Participatory visual ethnography in Odisha. Image: Nihar Mishra
This week’s Featured Thinker, is Neera Singh, Assistant Professor of Geography within the Dept. of Geography and Planning, at the University of Toronto. Neera’s long-term engagement as an activist informs her research and pedagogical approach, raising questions around human-forest interactions and theoretical approaches to study these interactions. The featured article frames villagers’ caring work to conserve forests as “affective labour” and a work of art – transforming not only landscapes, but also people and communities. Neera’s work focuses on the much-neglected emotional and affective dimensions of people’s relationship with nature.
She has experimented with using participatory videos how people “become green” through their every day practices of taking care of their local forests. Neera’s research spotlights the potential for seeing conservation and conservation work as not only a burden but a life-affirming activity that can help us re-learn how to care for other species and other humans. Read more….
This week’s, Featured Thinker is Ilka Blue Nelson, a creative ecologist from Australia. Ilka is writing with Nudgee Beach, on the fringe of Brisbane City, Queensland, Australia. The beach is formed on the edge of a city by a canal entering Moreton Bay, a wetland of international importance and one of Australia’s largest sites listed under the Ramsar Convention.
Ilka’s letter considers our oft-times self-imposed separation from the physical world and is piece is dedicated to a friendship replete with the spirit that connects self and other. Read more….
Monettia Bog, Ballinvalley, Killeigh, Co Offaly Image: Ann Lawlor
This week our featured Wilderness Thinker is Ann Lawlor a curator, programmer and producer of art projects. Ann is a walker of boglands. It is in her coding, peat horizons meeting rain bladdered clouds, turf burning of damp heat, astringent smoked eyes, the spongy terrain that keeps secrets and embalms truths.
There are a number of strands that are prodded at, as Ann meanders from wilderness as a social construct, rebranded and packaged for human consumption, to the mythology of ‘bogs’ and how their membrane is both natural and cultural. Biomimicry, botany and plant mechanisms are considered to the impact of bogs on climate change and how the positive and negative are part of the bog’s living legacy.
The bog is her anthropomorphic deity, she is grafting technical and scientific language to expand the potential of the bog’s narrative. The style of the first person narrator externalises a silent monologue – dramatic, unreliable and imagined. Ann’s appropriation of this type of language (that has been constructed through observing the natural world) is being used very loosely and often times incorrectly – its reapplication is more in sentiment than meaning… Read More
This week our featured Wilderness Thinker is Nigel Smallbones former Head Wildlife Ranger, Berry Head National Nature Reserve, Torbay, Devon, UK. For over twenty years he has observed a seabird colony off Berry Head – the South Coasts’ largest colony of Guillemots a possibility others can now share due to the viewing camera he set up with the RSPB in 2005. Recorded on Berry Head, a Special Area of Conservation strictly protected under designation through the EC Habitats Directive, Nigel’s feature shares his understanding of Wild and Wilderness in an interview with Artist with Anna Keleher, a previous wilderness thinker. We hope you enjoy Nigel’s interviews and the photographs of the Devon coastal landscape that accompany his poetic and sensitive thoughts on wilderness…Read More
This week our featured Wilderness Thinkers are Siena Sanderson and Annette Lisa, artists and art educators who passionately advocate for art and its potential to inspire hope through their work with the Neighbourhood Arts Project, Taos, New Mexico.
Where do you go to connect with nature and the outdoors, where is your wilderness?
Siena and Annette present a wilderness ‘getaway’ and invite you to do the same, sharing your personal wilderness ‘getaways’; where’ and ‘why ‘ , here in the comments section and on the Thinking Wilderness Facebook page.
Gently guided by R.W. Service’s poem, The Call of the Wild a route-map is offered, provoking us to step away from our busy 21st Century lives for a moment and think wilderness. We hope you join them in building a digital wilderness tour. Read More…
This week our featured Wilderness Thinker is Jim O’Donnell. Jim is an award-winning author and photographer and currently the Jack Williamson Endowed Chair for Literature at Eastern New Mexico University. Jim’s travels have taken him to over 40 countries and this week his feature presents his travels from the heart of European Wilderness, the Tatra Mountains, the natural border between Slovakia and Poland.
Jim reflects on the concept of American wilderness and its nascent European counterpart and the challenges it faces. Jim’s stunning photography and thoughtful text are reminders that for many the physical world is viewed simply as a resource with destruction never far away. In the face of such challenges, people like Vlado and Gudrun are part of the international commitment to sensitive conservation. Read More….
Digital image still from featured video work, Down, Up, Down: Pine Mountain Breathing (2014)
This week’s featured wilderness thinker is Zoé Strecker, artist, writer and art professor. Zoé’s ‘multi-modal thinking’ is consolidated through her durational exploration of Pine Mountain, a ridge in the Appalachian Mountains that runs through Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Pine Mountainrepresents the last great contiguous stretch of unfragmented forest in Kentucky, breached only by six roads in 110 miles and is also a significant unprotected wilderness area.
Zoé’s engagement develops a mindful ecology around Pine Mountain extending her wilderness thinking into other communities through the students and volunteers with whom she works and collaborates, which includes SITE, an arts-led interdisciplinary educational collaboration with philosopher, Prof. Peter S. Fosl at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. This exploration of Pine Mountain generates creative and scholarly responses along with Zoé’s personal arts practice, which celebrates the exceptional biodiversity of Pine Mountain in southeastern Kentucky. Read More….
Sundews, Prince William Sound. Image: Marybeth Holleman
This weeks featured thinker, writer and teacher Marybeth Holleman grew up in North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains and transplanted to Alaska’s Chugach mountains after falling head over heels for Prince William Sound. “As a writer,” she says, “I owe it all to natural places.” It’s there that we meet the real world unmediated by daily distractions, and rediscover our proper scale in the greater scheme of life. Art, in all its forms, can help lead the way, and wilderness, as this week’s featured thinker reminds us, is an inspiration. Read more….
Tobi Luck is a gardener, living and working on the edge of the wild Atlantic, in County Sligo. His garden exists in a constant dynamic; the gentle sensitive cultivation and management of growing food against an uncontrollable elemental backdrop of an edge-dwelling location.
Between land and sea, Tobi has created a niche that exists alongside wilderness. This week’s featured thinker reminds of our interdependence with a system that does not rely on us. Read more….
Grand Staircase, Escalente National Monument, Utah. Image: Phil Hanceford, 2008
Phil Hanceford is the Assistant Director, of The Wilderness Society’s BLM Action Center and uses his knowledge of natural resource law and policy to protect desert wildlands in the West stewarded by the Bureau of Land Management. This article co-written with his colleague, Nada Culver, senior counsel and director presents the BLM’s work to protect desert wilderness.
Illustrated with Phil’s beautiful images, the article relates the ‘coming-of-age story about an agency that was late to receive the responsibilities of its sibling agencies’.