Learning to talk turtle ________________
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The interview below is from Turtle Talk — Christopher Plant and Judith Plant, interviewers and editors - 1990

. . . . . from an interview with Gary Snyder

"The aim of bioregionalism is to help our human cultural, political and social structures harmonize with natural systems. Human systems should be informed by, be aware of, be corrected by, natural systems.

Thus, the political side of bioregionalism, for starters, is recognizing that there are real boudaries in the real world which are far more appropriate than arbitrary political boundaries. And that this is just one step in learning where we really are and how a place works. Learning 'how it all works' is an enormous exercise, because we are not taught to think in terms of systems, of society or of nature. . . . .

. . . . . The Chinese started writing nature poetry about 500[CE]. Now they had a literate culture for a thousand years by this time. They did not write nature poetry for the first thousand years of literacy. But from 500[CE] to about 1500[CE] they wrote an excellent body of nature poetry. In doing so, they gradually covered the whole landscape. There are poems about different mountain ranges, different watersheds, different tide-rips, different scenes, different islands, different conditions, different weather—wild geese doing this, and wild geese doing that.

An old place-based culture has a lore, a body of literature, songs, a kind of weaving, sculpture, a design on pots, that speak in subtle ways about the land."

When the world loses a culture, what is really lost and what effect does it have on what is left?

Not only do we lose a language but also knowledge of plants, animals, water resouces, historic weather patterns, location specific survival skills — in short, the body of knowledge about how to live in that place accumulated by the inhabitants over the centuries or millenia of habitation.

Humans from other places then move in with no knowledge of that place and most probably with no knowledge of living harmoniously in any place. The previous inhabitants (if any are left when the dust settles) are overwhelmed by numbers and technology and the ability to live in harmony with that place is irrevocably lost.

Two good books on this subject are — The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World - Wade Davis, 2009 and The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies? - Jared Diamond, 2012

The Deep Ecology Movement pioneered by Norwegian philsopher Arne Naess in the 1970's defines a place for our (human) species in the order of life on Earth and in the cosmos. This is one of a number of ecological statements which says that the special abilities of humans does not accord them a place outside of and dominant over any or all other life forms.

"Our tools are better than we are, they grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides but they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history; to live on a piece of land without spoiling it"
— Aldo Leopold, pioneer American environmentalist

"The Garden of Eden is not forever lost. The secret to its revival lies buried no deeper that the first few inches of your soil."
— from the introduction to Secrets of the Soil - Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, 1998

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