Disaster’s Grief & Beauty

Grief and Beauty in the Wake of Disaster with Trebbe Johnson

When the places we love are devastated by human interaction, natural disaster or a combination of the two, it feels devastating and overwhelming. How do we cope? We can mourn what we’ve lost and say goodbye. We can donate money or call our congressional representatives, or we can ignore the damage entirely. However, we can also discover hope, and even beauty, in what remains. Author and Activist, Trebbe Johnson, suggests that the creation of art, ritual and even joy to honor these lost or “wounded” places is not just possible, but is in fact crucial to our collective healing.

[Cick Here to Listen]

On today’s episode:

What “All Things Connected” means to Trebbe 3:40

Grief and beauty 6:15

Radical Joy for Hard Times 9:40

Waste is an orphan 13:50

Wounded places 16:45

We hurt when the Earth hurts 23:00

What does it mean when we care? 30:00

The gaze 35:05

The gift of beauty 38:55

Creating hope and joy 42:30

What can I do to help? 49:40


Trebbe Johnson is an author and frequent speaker on the relationship between people and nature. Her previous books are The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty, and she has won many awards, including the John Masefield Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Telly Award for a video made for the UN on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. She has led workshops, retreats, and rites of passage programs internationally since 1995, such as a retreat in an old-growth clear-cut forest, a ceremony at Ground Zero after September 11, and a walk in weapons testing grounds at Eglin Air Force Base. In 2009, Johnson founded the non-profit organization Radical Joy for Hard Times, dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. She regularly speaks at a variety of events, from the Stephens College Commencement to the Parliament of the World’s Religions to the Sierra Club. Johnson is a contributing editor at Parabola Magazine and an active member of the Wilderness Guides Council, the Florence Shelly Stewardship Committee, and SCAN (Susquehanna Clean Air Network). She lives in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.