“God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.” -James McBride

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”- Bruce Lee

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” -Stewart Udall (1920)

The English word “spirituality” comes from the Latin spiritus, which means “breath of Life.” – Paul Heitzman

Introduction to Spirituality and Historic Sites

How does one measure the individual value and importance of spiritual inspiration derived from a Lake Champlain’s presence? How can you put a price on the beauty of a sunset over the Adirondacks or on a smile of a young child watching the lapping on waves on North Beach and elsewhere?  In addition to using previous assessments and reports such as the Millennium Ecosystem Report and other Lake Basin reports, we plan to research and analyze the topics of recreation and spirituality, personal spiritual connections with the lake and the positive externalities associated with  this relationship, the historical aspects and importance of battle sites and the maritime museum on the lake, and the cultural heritage of the native Abenaki on and around the lake.  This research will help to form an abstract economic value for the presence of Lake Champlain in the greater Champlain area.

Context of Lake Basins

In the context of Lake Basins there are many projects similar to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of Lake Champlain. Common issues involving Environmental problems, development, and land degradation have all had an effect on the cultural service of the Lake. Understanding what other organizations are doing in terms of calculating the service value of surrounding culture has therefore become a number one goal of lake users.

Studying other Lake Basins and their previous efforts help to promote and sustain healthy lake ecosystems and efficient lake basin plans for Lake Champlain. An example of a thorough cultural and spiritual study is Capitol Lake in Washington. This lake study includes the cultural value of having connectedness and balance with nature and to the native island tribe that exist in the area. Other values include physical and spiritual connection to history, a meditative place, a place for education, and a symbol of statehood. This report investigates all of these values, includes interviews, and determines the price of the service and how much capital should go into protecting these services. (Study Capitol Lake Basin)

Another example exists in Kenya where the World Agroforestry Center is helping along with Pro-Poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA) to connect all groups involved in the health of the Lake Victoria Basin. They are mitigating the damaging activities of poor land management, loss of fisheries, deforestation, and industrial pollution. (Balancing Competing Interests for Ecosystem Services in the Lake Victoria Basin)

A third example exists in the Lake Ontario Basin. The EPA is leading a plan to promote human and environmental health by protecting the waters, plants, and animals of Lake Ontario from increasing contaminants and organisms. By limiting the human activities that induce these contaminants, the lake basin program intends to create a cleaner and more appealing lake that can be enjoyed by every. A similar plan is currently in process for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/lakeont/summary.html

http://www.nevadadot.com/projects/tahoe/Landscape.asp

Context of Lake Champlain

Developing a spiritual connection to a natural resource requires both an understanding of the history of that resource and an appreciation and involvement in protecting the current and future state of that resource.  The inhabitants of the Lake Champlain basin are known for their strong connection to the lake and their efforts over the past few decades to preserve and beautify the many resources connected with the lake.  These include the efforts by individuals and communities to revitalize lakefront parks and waterways along with individuals that enjoy exercising along the waterfront.   All of these forms of recreation and resource management help to develop a personal and spiritual connection with the beautiful body of water that we call Lake Champlain.

While these connections to the lake deal with the present moment and the future of stewardship on the lake, it is also important to understand the cultural and spiritual heritage of the lake.  The original inhabitants of the lake were the Abenaki who began inhabiting the lake basin nearly 2000 years ago.  These people established a harmonious way of life and were present when Samuel de Champlain and the first white explorers arrived nearly 400 years ago.  From this point on, the lake was ultimately used for transportation purposes and many battles were fought to control the lake’s waterways.   As a result, many battle sites were constructed on the lake that still remain in tact.  Lake Champlain also boasts a collection of shipwrecks spanning from the revolutionary war to the present.  These ships have created a phenomenal collection of preserved history that still inhabit the bottom of the lake floor.

As the visitors of this site explore the related links for these spiritual and historical connections, they will begin to formulate their own theoretical economic value for the lake as they realize how incredibly important the lake has been in influencing the lives of the Champlain Valley citizens over the last 2000 years.  The related links for this research are located to the right under the subheading Cultural Services (C1).  Further research on the cultural and spiritual aspects of the lake are located in these links.

It should be noted that the initial intention of this research, as outlined in the introduction of this page, was to formulate an abstract economic value for the importance of Lake Champlain’s spiritual and historical services.  As our group continued to research the lake, it became evident that abstracting the importance of something as individualized as a spiritual connection with nature was nearly impossible.  Therefore, our group has focused on providing the many aspects of the lake that help to formulate such a connection, allowing the viewer of this site or the lake itself to decide such a value for themselves.

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