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Tales from the Shadow Gallery

In Alan Moore’s “V for Vendetta” the underground lair of the main character is a treasure trove of art, music, and cultural artifacts that he calls the Shadow Gallery, an endless source of inspiration and enrichment that by its very nature threatens the oppressive status quo. I remember being really struck by how awesome that was, collecting all of the masterpieces and subversive art to ensure they survived, and encapsulated by the thought that “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having” ~ I took this to mean that all of the things deemed frivolous or dangerous by the vested interests of a corporate state are verily the very things that bring color, wonder, joy, and meaning into our lives. 

My own Shadow Gallery has been kept secret for a very long time, and I’ve come to realize that by having it buried I am essentially hoarding what should be shared. What’s the point of being creative, having stories to tell, and songs to sing, if they’re not shared? For years I have written and composed and recorded and then moved on, putting whatever was created on the shelf and not looking back ~ it was always about the process and how the act of creating something was essentially therapeutic.  But I’ve come to realize that this pattern doesn’t serve me anymore, nor potentially anyone else, and so it’s time to open the doors and explore. 

All of my projects, all of my offerings, are the tales I have to tell,

The Tales from the Shadow Gallery.

As a creative, I can’t help but produce and am happy to be finally taking my creations off of the shelves and begin leaving them out for you to find. But I needed a place to set free the music and writing and circus performance art that comes through me in all of their various forms, and so it’s time to build a house for all of this creativity. Projects might be whimsical or serious, some philosophical or opinionated. Sometimes it’s just a pure celebration of the human spirit or exploring the depths of the human condition, or focusing on the wonders of our earth. Sometimes the spotlight will be on how we grow and evolve through our pain and turmoil to become better versions of ourselves, as individuals, as communities, and as the living organism that is earth. 

For so long I’ve tried to make sense of where all of these different expressions fit, so instead of trying to find that place I’ve decided to create it as well. And here we are ~ I raise my glass to you ~ Cheers for sharing this adventure with me!  So welcome to my Shadow Gallery, and as we emerge into the light I hope you are touched and inspired by your visit.  If any of these tales move you in any way, please consider sharing them in your world and amongst your friends, and invite them to visit the gallery for themselves. 

Onwards Team Human…


If you’ve enjoyed your stay, please consider signing up for the occasional newsletter that features new releases, inspirations, and other Tales from the Shadow Gallery…

Tuesday’s Tales v1e3

Tuesday’s Tales!

My weekly collection of climate crises inspired ways forward using the arts and creativity to nurture community, awareness, and action.


Something that has inspired me this week:

I marched with an estimated couple thousand mostly school and college-aged humans this past Friday as part of the coordinated global climate strike.  It was amazing to see so many empowered humans standing up for our collective future and taking to the streets. The march was a tour of center city Philadelphia and though I have mixed feelings about inconveniencing the working public (a topic for another time) it did feel profound to symbolically disrupt the daily flow in the city as the climate crises threatens to do to all of us. I plan on participating in as many strikes and Fridays for Future as possible from here on, and one of the projects I’m working on is geared specifically for making a large presence at strikes. Stay tuned for that! (hint: it involves a tightwire…)


What I’ve been reading:

“We Were Made for These Times” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.”

This may be the single most empowering work I’ve encountered about standing up in times of crises and speaking our hearts.  When I encountered it this week I immediately assumed it was written recently and in direct context of the climate crises. But after some further research, I discovered that this was written over 15 years ago and originally entitled “Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times”. I am floored. This is profound. It is empowering. And it is stunningly beautiful. I have re-read it numerous times over the last couple of days and it grows more poignant and wondrous with each reading.  It is my sincere desire to see this read by everyone standing up for climate the world around ~ the following link takes you to the piece in its entirety. 

http://www.grahameb.com/pinkola_estes.htm?fbclid=IwAR3sXXgA5UqteJk_C70SUKVEt1JxiEESYsRF25KZybNMmr7iOyPw-8-OPa4


What I’m thinking about / working on:

I have been ill this past week, change of the seasons and whatnot, and have watched our one-year-old daughter be sick as well.  When you don’t have the tools yet to clear your own nose and you can’t breathe it’s got to be kind of freaky, but she’s been a real trooper.  But taking care of her and self and household hasn’t left much time for larger projects. I’ve been plugging away at staying abreast of global developments and striving for balance throughout ~ this was the great work of the week, staying balanced with compromised health and an increasing flood of climate-related data.  The passage has reminded me of how vital it is to ensure self-care in an increasingly stressed world. Take good care of yourself! We need healthy souls in order to not lose heart.


