by Bill Cahalan
My life in this central Ohio River/Cincinnati region has been significantly shaped by my times at Grailville since the 1970s. The first visit that I remember was for a weekend conference on cooperatives. I was inspired by the conference and enchanted by the land. I slept overnight in my sleeping bag in the pine grove by the pond. Since then I made many trips to the bookstore to find books I’d not found anywhere else. I attended a Buddhist retreat held in and around the Oratory, one of many beautiful and unique buildings at Grailville. When I worked as a therapist at Samaritan Counseling Center, we held a staff retreat there. I helped a bioregional group stage a fall harvest festival there in the mid-1990s.
I’ve led three Grailville weekend retreats, the first being “Returning to Nature and Self” in April 1983. In these retreats, we went on long contemplative walks through the fields and woods, including the old-growth woods along Bares Run (which flows into O’Bannon Creek on its way to the Little Miami River). The creek and the pond beyond the woods were life-filled places.
Drees Homes’ 100 plus houses (I’ve heard they’re now asking to more than double this) are going to degrade the life of the woods, fields, and creeks forever, resulting in centuries-in-the-making topsoil being eroded through the creeks to the river, and the death of many old trees and the associated life of the woods, from birds to deer to spring wildflowers.
Each typical suburban home also has a large ecological footprint, degrading distant “ghost acreage” lands beyond these visible acres. relying on frack wells for gas, mountaintop “removal” coal mining for electricity, and other “resource” extractions. So my pilgrimages out to Loveland and Grailville will sadly end now. No more life-changing retreats, no Mother’s Day dinners at the dining hall (an extension of the beautiful House of Joy). No more wandering through the woods or meditation by the pond next to the pine grove.
Is there any chance the citizens of Loveland and many people from further away will somehow rise up and push the city of Loveland, or other powers that be, to deny permits to Drees, especially if they’re now asking for more than double the homes than were first permitted? Since the residential retreat center itself can’t be saved now, shouldn’t all of this landscape be preserved for its own sake as well as for peoples’ spiritual enrichment? If not, the soul of that area will be irreplaceably extinguished, a real sacrilege beginning with the sale to Drees originally, and then by Loveland and whatever other groups permitted this ruination.
East Price Hill
Boldface Creek Watershed