Local Living Through The Climate Crisis

Part 1: We Are Children of Our Local Geography

EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE − You know that feeling, that shimmer of recognition when you’re almost home after being away − rounding a certain bend in the road, catching the sparkle of a lake, a recognizable contour of hills, the roofline of your home down the street. You relax into the familiar geography and anticipate familiar sights, this place where you belong and love.

We are the “children” of the land we live on. In every place humans ever dwelt, the land shaped us. Our Mother in every sense. The land in our particular locale is defined by many things: our food, landmarks, recreation, culture, health, energy sources, types of homes and, of course, our weather.

All these things are at huge risk in the climate crisis.

The place we live is not only a geographic but an emotional and social landscape too. A favourite spot nourishes our spirit. Nearby waters keep us alive, and underpin much of the tourist economy here. Local farms feed us. We know the server at the restaurant. Local businesses, industry and institutions employ many of us. Family ties bind us to the place. We belong to local clubs, associations, schools, faith communities, organized sports.

We say we “own” the land, but in reality, we belong to the land (despite Western and capitalist ways of thinking.) What we have done to the land is the great tragic story of our times. Indigenous wisdom has always known that we do not own but gratefully steward what we are given, and that it is a delusion to think that we humans are the centre of all we see.

Now we must begin to create the story of a different future for the children coming into it.

Out of relearning and nurturing a true “sense of place” spring the local knowledge, caring and action needed to re-adapt our living on the land of this place.

“…the fallacy of human exceptionalism [is] that we are fundamentally different and somehow better, more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Knowledge comes first from Mother Nature. At every turn − in our own backyard, a park, contemplating the night sky, birding, hiking, camping, travelling to work, looking out a window − the natural world is there with a lesson. Scientific and Indigenous knowledge of our local ecologies only deepens that learning. (See this Greenzine article by Jacob Rodenberg)

Caring manifests in how we respect, preserve and interact with Nature as one species among many. It appears in the nurturing of the community bonds among ourselves as neighbours, and in the strong network of associational groups we form and belong to.

Action arises from applying our knowing to what we care about. Action demonstrates, organizes, resists, unites, plans, defends, makes laws for this place where we live. The lens of climate change sees beyond good individual actions like recycling and tree planting, to look at communal actions by municipal government, neighbourhood associations, clubs, political parties, arts, climate action groups and other kinds of organized citizenry (including protests) – from children to seniors. (Check out this local young person’s inspiring climate action.)

The most encompassing daily reality of any community is the Economy. It is also the source of our climate crisis now due to its reliance on fossil fuels and primacy given to profit-making at any cost.

While we still can, we must transition to a different kind of economy − a localized one − or participate in the death throes of the present one. Our own locale is the familiar and manageable place to begin asking “what can we do, together, in this place, now?”

“The Next Economy,” Part 2 of this series, will be in the Greenzine next week.

– Series Index –

  • Part 1: We Are Children of Our Local Geography
  • Part 2: The Next Economy
  • Part 3: How to Get to The “Next Economy”

Local Living Through The Climate Crisis Part 1: We Are Children of Our Local Geography © 2023 by Editorial Collective in the Greenzine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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