Olivia Fermi on the Neutron Trail

Across time and physical space, the Neutron Trail leads us into the terrain of our human involvement with nuclear weapons, waste and energy. The Neutron Trail calls us to ask fundamental questions about truth, knowledge, governance, action and survival.

My journey started as a personal inquiry into the legacy of my maternal grandparents Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), Nobel laureate and a key player in the development of the atomic bomb and Laura Fermi (1907–1977), author and activist.

I searched for ways to reconcile conflicting emotions and beliefs I felt about the atomic bomb, nuclear proliferation and environmental and social justice issues. I visited the places where my grandfather had worked and found many others engaged in the same questions as I was. Through dialogue and collaboration with these activists, scientists, historians and artists I discovered the Neutron Trail.

The Trail is uncharted and ever changing. It’s not a path or a paved road. Sometimes it’s easy to see and sometimes it requires me to reflect for long periods before the way appears. Each journey starts with personal and universal questions. How can we learn from our shared nuclear legacy, from the choices made in the past? How can we adapt and evolve our cultural beliefs and paradigms to support human life in the future? As individuals and social groups, what do we need to do now to survive and thrive?

Toshiko Tanaka, atomic bomb survivor, and I sharing stories about our lives; thoughts on art, action and healing. Photo: © Noriko Nasu Tidball 2014.

Toshiko Tanaka, atomic bomb survivor, and I sharing stories about our lives; thoughts on art, action and healing. Hiroshima, Japan. Photo: © Noriko Nasu Tidball 2014.

As I ask these questions silently and aloud, people share their stories with me and we ask more questions together in conversation. I give talks and dialogue with students freshly engaging in these critical issues; scientists, some are Nobel laureates, who worked side by side with Enrico; environmental activists; humanitarians; historians; and downwinders: those who have suffered from the toxic waste stream products of atomic bomb tests, working in and living beside nuclear facilities.

Walking the Neutron Trail in community has opened my heart and expanded my soul. I am grateful to my ancestors and the many supporters and fellow Trail walkers I’ve met and continue to meet. You inspire me and give me strength to continue this often challenging journey.

I believe inquiry leads to understanding, creativity and new solutions. If we could each of us be a little bit smarter, a tiny bit wiser and take a few more actions – a LOT could change. Our survival is at stake and our situation is complex. We need everyone’s commitment to the most healthy, loving and creative future possible. We need your wisdom and your compassionate action in the world now.

Let’s all agree to leave a living legacy for our children’s children 1,000 generations from now.

Please call me or send me an email if you would like to learn more about my talks and workshops.