheyenne River Ranch. 


Story, photos and video by Jill O'Brien

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  • Return to the old School Ways. The original Whole Earth Catalogue Series was America’s best. Now we have digital age representation, and Jill O’Brien Vids 🤗

    Tom Conners
  • One thing that’s made being truly concerned about the planet for a lot of people is that it’s so big, relatively. If we were all on a spaceship that only held 7.594 people on it (instead of that many billions), we’d understand that we have limited resources that we have to be measuring out to the last drop, breath, bite, swallow, etc., and how we can conserve or recycle such. We’d be aware that it’s a closed system, and that the only things coming in to us from the outside would be solar and/or cosmic radiation. Perhaps not surprisingly, just about everyone who’s ever gone out into space becomes an environmentalist, if they weren’t already. :)

    Thanks for helping to keep the ol’ ship running smoothly! :D

  • Lovely. I could watch and listen to this video all day. When we can travel safely again, I so want to get out on the prairie.

  • Beautiful. Thank you again Jill.

  • Very cool Jill, thanks!!

    Mark Moench
  • Cute, Dave Eastman. No one is saying that man, alone, is causing climate change. Many dedicated people around the world are working very hard to correct that which humans can correct. The people of WILD IDEA ,and the O’Brien family, are doing inspiring work and setting a splendid example with imagination, dedication and hard work. Their example stands in stark contrast to unhelpful cynicism and sarcasm.

    Doug Williams
  • Thank you, Jill. I hope and wish that we can and will mend what we have broken. It seems more and more of an insurmountable task, but your work and writing give me hope. Take care and keep up the fight.

  • sigh , smile, & gift of relief. Love hearing the contented ‘sounds’ of the adults.
    thank you.

    Pat Wood
  • Wonderful piece thank you!

  • Lovely! You my dear, are an artist. You have an artist’s heart and vision! Please believe me when I say you need to sign your work! 😎

  • Thank you once again. If only we can make them understand, the careless ones. I encourage you all to read.

    Carl Saga, Pale Blue Dot, 1994.

    God Bless you all for all your efforts.

    Janis l Fitschen
  • Today is the “eve,” of D-Day – that infamous frontal assault, on the Third Reich – which was THE turning point of WW II. I was eight years old, then, and my Dad impressed on me and my siblings how important it was “to save the world, from tyranny.” Today, at 83, I well know we are facing another daunting assault, on our world, as we know it. Who would have thought that we would be such poor stewards, of the world, that we now face another form of tyranny (i.e. the erosion of our Planet Earth) brought about by failing – abysmally – to stand up, for what is right and necessary. History IS repeating itself, albeit in a different way.
    Excellent piece, Jill. Well said!

  • Another great piece Jill. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. FYI – Seven South Dakotans from Citizens’ Climate Lobby are headed back to DC next week to Lobby our Members of Congress asking them to pass our Climate Bill – HR 763 The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. There will be 1500 of us from around the world (Mostly the US). We do this twice a year. Progress is being made but we are not to the point where they believe that the citizens of SD care enough about climate to even make it a priority. We are working on that. Thanks for your support. It means a lot. If you have any more time this week, call them all again. They do count the calls as an indicator. This is a good bill. If we can pass it and get a similar one introduced in the Senate, it would be a major step forward. … Tape and Glue!

    Alan Anderson
  • Every time I see or hear talk of melting glaciers I wonder how man was able to melt a glacier that was 5,000 feet high above Eastern South Dakota 10,000 years ago.

    Dave Eastman
  • Indeed. THank you, both for sharing this and all you are doing toward this end.

    Bruce E Matthews

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