JOHN THACKARA’S READING LIST
Or, how we first got the idea that the earth’s resources are limitless. Proulx’s story begins with the arrival in “New France” – the vast tract of north America and Canada colonised by the French between the 16th and 18th centuries. Two young men set out to earn their freedom by clearing an area of forest; they are soon awestruck by the imposing, often impenetrable and seemingly limitless extent of the forest.
“Rootedness in a place is the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.” https://lifeondoverbeach.
“What makes a shift to true sustainability possible is the power of the connection between people and place. Place is a doorway into caring. Love of place unleashes the personal and political will needed to make profound change. It can also unite people across diverse ideological spectra because place is what we all share: it is the commons that allows people to call themselves a community. In every place, geology and nature interweave over time with human history and culture to create a place’s recognizable character and nature—its essence. The Story of Place process begins with a journey of collective discovery aimed at revealing the ongoing and distinctive core patterns that shape the complex web that makes place, the patterns that determine the dynamics of a given place and influence the complex relationships that result in its activities, growth, and evolution. Understanding these patterns helps reveal new possibilities for how to live in partnership with place, growing a future of greater abundance and creativity for all life.
“All organisms are linked to at least one other species in a variety of critical ways – for example, as predators or prey, or as pollinators or seed dispersers – with the result that each species is embedded in a complex network of interactions. The sciences of the mid-20th-century, rooted in units and relations, have a hard time with three key biological domains: embryology and development, symbiosis and collaborative entanglements, and the vast worlds of microbes”. Memmott, Jane et al, ‘The Conservation Of Ecological Interactions’
“Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections. We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits.” Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change.
“The heart of our problem lies not in the actions which destroy the environment, but in the economic system which causes them. The business of economics is about creating abstractions, imbuing them with power, and then using them to acquire resources. An understanding of the spiritual value of life and the ability to mediate between humans and the natural world are far more useful qualities for an economist than complex maths”
Among many activists working flat-out out in the outside world there’s a tendency to over-do things, and burn out. For Sophie Banks, “burnout is not a side issue”. On the contrary: our inner states are just as important to a healthy political movement as are its external activities.
A new economy conversation has emerged that focuses on visions of resilience and sustainability, in which stronger, more connected communities become the social fabric for an ecologically balanced economy of extra-market and new-market enterprises. The new economy initiatives are oriented to high satisfaction, egalitarian outcomes, low eco-footprints, and enhanced levels of learning. Connected consumption is one part of these visions of resilience and sustainability.
German writer Ina Praetorius revisits the feminist theme of ‘care work,’, re-casting it onto a much larger philosophical canvas. The Care-Centered Economy: Rediscovering what has been taken for granted suggests how the idea of “care” could be used to imagine new structural terms for the entire economy.
What do I see when I think of history? I see the dance of the Big and the Small. Its grotesque and gentle rhythm, ultimately always cruel, hinders the uniform flow of time and instead scratches it, facets it, filling our lives with essence and substance, perfumes and passions. There are moments during this dance when we have swept along, and others when we ourselves influence the course of time. Then it seems that our own hands guide our destiny. Many people think that this possibility of shaping one’s own destiny is pure illusion. In reality, we illude ourselves that we are being alluded. There exists a Big History which drags us along, submerging us, and in which we often feel incapable of intervening. We can neither know nor understand in which direction it is moving, while it is moving and us with it. Only when we observe it in retrospect, when time has passed, do its twists and turns appear clear to us. The Big History concedes us no freedom at all. It moves on inexorably and goes we know not where nor why. We often tell each other stories of Hope or Despair. All equally meaningless, even though they may at times kindle a feeble flame in the surrounding darkness. Nevertheless in the Big History it is possible to outline small islands, tiny gardens where our hand may make its mark and where we can live out our Small History. This Small History, intertwined with refusals and “superstitions”, is that of our life, our home, our family, of the misunderstandings, the encounters and the coincidences that have guided us towards the craft and the environment to which we have decided to belong. Clearly, the Big History and the Small History are not independent. But the Small Histories are not merely portions of the Big one. Children who build a small dam on the margins of the current of a great river, who make a tiny pool in which to bathe and splash around, do not play in the rushing current, yet neither are they separated from the water flowing in the centre of the river. They create, along its banks, small inlets and unexpected habitats, thus passing on to the future the marks of their diﬀerence.
