People in older cultures, connected to community and place, held close in a lineage of ancestors, woven into a web of personal and cultural stories, radiate a kind of solidity and presence that I rarely find in any modern person. Whatever the measurable gains of the Ascent of Humanity, we have lost something immeasurably precious.
Most people have passed through some kind of initiation; a crisis that defies what you knew and what you were. Societies can also pass through a similar initiation. That is what climate change poses to the present global civilization. A key element of this transformation is from a geomechanical worldview to a Living Planet worldview.
If you wanted to change a culture, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. ‘Schooling The World,’ a film by Carol Black, takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply troubling look at the role played by modern education in the destruction of the world’s last sustainable land based cultures.
Ludwig Appeltans is an experienced permaculture teacher who has lived in the forest for four years. He runs the Earth Ways permaculture project, aiming to reconnect people, land and nature. Here, he is in conversation with Atulya Bingham, an earth building practitioner who has lived close to nature for many years in her native Turkey.
Carol Black writes: Some of our children, it turns out, are more like pigeons and squirrels, and some are more like bears. Some of them adapt to the institutional walls we put around them, some pace till their paws bleed. The bleeding of these children, if we listen, can tell us many stories about ourselves.
Erik Lindberg writes: In contrast to a conflictual and adversarial approach to activism, which aims at victory over those who stand in the way of progress, the Transition model and the community spaces it creates, open doors for the sort of narrative whereby we accept responsibility and move forward with recognition of our collective errors.
Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, coined the phrase “The Great Turning” to describe “the essential adventure of our time”: the shift from what she calls the “industrial growth society” that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization. Here’s Macy’s interview with Truthout.org’s Dahr Jamail.
Sulak Sivaraksa, the 85-year-old Thai Buddhist monk, thinker and peace activist, is currently facing the prospect of a fifteen-year jail sentence, for criticising his country’s royal family and military junta. Here, he speaks on the global economy’s built-in inequities and biases. Also included is ‘Heavenly Messengers,’ an excerpt from his book, ‘The Wisdom of Sustainability.’
7 Days of Rest, 1 – 7 January 2018, is a global unifying event, dedicating 2018 and beyond to the healing and replenishment of the planet and its inhabitants. It seeks to initiate coordinated, unified global action to catalyse mass awareness about the earth’s looming ecological and civilisational crises, in an immediate and effective way.
David Abram writes: I am dazzled, yes, by the creativity of the human mind, but I’m also struck dumb by the ability of various aspen groves to maintain and replenish themselves, through their common root system, for eighty thousand years and more. Are we humans unique? Sure we are. But then, so is everyone else around here.
We consume more, we fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. We have more stuff, our lives are more convenient, yet we’re not happier. Prof. Jules Pretty sets out a plan to engage people with Nature and create more sustainable and enjoyable living for everyone. The first call to action is: “Every child outdoors every day”.
I’m no elephant whisperer, nor do I claim to have complex exchanges with them by moonlight, but the reverse is true: when they come by, I’m whispered out of my den by their calls and cries, by their trumpets, rumbles and whooshing sighs. When elephants arrive in the valley, I scoot out of my sheets.
Nature has always inspired art, but in our own age of ecological crisis, it’s taking on a special significance for many contemporary artists. This series looks at path-breaking artists and works that reflect this growing awareness. Here, watch artist-filmmakers Friedrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad turn trees, mushrooms, and even toads into pulsing, projection-mapped creatures.
Rob Hopkins writes: The Wild Network’s mission is “to support children, parents and guardians to roam free, play wild and connect with nature”. According to their ‘Chief Wild Officer’ Mark Sears, mental well-being is proven to be clearly linked to time spent outdoors in natural environments, but this is neglected by modern schooling and parenting.
From The Hindu: An afforestation initiative led by naturalists and locals, with support from forest and revenue department officials, has resulted in the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, shedding its barren, brown visage. Lalitha Sridhar reports on the decade-plus-long turnaround of a damaged fragile, semi-arid ecosystem by successfully harnessing scientific expertise and local knowledge.
Will Falk writes: Just like an owl on a chain is no longer an owl, and an elephant in a zoo is no longer an elephant, humans cut off from the nature are no longer human. We are animals and animals are an ongoing process of relationships. When those relationships become impossible, we lose ourselves.
Satya Sagar writes: It’s time to step back, reflect and ask again and again the questions: who or what exactly are human beings, how we should live in this world and where we should go? For this time the very survival of the human species may lie in getting the answers right with great honesty.
In the 1960’s David Bamberger owned a successful fried chicken business with over 1600 outlets in the United States (For perspective, there are less than 400 KFC’s in India today.) Then he decided to sell off his business and put the capital into buying some 5500 acres of the most degraded land he could find
In this wonderful TEDx talk, Kimi Werner, a free diver and fish hunter, uses her life’s story to illustrate a key lesson she learnt – that of slowing down when everything tells you to speed up. What really shines through is how her childhood memories of living in nature shaped her experiences later in life.
If I were into species research, I would declare the discovery of Atulya Bingham as that rare new species that the world desperately needs. If I were a birder she’d be that exotic bird whose sight delights one every time. She is rare because she writes about nature in a way no one else does.