Articles by author: jgregory

  • Do you listen when we perform our Eco-Anxiety?

    Contributor: Soji Cole, Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program at Brock University, Ontario Canada.

    The title of this reflection appears as a question because the issues around anthropogenic activities call for constant questioning. There have been multifarious and complex interventions from climatologists, and there is a broad spectrum of ongoing campaigns from scientists, artists, humanists, spiritualists and even religionists; all in the bid to trigger changes in human activities to minimize the effect of the climate crisis. The results have not been very impressive, and so, questioning the conditions and activities around the issue of sustaining the global ecosystem and preventing it from further destruction must be an ongoing debate. In the introduction to the book, Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Distress: Psychological Perspectives on Resilience and Interconnectedness (2023), Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey argue that; “Past researchers have proposed varied definitions for eco-anxiety— for example, “a chronic fear of environmental doom” (Clayton et al., 2017, p. 68) and “the generalized sense that the ecological foundations of existence are in the process of collapse” (Albrecht, 2012, p. 250)” (p. 2). Taking cues from these definitions, eco-anxiety is the consequence of a general fear, arising from an imagined human future without the support of non-human natural eco-system that could sustain that future. This premonition is sustained by the overwhelming negative impacts of humans on the non-human natural ecosystem.

    Over the last couple of years, I have made contributions to the subject of sustainability and the global ecosystem. My special focus has been to explore how drama and theatre performance can generate impactful meaning in the global understanding of the human ecosystem as well as how to mitigate further climate disasters. This is important as it is increasingly apparent that the arts and the humanities can fill some gaps left by science and technology in enhancing actions toward a sustainable earth.

    I contributed as a co-author to a climate change essay which appeared in a published book of essays entitled Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis, edited by Conrad Alexandrowicz and David Fancy, in 2021. The book was published in the Routledge Educational Series. My intention (with the co-author) in the essay was to bring to global awareness how Nigerians and Africans are using drama to respond to the climate crisis. In the last days of October, and the first few days of November in 2022, I was part of a collective (a theatre ensemble) production, initiated and led by David Fancy (drama professor at Brock University), and hosted by the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University. The stage production, titled AnthropoScene, was supported by the “Beyond Sustainability—Radical Transformation Through Systems Thinking” project. My position combined as an actor, a learner, as well as an advocate of sustainability on the platform of the Young Professional (in research) Exploration Group (YPEG), an offshoot of the “Beyond Sustainability Project”. Over several weeks of rehearsals and drawing multiple perspectives (most of which focused on the issues of climate crisis and sustainability), the stage performance eventually ran for four days in a theatre packed full of curious audience. A round-table discussion program was organized on an alternate day, by the “Beyond Sustainability—Radical Transformation Through Systems Thinking” project to discuss the stage performance and the connection to issues on sustainability and climate crisis. In May 2023, I was one of the YPEG artists/scholars that made artistic presentations in the “Transforming environment awareness with Artistic Interventions” event.  The artistic presentation was hosted and funded by the “Beyond Sustainability Project”, and it was presented to the public at the Niagara Artists Center, in the city of St. Catharines. The intervention followed series of brainstorming between three artists—who are PhD students in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program of Brock University, and who are also members of the YPEG. Over several months, we planned, researched, and eventually concluded that we might be able to generate a multifaceted form of spectacle if we focused on each participant’s specific area of artistic strength. Naturally, I stuck to drama. I drafted a script and titled it: “Are we really aware?” In the public presentation, I played a solo character who was listening to the voice of a more powerful and invisible character. The subject of the conversation was simply how the climate crisis could be curtailed by the intervention of the most important persons—you and me!

    Against the backdrops of all these interventions, the problematics of three constant questions are prevalent: 1) whether through science or arts, what kind of audience do we have when we discuss issues of climate crisis? For this question, an argument could be raised that the medium or strategy ought to be more important first of all than the audience to whom the message is targeted. This argument leads to a more generative conversation, but my concern has always been that, in the age of technological multi-tasking, knowing the kind of audience you intend to appeal to is the first most important thing than the strategy or medium of such appeal. 2) Can arts offer a serious intervention in a subject such as the climate crisis, which is predominantly science encumbered? This is not a new question. This question has spanned several decades of critical assessments of human knowledge, with constant claims of epistemic segregation of other knowledge routes by the discipline of science. 3) Do you listen when we perform our Eco-Anxiety? This question is the most important one to me. Apart from being an artist who utilizes drama as a tool, I keep a mental refrain that the crux of drama is entertainment, and as such, it provides one of the most liberal means of education and discerning of information. So, if drama can provide veritable sources of education for climate crisis intervention, why are we not listening? Why are there still dangerous trends of anthropogenic activities around us? Why are there still conscious wastages of natural resources? Why is there prevalence of conspicuous consumption around us? Why?

