The wild requires that we learn the terrain, nod to all the plants and animals and birds, ford the streams and cross the tides, and tell a good story when we get home.
Gary Snyder, “The Etiquette of Freedom” in The Practice of the Wild
Stories are elemental and essential for us humans. We tell stories to find our place in the world, to affirm order and meaning in the tumble of life, to imagine new possibilities and to offer moral contours for our behaviour. Stories of place locate us in the larger-than-human world, allowing us to know the land, the sky, the water, and to contextualize ourselves there, alongside the other creatures bound into them.
To tell stories of place, we need a place literacy, the ability to read the beyond-human world. We need to be literate in the varying shapes of leaf and blossom, in the seasonal moods of the grasses and wild weeds, in the distinct caresses of mist and fog, drizzle and downpour. But how do we come to such a literacy of place?
During our day together, we’ll consider how we can engage the languages of art to expand our place literacy, and how we, then, can begin to tell the new and necessary stories that will carry us through this time of ecological calamity into new living in place.
About Ann Pelo
Ann is the author of five books, most recently The Goodness of Rain: Developing an Ecological Identity in Young Children (2013). She’s deep into work on her next book, with a focus on pedagogical leadership.