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The Zero-Circles Project: Photographs and text by Daniel Dancer

The Zero-Circles Project is a strategic blend of art, spirit and environmental politics...perhaps the missing element in our story about the destruction of our forests and the need to protect them. There is a quote by Andy Warhol that intrigues me and suggests, I think, precisely what is missing, "Art is the great weapon." With the hope of generating regional and national stories in the media that could educate folks in an artful, proactive way, I set out on a quest to create, facilitate, and document "zeros" in all of our national forests and put the resulting images up on a website. Each zero depicts an aspect of our national forests...some highlight the beauty, others the destruction. The zeros signify an end to commerical extraction on public lands and of course they are circles, humankind's oldest symbol of wholeness and archetype present in every one of us.

The educational potential and media impact of this project could be substantial. Imagine an aerial shot of a circle of 100 people dressed in black, holding hands in the middle of a clearcut, a ring of boulders blocking a logging road, or of red flower petals on the mossy floor of an ancient grove...the possibilities are endless. Each zero-circle built from found materials (or occasionally people), will convey the importance of ending the commercial logging of the forests that belong to all Americans.

Fifty circles have thus far been completed in twenty states and I am hopeful that this work will inspire others to create and document forest circles on public lands across the country. Some activists are already working on this quest. A dynamic website is online to display all the circles and provide information about the state of each national forest. Via the internet, both the media and the public can follow the progress of the ZERO-CIRCLES campaign, learn about Zero-Cut legislation, send letters to their representatives, and network with regional conservation groups working on this and related issues.

I believe it was Starhawk who said "it's too late for anything but magic." Call it magic, call it artful bleak as things look for nature, the story is far from finished. All who love, cherish, and work to protect the Earth hold some strong cards. I am hopeful that the ZERO-CIRCLES Project is one of them and that by playing it in concert with other efforts--by adding it to the story--we can return to John Muir's vision which inspired the creation and protection of our national forests one hundred years ago.  


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