This week’s Featured Thinker is Dave Foreman, writer, conservationist and activist and we are excited to present Dave’s passionate writing on Wilderness and the Anthropocene as our closing feature in LEAP’s year-long meditation on Wilderness. It seems appropriate to end this phase of the project with a thinker who has been an advocate of wilderness and wildlands conservationist for more than forty years. He is currently the Executive Director and Senior Fellow of The Rewilding Institute, a conservation “think tank” advancing ideas of continental conservation.
In the Anthropocene and Ozymandias, Dave writes, Much has been made lately of the so-called Anthropocene—the idea that Homo sapiens has so taken over and modified Earth that we need a new name for our geological age instead of the outmoded Holocene. One remorseless Anthropoceniac writes, “Nature is gone… Read more….
Cleo with ice book. NeoReo 2009. Image Courtesy of Claire Coté
This week’s Featured Thinker is Basia Irland, Artist, Writer and Professor Emerita, University of New Mexico. Writer Malin Wilson, has likened Basia to the 19th-century naturalists, an irrepressible researcher who is ‘ transparently impassioned by water, watersheds, and the flora and fauna (including communities of people) that populate them’.
Basia describes her featured project Ice Receding/Books Reseeding as a means to ’emphasize the necessity of communal effort and scientific knowledge to deal with the complex issues of climate disruption and watershed restoration by releasing book-shaped, seed-laden, ephemeral ice sculptures into rivers’. Read more….
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 wilderness thinker is Jeff Baldwin, Associate Professor of Geography at Sonoma State University. Jeff’s paper reminds us that non-human actors have shaped wilderness for millennia and that we should consider them as important partners in the ecosystem we share. Jeff proposes a thought experiment; to reflect and reconsider our position and move away from an anthropocentric perspective reminding us of the potential of the constant “processes of organization, self-organization, and decay in hybrid human-nature combinations” (Radkau, 1978: 308-325)
The article is in part a response to recent calls in the environmental history literature both to engage more fully with social theory and to re-invigorate an examination of human-environment dialectics. Through a re-visitation of Marx’s work on material historicity in light of recent research on animal behavior, the article provides a theoretical framework through which non-human beings can be understood as historic actors, in and of themselves. That argument provides a theoretical framework to support practical projects which seek to ‘partner’ with non-human actors in efforts to modify and/or restore landscapes and ecosystem services. 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….
Wilderness Research, Ian Sanderson and Nathan Wooldridge, 2015
This week’s featured thinker is Ian Sanderson, a recent high school graduate, living in Taos, New Mexico. Ian’s recent research for a high school environmental science class took him winter camping with Nathan Wooldridge to William’s Lake to study the relationship between snow pack and its importance in the planning and safety of snow sports. William’s Lake is an alpine lake in Taos, New Mexico located high in the Sangre de Christo mountains below Wheeler Peak in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness of Carson National Forest. Read more….