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.