An ode to all our relations,
Suzanne Simard's Mother Tree Project,
a radical perception of world as Home,
access to mycorrhizal networks & tree roots
He wonders how he found it in him to use the word we. But he’s glad he did. Everything was we, back then. A surrender to cooperative existence...
...No separate trees in a forest.
⚘ Richard Powers, The Overstory
Ideally, an ethic is reached
where “care for the
earth is an inseparable
doing from care of the
interdependency is not
a moral principle but a
lived material constraint—
required and obliged”.
—Puig de la Bellacasa
Ecosystems are similar to human societies — they’re built on relationships. The stronger those are, the more resilient the system. And since our world’s systems are composed of individual organisms, they have the capacity to change. We creatures adapt, our genes evolve, we can learn from experience. A system is ever-changing because its parts — the trees and fungi and people — are constantly responding to one another and to the environment. Our success in coevolution — our success as a productive society — is only as good as the strength of the bonds with other individuals and species. Out of the resulting adaptation and evolution emerge behaviors that help us survive, grow and thrive.
We can think of an ecosystem of wolves, caribou, trees and fungi creating biodiversity just as an orchestra of woodwind, brass, percussion and string musicians assemble into a symphony. Or how our brains, composed of neurons, axons and neurotransmitters, produce thought and compassion. Or the way brothers and sisters join to overcome a trauma like illness or death — the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The cohesion of biodiversity in a forest, the musicians in an orchestra, the members of a family growing through conversation and feedback, through memories and learning from the past, even if chaotic and unpredictable, leveraging scarce resources to thrive. Through this cohesion, our systems develop into something whole and resilient. They are complex. Self-organizing. They have the hallmarks of intelligence. Recognizing that forest ecosystems, like societies, have these elements of intelligence helps us leave behind old notions that they are inert, simple, linear and predictable — notions that have helped fuel the justification for rapid exploitation that has risked the future existence of creatures in the forest systems, like us.
⚘ Suzanne Simard, Finding the Mother Tree
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
“Really, we should think of ideas as connections,in our brains and among people. Ideas aren’t self‒contained things; they’re more like ecologies and networks. They travel in clusters…That’s the way breakthrough ideas happen. They don’t come from contemplative geniuses sitting alone in their studies, trying to think new thoughts.”
I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves - we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.
∆ Mary Oliver, Winter Hours, Upstream: Selected Essays (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), p.154