Feature - Issue #13
In this practical guide to radical kinship, everyone from urban dwellers to farmers follow the journey of rerooting and rewilding through myth-telling as we step into the sensory realms of the more-than-human world. An interview with Claire Ratinon, Isaias Hernandez, Sophie Strand and Farmer Rishi.
“Humanity views itself as the singular author of culture, civilisation and time. But the role we play is definitely not author or main character, and it’s important to begin to shift the paradigm of control,” says ecological storyteller and American author Sophie Strand.
The colonial experiment tectonically shifted humanity’s root system, inducing stress, disorientation and disassociation, contracting the senses and severing our relationship with the more-than-human world. Now, techno-capitalism’s narcissistic reliance on technology to fix the climate crisis is causing further cultural loss and adverse environmental impacts. And with the digital world rerouting our fate to its cloud server, encoding toxic hyper-individualism into humanity’s behaviour, sensing our environment is becoming an abstract phenomenon.
“The system is intentionally structured so that we don’t sense our relationship with the natural, living world because then we won’t feel called to protect it,” says UK food grower and author Claire Ratinon. “When we feel our connection with the natural world, we realise that these exploitive systems are destroying our bodies along with the possibility of a thriving future.” But there is a growing movement of visionaries, rebels, gardeners and storytellers transforming the bitter rot of decaying structures and fermenting a revolution.
Part of the metabolic process of change is disrupting the illusion of pristine or conventional forms of nature. “One of the things I figured out early on was that Indigenous cultures don’t have a word for nature,” says Farmer Rishi, founder of Sarvodaya Farms in California, USA. “They’ll have a word for Earth and universe. But there’s no word for the part of the world that isn’t human. There’s no word for artifice, artificial, natural or unnatural.”
For most of us, the wild is usually visualised as ‘out there’, something outside of ourselves in faroff distant places with minimal human intervention. This unrealistic concept of nature reduces humans to a ‘virus’ who cannot live sustainably on Earth and is perpetuated by fossil fuel giants who use their carbon footprint propaganda to reinforce capitalism’s individual-orientated agenda. Meanwhile, wilderness rhetoric has justified denying Indigenous land rights through environmental policy. In the past two decades, scientists have confirmed that the Earth’s biodiverse ‘wilderness’ is not nature’s autonomous will, but the result of humanity’s interaction with nature over thousands of years. “If we look at Indigenous cultures, there’s a way of tending and stewarding the land and intervening in generative ways,” says Strand. “Our role now is to ask those communities that still have a knowledge of sustainability how to come back into a relationship with the land.”