    Let me quickly negotiate the three main questions posted above.

    Question 1: Whether as scientists, humanists, or artists, it may be important to ask what kind of audience we deal with when we discuss climate crisis and sustainability. Working through drama reflection in an earlier paper, I (as a co-author) suggest that there are usually three categories of audiences in the framework of climate change awareness; (1) “The informed and the concerned” (“Anthropogenic Anxiety…” p. 108). This set of audience considers appraisal of gaps in climate knowledge and anthropogenic activities and are inspired to further think and take necessary actions for change. Progress towards mitigating climate crisis is slow because this kind of audience is scanty. (2) “The informed and unconcerned” (p. 108). This category of audience has awareness of the inimical consequences of anthropogenic activities, yet they do not show concern or efforts to join the crusade against the impending disaster. Their belief is that; “…such occurrences are bound to happen anyway and there is nothing that can be done about it” (p. 109). (3)  “The absolute ignorants” (p. 109). This set of audience do not even believe that human actions could cause a tip in the natural order of the environment. Ignorance is sometimes placed on the pedestal of spirituality. “For this category of people, any such disaster only happens if a certain divine force is angry with the desires of humans” (p. 109). In my participation in the drama projects of “AnthropoScene” and “Are we really aware”, I have had to constantly think of how devised dramatic strategies can connect with each strand of audience among the three different types listed above.

    Question 2: Can arts (drama) offer serious intervention in such subject as the climate crisis, which is predominantly science encumbered? It is important to start out a response to this question by asserting that conflicting modes of knowledge production should not constitute a disregard for strategies and methods with which different disciplines generate knowledge. Arts (drama) have methodological strategies and insights that have potential to fill the gaps left by science. For example, the power of narrative can only be fully extracted through methodologies inherent in the humanities and arts. Narrative is important in the consciousness of the public in times of global stress (as we witnessed during covid), and during our eco-anxious times. Artistic intervention such as drama, in the subject of climate crisis, will serve to complement and contribute to efforts in the campaign towards eco-justice and sustainability. It produces audio-visual perspectives that enhance the scientific narrative of human crises. In reference to pandemics, Priscilla Wald (2008) takes account of the importance of the intervention of arts in producing fictional narratives to promote public understanding. She reflects that, “[f]ictional accounts of outbreaks did more than reflect and convey the lessons of science; they also supplied some of the most common points of reference, which influence social transformation and diseases emergence in their own right” (p. 31). In essence, the beauty of arts (drama) is that it plays both synergistic and complementary roles with other disciplines—including science. Such intervention promotes interdisciplinarity, and the advantage is such that approaches and knowledge from different disciplines might not only shed new light on a problem, but it will also give allowances for a more comprehensive understanding of the problem.

    Question 3: Do you listen when we perform our Eco-Anxiety? For me, this question continues to be generative on the issue of climate crisis. It subsumes so many other questions: Why is the world recording slow progress in the battle against climate crisis? What is happening with all the information on the climate crisis that we have access to? What are the limitations between this information and the taking of meaningful actions that are suggested and often requested, in the information? Despite evidence that there is progress in controlling emissions, why does global warming still exceed the expected range? Why are concrete actions taken so far on the climate crisis not making as much of a substantive impact as hoped? Even when scientific findings on the subject of climate crisis are transformed into arts (film, drama, literature etc.), to enhance a more liberal means of information perception, why is the world still witnessing snail-paced progress? There is no one way to respond to all these questions. Maybe we need to slow down the fear of urgency that we associate with the climate crisis so that people can “listen” better. Perhaps we need to deploy more strategies instead of calling for more urgency in the politics of transformation towards sustainability. Maybe it’s okay to consider the argument of Håvard Haarstad, Jakob Grandin, Kristin Kjærås and Eleanor Johnson? They suggest that;

    Perhaps haste is precisely what we do not need. When in haste, we make more mistakes, we overlook things, we get tunnel vision. Instead, is there a case for what we call a ‘slow politics of urgency’? Rather than rushing and speeding up, maybe the sustainable future is better served by us challenging the dominant framings through which we understand time and change in society. Transformation to meet the climate challenge requires multiple temporalities of change, speeding up certain types of change processes but also slowing things down (pp. 1-2).

