This summer I am enrolled in a conference course focusing on the idea of radical hope in the face of environmental degradation, mass displacement, and the like with Dr. Erika Bsumek. Most of our discussions end with “is hope possible”, “is hope in itself a radical act”, “maybe it worked in a small rural village, can it be amplified to a global scale”, or some form of “are we deceiving ourselves to hope?”
I have taken the concept of “living in relation” to mean paying attention to relationships with human and nonhuman beings. I’m convinced its all connected. For me the idea of living in relation with the environment isn’t separate from being in relation with people. That being said, radical hope emerges from those relationships.
A longer version of this in syllabus form is forthcoming, but for how here are 5 things on my “Being in Good Relation”/ “Radical Hope” inspiration board.
I was inspired by Katie Lee after watching DamNation (2014). I understood her images in particular, to reflect an inspired recklessness that only comes from openness to non-human relationships, and the loss that is felt when we choose to ignore them in favor of selfishness. This is not even to mention Learn more about the film here: http://damnationfilm.com/
I met Jamal Galves through the Belizean volleyball community a while back. He’s earned the title of “Manatee Man” as most of his time is spent protecting and advocating for the preservation of the West Indian manatee that makes its home in the warm Caribbean waters of Belize. He was recently awarded a Nat Geo Photo Ark EDGE Fellowship. Follow Jamal on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamalgalvesmanateeman/
Jared Farmer’s On Zion’s Mount:Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape had a profound impact on how I am currently understanding the relationship between peoples and place. While it is important for me to soak in and appreciate the magnificence of the nature and landscapes, it is crucial to recognize how those places have evolved, and changed based on their interactions with particular peoples. https://jaredfarmer.net/books/on-zions-mount/
Environmental education was an active part of my upbringing. I didn’t realize just how much of it is now a part of the way I see myself in relation with the earth. NGOs like Oceana are partnering with local and sport fishermen in Belize to ban the use of gillnets and have mobilized Belizeans to pressure the government to issue a permanent ban on offshore oil exploration along our barrier reef. Learn more about them here: https://belize.oceana.org/our-campaigns
The Water Protectors at Standing Rock and the sites of other potential pipelines shine a very human light on what happens when we are careless with our neighbors. The Red Nation has provided insight, from an Indigenous perspective, on #noDAPL and institutionalized, structural, and environmental racism. Read their analysis of the movement here: https://therednation.org/2016/09/18/fighting-for-our-lives-nodapl-in-context/
Other works that have inspired me that I couldn’t not include:
- Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical on Our Common Home: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
- Mercy Mercy Me — Marvin Gaye
- “Watina”- Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective