Cascadia Underground Posts for April 2023

Getting Located: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Bioregional Education

  • By Marnie Muller. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Marnie Muller explains the importance of helping kids “get located” spatially/chronologically, first in the universe, and then on the planet, and then within their own bioregion. Doing this effectively both demonstrates the interdependence of all life and taps into everyone’s “interior sense of awe of the universe.” She provides examples of specific activities to accomplish this, and also argues that because bioregional education is inherently interdisciplinary it builds a sense of community.

The Art of Enfolding

  • By Frank Traina. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Frank Traina describes the programs he runs for children at Sunrock Farm, which are focused on “connecting with the natural world through a combination of farm, native peoples, artistic, and wildness experiences.” He believes that these sorts of experiences, and other things people take in from the world, become “enfolded within us,” and that this enfolding then leads to an expansion of consciousness that develops into a deep connection with nature and a recognition of our interconnectedness.

Methods in Bioregional Education

  • By Frank Traina. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Frank Traina explains how bioregional education differs from mainstream education in content, emphasis, and style. He dives in to each of these areas in more detail, and most sections also include learning exercises for educators to put these ideas into action. All of this is designed to help students develop “a sense of care that comes out of experiencing the connectedness within one’s bioregion.”

Give Thanks

  • By Bill Cahalan. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

This poem by Bill Cahalan expresses gratitude for all the different aspects of the world that sustain us.

Methods in Bioregional Education II: Some Exercises from Sunrock Farm

  • By Frank Traina. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

This collection of songs, games, storytelling, and other exercises from the educational programs at Sunrock Farm are designed for “helping people develop a more intense sense of participation in nature.” This mode of interactive learning helps develop a “personal positive relationship with the natural world.”

Getting Outside: Notes on an Elementary Bioregional Education

  • By Jim Dodge. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

In this essay, Jim Dodge presents his theory that the best way to learn about the world is to “get out in it and draw your own conclusions.” He provides a list of the benefits of gaining knowledge through this sort of direct experience, as well as some other less literal but still important types of “getting outside.”

Items for Ecological Literacy

  • By David Orr. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

David Orr’s list of essential items for a curriculum that includes ecological literacy recognizes that it’s time to “teach about the real world of nature and how to live as part of that real world.”

Invisible Bridges: How Everyday Products Connect Us to the World

  • By Marti Crouch. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Professor Marti Crouch describes a class she taught called “Ecological Investigations of Daily Life.” The impetus for the class was her realization that the hyperspecilization of modern life keeps us oblivious about the production of the many objects we interact with every day. This lack of information makes it impossible to accurately gauge the environmental impact of individual actions. Crouch and her students each picked an everyday product, and then attempted to trace the entire lifespan of that product, from raw material through production and eventually use and disposal. In the process, they became more aware of “the amazing web of interrelationships between ourselves and the rest of the world.”

Nature as Teacher

  • By Gary Snyder. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

In this brief excerpt, Gary Snyder lays out the steps necessary for the revival of a “culture of place” in America, beginning with bonding to place as children.

Community Pageantry and Bioregional Education: Environmental Education for the ’90s

  • By Chris Wells. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Chris Wells discusses the communal, collaborative event known as All-Species Day. He believes that this sort of “creatively contagious collaborative project” gives hope to kids and communities at large, an essential condition for positive change. He describes the many components that make up an All-Species Day event, using the one held in Santa Fe in 1988 as a specific example, and explains how holidays and commemorations articulate community values.

The Council of Critters: An All Species Play

  • By Amy Hannon. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

This is a play that was written to be performed at an All Species Day celebration. Although the habitats, animals, and plants in the play are specific to its origin of Greenville, North Carolina, it is a template that is easily adaptable to the specifics of other bioregions. In addition to the full script of this play, this chapter also includes more information on writing one’s own, such as a questionnaire for gathering the information to develop an animal character.

How to Put Together a Seasonal Wheel for Your Area

  • By Ken Lassman. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Ken Lassman, the originator of the seasonal wheel concept, lays out the method for creating one. A sort of circular illustrated calendar, a seasonal wheel marks the naturally occurring annual cycles in a given area. Lassman provides a list of sources for gathering data to include on the calendar and other helpful tips. He also discusses the power of seasonal wheels to “give people a greater appreciation of the uniqueness of their home” and, from there, become interested in the bioregionalist movement.

Reinventing the Wheel: Earth Ritual and Bioregional Education

  • By Amy Hannon. Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

Believing that traditional organized religion is not equipped for the growing feeling of “re-enchantment of the natural world,” Amy Hannon gives instructions for creating communal Earth-centered ceremonial rituals. She believes that wherever one is, it’s possible to tap into the “poetry and archetypal power” of existing rituals from different cultures. She goes through the process of ritual creation step-by-step, including a list of suggested activities for honoring the seasonal themes of rituals on the equinoxes and solstices.

Resources for Bioregional Educators

  • Perspectives in Bioregional Education.

This list of “materials which are philosophically aligned with the bioregional perspective” includes books and curricula specifically designed for use with children, as well as books, newsletters, and organizations that are good sources of information on bioregionalist thought more generally.

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