Sanctuary. Among the many synonyms for this term- shelter, oasis, retreat- a port in a storm.
The current political significance of Sanctuary- in ‘Sanctuary City’- is the pledge of a community to provide shelter for immigrants fearing deportation from the U.S.
All humans need sanctuaries, as do wildlife- places that are safe, offer us a chance to re-charge, a place we feel protected from danger, if but temporarily.
What if Latitudes were a kind of sanctuary, or multiple kinds of sanctuaries, for people and a wide range of species. Sanctuary bands that stretched around the earth, offering shelter from the storm. Imagine, networks of communities organizing along specific minutes of latitude, say a hundred such latitude circles in the Northern Hemisphere, and a hundred south of the equator. These circles can offer something new to the weary, and in the specific east-west creation of a global circle, suddenly the possibilities become clear.
Latitude circles could become sanctuaries from the impact of climate change. Imagine mile wide paths around the world east and west featuring a range of plantings and climate change buffers that help species adapt and find food as they migrate- humans included.
Latitude communities could provide shelter to small communities reeling from climate, technological and economic upheavals as hostile environmental phenomena force people to move, urban centers draw the young people away, and as livelihoods such as farming become less viable.
Latitudes could provide bands of habitat for migratory species, hopping North and South from latitude refuge to latitude refuge.
Latitude can be a hideout from a world that has gotten too big and overwhelming for individuals to feel that they can make any kind of difference. Latitude can be a refuge from the overwhelming information and tools and communication barage we face on a daily basis, losing sight of clarity. Latitude- the line- can bring us back to the preserve of what it means to be human- the preserve of a global community that is also human scale, an overground network of smaller places that don’t drown us with BIG.
Latitude can be a shelter by giving us a calm and simple path to walk on in times that are volatile. The shelter of a compass, a starting point to navigate the map of the world thrown toward us in a million pieces.
When we wonder where to go, why not go directly east or west. Why not go to places that share the same light, and connect with people feeling the sun in their lives just the very same amount as we feel the sun in ours. Why not follow that line, into different perspectives, into new conversations, into new bridges.
Latitude, as a new bridge we are building amongst people around the world, can be the bridge over troubled water. It is the steady line that brings focus and possibility over the chaos we face.
Why? Because it is simple, it is common ground, and it is a practical framework for the development of a global community of local folks. Just as local is a refuge from global, we need a global refuge from global. Local cannot last as a refuge in isolation. A sanctuary that is stranded completely as an oasis becomes a mirage. For sanctuaries to endure, they must participate in a larger context. Local cannot ignore global.
Latitude line is a sanctuary for global and local, it is a sanctuary with many dimensions for all people and places.