BIOTA, WATER, LAND

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For quite some time, Backwater Bay has been working to understand itself as a whole and ourselves individually as interdependent elements, part of the diverse biota – the combined flora and fauna of a place – existing within the larger biosphere.

The Sounds (and Visions) of Silence, NASA

Sharing the incomparable silent beauty of our planet with all our fellow travelers on this, our Spaceship Earth.” @SergeyISS @Astro_Paolo @Astrokomrade . Captured by astronauts Sergey Ryazanskiy, Paolo Nespoli, and Commander Randy Bresnik, the video features stunning footage of Earth and outer space from the International Space Station in low-earth orbit during the months of August through October in 2017. From NASA: “Our thanks to Mr. Paul Simon and Disturbed.” Our thanks to all the people within the partnership of the International Space Station who show us daily what heights we can achieve together.” The Sound of Silence, Written by Paul Simon. SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. on behalf of PAUL SIMON MUSIC. Performed by Disturbed. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records.

Here’s some grist for our imaginal mill, and perhaps for yours.

Biota & Interdependence

All forms of plant and animal life depend on other biota. In fact, they co-create one another.

     “Ecological Interdependence, or Why We Can’t Stop Holding Hands with All Our Biota Neighbors” 

A quick introduction to ecological interdependence/interconnectivity and what happens when “web elasticity” is stretched beyond its limit, from HOPE: Helping Our Peninsula’s Environment (Monterey, California).

“Our Home on Earth,” by Winona LaDuke, On the Commons, May 16, 2012.

Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) activist Winona LaDuke speaks to lessons from Indigenous cultures on the importance of right relationship among all living things and the land.

Water in the Public Imagination

Water brings the idea of interdependence into the center of our justice vision. It connects so many struggles for life, liberation, and wholeness – from oil spills to Flint, Michigan to fighting water privatization to reproductive justice to mass incarceration to disaster capitalism to wetlands loss to food chains.

Thinking with Water, ed. By Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod, and Astrida Neimanis (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013). A collection of conceptual and artistic contributions in recognition of “the watery relations without which we could not live” as a powerful refutation of dominant cultural views of water “undergirded by anthropocentric logics of efficiency, profit, and progress.”

“In the Midst of Worldwide Water Scarcity, An Artist Reminds Us: ‘We Are Water,”‘ by Dahr Jamail, Truthout, March 19, 2018 An interview with Fulbright Scholar, author, poet, sculptor, and installation artist Basia Irland, who says, “One cannot discuss water without first emphasizing interconnections.”

“Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes,” by Curt Stager (Norton, 2018) Stager, a professor of natural science views lakes not only as mirrors reflecting the place of humans in the natural world, but also windows into the primal interconnections of all life on earth.

 

Land in the public imagination

While many groups focus on issues related to National Parks and wilderness areas – and we agree that these are critical concerns – we highlight other foundational issues of land justice.

“The Invasion of America,” by Claudio Saunt, Aeon, January 7, 2015

       Native Studies scholar Saunt says, “Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized some 1.5 billion acres from North America’s native peoples, an area 25 times the size of the United Kingdom.” With powerful new visuals of this dispossession.

Land Justice: Re-Imagining Land, Food, and the Commons in the United States, ed. By Justine M. Williams and Eric Holt-Giménez (Food First Books, 2017) An array of activists write and talk about raced/gendered histories of and lessons learned from ongoing land justice struggles involving Indigenous peoples, Latinx, African Americans, and more.

Grief and mourning in a time of loss

Mourning helps us transform despair into the gathering of heart, strength, relationship. it connects us simultaneously to past, present, and future.

“Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene—understanding ecological grief,” by Neville Ellis and Ashlee Cunsolo, The Conversation, April 5, 2018 Grief reminds us we are part of a much greater whole.

“Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines,” by Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), July 25, 2017. “From the perspective of geological time, Earth’s richest biota ever is already well into a sixth mass extinction episode.”

Planet or Profit?, Truthout A series examining the intensifying global impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption and the suffering caused by transglobal corporate profit-seeking.

Waking Up/Collective Action

New collective insight and creating unshakeable solidarities is essential to the possibility of transformation.

Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse,

by Dahr Jamail and Barbara Cecil, Truthout, March 4, 2019

We’re living in new territory: environmental collapse, coupled with living in the time of the sixth mass extinction. How might we head toward an uncertain future, doing all we can right now to mitigate harm and, right now, move forward within a context of right relationship with the earth and all its beings?

Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) This organization, based in Canada, describes itself in this way: “Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) is an Indigenous-led organization, guided by Indigenous peoples from communities & regions across the country. Indigenous communities contribute the least to climate change yet are first to experience the effects of it. Therefore, Indigenous solutions need to be at the forefront. Our goal is to uplift Indigenous worldviews and experiences within climate discussions. Indigenous knowledge is key to finding sustainable and effective solutions. We are working towards true climate justice which guarantees real solutions and ensures that Indigenous rights will be upheld for generations to come.”

They chose us because we were rural and poor”: when environmental racism and climate change collide,

by Megan Mayhew Bergman, The Guardian, March 8, 2019

The title is self-explanatory.

The Sunrise Movement

Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. It is mobilizing thousands of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people: “We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us – if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy.”

“Learning to See in the Dark Amid Catastrophe: An Interview with Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy,” by Darh Jamail, Truthout, February 13, 2017 As multiple kinds of systems collapse are converging and worsening, this conversation with Joanna Macy focuses on the challenges of waking up to, caring about, and coming together to remake the world. “Trump’s EPA Concludes Environmental Racism is Real,” by Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic, February 28, 2018 A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency finds that people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air—even as the agency seeks to roll back regulations on pollution. Communities of color have been saying so for decades. The New Economy Coalition (NEC) NEC is a large and growing network of organizations imagining and working to build a future where people, communities, and ecosystems thrive. A new economy requires commitments to justice for all people, starting with those who have historically been marginalized and exploited by racism, imperialism, classism, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression. It also requires commitment to sustainability of both human systems and ecosystems and to democracy in managing economic and civic life. A list of member organizations can be found here.

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