On my drive this morning I couldn’t help but stop and capture some of the beauty that we are surrounded by, and often inured to; the saying that familiarity breeds contempt can be true. Every day we drive through beauty that other people have to schedule vacations to experience.
Next to this gorgeous panorama, there was more beauty; the evidence of human habitation, of people living and loving and sweating and laughing in a place. There’s beauty in a ramshackle building, which like anything born has a time when it is at it’s glowing shiniest, and a time when it is in slow physical decline. A discerning eye can see that each of these stages can be deeply enjoyed and a pleasure to observe.
It’s a juxtaposition that can be jarring if you don’t consider that people, that WE, aren’t separate from nature. We are an extension of her, part of her, and ARE her. With that understanding comes the responsibility to care for and manage the nature around us… and to not treat people like a parasite or scourge open nature, but an aspect of Nature that needs careful cultivation as well.
Forests need managing. Nearly every forested area that people currently live in, is an area that has been cultivated by humans for centuries, if not millennia. There is simply no such thing as ‘untouched’ forest around us; forests are the most vibrant, most full of life, and most safe for people when they are carefully cultivated by a knowledgeable population.
The folks who lived here before us knew how to do this. They used careful burns to encourage re-seeding and a healthy balance between old growth and new growth. They understood the important work of managing the land, and that’s something we simply have to do as well. We learned a lot from the CZU fires; we learned that living in a forest requires responsible engagement. We need to cultivate nature, and that means taking care of both the ‘wild’ parts and the people, who are part of nature, who abide there.
We need to craft human-positive approaches to our environmentalism. We can live here in a responsible way without aggravating human suffering. We can clear away overgrowth and carefully, pre-emptively burn without it being a net negative, but instead being a life-saving positive. We can actively protect all of the creatures of the land.
Please think about this when considering ideas like fire lanes that allow us access to the deep forest. When considering the importance of fire-mitigation and regular burning of excess fuel. When considering regulations that make it harder for the people who live here to continue living here. We should be spending just as much care and concern for our folks as we do for the land. They aren’t entirely separate, what happens to one impacts the other, in both directions. Let’s be active together in cultivating a local culture that is deeply involved and knowledgeable about environmental cultivation, smart forest management, resource management and investment, and housing policy. These things are all deeply connected to each other, and a compassionate and careful approach can create good growth for us all. Just expressing these thoughts while they are fresh in my mind. I’ll see you around town!