    Maybe it is time to understand that resolutions to the climate crisis will not be characterized only by scientific mixtures, data, and epidemiological models, but also by processing the economical, communicative, cultural, and cognitive conditions around which the problems manifest. Perhaps it is time to truly consider the meaningful impacts that disciplines in the arts and humanities can have in the climate crisis resolution. I have been part of this journey, and I call myself a witness, to boldly assert that, it is time to pay good attention to drama and theatre in this journey of sustainability and restoration of our world. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and to feel that climate change is too big to solve. But we already have the answers, now it’s a question of making them happen” (Green Peace-

    Works cited

    Cole, S. and G. Asoloko. “Anthropogenic anxiety and the pedagogy of climate crisis in Wake Up Everyone”. Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis. (Conrad Alexandrowicz and David Fancy (Eds.) Routledge, 2021. pp. 102-114, ISBN:  978-0-367-54154-4

    Haarstad, H., J. Grandin, K. Kjærås and E. Johnson. “Why the haste? Introduction to the slow politics of climate urgency”. Haste: The slow politics of climate urgency, (Håvard Haarstad, et al. eds.). UCL Press, 2023.

    Green Peace-

    Vakoch, D. and S. Mickey. Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Distress: Psychological Perspectives on Resilience and Interconnectedness. Oxford University Press, 2023.

    Wald, Priscilla. Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative. Duke University Press, 2008.

    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

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  • Enchanting the Environment: How “Magical Thinking” Might Help Us Better Respond to Environmental Crises

    Photo by: Julie Gemuend & Tracy Van Oosten

    Contributors: Julie Gemuend & Mitch Goldsmith

    Joan Didion, in her 2005 memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, weaves an account of loss and recovery following the tragedy of her husband’s sudden death. Didion’s form of “magical thinking,” neither flippant nor escapist, forges a shadowy space that touches the dark edge of human experience. In this space, Didion explains how lapses in reason and inclinations to mystery and fantasy provide a source of refuge amidst her personal apocalypse. As Didion rightly observes, cold rationality, which has historically contributed to conceiving ourselves and the world as transparent and demystified, does nothing for the soul in agony. Rather, allowances of magic, mystery, and the mystical enable Didion to process her pain softly, in the corridors of imagination and intuition, which work to dissolve the unthinkable in an affective and deeply intimate cauldron of sorts. This mystical brew of curiosity and creativity transforms her pain into something else, a new narrative by which to live, a new spell to cast. In the aftermath of her abysmal loss, Didion frames magical thinking as a form of self-preservation — a talisman to protect against an increasingly unlivable reality.

    Like Didion, many of us feel a growing sense of loss and dismay at the climate crisis and “sixth great extinction” unfolding around us. This feeling has a name: solastalgia. Coined by Glen Albrecht, solastalgia captures the distress produced by environmental changes that impact one’s home — a feeling of homesickness for a place that no longer resembles itself. Many of us are, therefore, looking for a way to make sense of the changing reality of our shared and precarious planet — to understand how best to respond, often in both personal and political ways, recognizing that the personal and political are always connected. In this desire to adequately respond to our growing alarm at a planet threatened with ecological collapse, we ask, what possibilities does a spiritual or even magical response to grief and personal upheaval, like that explored by Didion above, open up for responding to the grief and turmoil of climate change, environmental degradation, and species extinction? What if those of us who are paralyzed or overwhelmed by the magnitude of our ecological problems, were to map the magical thinking from Didion’s personal apocalypse on to our shared eco-apocalypse?

    In fact, these two concepts, magical thinking and apocalypse, inhabit common ground. The Latin and Greek terms for apocalypse are synonymous with revelation — an uncovering or disclosure — a revelation into sight, into something that was hidden. Magical thinking draws on intuition, a process that offers us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning; an interior impulse able to penetrate the darkness of the unconscious mind, thus bridging the gap between instinct and reason. Intuition offers the revelation of a different kind of sight — a type of mindful awareness that can discern connections and paths through the anxiety that marks the spectre of our uncertain future. This visceral register, moving below the immediate surface of politics and public life, is one that modern, secular, and analytic responses to environmental crises often distrust, deny, and ignore. In a time when many religious responses to our climate emergency seem to engage in their own type of magical thinking, much of this distrust seems justified.  Yet, what do we miss when we completely dismiss magic or the mysterious from our world? We miss the opportunity to harness the generative aspects of this visceral register and apply them to our social and political realities.

