Reflections On a Life-changing Event

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By Paul C. Rogers

One month ago a “big idea came down to earth” in the form of the ROADTRIP TO PANDO. On the receiving end, as a sort of host of the roadtrippers, I was simply blown away by the quality, diversity, thoughtfulness, energy, and integrity of those on board that bus. A gift? Certainly. But so much more, too.

First off, I could not begin to relate my feelings without referring to the photos of Lance Oditt. Come with me on a tour of some of those images. Many of you may be surprised that as the scientist on the scene, purveyor of all things Pando, I was really more taken with the people of Pando Populus. An ecological civilization indeed we did create. We were individuals and we were a community all at once. Sound familiar. Pando knows.

We learned a lot about the “forest of a single tree” known as Pando – Latin for “I spread.” But what of those smiles, genuine hugs, and new friendships? We met across experiential boundaries in a special place on this earth. Perhaps the beauty and the plight of Pando made our bonding more natural. Now that we know, together, what do we take away from the forest into our conversations and our actions?

Vern Visak, having passed in 2017, was on our minds. My sense is that although he was not physically present, this epic meeting at Pando was in part his doing. He served up generous helpings of ethical earth connections and deep inquiry; those sentiments were present at this gathering in no small part because of his involvement from the beginning.

We built community through many one-on-one and group discussions. We certainly came together around the creative and mindful offerings of our chefs Lee and Lou of Made2Gather. But they didn’t stop at food, they engaged us with sounds, ideas, laughter, smiles, and connections. They added dimensions to the ROADTRIP I wasn’t expecting and won’t soon forget! John Cobb brought us together with a message of thanks to the earth, all of its connections, including a reverence for the origin of our food and the seriousness of the grander mission ahead.

The ROADTRIP expanded my sense of a neighborhood. The Pando clone embodies linkages along many vectors: roots to stems, soil to plants, birds to boles, life to death to rebirth. Our social community and the ideas spurred from within that gathering linked previously disparate entities, too. I learned about the power of images, about disassembling individual and collective bounds, and about deeply listening to the stories of others. I was rapt with devotion to the sea, garden, river, spirit, word, meaning, intention, feeling, song, food, transparent, authentic, and truthful. Did we Think Wrong and get along. Yes we did!

Where this will lead me I know not, though I do know that I gathered glimpses of new horizons. My neighborhood grew during that time and I’m not only grateful for the experience, I’m energized to carry thoughts to action. This came together in part because of the setting, but more pointedly because of the society Pando Populus codified over a few very specials days.

From my heart, thanks to every single person that gave of their talent and soul on the ROADTRIP TO PANDO 2017. Will there be another….how could there not be if this is what we have to show for it?


Paul C. Rogers is the Chief Scientist for Pando, the tree, an ecologist, and Director of the Western Aspen Alliance.