By Joel Solomon
Just past the end of the gravel road, at the end of the highway, on the left coast of the continent, across a short body of water, is a place where I was fortunate to find myself. There are many sacred places on the planet. In fact, the whole planet underneath what humans have built, changed and affected over time, is sacred. However, at this time in history, places like I have just described have special qualities that still are radiant and can be felt. That is the geography of Hollyhock, and I consider it a very unique one.
North of Hollyhock and the end of that road is one of the few remaining vast, natural areas on the planet that is still relatively intact. Indigenous people on their land live better here than in most places in the world. In this area, there remains the possibility of a great, green place, with large species and vast areas that are underdeveloped by humans.The south point of Cortes Island, which is the sunniest and the flattest part, was shaped by glaciers moving through the Salish Sea and leaving behind gravel piles. Historically, this meant this area was easily accessible by boat. It so happens that Hollyhock is also on one of the most sunniest sub pockets of the region with big beaches that come from flatter areas that historically were rich with multitudes of clams, oysters and other shell fish as well as easy landing places for the vast salmon and other species that existed not very long ago.
Sun, easy access, and food meant that there were indigenous people living up in the fjords and in safer places for winter that had access to bigger mammals for hunting and food gathering. In the summers, these people would gather in the south area of Cortes. You can tell because left behind is a black soil called ‘middan’ [which contains] a lot of calcium deposits which helps turn the acidic soil into a more black colour. These [middan piles] are centuries of compost piles and reveal human settlement. We don’t know exactly the history, but the best that we know of this land is it was a gathering place for related tribes or sub pockets of villages. People gathered when weather was good and when the harvesting was good. Trading of crafted goods and items happened. Stories were shared. Tips were shared about how to do things, and where are the elk, deer, salmon and bears could be found.
Hollyhock has a long history of storytelling, sharing, and connecting. After that time, in the early 20th century, a child of a Finnish Utopian spiritual community, who left Finland due to religious oppression, came to an island north of Cortes, called Malcolm Island. One of the children of that community ended up becoming one of the first homesteaders on this land. I randomly met his niece at Hollyhock and learned that when her uncle got too old to take care of the farm, he wanted to sell the land to someone who cared about consciousness. [He sold the land to] a group of Green Peace founders, human potential movement leaders and artists who created a personal development centre, called the Cold Mountain Institute. From First Nations to a Finnish settler to Cold Mountain Institute to Hollyhock is the entire history of this land that sits in one of the sunniest parts of the region with low-bank waterfront, easy access to food and water, and which sits just across the water from the end of the gravel road at the end of the highway on the left coast of the continent.
If you look at sacred places around the planet, often they have been built over several times as religions have battled for territory and were drawn to similar underlying energetics of certain places. [For example,] a pagan ritual site might be covered with a church, which was then taken over by another church or another religion. By some good fortune, I was drawn to this place that has a fairly direct connection to a long and important history as a sacred gathering site. Whether that is accurate, or has been passed down through time, I carry this story in me and when I’m there, I know I am supported [by] the land. Our commitment as stewards of the land is to look after it, see that it remains peaceful, accessible in its natural state, and protected as a sanctuary, and ensure that the work going on there contributes to higher purpose.
As I look into the future with uncertainty about challenging times coming, we will need these kinds of places more and more. I was born when there were less than 3 billion people on the planet. We [now] have passed 7 billion and many people who read this will see 10 billion people. Human beings, with our ingenuity and our clear and sometimes strangely guided desires and creations, are the first generation alive on the planet to [have the ability to] destroy far beyond what can be destroyed with a club or a knife. We now have created the ability to destroy a lot. Those of us alive now, have a very large responsibility to steward the possibility of a kind, peaceful and loving future for the people who will follow.
That sensibility about the future, combined with my good fortune and privilege to have found myself to places like Hollyhock, of which there are many others, that has given me the nourishment and the fuel to keep recommitting myself the very best I can with all my imperfections, distractions and delusions to stay close to love and inspiration. If I do the best I can, and if as many of us as possible do the best we can, we have fulfilled ancestral responsibility in such a way that it will get better in the future for those who follow.
Joel activates money and business into pragmatic models for long term balance of ecology and society. Renewal Funds, RSFSocialFinance.org, Vancity.com, TidesCanada.org are important financial change agents where Joel plays key roles.