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 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….
This week’s Featured Thinker, Sarah Sexton, artist and teacher from Ireland, explores the concept of wilderness through her fascination with abandoned spaces. She says, “I regularly ‘escape’ into little pockets of wilderness when I engage in my art practice.” Join Sarah on her search via beautiful photographs of small, wild, tucked away places and abandoned spaces where nature and “wildness” is reclaiming ownership. Read more….
Our year of reflection on wilderness will be completed week ending 21st Oct 2015. This week’s feature began early in the project with a visit to Questa, New Mexico by our featured thinker Linda Weintraub, Curator, Artist and Educator. Linda’s feature weaves together the wild and the cultivated, the human and non-human experience to continue our exploration of wilderness and our relationship to it.
A beautiful boy leaped out of a grand maple tree, landing nimbly onto the ground. It was a chance glance out of my bedroom window early in the morning last spring that provided this startling sight. He was lithe as a ballerina. His fine face was topped with a mass of black curls.
If this tree had been located in a wilderness, I would have imagined my arbor visitor to be a fairytale prince charming, or an Adonis from Greek mythology, or a wood sprite in Nabokov’s famous story. Read More….
On the 3rd September 1964, the Wilderness Act, the motivation for this project was signed into law by congress. Among those present was Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall. As we cross into the fifty-first year of the Wilderness Act we are honoured to feature Senator Tom Udall as this week’s featured Wilderness Thinker. As a public servant for over 25 years,Senator Udall has consistently advocated for an integrated approach to ecology. His essay’s draws attention to the importance of Wilderness and the necessity of on-going generative approach to Wilderness that does not enshrine wilderness in nostalgia. As a vital living breathing aspect of an earth system of which we are a part, Senator Udall recognises the potential for continuing the conversation around shared common goals beyond divisive party politics.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
Seventh Graders Trekking in the Pecos Wilderness, Roots & Wings Community School, Image: Todd Wynward
This week our featured Wilderness Thinker is Todd Wynward an author, public school founder, small-scale farmer, and wilderness educator who has spent more than a thousand nights outdoors. Todd’s insightful essay offers an introduction to ‘rewilding’ Christianity, drawing religious teachings back to the earth through a spiritual, passionate, at times challenging yet intimate relationship with wilderness. Todd’s writing is within the wilderness tradition of those such as John the Baptist or Celtic Christianity, where the presence of God was intimately felt in the natural world. Wilderness features in the bible both as a metaphor and a physical environment of transformation and drawing on the philosophy of Kurt Hahn, Todd offers an opportunity to discover the potential of who we can become. 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….