The dedication of "The Tell" alongside Laguna Canyon Road on Saturday evening drew an enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 who frequently cheered and applauded during a low-key, hour-long program of singing, speeches and readings from work by the late naturalist writer Edward Abbey.
In a gesture that, unfortunately, didn't come across with the dramatic effect that organizer Mark Chamberlain had intended, a group of horseback riders galloped through the field to drop off an old-fashioned mail pouch filled with messages. The first one (read by Laguna Canyon Conservancy member Linda Eckmann) was a letter about the sale of Indian land to the U.S. government, written in 1852 by Chief Seattle to President Millard Fillmore.
"How can you buy or sell the sky, the land?" the Indian leader wrote. "The idea is strange to us. . . . If we sell you the land, you must love it as we have loved it, care for it as we have cared for it."
Other participants included Father Joseph, a Franciscan monk; Chamberlain and Jerry Burchfield, co-creators of "The Tell"; singer-songwriter Mark Turnbull; Robert Gentry, mayor of Laguna Beach; Larry Agran, mayor of Irvine; Cameron Cosgrove, an Irvine City Council member and founding member of the Conservancy, and Lida Lenney, founder of the conservancy and Mayor Pro Tem of Laguna Beach.