As this placeless world spreads, and as progress is increasingly defined as the ability to look out of a hotel window in any city and see the same neon-lit corporate logos, the most radical thing to do is to belong. To belong to a place, a piece of land, a community – to know it and to be prepared to defend it.
Paul Kingsnorth, 2004
I’ve been wondering about belonging. What is it? Is it important? Where can we get some? How do we hold on to it?
A decade ago I returned with my young family to live in the area where I had enjoyed my happiest childhood days.
I refamiliarised myself with the landscape, the trees and plants and birds and rivers, in all their colour and variety. I took the plunge into community activism. I made and renewed good friends in the area. It is a welcoming and beautiful place to live; I feel lucky to be here and generally content.
Yet I’ve rarely enjoyed a deep feeling of belonging. In my gloomier moments I can feel adrift, struggling to find any point of reference. (more…)
This is a personal entry. Which is not to say that the previous posts here weren’t — it’s just that most of VIVID’s analytical pieces are still tinged with the affectations of my professional training as a journalist. In full force, these produce the high-minded style that’s employed in mainstream news formats to create the illusion of objective authority, but that in fact serves to cover up inadequate investigation, the regurgitation of state or corporate propaganda and the mindless reinforcement of destructive social behaviours in the name of advertising profit. (more…)
“Business as usual must end, because business as usual is killing us,” the indigenous peoples of the world have stated, in a powerful and eloquent summing up of the five-day Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, held in Anchorage, Alaska at the end of April.
Climate change brings into sharp relief the confrontation between industrial civilisation and indigenous peoples. Caused by the actions of the rich, polluting nations its effects are felt most keenly by those who live closest to nature and whose livelihoods most directly depend on their immediate environment. (Just 500 miles from the summit, in the village of Newtok, intensifying river flow and melting permafrost have forced 320 residents to relocate to higher ground; meanwhile stories like “Water people of the Amazon face extinction” are increasingly and depressingly familiar.) (more…)
“Newcomers to native societies … are there because they want things of great importance to them: land, trees, minerals, oil and gas and, as a means to getting these, administrative and ideological control. Hence you can see certain kinds of economic exploitation, aggressive greed, missionary zeal …”. From an Open Democracy interview with anthropologist Hugh Brody.
What are the latest developments where the financially rich clash with those outside our culture?
In India, the Dongria Kondh tribe is fighting for survival in the face of threats by British mining company Vedanta to bulldoze the side of their sacred mountain. Survival International describes how Vedanta plans to dig an open pit mine on the Dongria Kondh’s mountain in the Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa state, to extract bauxite, an aluminium ore. The mine would devastate the ecology of the region and bring an end to the Dongria Kondh’s independent and sustainable way of life, polluting the streams and destroying the forests they rely on. (more…)