Not everyone is drawn to the connectedness of humans, animals and nature by visiting a farm or watching a falling leaf. A thoughtful and beautiful literary verse, when deeply felt and remembered, can be the subliminal conduit to recognizing ways in which all forms of life have similar needs or traits. In collaboration with the Harmony Development Company, a variety of signs have been placed at strategic spots that are routinely visited by Harmony residents and visitors; along popular walkways, at the lakeshore, the dog park and the human sun-dial – all reflecting a form of life and the manner in which humans might behave or feel in similar ways.
Example, from the Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran is a thought on trees that can be identified with the growing up, maturing and aging process of humans:
“Trees blossom in Spring and bear fruit in Summer without seeking praise; and they shed their leaves in Autumn and become naked in Winter without fearing blame.”
STEWARDSHIP: THE COMPANION ANIMAL, HABITAT AND WILDLIFE COMMITTEE
Residents of the town of Harmony are given a copy of the “Harmony Residential Properties Restrictions, Guidelines and Goals Concerning Companion Animals, Habitat and Wildlife.” The document was written by members of the Harmony Institute Center Advisory Board (HICAB) to provide a framework for governing the interactions among humans, companion animals and wildlife in the community and to provide for the use and preservation of the community’s natural and wildlife habitat areas. The overall goal of Harmony is to promote the peaceful coexistence of these human and animal residents within the community while striking a balance between the preservation, use and enjoyment of Harmony’s natural areas.
The “Companion Animal, Habitat and Wildlife Committee” (the Committee) is part of the Community Covenants and Restrictions and is primarily responsible for the administration and implementation of the document that professes a belief that wild animals deserve respect and should be free of human interference and allowed to interact with humans on their own terms, and that the welfare of animals should be safeguarded and the bond between people and animals promoted.
Since its inception, the Committee has been primarily steered and managed by the Harmony Institute and the Harmony Conservation Director with the ultimate goals to empower residents toward a consensus of the document goals as well as a wholly resident-managed program that might be replicated in other communities for the benefits of humans, the sustainability of wildlife and habitat and to resolve the circumstances that cause companion animal limitations or exclusion in communities.
FOR HARMONY KIDS: LIVING IN HARMONY WITH NATURE
“Living in Harmony with Nature” teaches the philosophy of the “Harmony Residential Properties Restrictions, Guidelines and Goals Concerning Companion Animals, Habitat and Wildlife” document to kids living in the Harmony community. Studies have demonstrated that children can be a major influence on their parents’ behavior if they strongly believe in something and that they are more likely to abide by certain directives if they have an understanding and self-identification with the message. “Living in Harmony with Nature” covers animals, earth, habitat, wildlife and preserved areas in a five-day program offered at Spirit Farm with curriculum taken directly from document restrictions, guidelines and goals and referenced during the program so that children can see the connection between what they are learning and how the community in which they live was designed.
Some of the guidelines presented in various daily modules include: Developing an appreciation for the ways that agricultural, companion and wild animals share life with and provide benefits for us and deserve humane treatment; Understanding how water moves though natural systems and how contaminated water can affect environmental quality and human health; Exploring alternatives to excessive chemical use and ways to safely reduce and manage solid waste materials; Developing an understanding of the importance of plants native to their locale; Understanding the habitat components wildlife need to survive, how they are different and how each animal fits in the habitat; Exploring how people intervene in natural animal activities and when that is appropriate; and, Understanding why and how certain areas are managed for wildlife including levels of tolerated human use.
While specifically designed for children of Harmony, the program, along with the document, can be adopted and replicated in other communities.
REAL MEN OUTDOORS
The Harmony Institute is excited to have formed a long-term working relationship with Real Men Outdoors, a faith-based group of men who have been called to provide mentoring to young men and women whose lives are particularly challenged. Their “mission trigger” is from Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” The Harmony Institute has been blessed with a large expanse of land on which it has built Spirit Farm and which, in addition to the farm, offers 80 plus acres for wilderness camping. It is the Institute’s honor to be able to share our blessing with Real Men Outdoors so that they might serve more children in a manner consistent with Harmony Institute programming. For more information about Real Men Outdoors, please visit their website at www.realmenoutdoors.com.