This piece was originally published in Perspectives in Bioregional Education, edited by Frank Traina and Susan Darley-Hill, North American Association for Environmental Education, copyright 1995.
The structure of media in our society is a bioregional issue of great importance.
As presently structured, our society receives most of its information, images, and cultural transmissions via mass centralized media rather than from people in local communities or from nature.
The above situation furthers hierarchical control of information and culture by few institutions with unified perspectives. This, in turn, has led toward a society in which communities are disempowered, where people become spectators to their lives, and where culture and knowledge arc homogenized into monoculture.
The present arrangement is antithetical to bioregional principles of scale, cultural diversity, and community and regional sovereignty.
Bioregionalism encourages the displacement of the present arrangement with media of a scale, cost and power which allow for democratic participation, community control and benefit, and which operate within bioregional principles.
Bioregional principles for communication include grounding human understanding of the biosphere in local knowledge and creating long-term understanding of places for all people and generations of people living in a place.
In keeping with those principles, media should empower and strengthen the life within a bioregion and share empowering information among different bioregions. (Bundles are pieces of poetic, natural science, visionary information about a specific life place. They arc unbound, fall out of the envelope, and can be arranged by each person in their own way. Usually given as gifts.) Bundles serve as one example of a use of “media” of communication in terms of a gift economy proper to bioregional communication.
Ideally, media should be decentralized, participatory and serve as a facilitator of exchange of information rather than as an interpreter or translator.
This exchange between people should use minimal technical effort and should minimize both misinterpretation and media distance, i.c., the process of filtration by media between source and receiver.
Media should nurture the indigenous expression of culture and art that characterizes a place and should also help create positive images and visions of bioregional viability.
More study is needed to develop a full understanding of appropriate bioregional communications. For example a comparison of media from indigenous cultures (drum, story, bundle) with contemporary forms (print, computer, broadcast).
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