In the 1920s, wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone National Park, and seventy years later in the mid 1990s when they were reintroduced, the wolves set off a chain reaction that transformed the park in amazing ways–restoring grassy areas, enabling new wildlife, even stabilizing rivers. Ecologists call this a “trophic cascade,” where predators actually have a positive effect on lower trophic levels of an ecosystem.
At last week’s Mennonite Church BC annual meeting, we watched this video on the trophic cascade at Yellowstone, and were asked to reflect on this in relation to the church: metaphorically speaking, what wolf got killed that we might reintroduce and so promote revitalization?
I’m still thinking about how I might answer the question of the church’s wolf and trophic cascade.
On a personal level–well, I’m not so sure about the predator analogy, but when I think of something that leads to cascading change, for me journaling would be my wolf.
Although I’m a long time journal keeper, I sometimes go for days or even months without journaling, and when I reintroduce it, I realize again how powerfully it can affect my life. When I journal my hopes and dreams, I find myself reaching for them in more concrete ways. When I journal my worries, I somehow feel less worried in my daily life. I am less apt to over function, which allows others to function more appropriately by taking responsibility and using their gifts. In journaling as I release those things that I need to release, there is revitalization on a number of different personal and interpersonal levels.
Trophic cascade is a new term for me, one that I’m glad to add to my vocabulary of ecological, church, and personal change. What do you think of the How Wolves Change Rivers video, and what thoughts does the trophic cascade spark for you?
For more on trophic cascade and how it might apply to the church, please see:
One Degree, a Spiritual Trophic Cascade