Living-in-place means following the necessities and pleasures of life as they are uniquely presented by a particular site, and evolving ways to ensure long-term occupancy of that site. A society which practices ling-in-place keeps a balance with it's region of support through links between human lives, other living things, and the processes of the planet--seasons, weather, water cycles--as revealed by the place itself. It is the opposite of a society which makes a living through short-term destructive exploitation of land and life.
Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann
Living Awareness Institute
A Sense Of Place
I belong to the earth. More specifically, I belong to North America. For those who really want to pin down my birth place I tell them Azatlán--what is now known as the Southwest. In the circles in which I run I'm often asked if I'm "Native American." I know what they mean, and some part of me feels honored that I'm mistaken for some one who has an unbroken line of ancestry to this continent, but in the end I reply, "I don't know." I don't know how to answer your question.
Last month, I talked with a "native" activist who ended our conversation about the San Diego tribes with, "They won't talk to you ," meaning I was too white. A few hours before this I'd been contemplating the young Eucalyptus trees on campus, reminding myself that they are "invaders," strangers to my continent regardless of their beauty. I looked at them, followed their roots down, and realized that merely being rooted in the earth made them native--in this earth, this continent which I love so dearly and belong to flesh and bone. All of those trees which had come and gone before the Eucalyptus and left their essence in the earth had become their "new" ancestors. The ancestors were in the dirt, in the mud that is now the birthing ground of this "non-native" species. By being rooted here, amidst our ancestors' bones, these trees have become native. And I? My feet are also planted firmly in the mud. I belong to this North American continent and no other. The blood of those that came before me and gave their bodies back to this earth flows through my veins, their bones are my bones. Like the fallen tree that gives itself back to the soil that new life may grow, this continent's ancestors have given themselves to me.
Teryani Riggs, Manifesto
I believe Western European culture will never endure in the Americas. I believe it is only a passing phase like the hula hoop or the skate board. I also believe that the peoples living in the Americas will become American; that they will have to in order to survive in America. That means that a truly American culture will evolve--is evolving--in the Americas, a culture which is not a European import, nor an adaptation of a European import. That means that the sons and daughters of immigrants who strove for over four hundred years to possess the Americas will be possessed by the Americas; the descendants of those who tried to conquer and subdue the Americas will be conquered and subdued by the Americas. It means that the stubborn land the pioneers cleared and cursed will be loved, respected, and revered by the great-grandchildren of the pioneers. And the native creatures of that land will also be loved and fostered, including the original American human: the indian.
I believe that anyone now living in America or anyone who wishes to come to America can belong here. When I say "belong here," I mean that it isn't necessary to buy land and "own" property in order to belong someplace. How can you buy something you've already been given? Besides, the land is living; how can you butcher it up and offer the cuts for sale without killing it? And the land is sacred. You don't live off it, like a parasite. You live in it, and it in you, or you don't survive. And that is the only worship of God there is. When you buy land you are dispossessed by the act of purchase. The whole transaction is a lie that says, "This is my land. It belongs to me," when the truth is that you belong to it.
Those who belong here know this. They've always known it. And they're increasing in numbers. The people who belong in America are coming home.
Wilfred Pelletier and Ted Poole, from No Foreign Land: The Biography of a North American Indian.
Bioregional awareness teaches us in specific ways. It is not enough to just "love nature" or to want to "be in harmony with the Earth." Our relation to the natural world takes place in a place, and it must be grounded in information and experience. For example, "real people" have an easy familiarity with local plants. This is so unexceptional a kind of knowledge that everyone in Europe, Asia, and Africa used to take it for granted. Many contemporary Americans don't even know that they don't "know the plants," which is indeed a measure of alienation.
We must consciously fully accept and recognize that this is where we live, and grasp the fact that our descendants will be here for millennia to come. Then we must honor this land's great antiquity--it's wildness--learn it--defend it--and work hard to hand it on to the children (of all beings) of the future with its biodiversity and health intact.