Towards a participatory ecology
Tim Boucher

Yeah,it’s a really good piece but I don’t know that I “buy” the arguments 100%. I’m starting to think that one of the biggest “illusions” in the Existosphere is this distinction between “wild” and “urban”, or “unwild.” I think it’s more of a spectrum. Aren’t something like 75% of the “wild” forests on the East Coast actually human-planted and maintained by the Forest Service? How is this really “wild”? Why is an “unwild” environment somehow less “valid” than a “wild” environment? Why *can’t* you be an environmentalist by walking in a park sometimes? Parks are “maintained,” sure, but if humans are element of the ecosystem, how is a park different than a beaver dam? How is shopping for local food at a Farmer’s Market not eating what came from your local ecosystem? I’m not asking because I’ve decided one way or the other — I’m just thinking about it.

One way to look at it for me would be, participatory ecology is participating as fully as possible in your ecosystem by learning about it, observing it, and interacting with it in the least harmful way possible (I believe it’s possible to hunt in “the least harmful way possible”).

if you’re practicing “participatory ecology,” you can go into a park — or even walk down a city street — and forage for wild edibles, and learn about the relationships between the things that live there, and how they might impact you. To go back to our previous discussion, using Roundup is *not* participatory ecology for the same reason Clear Cutting isn’t participatory ecology, because of the potential harm to the surrounding ecosystem.

I also see it as more of learning the ability to increase your options for interaction with your enivronment. In the forest, it might mean I choose to hunt, but at home it means coppicing my ornamental hazelnut so I can use the harvested stakes for fencing in my garden….

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