I went back to summer camp for another week in the woods at the edge of a lake. It was glorious, invigorating, peaceful, fun—lots of that—and enlightening.
This year, as last, we had Joel Glanzberg to guide us through explorations of our connectedness to place—this wonderful spot in the Adirondacks that we were privileged to visit and discover. Joel is an expert in the fields of permaculture and ecological restoration.
Wikipedia defines permaculture “as an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies.” The concept developed in response to “rapidly growing use of destructive industrial-agricultural methods…that were poisoning the land and water, reducing biodiversity, and removing billions of tons of soil from previously fertile landscapes.”
Joel used the word “tending” in his teachings to us, which is described as “a relationship of stewardship, involvement, and caring very different from the dualistic, exploit-it-or-leave-it-alone relationship with nature characteristic of Western society.” (Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson)
Human beings have in modern times provided for our needs by destroying nature whereas development actually has the potential to create sanctuaries and to heal when based on the knowledge and practices of peoples indigenous to the area. A good example is fire. The ones now burning destructively in California are catastrophic and likely caused by an accident enhanced by ill-advised fire suppression practices and the effects of global warming. Controlled fires, as practiced by the indigenous peoples, rejuvenate the land and cause its plant and animal life to come back renewed and stronger.
It was glorious to walk the woods with Joel, reading its history and seeing the confluence of patterns within the forest. Learning to read the land is an essential first step to understanding it as a whole system in which the parts are well balanced. No one thing within the system has a bigger piece of the pie because there is no pie. A lesson for life?
Joel is a part of the Regenesis Group, a pioneer in the field of regenerative Development—partnering people and their place to regenerate ecosystems, economies, and the human spirit. There’s so much to learn. Check it out.