Judith Plant uses this introduction to explore the ancient human urge for a world “where people and place are delicately interwoven in a web of life,” and how the practice of bioregionalism fulfills this need. She describes the activities at an indigenous salmon harvest and a community meeting as examples of places where people are making connections with their environment and their neighbors and fulfilling the “yearning for home” bioregionalism responds to.
In her foreword to the collection, Stephanie Mills acknowledges that many people are recognizing the need for action to protect the earth but also not finding the conventional ideas they’ve been offered to be enough. Home! is a collection of “the voices that are articulating the something more” that’s required. The “imaginative political philosophy” of bioregionalism offers a path forward, a way to enact the “radical reshaping” that’s necessary.
This introduction to Part 1 of Home! A Bioregional Reader gives an overview of the essays included in the section, highlighting the way that bioregionalism is not restricted to any one idea but rather a “connective tissue” connecting different related ideas.
This classic essay, originally published in Coevolution Quarterly in 1981, lays out three core components of bioregionalism: “a decentralized, self-determined mode of social organization; a culture predicated upon biological integrities and acting in respectful accord; and a society which honors and abets the spiritual development of its members.” But Dodge also provides a rousing call to action, making it clear that theory alone, without practice to back it up, is not enough.
Peter Berg offers bioregionalism as a positive and proactive alternative to the modern environmental movement’s method of responding to emergencies as they are already happening. He outlines the four different inhabitory zones within each bioregion (cities, suburbs, rural areas, and wilderness) and the unique focus required for each, and explains how bioregional groups can be organized to address short- and long-term goals relevant to their areas.
When artificial boundaries and nation-states replaced earlier, naturally connected groups of humans, valuable local knowledge was lost. In this essay, Gary Snyder provides a method of regaining this knowledge, by staying in a place, paying attention, and getting to know the “spirit of place.” He acknowledges that in a world dominated by ideas of “uniformity, universality, and centralization” this idea can be unwelcome and even frightening, but believes it is essential. “Our relation to the natural world takes place in a place, and it must be grounded in information and experience.”
The heart of the bioregional movement is the concept of home, but home has historically been a site of oppression for women. Here, Judith Plant attempts to square these dual truths. She calls for a cultural shift towards recognition of the importance of domestic life, “for it is here where culture is shaped.” She also believes that women are uniquely suited to move the bioregional movement forward, because “this work has been done in the context of a society that has traditionally undervalued both home and women,” and that the bioregional understanding of our relationship with nature and the feminist understanding of our relationship with each other go hand in hand.
Christopher Plant examines the modern iteration of the back-to-the-land movement—still fired by the enthusiasm of the first wave in the 1960s and 1970s, but now with the wisdom gained by experience. He offers bioregionalism as common ground for the “many other diverse strands of the alternative movement.”