    We suggest a reorientation in social and political responses to environmental doom that, rather than dismissing spiritual or magical understandings of grief, loss, and crisis, make space for renewed visceral and visionary insight that engages in acts of resistance against earth-destroying systems and practices. We argue that a magical or mystical response to environmental crises engages productively with non-secular, spiritual questions without the need for religious literalism that so often reinscribes fatalist escapism (e.g., “it’s god’s plan”) and justifies ecological inaction or reactionary politics. A spiritual sensibility, which is responsive to the mystical impulse in many religious and spiritual traditions and practices, exists as a potentially rich storehouse of imaginatively powerful responses to environmental crises.

    Spiritual responses to ecological concerns are about cultivating within ourselves and our communities a sensibility that privileges those visceral qualities of care, emotion, imagination, and intuition. These modes of relating to the world around us are part of the daily realities of many people. A spiritual sensibility offers a heightened sensitivity to our relationships with the more-than-human world and the types of ethical and practical responsibilities these entanglements entail. We become what the political theorist William Connolly calls a “seer,” those enduring figures of Greek drama, folktales, animist cosmologies, literature, and film, who cultivate an ability to see future possibilities (opportunities and threats) that encourage responsible responses in the present. In these “forking moments” where an unfolding situation could go either way, the seer seeks to nudge things in the right direction.

    Photo by: Julie Gemuend

    The seer’s insight-foresight relies on the ability to disengage, however imperfectly, from the everyday. Especially important are attempts to disengage from the systems that benefit from our relentless, earth-destroying, capitalist productivity. And, in the space created between us and these systems, to retreat, at least temporarily, to that shadowy, solitary, internal space where magical thinking swirls. This kind of space fosters a heightened awareness of the world in all of its wonders. This active passivity of retreat shares similarities with what John Keats calls “negative capability,” which is understood as non-doing as a way of doing. In other words, the mind enters a state of mystery and uncertainty, open and receptive to the impulses of our enchanted world, like “a submarine, silent on the ocean’s bed, aware of the depth charges, now near and now far” (Didion, 27).

    Connolly describes this temporary withdrawal as a form of “dwelling.” Like Keats’ “negative capability,” dwelling is a practice of mindful slowing down and retreat, often accomplished through spiritual practices such as meditation, ritual, or time spent with nature and animals. Connolly argues that  one can more clearly see the visceral forces that animate social and political issues by slowing down or temporarily retreating. Dwelling can highlight unseen connections or operations at play in issues that might have seemed paralyzing or intractable before. Practices such as ritual, meditation, nature walks, prayer, and celebration are tools we can use to make better sense of the current ecological crises and figure out how best to respond.

    Dwelling is an enduring practice that takes many shapes and goes by many names. For example, dwelling can take the form of erotic, embodied “corporeal communing,” like that undertaken by the Latina artist Laura Aguilar in her photographic series “Grounded.” “Grounded” is a series of photographs of Aguilar’s body alongside rocks and land formations in the American Southwest. In these images, Aguilar enters the “nonhuman fold” to showcase the potential for a type of mystical alliance that forms when one pays closer attention to the resemblances — to the connections between humans and nature (Luciano and Chen 184). The human-nonhuman relationships expressed in Aguilar’s images offer the viewer a blueprint from which they might draw their own approach to becoming mystical. This type of transformation often requires a change in how we perceive ourselves and others, in order to better attend to the ethical contours of these human-environmental relationships.

    Tapping into the mystical helps us think about ourselves and the world differently. Intuition is about making connections and is thus bent on bringing things together. In understanding magic or mysticism as part of our daily reality or way of living, the late German theologian Dorothee Soelle argued for what she called “democratic mysticism,” or mysticism not reserved for the exceptional but something real and lived in the every day and open to each of us as we might see fit. According to Soelle, “Mystics are quite ordinary people: shoemakers, nannies, dyers of wool, home-care workers, or physicists” (18). We agree.

