In A Man Apart, written by Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow, Peter talks about how his mentor and friend, Bill Coperthwaite, gifted him a spoon that Bill had carved from pear wood. Bill Copperthwaite gave Peter this gift along with the following story of the lineage of this tree…
After spending time with Mahatma Gandhi, Richard Gregg wrote a book about Gandhi’s work called The Power of Nonviolence, a book credited by Martin Luther King, Jr. as contributing to his work. When Richard Gregg left India, Gandhi gifted him the branch of a pear tree. Richard Gregg either grafted or planted that branch and gifted Helen and Scott Nearing (the Nearings were modern homesteading pioneers who wrote The Good Life and other books and gifted land to Elliot Coleman who has done good work in organic agriculture) a cutting from this same pear tree which they subsequently grafted to root stock in their garden in Vermont. When the Nearings moved their homestead from Vermont to Maine, they took a cutting of this tree with them and established the same pear tree on their new land. And, it was a branch from this pear tree that Bill used for Peter’s spoon.
Peter Forbes says that he’s not sure if the story is true. Whether true or not, though, the spoon was gifted as a way to honor that intellectual and emotional legacy, a gift from one generation to the next.
And as Peter and Helen share, the giving never stopped. Not only did Peter and Helen learn to carve their own spoons, but such work have become a useful tool in their work at The Center for Whole Communities to bring people together. By learning and doing together, making something real and practical and beautiful, with our hands, we gain competency and confidence. By sharing this with others, we have common ground to begin to appreciate the wisdom that can emerge from listening to people who are different from ourselves. This simple and subtle social technology is one way we can continue to build toward one planet thriving.
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