Council Ring Coming Soon, Thanks to the Glaciers


Phase 1 of the Council Ring Project Complete

     Ring the bells of joy. Crossroads at Big Creek has met the fund raising goal which will enable us to complete our Council Ring/Outdoor Classroom Project this fall.  The site for the council ring, located between the Collins Learning Center and the Astronomy Campus (just beyond the long bridge,)   was leveled this summer so that the fire circle will be fully accessible.
     One regular Crossroads visitor, seeing the scraped area commented, “I suppose that is the result of the Ice Age Glaciers.”  This friend knows that I am obsessed with the glaciers and I give the Ice Ages at least parial credit for just about everything.
     You know the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? Wikipedia defines this as “a trivia game based  on the assumption that any individual involved in the Hollywood, California film industry can be linked through his or her film  roles to actor  Kevin within six steps.”
     I apply the same game to the Ice Ages and can connect almost anything in Door County  to glaciers in  six steps or less. Usually less.
     Council rings were the signature landscape features of Jens Jensen, who is known in Door County as the founder of The Clearing. And what made this world-famous landscape architect move to Door County?  As everyone who has ever experienced The Clearing knows,  Jensen had a thing about sunsets. While searching for a place to build his folk school, he yearned for a site where one could see the sun setting over water. He found the place overlooking Ellison Bay.
     Sunsets are stunning from the bluff at The Clearing because Ice Age glacier carved Green Bay and  the melting mile-thick ice of the Wisconsin Ice Age filled it with water.  Often, activities  at The Clearing stop in the evenings so people can go down to one of several council rings to watch the sun setting over the water.
     Jensen built council rings–circles of rocks in a natural setting “as a symbol of democratic companionship and harmony with nature, like an Indian campfire, or like the ancient circles of boulders where village elders still met in the Denmark [of his] youth.” I strongly suspect that the boulders of Denmark were glacial eratics.
Indians? Well, anthropologists believe that during the Ice Ages, early humans were forced  to adapt to harsher conditions, migrate, or perish.  During the Ice Age, people were able to move across land bridges from Russia to Alaska. Our first Americans came here because of the glaciers. And they had council rings.
But degrees of separation between the Ice Ages and our Council Ring go deeper. During the Ice Ages, humans were forced to cope with the cold. This led to the development of clothing and mastery of fire.  This becomes more and more speculative, but probably early humans gathered around campfires to be safe from wild animals, for warmth, and  for companionship. Around those fires,   language developed, storytelling evolved, and I like to think that as our early ancestors gazed into the night sky, the astronomy was born….all because of the glaciers.
Our history lecture scheduled for 2:00, Friday is call “It’s Because of the Glaciers.” This PowerPoint presentation explores the myriad ways  the Ice Age Glaciers determined Door County history. The program is free and open to the public.
On Wednesday, September 12 at 7:00,The Door County Environmental Council presents  “We The Last Mountain, “a  powerful documentary featuring Robert Kennedy Jr. as the battle goes on to save the  pristine mountains of Appalachia from total destruction for corporate profit.  This film vividly shows the personal battles being waged to protect West  Virginia’s mountains and valleys and the impact on the local people living  there.    This program will be presented in the Collins Learning Center free and open to the public.


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