    We invite our readers to activate this ability to change shape — to shift perspective, cultivate wonder, and embrace intuition — ultimately, to reorient attention towards an enchanted world. We argue that such a change in perspective holds manifold potential to respond meaningfully to environmental crises, even when we might otherwise feel powerless or overwhelmed.

    To engage in this kind of enchanted orientation requires work. In her book The Enchanted Life, psychologist and writer Sharon Blackie shares exercises designed to establish more meaningful and respectful relationships with nonhuman animals and the environments in which they live. We find many of these exercises interesting, helpful, and a potential starting point for a magical or mystical response to environmental crises. We believe that these types of non- or post-secular exercises, which help us reorient ourselves to the more-than-human world, can help to further and sustain more equitable human-environmental relations and enchanted responses to environmental crises.

    Exercise 1: Finding a “Sit Spot”

    Cultivate the practice of sitting in the same outdoor spot as regularly as possible. According to Blackie, “The aim is simply to notice. To settle down, focus your thoughts on the present moment and notice the flow of life around you” (58).  Through regular “dwelling,” this practice helps one feel more connected to their local landscape and the many beings with whom they live, knowingly or not. Regular sitting allows one to physically and sensorially share space with the more-than-human world and to value it.

    Exercise 2: “Knowing Place”

    Blackie suggests that one’s human-environmental relationship can be further strengthened through intellectual investigation, what she calls “Knowing Place” (214-216). This investigation includes asking questions about a particular region’s geological and human history, researching current human and non-human inhabitants, a place’s particular folklore, and the types of foods, goods, and services one might procure locally, using local water, power, and other resources. This exercise can take the form of meditative reflection or serious study. This bioregional quiz provides a good foundation from which to work. We suggest choosing one of the questions you can’t answer and making it a priority to learn what that answer is. Move on to a new question once you’ve composed a sufficient answer.

    These are just two examples from a wellspring of exercises that can be found in Blackie’s book, which we have found to be helpful in understanding the many complex layers that make up our relationship to the natural world.

    Works cited

    Blackie, Sharon. The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday. Ambrosia, 2018

    Connolly, William. A World of Becoming. Duke University Press, 2010

    Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2005.

    Luciano, Dana and Mel Y. Chen. “Has the Queer Ever Been Human?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 21, no. 2-3, 2015, pp. 182-207

    Soelle, Dorothee. The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance. Fortress Press, 2001


    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog

  • Dualism and paradox in our relationship with other animals

    Pumping groundwater to increase the numbers of water-dependent wildlife for tourism in Hwange National Park Zimbabwe. Photo by: Imvelo Safaris 

    Contributor: Mike Jones

    This article is republished from a contribution to the Great Transition Initiative forum “Solidarity with Animals” that reflected on humanity’s rapacious disregard for and commodification of our fellow creatures under the title Back to the Farm Mindfully. The article is published here with acknowledgement to Catherine Longboat for introducing me to the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Prayer quoted at the end of the article which clearly illustrates how the destructive use of nature by modern societies can be avoided if they can learn from the Indigenous people of North America.

    Some History

    As a child growing up on a small farm in England during the 1950 and 60s, I had a strong affinity with farm and wild animals. Protecting crops and livestock against predation was part of farm life. Foxes that raided the chicken house or killed early spring led to calls for the local hunt to deal with the problem. Or father reaching for his flashlight and shotgun to affect revenge on the offender. But peering through the cover of bracken to watch a vixen playing with her cubs on an early summer evening was a source of delight and wonder.

    At the age of 12, after reading about the rescue of large mammals from the rising waters of a lake created by damming the Zambezi River at Kariba Gorge in Zimbabwe, I decided that I was going to save wild animals in Africa. Ten years later my first assignment as a new ranger to Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe was to learn how to shoot elephants that were breaking the boundary fence to raid the crops in the fields of neighbouring farmers. Pumpkins, maize, bananas, beans and watermelons are so much tastier than the dry leaves and twigs found in the park.

    Having learned a little about how to kill elephants, my next assignment was to work on an extensive program of habitat restoration, the need for which arose from a long-term management aim to increase the numbers of charismatic large mammals for public enjoyment. The park’s conservation objective of setting aside wild land for biodiversity conservation, conflicted with the objective of creating opportunities for public recreation. The park had to be seen to make a financial contribution to the national economy and public support was necessary to legitimize the use of land for wild animal husbandry as opposed to agriculture or mineral extraction.

