We are so sad to share the news of the passing of Sally Eva Silverstone, also known as Sierra, who was the director of Las Casas de la Selva from 1997 to 2007.
On 24th September 2020, she passed away in Bali, where she has lived for the last decade working with the Biosphere Foundation.
I met Sierra in 1999, having arrived at Synergia Ranch full of the excitement of a three-year voyage on the RV Heraclitus. I was ready for anything. For four years we were co-chefs on the annual 2 weeks African Drum & Dance Bantu Festival. I remember the day Sierra asked me if I wanted to go to Las Casas de la Selva to help her run Earthwatch Teams. I knew very little about the project, but suddenly I was planning a whole new life adventure. Christmas in Puerto Rico. I jumped in whole-heartedly and arrived in a rainforest, culture, and country I knew nothing about. Soon I was working with Sierra on regular trips from Santa Fe to PR at least four times a year.
Sierra and Mark had made a successful proposal to The Earthwatch Institute to survey the hardwood plantations of the project. Sierra had been involved in the early 80s when the tree planting started, and 40,000 valuable hardwood trees were planted at that time. We spent many happy hours in the forest leading teams of citizen scientists from all over the world, measuring hundreds of trees over several years, and I always admired Sierra’s forthright way of dealt with everyone, and we had a few nutters who signed onto Earthwatch Teams along the way! I learned so much about the forest at that time.
Sierra always encouraged me in everything at Las Casas, and in 2003, we headed up our first harvesting of Blue Mahoe, with a small crew. In 2004 Sierra gave me the reins to take on the wood production side of the project, and we carried out another successful harvest, milling, and drying. I give thanks today that Sierra had confidence in me and gave me the freedom to manifest. That manifestation continues today, and I know that Sierra, wherever she is now, is beaming and nodding her head at the project’s blossoming.
Elegy to Sierra
What is the measure of a life well-lived,
How to say what gave her pleasure
Or to the watching world gave meaning?
Was it trees and plants that grew
Remembering the gardener that was you
Or laughter tinkling in the air,
Echoes of you who once was there?
Or drums and bells the living made
To honor you once you were gone,
The chants and songs the community sang
To carry you on your way, to tend the flames,
To transform our body into diamond dust,
Then launch your swan upon the Silver Sea
Such tenderness and love,
I couldn`t wish more for me!