With global headquarters in Seattle, a group of Seattle-based visionaries has (more than) an idea to create a Spark Wonderment movement. The Sanctuaries of the Earth (SOTE) project, where crystals are the foundation, epicenter and apex, is designed to help heal the human spirit and Mother Earth. 

Sanctuaries of the Earth are a series of individual architectural ‘earth huts’ that will exhibit striking collections of colossal crystals and fossils from around the world. Earth sanctuaries will first appear in Seattle, then in welcoming communities around the U.S. and the world. The grassroots assemblage of these sanctuaries will ignite the Spark Wonderment movement. Each earth hut will be connected to the full constellation of sanctuaries. Through SOTE’s programmatic efforts, sponsorships, and partnerships visitors will access rich educational and community-activating opportunities. Over the next five years, SOTE is expanding its physical reach and Spark Wonderment movement, leading to the realization of the Museum of the Earth (2026-27).

Andrea Wenet, SOTE’s Founder and Chief Shepherding officer said, “SOTE is not a museum, it’s not a gallery, it’s an elevated hybrid of both and exponentially so much more. We are creating a profoundly unique experience.”  Wenet makes it clear (she did say, “crystal”) that nothing like SOTE exists. However one may experience crystals, accessing through mind, body and/or spirit, we know that crystals elicit awe. 

“For five years, I’ve been privy to witnessing hundreds of people having mind-blowing, jaw-dropping reactions to seeing miraculously colossal crystals,'' said Wenet. “There are few people  (e.g. dealers, exhibitors, rockhounds) who are privileged enough to witness, up close and personal, thousands of people experiencing unbridled awe. This alone is healing.” 

A compelling outcome of SOTE’s development is their mission: To ignite awe and curiosity by reconnecting people to the artistry and scientific nature of Mother Earth. 

“Sanctuaries of the Earth are 180° experiences from the tumult and chaos of our current world,” Wenet said. “People are shaken by the effects of climate change, political fighting, and pandemic fears to name a few obvious heartbreaking headlines. It’s clearer now, more than ever, that humanity is in need of healing.” She shared that a recent Gallup poll of 116,000 people in 116 countries sought to find out the mood of the world during 2020 and 2021. Unsurprisingly, the poll found that more people felt “stressed, sad, angry and worried” during that timeframe than at any point in Gallup’s entire history of global tracking.    

Wenet, who is spirited and driven by a healthy balance of heart and brain, shared that the Science of AWE studies conducted by prestigious universities over the last 18 years, found repeatedly that ‘nature and beauty’ are the top two triggers of awe.  And, while the research is nascent, multiple studies suggested that moments of awe may be the most important and transformative experiences in life. “Through crystals, we’ll harness awe and curiosity and support pathways to healing. Previously reported physiological changes were limited to anecdotal accounts. Now, scientific research is developing the evidence. In fact, you feel better being around crystals, because you are better being around crystals!” 

By igniting awe, SOTE helps support visitors to magnify their focus on nature, while at the same time creating concrete educational programs and opportunities to diminish their carbon footprint. Education and access for all are foundational for SOTE. Wenet shared, “SOTE has developed partnerships with the Seattle Public Schools, The University of Washington EarthLab, and myriad decision-making leaders at Seattle.gov and Seattle Center. We’re exploring key partnerships with organizations such as The Bezos Earth Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the John Templeton Foundation. The impact investment partnership possibilities are rich and varied.” 

“While everyone may (or may not) experience their own revelatory moment, our job is to harness the ignition of awe. Our goal is to support people taking action to benefit their communities and the earth. Whether inspired by the sheer beauty and artistry of the crystals, their geographical origin and geological make-up, and/or an ignition that feels spiritual, every single human benefits for more opportunities that shed light on life.”

Wenet was excited to share that through serendipitous meetings, SOTE’s design team is led by Justin Brown, co-founder of the MASS Design Group. MASS builds some of the most memorable memorials (such as Bryan Stevenson’s National Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.) and breathtaking spaces worldwide. MASS is the first non-profit architectural firm in the country, founded with the clear intent to build buildings that heal. Sam Stubblefield and Joshua Borsman, SOTE’s artists-in-residence left their jobs at Amazon after auspicious careers and joined forces to create OpenArt. Stubblefield was a key member of the Amazon Spheres design team, and Borsman was a team lead that created the proprietary technology for AmazonGo stores. 

Wenet, members of the SOTE board, and a team of ambassadors will be attending the 2022 Tucson Showcase January 27-31. The team is seeking wisdom from Tucson’s gem show veterans. Wenet and the team are on a mission to explore prospective partnerships with crystal enthusiasts interested in creating opportunities for public exposure and Earth appreciation through SOTE.

“Our crystals are colossal. Our dreams and our partners' dreams are colossal as well!” Wenet summarized. “We’re eager to connect in Tucson with other visionaries on a shared journey.”