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Tuesday, January 15, 2013 by Lyndsey Easton

Singing for our coast

Once a month on a Sunday afternoon, Janet Silman joins about 12 other women in the living room of a Central Saanich home. They start with tea and coffee, sometimes with fruit or chocolate, and then begin with an opening: a question for the group, a political discussion or perhaps a Mary Oliver poem. Soon though, they’ll get to the main event: singing.

“We get together not as a choir, but just to help sustain us,” Silman explains.

You see, all of the women are eco-activists in one right or another. “A lot of the stuff we work on is really hard. You can look at what’s happening and get depressed. Singing recharges our batteries. This is what grounds us,” Silman says.

They call their singing circle the Sacred Web and it consists of about 20 women aged 40 to 70. For Silman’s part, she is a member of St. John’s Eco Cell in Deep Cove and has been collecting signatures for the No Tankers petition at the North Saanich Farmers’ Market.

Recently, Sacred Web took part in a singing project led by Carolyn McDade, a singer and musician who grew up during the Second World War and became known for her contributions to the anti-war and feminist movements by organizing singing circles and composing music with women.

McDade’s latest venture is Widening Embrace, a year-long project of singing, meditation, reflection and the arts. It all culminated in a CD recorded at the Banff School of Fine Arts, featuring about 100 women from singing circles across North America, including Silman’s Sacred Web.

All profits from the sale of Widening Embrace support projects engaged in creating a just, peaceful and sustainable world — and in 2012, thanks to Silman’s recommendation, Dogwood was fortunate to be chosen as the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Widening Embrace Society.

“What I love about it is there’s no ego in it. It’s about being in love with the living earth and caring for it – recognizing how dependent we are as humans and how we’re a part of it; not above it,” Silman says.

If you’re interested in supporting the Widening Embrace Society by purchasing a CD, please visit their website.

Abby Schwarz says:
Jan 16, 2013 11:29 PM group in Vancouver, B.C.? I'm a singer/songwriter and would love to join a group of women who sing for the earth.

Lyndsey Easton says:
Jan 18, 2013 02:04 PM

Hi Abby,

I believe they do have a group in vancouver and would be happy to help get you in touch. Why don't you drop me a line?


Nomi Lyonns says:
Jan 19, 2013 02:49 PM

Let's do it Abby! Moi aussi though I'm pt on Salt Spring. When do you want to start? Next week? We can ask our singing friends and just do it at one of our spaces? Start and the pressure will be off:-)

Diana says:
Jan 17, 2013 01:46 AM

what an wonderful idea to sing and share

Marian says:
Jan 25, 2013 09:39 PM

It's lovely to read this from one of our grant recipients. Many good wishes for continuance of your fine work. And yes, there is a singing group in Vancouver. If you haven't been able to get in touch with anyone there, please contact me through Janet. I have email addresses for their current leadership.

Blessings, Marian ~ member of Atlantic New England Gaia Singers and participant in Widening Embrace.

eleanore clarke says:
Feb 04, 2013 02:19 PM

This is grass roots movement at its finest reaching out from the hearts of earth's people with the potential to bless all earth's living forms!!! participat forquality earth

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