and the people who live in them, are part of the natural world. Cities are
habitats. Cities are ecosystems. And urban ecosystems are dynamic and
interconnected. Ecological urbanism weds the theory and practice of city design
and planning with the insights of ecology – the study of the relationships
between living organisms and their environment and the processes that shape
both. It’s an approach that necessarily interacts with other environmental
disciplines, such as climatology, hydrology, geography, psychology, history,
and art” http://annewhistonspirn.com/pdf/spirn_ecological_urbanism-2011.pdf
Mapping biotic communities has long been important in identifying sites needing environmental protection; the approach can now extend to all aspects of life in the city – from parks, to food. There is growing evidence, for example, that the gut microbiota is associated with metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety and other depressive disorders. In New York, high school students use DNA technology to sample biodiversity in a park, garden, oﬃce, or school, check for invasive plant or animal species, Identify exotic or endangered food products in markets; and detect food mislabeling. https:// www.dnabarcoding101.org/programs/ubp/
“Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks…- all of us humans need to be nepantleras – bridge builders and reweavers of relationality…Weaving can also serve as an organising metaphor for life-centered design”. (Borderlands/La Frontera 1987). https://static1.squarespace.com/static/550a1c94e4b0545b6579edde/t/ 5ad37252562fa71762289962/1523806813791/gloria-anzaldua-borderlands-la-frontera_-the-new- mestiza-aunt-lute-books-1987.pdf
“The territory is the vital space…The concept of territory is a shorthand for the system of relations whose continuous reenactment recreates the community in question … a space for the life projects of the communities”. The concept of a `plan of life’ was first perceived by the Guambiano, an Indigenous group living in the Cauca region of Colombia. The plan is designed to serve the future needs of the community as it pursues a path towards what is yet to come, but the standards by which the success of this project is measured are the values of the Guambiano elders. As Guambiano representative Alvaro Morales says, “The future is behind us.” https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/plan-de-vida-indigenous- initiative-cultural-survival
“This is the moment to change our development model, from a growth-oriented and extraction of natural resources oriented model to something that is more holistic…a collective well-being of both humans and non-humans…a view of design in tune with the radical interdependence of all life. Iin designing tools, objects, and institutions, we are designing ways of being. h
As part of the Oasis project, Colibris rethinks the notion of community as a source of wealth – new places of life as a model of more ecological society. An oasis can be found in rural or urban areas and take diﬀerent forms: shared ecohabitat, eco-district, eco-hameau, commune in transition, third-place turned towards ecology. More than 500 such places already participate in the Oasis network. We have given ourselves five years to facilitate the creation of at least 100 new oases by creating an ecosystem of tools and people at the service of project leaders.
In the Year of Villages, Airbnb has launched a national project, Italian Villages, to promote and support over 40 small villages and their communities.
The Deep Time Walk app helps people walk a story of Earth’s evolutionary journey – a new story that can reorientate us to where we come from – our origins, our purpose. A story that combines the latest scientific insights with the deep reverence inherent in our perennial traditions that bind us to life and the cosmos. The Deep Time Walk is experienced as a 4.6km walk, inspiring wonder and reverence for Earth, and galvanising positive action needed in our times.
Sixty seven thought-provoking looks into the dehumanizing core of modern civilization – and the ideas that have given rise to the anarcho-primitivist movement. The editor is John Zerzan, author of Running on Emptiness and Future Primitive.
Windhorse Farm is right in the heart of the Acadian Forest, one of six endangered forests of North America. Although the entire region has been severely abused over the past few hundred years there remain a few remnants of mature, fully functioning Acadian Forest. Windhorse Farm is one such place. Settled in 1840 by the Wentzell family, the woodlot has been harvested each year for the last 170 years yet has the same volume of standing timber today as it had when the first axe bit wood in 1840. It is, in fact, the longest standing example of forest sustainability in Canada. The experiment is less than 200 years old, just a blink of the eye in the life of a forest, even for the relatively young (less than 15,000 years) Acadian Forest.