Quote of the Week:

I’m staying with Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.”

I love how she’s talking about the 3.5%, but intuitively. The deep wisdom of her soul shines brightly and gives her this clarity to share with us, and I am grateful for her words. I’ve been saying a lot recently that every drop in the bucket counts, and eventually adds up to an overflowing vessel. That’s us right now, and even though there are signs of frustration (Greta saying “We have achieved nothing” at COP25 https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/12/07/cop25-bulletin-achieved-nothing/ ) we do need to remind ourselves that it is always darkest before the dawn.


Share this with your friends and anyone you think would be inspired by it! You can also get this delivered directly to your inbox if you sign up for the newsletter.  I am always open to feedback, suggestions, collaborative propositions, and simple Yo Eric how you doin type reaching out and connecting.  

Because Life is too precious and precarious to not make the most of every single day.

I hope you have an empowered and creative week ~ Onwards Team Human! 

Stand up and shine your light!

Tuesdays Tales v1e2

Tuesday’s Tales! v1e2

My weekly collection of climate crises inspired ways forward using the arts and creativity to nurture community, awareness, and action.


Something that has inspired me this week:

I’ve become increasingly aware of more and more communities coming to their senses all around the planet and formally acknowledging the climate crises. 

Combined with the growing momentum of youth-led climate protests, and a growing crises awareness in general, it speaks of movement in the right direction ~ our steady march towards the active participation of 3.5% of the population is well underway. People are waking up and I believe it’s a tide that can’t be turned. Another exciting development this week was the announcement of World War Zero, the campaign spearheaded by former Secretary of State John Kerry to align numerous celebrities, military brass, politicians, and other prominent personalities to draw as much attention to our collective crises as possible. It will be interesting to see what kind of traction they can gain.


What I’ve been reading:

The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells

This might very well be the heaviest book ever written. It’s certainly one of the most terrifying because everything in it is real. But it also might very well be one of the most important books ever written and should be required reading for anyone with a heartbeat.  I’ve read psychological articles about how just bombarding people with horror stories about climate isn’t a productive approach as it just shuts us down, we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, and we convince ourselves that there’s nothing we can do.  Wallace-Wells approach is dramatically different. He uses prose to vividly depict the world we live in and where we’re heading, and somehow also motivates and activates us away from our complacency and towards a functional interaction with our plight.  I’ll say it again ~ this should be required reading.

The Guardian’s book review:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/27/the-uninhabitable-earth-review-david-wallace-wells


What I’m listening to:

Sona Jobarteh ~ Fasiya

I can’t get enough of her voice. I love that I don’t understand a word she sings because then it’s easy to just let it wash through me and I just experience her music in a very heartfelt way. And it feels like the wisdom of the Earth is somehow being vocalized by this profound being. There’s passion, love, caring, and compassion in her music, plus it just makes me want to move. 


What I’m working on:

Small Craft Advisory ~ The Spoken Word Music of Eric Geoffrey

I’ve been diligently working in my studio to polish off the collection of spoken word pieces that I’ve set to music, because I am looking forward to sharing them very much.  Stay tuned for releases coming very soon!! They’re almost done…


Quote of the Week:

“…underneath all of this is the real truth we have been avoiding: climate change isn’t an “issue” to add to the list of things to worry about, next to health care and taxes. It is a civilizational wake-up call. A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions—telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”

― Naomi Klein


Share this with your friends and anyone you think would be inspired by it! You can also get this delivered directly to your inbox if you sign up for the newsletter.  I am always open to feedback, suggestions, collaborative propositions, and simple Yo Eric how you doin type reaching out and connecting.  Because Life is too precious and precarious to not make the most of every single day.

I hope you have an empowered and creative week ~ Onwards Team Human!

What Will It Take?

A few months ago I reached out to a fair number of friends and family asking them to video themselves reading a line from a spoken word piece I wrote and then send it back to me.

Little did I know that receiving video clips from so many different people would also mean getting almost just as many different formats and resolutions and other little inconsistencies that ended up making it really difficult to stitch together a couple of dozen clips, and it took far longer than anticipated.

