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Published:March 24th, 2010 14:06 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Lee Welles, Author of the Gaia Girls Series

Judyth Piazza chats with Lee Welles, Author of the Gaia Girls Series

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)


The idea that our planet functions as a unified whole has both scientific and spiritual significance.  The interdependence of biological creatures is complex but often it can be easily observed.  The connection between human activity and environmental conditions may be less apparent than a woodpecker`s need for the insects within a rotted tree trunk, but people`s decisions and actions influence the natural world, for good or ill.

Awareness of Mother Earth " is expressed in many ways across many cultures.  The figure of Gaia originated with the ancient Greeks but was advanced and popularized in the 1970`s through the hypothesis of scientist James Lovelock.  He suggested that the world is one superorganism and that life exists here because of the healthy interaction of its parts.

But it takes a novelist like Lee Welles to bring the concept truly down to earth.  Her new book for young readers, Gaia Girls " Enter the Earth ", is set in a place that`s clearly her native New York State, and the protagonist is a nine-year old named Elizabeth Angier.  The story begins on the final days of the school year and Elizabeth is looking forward to a sweet summer on her family`s Three Oaks Farm, which provides a good living for her family through sale of organic produce. 

Both the idyllic rural life and the land itself is threatened, however, when Elizabeth learns about the possibility of a corporation buying up land to establish large-scale pig farms, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Organizations (CAFOs).  These farms have been criticized for cruelty to animals and for creating a stench that permeates large areas.  In North Carolina their growth has been halted and in Enter the Earth ", Elizabeth is directed to do what she can do keep them out of New York.

The directive comes personally from Gaia, who appears to Elizabeth in the form of a talking otter.

"Now that I know you can hear me, now that you can adopt some of my power, we can, together, redirect or remove the ones that hurt me most " I give you the power over soil, rock and mountain top " Bugs and bunnies, woodchucks and weasels will listen when you call.  Earthworms and echidnas will respond to your will.  (Elizabeth wasn`t sure what an echidna was, but she trembled at the thought of these powers.)  As you have discovered already, you are able not only to hear the trees, but also to talk to them and to ask them for help.  Listen, and let us begin your lessons. "

                        -from Gaia Girls " Enter the Earth

Elizabeth`s supernatural power over nature causes injury, floods and earthquakes " at one point she fears she has killed her beloved dog, Maizey " but it may be an effective counter to the prospect of factory farms.  Gaia is powerful, even when working through a child.  Enter the Earth " is the first in a series of Gaia Girls books, each story from a different part of the world and each based on one of the classic elements of nature: air, fire, water and, as Elizabeth has experienced, earth. 

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