bioregionalism


When I first discovered bioregionalism, I didn’t realize the parallels between it and progressive education, which I would encounter a decade or so later when I started teaching at Goddard College. Progressive education is based on learning what you need to learn, based on how you learn, with a strong focus on personal and social relevance, and student-centered, hands-on learning. Bioregionalism is, at me at least, at its heart about learning how to live in a way relevant to our places and communities. Both bioregionalism and progressive education are ecologically-based to my mind, looking at our role as part of a larger system, community and planet, and what we need to do to live with meaning and integrity in our lives. Furthermore, yoga is a practice that puts us squarely in the part of the planet most local to us: our own bodies, and then helps us learn what it is to live here.

In this spirit, I wanted to share an interview my boss, Ruth Farmer, gave to The Magazine of Yoga about real learning, the importance of skepticism and trusting the process, tinkering and leading, progressive education, and what all we do at Goddard College in terms of holding the space for people to ask their most relevant questions and quest toward answers. See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. Ruth discusses some of the specific programs at Goddard — particularly the BFA in Creative Writing, and Individualized MA — but moreover, she and Susan Moul, the interviewer (and co-founder of The Magazine of Yoga), and herself a Goddard graduate, talk about real learning, and how to find what meaning we can and need to forge out of our studies, art, work and life. This is also obviously applicable to learning about our place, our bodies, our communities. You can learn more about Goddard here, and see more wonderful articles at The Magazine of Yoga here. (I also write a weekly column on yoga, being a body, and poetry, including bi-weekly poems and writing prompts). Enjoy!

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Oct 4-11, 2009 for the 10th Continental Congress at The Farm

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Welcome Home

Across the planet, people recognize that we must become guardians of our life-places.  Human beings have long understood that security is found in acting responsibly at home – in our neighborhoods and watersheds, our bioregions.

Bioregions are living systems where every being is connected to, and interdependent with every other; bioregions are not by property lines, states, or nations, but by rock, soil, weather, water, terrain, plants, animals, human cultures and human settlements.

Bioregionalism calls for active citizenship in the whole of life, yet its key understanding is cultural: attention to place, to local history, natural history, and to how a community’s hopes, wounds, and dreams can inform enduring ways of life that will heal the planet’s bioregions and their inhabitants.

Bioregionalism cultivates learning the natural history of all our relations in order to craft diverse human societies respectful of place and planet.

Bioregionalism means working to satisfy basic needs locally, relying on renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, developing local enterprises based on local skills and strengths.

Bioregionalism challenges and is an alternative to nationalism, corporate rule, and top-down globalization of our lives.

Bioregionalism embraces the struggle around the world to preserve, restore and enhance the life of the distinct places that constitute the planet.

Since 1984 bioregionalists have been gathering semi-annually at camps throughout continental North America.  You, too, may be a bioregionalist, in fact probably are, if you’ve received this invitation.   Continental bioregional gatherings are meetings of peers and kindred spirits, open to all ecology-minded persons that offer unparalleled opportunities to envision and develop a realistic, restorative way of life in your bioregion.  We set their own agendas, operate by consensus and build a common commitment.  Grand times and good friendships are only the first fruits.  At bioregional congresses, we live in community, concern ourselves with the things that matter, and return home informed and inspired.  We also spend time talking in depth, sharing technical knowledge and processes, in areas related to community and ecological restoration: water, forestry, health, education, prairie management, the arts, energy, etc.  We earnestly invite the participation of all, especially those involved in the work necessary for the human species to reinhabit the bioregions of the Americas and of the whole Earth.

The survival of humanity and of the planet’s bioregions depends on our advocacy of ecological design in all branches of human endeavors: economics and auditing, technology, agriculture and forestry; planning and industry; education, culture and art; philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics; law and justice; healthy and environmental defense; politics and land tenure. Any and all activists and practitioners in these fields are strongly urged to attend, to share their passions, lore, successes and learning experiences; to find new friends, mentors, or fellow travelers while participating in plenary discussions and spontaneous conversations.

If we are to avoid ecological and social collapse or  global monoculture, we need to begin to listen to the planet, to learn our places.  Home is the ground for honest hope.  Only in our life-places can begin anew, in the timeless way of Earth’s ecologies.        — By Stephanie Mills, ratified by the CBC Coordinating Council and the Congress.

Stephanie Mills is a long-time bioregional author whose articles have appeared in Whole Earth Review and many other publications.  Her books include Whatever Happened to Ecology, In Praise of Nature, and the forthcoming, Epicurian Simplicity.  She has been active in the bioregional movement for over twenty years.

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