But in the end, all of the puzzles were solved and the result is something that I had been secretly hoping for the entire time ~ the whole is indeed much greater than the sum of its parts. My vision with having a community read of this piece was hoping that it would have greater power with humans from many different walks of life working together to create something.

I’ve been struggling with the fact that each of these questions needs to be asked and contemplated by everyone alive, and this piece was born from my own process of learning how to deal with the immensity of the issues facing us. Because when all is said and done, each of us will end up facing these things regardless of whether we choose to confront them directly or be taken kicking and screaming. I’d prefer head-on and eyes wide open myself.

As always, if this video does anything for you, or makes you think of anyone in particular, please share it and pass it along. The intention behind this effort is to help awaken and stir the pot because every drop in the bucket adds up, and if many of us start contributing drops then the sooner we’ll arrive at a cultural critical mass and begin to effect fundamental changes.

I am proud to present the first public TemplEarth creation, the community reading of “What Will It Take?”


If you’ve enjoyed your stay, please consider signing up for the occasional newsletter that features new releases, inspirations, and other Tales from the Shadow Gallery…

Tuesday’s Tales v1i1

Always Choose the Adventurous Route!

A collection of climate crises inspired ways forward using the arts and creativity to nurture community and awareness.


Something that has inspired me this week:

I recently discovered that there is an existing network of circus artists dedicated to utilizing circus arts and performance as climate activism.  The Circus Action Network was founded by Eliana Dunlap whom I don’t know yet but have completely admired her work in that particular digital age way, and in the analog world seeing her on Broadway a couple of years back with the Gypsy Snyder Pippin revival was a real treat. C.A.N. is presented as a supportive community “dedicated to fostering dialogue and exploration at the intersection of social and environmental justice and the circus arts.”  Spot the f#@! on!! An endeavor right up my alley and I am very excited to learn of their existence and connecting ~ it’s confirmation there are kindred spirits out there being active along similar lines.

https://circusactionnetwork.wixsite.com/home


What I’ve been reading:

Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

This is a revisit of an old favorite, but it feels incredibly timely as the dystopia portrayed in the book is a powerful vision of a climate-related societal breakdown.  It is a coming of age story, but with the added dimension that the protagonist is creating and refining her own religion throughout the novel in the form of a series of poems she entitles “Earthseed”.  The basic premise is that God is Change, and how she explores this concept and how it is illustrated throughout the arc of the story is quite wonderful.  I felt extremely inspired reading it the first time 20 years ago, and am feeling an ever greater resonance this time around. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52397.Parable_of_the_Sower


What I’m listening to:

I’ve gone retro lately and have been really enchanted with the songwriting and sheer powerful delivery of David Crosby. I had the treat of seeing him live a couple of months ago and it took everyone by surprise (pleasantly!) how enchanting and profound his music and performance was. It felt so timely, especially songs like “Long Time Gone” with lines like “It’s time to speak out against the madness..” which felt like rallying calls in a time when people standing up is needed more than ever.  What a wild circle, from the activism of the late ’60s and early ’70s to the present day when this body of music speaks louder than ever. Spotify has a “David Crosby Complete Collection” playlist which has been great on random play, though it really isn’t anywhere near actually complete.  Still an amazing collection of songs.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4qC20fkrZyx1ZYOOVQspWd


What I’m thinking about:

It’s pretty hard to not have my climate crises awareness infuse everything, so I’ve challenged myself to use its increasing presence as a continual challenge to be more mindful, and in particular to transmute fears into mindfulness. Using this heightened awareness to nurture my inner observer and maintain my energetic balance feels like an empowered response that enables me to be more precise in my daily and creative choices.  As I do have a Buddhist leaning bent I have been enjoying the community at One Earth Sangha who seem to have a tremendous amount of resources and reading available for explorations along these lines. And at this point, mindful inspirations are more than welcome.

https://oneearthsangha.org/


Quote of the Week:

“Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief, and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.”   ~  George Monbiot

I love this quote because it just spells out the difference between actions based on intellectually knowing something and being fully engaged as a human being.  My personal experience has led me to believe that it is only when my mind is aligned with my heart that I am truly alive, thriving, and have the ability to grow.  I believe our feelings (heart) are our true GPS, and if we honor that guidance in terms of what feels right (integrity) there is a power there that isn’t experienced in paths that have been dictated by thoughts alone.  


