Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

What my students learned this semester December 6, 2015

Unknown

Start paying attention

The difference between me and you (or anything, for that matter)

is the thought that creates that reality.

 

I need to be radical in my love, my thoughts, my actions, my acceptance and surrender – to get to the root,

the seat of life and growth, which is the seat of quintessence.

That’s where i want to be.

 

[What I’ve learned has been] both extremely helpful and devastating:

How unconscious most humans are, but that it can change!

I uncovered some of my own self-defenses that keep me from action.

The application of psychoanalytical theories to understand the great complexity of our environmental situation.

I developed more clarity and compassion, for myself and others

Context for the madness

A lot less anger

At once, I feel the urgency to act and the need to be patient and not act forcefully

To learn to live with and through the earth, not just on her

Gratitude that I owe to my family

 

Humans’ connection with nature

A sense of oneness

Enmeshment within the natural world

Being an integral part of the macro interdependent-system that feels itself, knows itself, and heals itself

Ecological identity

This has forever changed my life

 

I look at all that is around me a little differently now.

Knowing it is all of the earth, and perhaps more importantly that it will go back to the earth, changes the way I operate in my days.

 

This sense was deepened and became more embodied

An exchange in breath: as the plant was breathing out, I was breathing in

Increase my awareness and widen my perception

Eventually feeling the reciprocal awareness of nature

How incredible these realizations have been for me.

 

Awakening has been the most beautiful process I’ve ever endured.

Thank you Earth!

Healing source

Never ending story

 

These are the truths that have become my mantras from being absorbed in ecopsychological concepts.

These are incredible supports that I rely on when feeling distressed, confused, and at times, hopeless.

 

I will continue to live mindfully in respect to nature.

Being conscious about what I purchase, what I waste, how and what I eat etc.

“No matter how big you get, don’t forget to take out your own trash.”

 

So grateful to walk this path with you

and share what I can with whoever will listen.

A challenging(!), engaging, deepening, fulfilling and respectful round of studies

I’m so grateful to be receiving wisdom

Like candy for my soul.

 

I bow out to a transformative journey

I and the moon bow in thanks

Your wisdom and beautiful hearts

 

Just bloom.

 

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These words are from first-year students’ final self-reflections on their learning in my Ecopsychology class, part of Naropa University’s M.A. program in Ecopsychology, early December 2015

collated into a poem by professor Tina Fields

I composed this as a gift back to them, a lens on what happens in this program, and a reflection for teachers to turn to when times at work get rough. To help us remember that what we do matters.

Students whose words are in here: Katie Poinier, Thompson Bishop, Melanie Gajewski, Colleen Kirkpatrick,  Karen Delahunty, Lauren Mangion, Anne Gordon, Sierra Robinson, Erika Dearen, Bekah Turner, Tessa Stuart and Jakob Ledbetter.

I am extraordinarily fortunate as a teacher, so often getting to feel awe at the depth of my students’ thoughtful engagement with their learning, their passionate desire to care for the planet, and most of all, their souls.

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Bioregional Awareness Quiz March 21, 2013

Swiss mountain painting, Riederalp, by Tina Fields

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If you want to get to know your home place, playing with a “bioregional quiz” like this one is a good place to start.

There are many versions of such quizzes out there. I’m pleased to announce that this particular expanded version of the Bioregional Quiz, which I wrote, will soon be published in Planet Drum Foundation’s updated edition of  Home! A Bioregional Reader.

How many of the questions can you answer, without referring to the internet or field guides first?

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BIOREGIONAL AWARENESS QUIZ

Bioregionalism is a call to become knowledgeable residents and guardians of the places where we live. Although we are seldom aware of it, we live in naturally unique physical, ecological, historical and cultural areas whose boundaries are more often ridgetops than county lines and state borders.

This is a call to get to know our local land and water; our local weather and sky; our local plants and animals; our local neighbors and communities. It is a call to join our hearts, hands and minds with what has been, what is, and what could be, in this place.

