little stone hearts
what we do for love
February is the month of love. By early January the heart-shaped candies and Valentine greeting cards with puppies and lace were out in the stores.
What does it mean to love the Earth? Wendell Berry, my favorite poet wrote, “We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.”
It’s my job to help you know it.
February is also the month of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show and many other trade shows which sell anything from huge boulders of alabaster to millions of beads to high-end diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. Along with a LOT of other things on roadsides and in hotel ballrooms, convention centers, and tents. It is a spectacle.
One thing I learned late in twenty-something years of my going to Tucson is that there is a dark side to much of the glitzy material sold there. Almost all of the beads and small rock items, and I have bought my share, are cut in extremely poor working conditions with primitive equipment that produce dust – in many cases silica – which as you probably know causes silicosis, a disease which hardens the lungs.
So those pretty pink hearts above really aren’t so sweet.
What I’m reading this month is Writing to Persuade by Trish Hall, a former editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page. It’s a great book, well written by an expert. I’m always amazed when I disagree with someone so well-credentialed. I’m sure she is correct when she says to never show disturbing pictures, and so I’m not going to show you a photo of one of those bead-cutters from India.
River of Gold
However, I am going to point you to a fabulous film on gold mining in Peru. It is eye-opening and important. It is also disturbing, and that’s ok by me, as I think we must see things to sometimes appreciate what goes on in the world. I highly recommend it.
“River of Gold, narrated by Academy Award winners Sissy Spacek and Herbie Hancock, is the disturbing account of a clandestine journey into Peru’s Amazon rainforest to uncover the savage unraveling of pristine jungle. Guided by Peruvian biologist Enrique Ortiz, war journalists Ron Haviv and Donovan Webster expose mining’s unthinkable, apocalyptic destruction and its global consequences.”
You can see the trailer for the film on the Amazon Aid Foundation website. The site also has links to the entire movie on several streaming services.
The Good News
A growing number of people in the jewelry business are working to make the industry more transparent and to support the people who mine our precious metals and gemstones. Those gem dealers have started the Ethical Gem Fair at various cities. The organization Ethical Metalsmiths promotes ethical practices in their members and advocates for artisan miners. If you are looking for jewelry, their members are listed on their website. And this year they announced that finally one can purchase chain made from FairMined Gold!
FairMined is only one organization working to ensure that the purchase of gold supports miners who protect themselves and the environment.
You can learn how jewelry is made in today’s world at Ethical Metalsmiths
The 2022 Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference program with speakers and topics.
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Why I Love This Rock
This month’s rock was purchased at one of the Tucson gem shows. The video is very short this month so click here.
More about Earth to Susan
I am writing a book about how people see the Earth in different ways.
As part of the writing process, I’ve held my book’s content close over the years, but I’m ready to put some of it out into the world. So I will bring science, poetry, music, theology, literature, philosophy, history, geography, politics, and economics to these pages – all in relationship to Earth.
Most importantly, I believe that helping people understand that we all see the Earth in different ways will open conversations to help find solutions for the many issues facing the planet we call home.
I will continue one newsletter per month, and I hope you will read Earth to Susan and share it with your friends! It’s free.
Until next month,