/2009/05/eco-culture.html" /> /2009/05/eco-culture.html" /> Alternative Culture Blog: Eco-Culture

Alternative Culture MagazineCougar WebWorks Celebrating Nature, Culture, and Spirit
Alternative Culture Magazine

Alternative Culture Blog

Irregular commentary on various aspects of alternative culture: nature, books, travel, music, literature, spirituality.

by Nowick Gray, Editor of Alternative Culture Magazine

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Friday, May 15, 2009



Normally we think of culture as human culture, the artifacts and interactions of human society and creativity. It is easy in the civilized world to forget the basis of human culture in nature. That denial is now being put to the test, as environmental issues dovetail with an untenable financial system to present a crisis of millennial proportions. Will we all be thrown back abruptly to a more fundamental relationship with ever-present but rapidly degrading nature? While the question hovers, many are exploring again or anew how to begin making constructive moves in that direction.

What does a sustainable lifestyle look like in the 21st century? We have plenty of models from the past to go on - the Inuit, Bushmen, or Aborigines offering examples to recent times of roughly sustainable ways of life that demonstrate success without modern technology. To examine other aspects of culture besides the central requirements of food gathering and shelter, supplies and transportation, is perhaps beside the point; as those secondary needs might be considered frills, optional variations. On the other hand, maybe the whole of a culture must be considered when evaluating "what works." Maybe the music of the Mande peoples of West Africa really is necessary to maintain cultural success in their geographic context. The same might be said of the Inuit shaman and the associated set of taboos; or - who knows? - even of the custom of circumcision (though I would like to think this practice could be left behind in any sustainable culture of the future).

In the moment, I am satisfied with my cheese-and-beet sandwich, brought to this lakeside in a handy plastic container, with a jar of green tea, computer to write with, flutes to play, cell phone to talk with a friend. The ducks are my company now, as I have brought other food products to tide me over in this place. Take away the grocery store cheese and bakery bread, and I am left with the beets and a lust for protein that those poor ducks will have to fend off. More likely, they laugh at the poor human who gazes at them longingly from the shore, lacking ammo or arrows, nets or help from the opposite shore. This survival business is no simple enterprise, and hardly a matter for one man to attempt to vision and dream his way through. It is a collective enterprise, to which the visions and dreams of each have relevance. Collectively we will face again as we once did consciously, the question of how to provide. Today the veils of complacency and denial are wearing thin, as the systems we have built or allowed to be built to stand between us and our daily bread, are tottering.

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Earlier Archive:

Rule Reversals (January 2003)

Telling it Like it Is (January 2003)

White Rabbit (February 2002)

On Novelty (February 2002)

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party after September 11 (December 2001)

Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion (book review) (November 2001)

Forest Storm (September 2001)

Feminism, Poetic Myth, and Alternative Culture - An Homage to The White Goddess (July 2000)

Quests for Identity and Other Addictions (May 2000)

Wheel of Fortune (April 2000)

Great Writers and Street Poets (February 2000)

Upgrade for Speed Because Time is Running Out? (August 1999)

Retail Therapy: Decision Making in the Computer Age (August 1999)

Retail Therapy2: Random Brief Downtimes (August 1999)

Farouche Speaks (April 1999)

NetGlut: Notes from a cleansing fast (February 1998)

To Unix and Back Alive (January 1997)

Webness (November 1996)

Surfing Again (November 1996)

Bananas in British Columbia (May 1996)

Confessions of a computer addict (May 1996)

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