Share this with your friends and anyone you think would be inspired by it! You can also get this delivered directly to your inbox if you sign up for the newsletter.  And I am always open to feedback, suggestions, collaborative propositions, and simple Yo Eric how you doin type reaching out and connecting.  

Because Life is too precious and precarious to not make the most of every single day.

I hope you have an empowered and creative week ~ Onwards Team Human!

A Day Older

My father passed away on October 20th, 1991.  I was 21 years old, my brother 18, both of us far too young to really understand the magnitude of him leaving us forever. The older I get the more I miss him every single day. I imagine all of the conversations we would have. Every time I read a good book I want to share it with him so that we could talk about it afterward (he was a writer). Every milestone in my children’s life I want to share with him, knowing he’d be a proud grandpa.  And I engage with every endeavor in my adult life with the thought that I would hope to make him proud of me as well.

He was by all accounts genuinely kind, gentle, extremely witty, and fiercely intelligent, a Ph.D. scholar of European history who also taught creative writing at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and was the director of their Honors Program. I do recall everyone in my family being pleasantly startled at the sheer number of people, past students, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family who turned up for his memorial service ~ he was truly loved. For his eulogy I read an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh reaches out to touch his friend, just to make sure he was real.

My father lived a grand total of 18,411 days, and he was 50 years old when he died. Today I have passed that lifetime total of days by one, and it is the most poignant day I have ever experienced. I have no desire to stop the steady flow of tears in his memory, and it seems like everywhere I turn I encounter another reminder of his presence.  

I am now a day older than my father ever was, and it’s torture to think about how young I feel, how vibrantly I experience every day, how every day feels like it gets better and better, and how this is where he was in his life when he took his last breath.

I love you Jerry Belcher, and wish I could have known you as an adult. I wish we could have forged a mature relationship as we grew, and learned to be better people together.

I miss you fiercely dad and think of you every day, and in my heart of hearts hope that I have become even half the warm and cheery spirit that you so generously shared throughout your life.


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A Revolution without Dancing…

The character V in V for Vendetta (crazy how I’ve already mentioned him twice in two weeks..) says “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having”.

Amidst all of the turmoil and chaos unfolding in Chile having to do with severe economic injustice and imbalances triggered by a hike in public transportation fares, a ballerina from the Chilean Ballet took to the streets to demonstrate that not all demonstrations have to be contentious to get a point across.

My concept of TemplEarth, and how various forms of creative expression can be used as activism for the social, economic, climate, and political revolutions that are unfolding worldwide, is captured perfectly in these series of photos from Chilean photographer paz.pachy (Instagram).

This photo in particular really nails it. It’s the evolution of the man in Tiananmen Square standing in front of the line of tanks. The artist isn’t just blocking authoritarian progress, she’s literally dancing in the face of injustice and oppression. Bravo hermosa bailarina! Bravo!


If you’ve enjoyed your stay, please consider signing up for the occasional newsletter that features new releases, inspirations, and other Tales from the Shadow Gallery…

CREAEating

You’ve heard of depression eating, or anxiety eating, or plain old binge eating.  I’ve realized lately that I’ve been climate-related-existential-angst-eating, and it’s a thing.  C.R.E.A.Eating.

The more I am choosing to face our climate reality and just how uncertain it all is, I’ve been witnessing a handful of responses in my general being.  I’m more actively grateful for simple things every single day.  I appreciate that they may be limited, and I’ve wondered if this is exactly what it’s like to have a terminal diagnosis and to know you only have so many days left to live (which of course brings up the irony that this is of course true for every single one of us at all times, it’s just easier to pretend that it isn’t).  I find myself savoring many experiences every day as well; tastes, smells, the laughter of my daughter, and the interests of my son. I’ve come to truly relish the look in my wife’s eye, and sitting near to her or watching her walk by.

But one of the biggest things has been my realization that climate realities could very well lead to the breakdown of basic systems, like delivering food to my local market, and my ability to just grab whatever I want whenever I want it.  Do we really appreciate that in the history of our species this ability to eat whatever whenever for even mildly successful western dwellers is indeed truly a miracle of logistics ~ the food chain is so complex, delivery systems so intricate and interdependent on so many different forms of communications and mechanical transportation, that it seems quite vulnerable to disruption at any given point. 