    Unfortunately for all involved, Hwange is mostly dry for a large part of the year [1]. Except where movement was restricted by fences, large numbers of wildlife left the park every dry season as water supplies dwindled. To provide a wildlife spectacle for tourism, many artificial waterholes were created over a period of 40 years so that water dependent species stayed in the park throughout the year. This changed the entire ecology of the park, resulted in numbers of some animal populations reaching levels that could not be sustained by the available vegetation, and extensive soil erosion in some places.

    Then the culling began to bring the ecosystem back into balance. Large numbers of animals were killed, some were translocated to other places. Nobody was interested in reducing the numbers of animals by slowly reducing the number of artificial waterholes. The animal loving public and tourist industry protested the culling and provided considerable material support to keep the pumps running in the dry season when the government was short of money. The net outcome is that populations of some species (especially elephants) grew well beyond the point of any sensible population control measures. Habitat degradation and soil loss are increasing, and neighbouring small holder farmers face severe livelihood challenges from crop and stock raiding wildlife. Attempts by animal welfare organisation to reduce human-elephant conflict with chilli pepper and beehives are of limited use.

    Elephant numbers in Hwange are at the point where we can expect the kind of population collapse that occurred in Tsavo National Park [2]. Watching elephants die of starvation is most unpleasant, and there is no ethical way out of a dilemma born of the destructive relationship that exists between consumer age people and the rest of nature. Hwange’s tourists and wildlife lovers are consuming wildlife and using technology to provide a year-round spectacle that attempts to match what they expect based what they have seen on the TV or at the cinema.

    Use of wildlife increased throughout Zimbabwe from the mid 1970s as wildlife-based tourism was promoted as an alternative to livestock ranching. This policy arose out of necessity imposed by the common law of Zimbabwe that has precedence over statutory laws that regulate land use. Under common law, a farmer was entitled to kill any animal that preyed on his livestock or crops. Large wild animals were doomed to extinction outside protected areas because of the conflict between them and people for access to land. Commodification provided a way to significantly increase the amount of land available for wild animals where land unsuited to crop production occurred outside protected areas. One leading conservationist described these wildlife production systems as “rural factories” where additional income is gained by providing tourism services that add financial value in ways that cannot be achieved with livestock ranching.

    This short history illustrates how the policies and practices of wildlife management in Zimbabwe were aligned with the evolution of human development and its environmental impacts described by Lewis and Maslin “The Human Planet and How we Created the Anthropocene”. The accumulation of financial capital and technology have worked together since the 14th Century to enable global trade, industrialisation and consumer capitalism that dominate world affairs today. The naïve visions of a 12-year-old boy could never be met while the existing structures that support capitalist exploitation of nature for financial gain exist. Somewhere along the path of our cognitive and cultural evolution from pre-agrarian to post-agrarian societies, humans of the modern world lost the ability to reign in greed and the accumulation of power.

    Where Next?

    The farm where I grew up has avoided the intensification of industrial agriculture by providing organic grass-fed beef for local markets, tourism and environmental education services, alternative energy production, various trial-and-error experiments in agro-forestry, and the reintroduction of beavers to enhance wildlife and reduce flooding of a neighbouring village. These achievements were made against a policy background that favours industrial agriculture and a financial system that requires every expense to be considered in relation to the need to avoid insolvency and the loss of the land to the capitalist system. What is happening on the farm is a movement towards the GTI future of eco-communalism.

    Thinking about the misstep in the cultural evolution of modern humans and the need to overcome the idea that humans are exceptional animals leads to consideration of the cosmologies of Indigenous People of North America who developed societies based on various forms of hunting, gathering, fishing, forestry, and agriculture. As Indigenous writers such as Robin Wall Kimmerer show in “Braiding Sweetgrass”, Indigenous People have much to teach us about holistic thinking, the use of social controls to curtail greed and how to live with the rest of nature. This verse from the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address [3] is a suitable way of thinking about our relationship with other animals as sources of pleasure and nourishment to be used respectfully and responsibly.

    We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honoured by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here, and we hope that it will always be so.

    Now our minds are one.”



    [2] Parker, I.S.C. 2018. An historical note from Tsavo East National Park: vegetation changes over time. Pachyderm No. 59: 109-113


    Categories: Beyond Sustainability Blog