Getting to know the place where we live is important for both our well-being and for the well-being of our home. Becoming aware of our “sense of place” helps us to see it as a unique part of the living earth, deserving of respect, gratitude, and careful treatment. We humans can then begin to shift how we live more towards balance and harmony with the wider life community. Security begins by acting responsibly at home.

Welcome home!

This quiz provides a lot of starting points for getting to know your own living home region.

It can be sobering to realize how little we know right now.  The intention of the quiz is not to make us feel bad about how disconnected we are, but instead to gain awareness of the multi-layered things yet to discover about the richness of our home place.

Please treat it as an opportunity. Maybe you want to only choose a few questions, the ones that call to you the most. Feel free to find out the answers in any way you can: Ask your neighbors, go to the library, read the newspaper with this sort of focus, go outside, wander around, and pay attention every day. “Waste time” doing nothing but noticing our world.

There’s no way to cheat. Spend some time investigating; ask for some help. And feel free to make up some more questions of your own.

MAKING CONNECTIONS
1. Where does the water in your house come from? Trace the water you drink from rainfall to tap. Where did the cloud gather its moisture?
2. Where does the water go that drains from your sink? What about the water (& other stuff) leaving your toilet?
3. Choose a favorite meal and trace the ingredients back through the store…the processing plant…all the way to the soil. How many people, states, or even countries helped produce this meal? What went into the packaging and transportation of its ingredients? How many of the ingredients could you (did you?) get locally or even grow yourself?
4. What kind of energy do you primarily use? Where does it come from? Trace the path of energy that powers your home from its sources to you.
5. When your garbage is thrown away, where is “away”?
6. What are the primary sources of pollution in your area?
7. What are the major natural sounds you are aware of in a particular season?
8. What agencies are responsible for planning future transportation and land use in this area?
9. List three critical environmental issues in your area. What can you do to help?
10. Draw a map of your territory, the areas you travel regularly – without using human markers like buildings or street names.

EARTH
11. What primary geological events or processes that shaped the land where you live? (Extra Points: What is the evidence?)
12. What soil series are you standing on?
13. How has the land in your area been used by humans, over the last two centuries?
14. Who lived here prior to white settlement, and what were their primary subsistence techniques?
15. What was the vegetation type in this area prior to white settlement?
16. Where is there wilderness in your bioregion?

WATER
17. What is the elevation above sea level where you live?
18. What is the average annual rainfall for your area? What was the total rainfall in your area last year?

NEIGHBORS
19. What Spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?
20. Name seven common trees in your area. Which ones are native? For the others, how did they get here? Why were they brought?
21. Which indigenous people inhabit(ed) your region before you? Are they still here?
22. What were the primary subsistence techniques of the culture that lived in your area before you?
23. Name five edible wild plants in your region and their season(s) of availability.
24. Name three medicinal wild plants in your region, and what they can be used for. BONUS: which parts are the most effective (stems, roots, fruits…)?
25. Name seven mammals common to your area. Which are native and which are new here? From where did they come? Which animals are extinct from your area?
26. Name ten birds common to your area. (Extra Points: Which are year-round residents? Which are migratory?) (For the EXPERT: Where do the latter winter over?)
27. If you have deer in your area, when do they rut, and when are the young born?
28. Name five grasses in your area. Are any of them native?
29. Name four wild mushrooms that grow in your area, two edible (only if you are an expert) and two poisonous.
30. Describe the defense techniques used by three different other-than-human beings living in your area. (Examples: camouflage, poison, thick skin, thorns…)
31. What are the major plant associations in your region?
32. What plant or animal is the “barometer” of environmental health for your bioregion? How is it doing?

SKY
33. Sitting in your living room, point North.
34. How recently was the Moon full? What phase is she in now?
35. On what day of the year are the shadows the shortest where you live?
36. From what direction do winter storms come in your region?
37. How long is the growing season where you live?
38. How has the typical weather changed in your area since you were born? (Ask an older person to remember weird weather.)
39. Name one constellation or star that comes out only in winter, and one that comes out in summer.