It’s amazing that I can eat a pizza at the slightest whim, and sobering to realize just how precarious the whole system is. It’s taken me a while to realize why I’ve gained 15 lbs over the past two years, because I’ve been eating like it’s my last meal, savoring flavors and variety and sometimes just plain old comfort calories like there’s no tomorrow. Because maybe there won’t be, or at least maybe there won’t be for the convenience of Trader Joe’s.


If you’ve enjoyed your stay, please consider signing up for the occasional newsletter that features new releases, inspirations, and other Tales from the Shadow Gallery…

World War III

The message is clear, we need to change how we live, or the Earth won’t be fit, do you think our children will forgive?

Eleven thousand scientists in 153 countries have declared a climate emergency and warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without huge shifts in the way we live.

That needs to be said again, loudly, and frequently ~ We are living in a CLIMATE EMERGENCY.

I understand how challenging it is to face this reality, it’s so big it’s virtually surreal. I’ve known about these issues for most of my adult life and yet it’s still hard to grasp. Perhaps it is my children’s presence that has brought this to the forefront in my path, and perhaps each of us needs to find the personal reason that brings it to the forefront for you, but the fact is inescapable that this is the paramount issue of our times and everything else pales in relation to this global crisis.

Our house is on fire, it is not a metaphor. Yet most of us continue to act like it’s just another day, what are we going to do this weekend, what was your favorite distraction this week, did you see the new _______?

We need to mobilize for World War III, with the same comprehensive urgency our country and allies did with Hitler knocking on the door. Except the foe isn’t an individual country or an evil dictator, it’s our collective way of life, our dependence on fossil fuels, our aversion to discomfort and inconvenience that must be actively combated each and every day until the tides turn and we establish the foundations of sustainable energy systems and food supplies, as well as nurturing inclusive communities, in order to possibly see this through.

I can’t pretend anymore that everything is alright ~ that delusion has become more stressful than facing the reality of our times and the imbalances our species has created. It’s time for action, for empowered movement and inspired creativity to navigate the challenges ahead.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-emergency-scientists-emissions-letter-climate-change-a9185786.html?fbclid=IwAR3SFJRB-tpB4WlYdJkroMraD7GqOF2_FMOu6_LM8wUjbGfKT3f4HgG52Sg


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The Birth of TemplEarth

The phrase Temple-Earth first came to me in late 2008 while trekking in the Adirondacks of New York. It haunted me and stuck in my mind in a way that few ideas have over the course of my life. I loved the idea of merging the words into one and fusing the concept that a reverent attitude towards the Earth, treating it as a sacred temple, would be a powerful energy to nurture. At the time I thought it to be the title for a piece of music I had been working on and released that celebratory mystical musical journey in 2010 (a story in its own right). At the time I thought that’s that and moved on to my next project, as well as a major change in my life’s trajectory.

Years later, the phrase still haunted me in a way that I began to suspect meant it wasn’t done with me and wasn’t merely the title to a piece of music. I allowed it to gestate and began to think of TemplEarth as the kernel of a community, and once there it began to bloom in a living way, not content to be a static thing on the record shelf.

I’ve been very inspired and shaped over the years by the eco-philosophy writings of Thomas Berry, the spiritual-philosophy of Joanna Macy, and Zen-Buddhism in general, as well as by all of the earth activists and spiritual warriors treading the path. Artists like Alex Grey that awaken our deeper selves through the resonances in their work and music that stirs the soul are constant sources of motivation, and part of the vision for TemplEarth is to cultivate an ever-growing community of artists, musicians, and activists who embody these ideals through their work, helping to stir the pot and help awaken humanity.

The re-awakening of indigenous cultures, and in particular those communities who have arisen to defend the Earth, has been a profound source of energizing direction, as I firmly believe that the emergence of these Guardians and Protectors will usher in a new era of reconnecting with Earth in a fundamental way.

TemplEarth has evolved over the years to embody a philosophy, an outlook, a community, an artistic vein, an arts organization, as well as it’s current gestation as an active seed for a periodic celebratory gathering ~ stay tuned for more as TemplEarth unfolds, for it’s an idea whose time has come.

If any of this resonates with you, please consider connecting, signing up for my newsletter, letting me know of your activities that align, because together we are strong and have the power to enact change, and the more of us there are moving forward with power and vision to help heal imbalances and restore environmental integrity, the closer we are to making it so.


If you’ve enjoyed your stay, please consider signing up for the occasional newsletter that features new releases, inspirations, and other Tales from the Shadow Gallery…

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