The Archipelago of Hope

A Different World

In the midst of my travels the last couple of weeks (more on that forthcoming), I was able to finish Gleb Raygorodetsky's The Archipelago of Hope.  In his chapter on the Sapara people of the Amazon, he writes that they "see their rainforest as a living breathing conscious being that must be cherished and cared for."  This is one of the sources of their resilience.  They've already encountered centuries of climate and cultural disaster and have had to repeatedly adapt.  They've done so through their relationships with the environment around them--a good lesson for us going forward.  

In a visit to the Karen in the Hin Lad Nai forest of Thailand, he explores various alternative agricultural options that might help us renew environments devastated by industrial, monoculture farming (though this does leave you wondering if there's anyway to maintain current global populations levels with these more traditional agricultural practices, meaning that overpopulation is one of the central problems that is not so easy to discuss).

The final group he visits is the Tla-o-qui-aht of British Columbia.  One thing I learned in this chapter was the importance of the salmon run for the entire ecosystem.  He writes that 190 species rely for nutrients upon the salmon, including the giant cedars that line the rivers.  Salmon predators, catching and eating them on the banks, end up bringing marine nitrogen into the soil.  Plants five hundred feet from the river can be mostly "made of salmon."  

Joe Martin, one of his guides, states, "One of our teachings is that Mother Nature will provide for our needs, but not our greed.  And it's our greed that's destroying many things nowadays."  As a reminder how nature provides, Raygorodetsky points out, "For the adept, the rain forest is a shelter, a garden, a pantry, a work shed, a medicine cabinet, and a cathedral all wrapped into one."

From the Tla-0-qui-aht he learns that "our medicine must penetrate to the very core of our affliction," and so we must address fundamental values and behaviors to respond to and live resiliently through this changing climate.  He writes, "What a different world we would live in, if it were arranged not along the lines of fear, greed, and power, but around the intricate web of respectful and reciprocal human relationships with the Earth and all its living beings."


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