21 December 2012

Finding Your Place in Space

In spite of the cultural dominance of the idea of 'science' and forming understandings on the basis of 'facts' it is clear that what you think you are is crucial to defining what you are and what you may become. The furore over an ancient calendar belonging to a people who were arguably destroyed by the technologically superior culture of our ancestors is demonstrating today the influence of myths in determining our sense of ourselves in time. I want to argue that we should also be asking questions about how we think of our place in the world in a geographical sense.

Most of us are defined by political boundaries. I am a councillor for Stroud District, but when I think of 'Stroud' it is the people and the landscape that make it a place I love. This emotional identification of places through natural landforms and human and animal companions lies at the heart of the reconceptualisation of our world that bioregionalism demands. It is for this reason that I called my book The Bioregional Economy. I suggest bioregions as the basic provisioning units of a system of self-reliant local economies that will be the sustainable economy of the future. But perhaps more importantly I suggest the importance of a undertaking a rethinking of who we are that involves allowing our selves to be defined much more by the part of the world we inhabit.

Blogger and - crucially - geologist Nick Arini has taken this idea on an produced a really interesting and useful blog about what the boundaries of his bioregion might be. Nick concludes that proponents of bioregions often suggest one characteristic to use in defining their boundaries: watersheds, say, or geological underpinnings. He argues for, and I would agree, a fusion of characteristics, and that the definitional characteristics are specific to each bioregion. He concludes:

'I wanted to consider a bioregion as a living being and this idea that each region is unique and is defined by its own set of characteristics supports this notion. Applying the same formula to each different bioregion is likely to yield sub-optimal results. Listen to your region and let it tell you what characteristics are important for defining its identity.'

He is suggesting sketching the boundaries of other UK bioregions, although since this process is all about knowing your backyard this process is best done as close to home as possible. If you would like to follow Nick's example and define your bioregion please be sure to let me know how you get on.

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