At RedCliff Ascent, we transform lives. When people show signs of transformation, they earn an Earth Name. The Earth Name represents what we are inside. In addition, it also references what we could potentially become. Earth Names celebrate the changes that people make in their lives. Also, they help students to mark times of transformation as new phases of their journey. As they accomplish good things, they are recognized for who they are inside rather than who they used to be. Then, RedCliff honors them with an Earth name.
For example, a young woman recently earned the name Blue Sky Dragonfly. Her staff crafted a leather heart pouch and wrote a write up of her name. The write-up explains the meaning of the name.
Blue is often synonymous with loyalty and depth of character. Sky can refer to her potential, broad and open, many possibilities. The two words together signify that she is optimistic and has a blank slate or canvas upon which to create the rest of her life. Dragonfly is a very efficient hunter. It knows what it is looking for and maneuvers with determination and adeptness to obtain it. This refers to her ability to achieve goals. The dragonfly is also a powerful totem for a young woman because of its elegance combined with its strength.
Earth Names have a powerful impact on the students and staff members who earn them. Field Director Justin Swensen earned his Earth Name, Black Wolf, in 1997. He felt the difference in his own, as he worked hard to live up to his name. He has also seen the difference that earning an Earth Name makes in the lives of students.
“Earth names are based on who someone is, and who that person is striving to become,” said Justin. “Students and staff really grow a lot while they are here, and we acknowledge that growth by giving them an Earth Name."
After earning an Earth Name, the person named tends to not focus on their weaknesses but on their strengths. The write up is then placed inside the heart pouch and kept close to their heart. From that point on, the student or staff no longer answer to their given name, but to their Earth Name.
There are students who graduated over two decades ago, who still hold the Earth Name sacred. You'll see email addresses like [email protected] A few students and possibly staff have gotten an artistic rendition of the Earth Name indelibly inked on their body somewhere. There are many shadow boxes across the planet containing worn, tattered heart pouches with a sacred piece of paper inside it.