Most of my work as a forest steward is intervening in the attack – introduced invasive plant and animal species weakening and defeating thriving communities of biodiversity. My heart, mind and body are on the front line, giving me first hand understanding.
When a new species is introduced, often it is challenged to survive, much less thrive, due to difficulties adjusting quickly to new conditions. But when a species can adjust to new conditions, its evolutionary history has afforded it methods of expanding to which the existing species have not had time to counter-adapt, giving the invader a decisive advantage. Whether we humans ourselves adapted to hurdle our natural barriers, or our barriers somehow eroded giving us easy expansion opportunities is a moot point. To this day our species has not only invaded every bioregion, we have introduced other species invaders that have thrown nature out of overall homeostasis.
All life has a longing to live and expand. But all species also need interspecies symbiosis to survive – all life requires community. As species adapt new ways to expand, other species adapt ways that counter-balance the expansion. This counter-balance is best achieved through slow changes. When changes happen too quickly counter-adaptations may not manifest in time, leaving opportunities for monocultures to establish, and extinctions to occur. Examples of humans’ biocultural adaptations include using tools, controlling fire, agriculture. These ‘inventions’ served as a catalyst for our growth in population and expansion out of our niche into habitats of other species’ communities.
The true question is, What is the human habitat? That is, assuming our species’ adaptions came at a slow enough pace that other species had time to manifest counter-balancing adaptations, where would our niche have been? We are, after all, animals. All animals have a habitat. If English ivy growing up a tree in the Pacific Northwest could be asked, Where is your niche?, it may take offense to even the implication that it is not entitled to expand as freely as it chooses. But the longing to populate and expand does not override a species’ natural limits to life within diverse living communities. Symbiosis is the primal nature ethic.
He used to play in riverbeds
And sing by bubbling streams
He used to smell the flowers
And have rainbows in his dreams
He used to ride his bike outside
And run and skip and play
He soaked up all the sunshine
And smiled and laughed all day
He was such a happy child
Not ever with a care
He closed his eyes, rode down the hill
The wind whipping through his hair
All of a sudden there it was
Just when he expected it least
His world would change forever more
The day he met the Beast“
After too many frustrated seasons at the 3-way intersection of Vegan, Anarchist & Primitivist, I find myself writing this post introducing this blog. Though the light of Layla AbdelRahim is so bright, the fire of my frustration calls for more exploration and growth at this spirited confluence. In a flash flood of a moment I started this blog to vent creative rage energies. My first instinct was to search & repost related works of others to feel out this ether space’s boundaries. (If anyone minds me stealing their stuff, let me know & I’ll take it down.) Now that the flood has slowed, my modern mind’s inspiration is to introduce this blog’s birth.
Like all humanimals, I was born a primitive anarchist. Like most modern humanimals, I first fought the domestication enculturation process internally. At some point I crossed the line to fighting externally, initially lacking conscious awareness of my fight’s deeper drives. This flashes me back to a moment now past statute of limitations eternally imprinted onto some FBI video, likely stored in a dusty box on a shelf in a large warehouse. Wish I could watch it now just for kicks. It’s a video of a meeting getting abruptly, raucously busted up. Everyone scatters except me. I stand there looking stunned, but keep eating at the delicious vegan dessert table while staring at them & their camera in midst of clamor. Sweet memory!
Flashing forward to the beginning of the green scare, some of us humans who had had enough and were inspired to act found one another. We all coincidentally happened to be female in biology, bisexual/lesbian/trans, anarchist, atheist and vegan, mixed in race. We were a group of 6.5 (one part-timer in agreement but involved more for reasons of sensuality), just the right size. At first we wanted to be bold and brave and in-your-face, naming ourselves Feminist Eco-Terrorists. We wanted to tease & taunt, always leaving them one step behind eating our dust. But after some discussion and calming down from the rush of our honeymoon, the saner of us made a simple yet persuasive argument to go the opposite direction, keep it discreet. We called ourselves FeVeR: Feminist Vegan Radicals. It was a scary yet exciting time, and there was much work to be done. But too soon we let our hormones create an internal group scandal with the part-timer that dissolved the group. Not that I’d say if we did, but we never actually broke a government law.
I decided it’s best to either go solo or just hang low for a while. During limbo hang low I joined in some forest restoration work parties. Bunch of eco-liberals, yeah, but as much as I loathed their politics, they opened my eyes and taught me much. I quickly & sadly realized that when techno-society collapses, what remains of wild places will need humans to work on undoing the eco-disaster we’ve set in motion, otherwise there will be no chance for a diverse, thriving biota. Just as our species needs to relearn primitive skills and pass them down through generations to take our species into the future, so too we need to learn and pass on knowledge and skills in rewilding Earth for ourselves and others to have a wild place to call home. Hence the central theme of this blog.
The confluence of Vegan, Anarchist and Primitivist is recently formed, or likely reforming yet again. Most material is drawn from upshore tributary riverbanks, so not everything will feel like it perfectly fits. Feel free to bear with it, take what you want & leave the rest. Or feel free to contribute your thoughts in a spirit of mutual aid or just plain mucky critique. I can’t honestly tell you where this writing journey on this theme is going, or how long it will last, or who we’ll meet along the way, or if we’ll venture off path. It’s a place I’ve dreamed of, heard tale of, passed through, but never explored down on my hands & knees before. We’ll just have to see as we go. Hope you enjoy the stroll!
A three-minute data visualisation communicating the scale at which humanity is now altering the global water cycle. The film was produced by IGBP and Globaia for the Global Water Systems Project and launched at the Water in the Anthropocene conference in Bonn 2013. For a full range of Anthropocene data visualisations see http://www.anthropocene.info