FIRE
40. When was the last time a fire burned in your area?
41. What caused it?
42. How did the land change after that? What grew back first, second, third? What bugs, birds, and animals followed?
43. How is fire dealt with where you live? (Controlled burns, completely prevented, seasonal controls – what sort?)
44. What are three of your favorite songs to sing around a campfire?

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Thank you so much for thinking about these things; for paying attention to y/our home place. May this Quiz contribute to your deep feeling of belonging here.

Feel free to post your reflections on both the questions and the process of facing the questions in the Comments section below. May you have fun getting to know where you are!

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These questions began with “Where You At – A Bioregional Quiz” by Leonard Charles, Jim Dodge, Lynn Milliman and Victoria Stockley, which was first published in the Winter 1981 issue of Coevolution Quarterly and subsequently reprinted in Home! A Bioregional Reader (New Society Publishers, ISBN 0-86571-188-7, 1990).

I (Tina Fields) made extensive further additions and when it grew unwieldy, created the breakdown by category to organize the expanding inquiry.

In addition, a few of the questions were gleaned years ago from the work of Fox Tales, Chas Clifton, & the folks at the Co-Intelligence Institute. (No, I don’t remember which. But the ones about whole systems flows and changes, native peoples, and songs are definitely mine.)

The late Peter Berg started the Planet Drum Foundation. I still miss his wisdom, humor, and wide curiosity about what’s possible to create in the world.

 

“We Ain’t Got No Wildlife Here”: Teaching Ecoliteracy May 8, 2012

click on the image to make it larger

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The paper linked below, “We Ain’t Got No Wildlife Here”: Transformative Effects of a Contemplative Assignment in Ecoliteracy, was one of three chosen by Naropa University in response to President Obama’s campus challenge. Naropa chose to specifically focus on Contemplative Education and Ecological Sustainability, “in order to challenge ourselves to bring a contemplative perspective to service in the ecological sustainability sectors.”

As I had just moved to the area when the call came out, upon reading my proposal, Dr. Burggraf and committee allowed me to waive the requirement of co-authorship with a community partner. I was grateful to be able to participate anyway – and I dearly wish to have such partners in future.

Fast forward to May: last week, the authors presented our final papers as a panel. Anne Parker & Mark Wilding illustrated ways to engage adolescents and young adults in “Transformative Learning and Sustainability.” Sherry Ellms & Leila Bruno described how the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium is “Nurturing a Culture of Possibilities.” With each encounter at Naropa, I feel even more impressed by the depth of my new colleagues’ wisdom and heartful caring for the world.

The Green Papers will be made available on Naropa University’s website sometime later this summer, but my students have graciously asked to read mine now. So here it is, out in the world already like an early crocus peeking through the snow. As the Spring semester is winding down and they find themselves without any formal reading assignments, the void looms.  😉  I hope you enjoy this paper, or that it at least helps fend off any grad school withdrawal symptoms.

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Click on the link for a PDF:

“We Ain’t Got No Wildlife Here”:
Transformative Effects of a Contemplative Assignment in Ecoliteracy

by Tina R. Fields, Ph.D.

Fields_Green Paper_Teaching-Ecoliteracy

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If you’re wondering what you’d be getting into, here’s the trailer. The paper itself is much more fun to read than the Abstract. It centers on a story!

Abstract:  This paper describes a college assignment intended to foster ecoliteracy in social science students. The inclusion of a contemplative component conducted over time outdoors has repeatedly resulted in not only cognitive knowledge about the denizens and processes of a given place, but has transformed students’ relationships with the more-than-human natural world to a much deeper relational gnosis and comfort level. Excerpts from one inner-city student’s journal are presented (with permission) as a case study, and elements contributing to the assignment are discussed.

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Feel free to engage with me via the “Comments” box below. I look forward to hearing your responses to this work.

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A deep bow to Naropa University for choosing this paper, and to former colleagues/forever friends Nicky Duenkel and Judy Pratt for generously giving me feedback for improving it.