A letter from our founder, Joe Lamb

We live in the age of wonder, terror, and medicine.

The Webb Telescope recently expanded our wonder with gob-smackingly beautiful glimpses into a universe so large and complex it undermines our human-centered view of reality. We now know that even the darkest parts of the night sky overflow with countless billions of galaxies, not stars— galaxies, each with billions of stars of their own.

Facing the disorienting vastness of space, I’m reminded of Czesław Miłosz’s observation that eternity only exists in the moment. There’s comfort in that paradox of size: space may be infinitely large, but our lives are not inconsequential, they contain moments that open into eternity.

I experienced one such deep-time moment upriver in Borneo. It was at the WISER Conference when Berta Carceras said that the river told her we were going to win, that we were going to stop the Baram Dam. Experts said ours was a fool’s errand. How could indigenous peoples possibly defeat billion dollar corporations backed by corrupt politicians? 

They were wrong; Berta was right. We won. When the news overflows with violence, corruption, and the destruction of Nature, it’s important to remember that, even against seemingly impossible odds, we do win.

I woke up today thinking about Ceremony, the astounding novel by the Native American writer, Leslie Marmon Silko, and about how some maladies infect entire countries. The massacre at Uvalde, the violent coup attempt on January 6, the Republican Party’s refusal to look honestly at either of those events, these are symptoms of a country wide sickness. Silko calls the perpetrators of those acts “the destroyers.” Lots of destroying going on, and not just in America: the war against freedom in Ukraine, Samling’s war against nature in Borneo…. It’s a long list.

But Silko reminds us, there is also medicine, medicine enough to heal even the big sicknesses. 

It was medicine when the Yurok released California Condors back into the wild. It was medicine when the Winnemem Wintu reintroduced McCloud salmon eggs into the McCloud River where that species had been locally extinct for 70 years. Healing happens.

Healing happens in Borneo too. Thanks to the herculean efforts of our team and our indigenous allies, we just completed the Baram Heritage Survey, once again proving the nay-sayers wrong. The secondary forest isn’t a wildlife desert. It’s packed with rare and uncommon species. The heavens may overflow with countless galaxies, but Borneo’s forests, even once-logged forests, have countless wonders of their own. After publication in science journals, we will share the wonderful details (leopard cats, gibbons, and sun bears, O’ my!). The survey proves that the Baram Peace Park will be big medicine for Borneo, and for the whole planet. 

But making the park a reality is another impossible battle, as is winning the fight against logging behemoth/destroyer, Samling.

We’ve won impossible battles before. With our community’s help we can do so again. 

Please donate. It takes a community to hold the destroyers accountable. It takes a community to win these impossible battles.

Fight the terror, protect the wonder, be the medicine. Borneo overflows with little eternities too timeless to waste. Please donate.

Joe Lamb, founder The Borneo Project