Back to the Land -- with Spirit
A group's new sanctuary offers a chance to reconnect.
Published in July, 2009
In 1972, Clark and Avis Spike bought 145 rolling acres in Sharon Township and set up housekeeping on a high point. They cut their own trees to build a cabin alongside a pond they dredged, and mowed meandering roads over the hills. Clark, who chaired the chemistry department at Eastern Michigan University, indulged his passion for nature photography and gardening, planting rare heirloom vegetables. For more than thirty years, the couple loved hosting friends and relatives for picnics and reunions.
But recently the spread became too much for the two octogenarians to manage. In December 2007 For Generations to Come (FGTC), a nonprofit, paid $300,000 for the house, ten acres, and Clark's seeds. The new owners envision a multipurpose sanctuary and retreat and educational center.
The group has a five-year land contract on the remaining 135 acres, and has started raising the $1.6 million needed to complete the purchase.
The Spikes "set a beautiful print of gentle human-natural interaction here," says FGTC board member Susan Fancy, a former electric car engineer at Ford who now crafts glasswork and teaches about personal transformation. "We want to continue to expand that relationship between people and the earth."
Tom Egan, who chairs FGTC's board, says they plan to incorporate exemplary land stewardship with a range of education and nondenominational spiritual programs. Egan also works in the auto industry and does personal growth counseling.
This spring, forty FGTC volunteers were spending weekends sprucing up the Sharon Township property for an open house planned for June 14. Many of them are connected through the Center for the Creative Expression of Spirit and its founder, therapist Brenda Morgan.
The group is focusing on bringing an "authentic" experience with nature to inspire change, personal and environmental, in corporations and individuals, including children.
FGTC shopped several sites initially, Egan says. Some were too wild and woodsy to be used easily, and none had the range of natural prairies, hills, valleys, and wetlands of the Spikes' land.
Volunteers will be moving a thirty-by-sixty-foot tent around the land in months to come, trying out different sites for a future "green" shelter. Several events are already scheduled for 2008, including an October "Rethinking Recess" retreat given by FGTC board member Avery Cleary, who runs Hooked on Nature, a Vermont-based youth environmental education nonprofit.
The opening ceremony of FGTC's sanctuary is planned for June 14. All, including pets, are welcome to visit and explore. Details are at fgtcsanctuary.org.
[Originally published in July, 2009.]
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