The Value of a New Word: Bioregionalism

This piece was originally published in Home! A Bioregional Reader, edited by Van Andruss, Christopher Plant, Judith Plant, and Eleanor Wright, New Society Publishers, copyright 1990.

Often people say, “Big fancy words. YUK! Words I’ve never heard before. YUK! I don’t like them. Why can’t you use plain everyday words we all know and are comfortable with?”

Looked at another way, a new word can be a gift, a gift of a new idea—a new concept, a new thought tool for understanding our world, a new vehicle for moving us ahead to where we’d like to go.

Gary Snyder has said that we should find our “place” and stay there 400 years! That’s how long it takes to make enough observations about where we are to live there respectfully, in harmony with all the other members of the animal and plant community—the bio-tic community (here’s that word bio again).

Here’s another one: re-inhabitation. Maybe you’ve heard the word habitat: the life place (usually of an animal); the whole little system of life resources that an animal dwells in, and can’t do without. Our ancestors spent thousands of generations learning how to live in place. Learning again, or remembering, how to live in place is one of the most important tasks we have before us.

Re-inhabitation, a lot of people believe, will be necessary for our long term survival. Living in mutual, respectful partnership with Planet Earth; taking care of our needs in a mutually benefitting exchange will sustain our own lives and the life of the planet.


Bio… means all of life… regional means within a physical or geographic boundary and …ism is the human part; where we study how we relate with and live as part of the Bioregion.

Excerpted from Columbiana, Summer, 1988.

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