YEah! Thanks for starting us fresh again! I was having a hard time with the sheer size of the last one!
: I have this paper due tomorrow for my political geography course that I've had soooooo much fun writing... I'd like to share if anyone wants to read:
Here's the assignment:
In this essay, respond to this quote thinking about what Leopold means and how it relates to your life.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
I would like you to craft a response in three parts. First, explain what Leopold means? How is land a commodity, and is his sentiment that ‘we do not respect and love our land’ accurate? Perhaps you might want to define “we.” Second, what consumption or lifestyle practices lead to your commodification of land and territory? Explain how you as an individual might be part of the problem. In the third part, think about ways in which you might think about your relationship with land as part of your community and how you might be more careful about your practices in the future. What will you do or change about yourself to take a more progressive view towards improving environmental health?
And here's what I've got so far:
Exercise III- Aldo Leopold & the Land Ethic
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." –Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
In the above statement Aldo Leopold is explaining that it is our perspective of land that is causing an imbalanced relationship with it. Leopold is referring to the American commercial perspective of land as commodity; an item of value that can be traded, bought or sold. Aldo begs that we view land as a “community” not a “commodity”. Land is commodified not only by sale and purchase but also through objectivity that it has inherent worth of value. The perspective of land as having implicit value leads consequentially such activities such as mining, timber extraction, intensive grazing and monoculture. These activities are intrinsic to American commerce in Aldo’s day as well as today. In the sixty years since the publication of A Sand County Almanac and hence this quotation there is yet to be a philosophical shift in the general American public, the above statement is as pertinent and relevant now as it was then. We, average Americans, do not love and respect the land.
Despite the fact that I consider myself to be an environmentalist I also participate in this philosophy perhaps as a result of living under the “American rule” of capitalism and consumption. I “own” my own portion of the land when I made the purchase of my condominium. Notwithstanding the grounds beneath and encompassing our building are community owned by our HOA we none the less “own” the property and are responsible for maintenance, adherence to city code and regulation and are subject to violations of such. It would be difficult to argue that I am any less responsible for commodification than the average homeowner or even oil speculator because philosophically the foundation of possession remains the same.
Admitting I own real property though fundamentally not the picture of the “community” ethic as Leopold may imply does not inherently mean I am absent to his ideals and philosophy. On the contrary I find it quite healthy to be able to care for family in a culturally accepted way, for although my family enjoys squatting on Federal Forest land for a short duration on a yearly basis (for the Annual Gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light) this is not acceptable nor necessarily Leopold’s idea for “healthy land” use for true communal living to take place an extended basis. However having participated in the Gathering of 25,000 and upward fashioning our own sanitation system and water supplies is quite impressive and encompasses a true need for people, land and biota to be perceived as a single community (closest perhaps to the philosophy to the land ethic one might find in the present culture) I doubt that a return to nomadic living on a full time basis is a viable or attractive solution.
I do share Aldo Leopold’s convictions and I do my part as a steward of the land to promote a positive and loving view of our one and only planet in numerous ways. The majority of the produce my family consumes is grown about a mile from our home in San Marcos, TX at the community gardens. Every bit of vegetable matter and that is not consumed in our household is turned back into soil via the compost bin we created in our small flower garden. As each of our conventional light bulbs expires (the ones that came with the purchase of our home) we replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and of course turn them off when not necessary. We have recently replaced our antiquated washing machine with a high efficiency front-loading model (and in only one month have had an eighty dollar saving on our electricity alone)! We are also in process of remodeling our master bathroom in which the old commode will be replaced with a more water savvy one as well as consideration taken to consider the longevity and durability of the products we choose for our new powder room. It has been a priority for us to replace the appliances that squander the most water even though we pay a flat rate for water through our HOA, this is likely an uncommon perspective.
Many of my parenting choices are also made with consideration of the big Mother (Earth). We chose to have our daughter at home with a midwife (and her assistant) in attendance and as is our plan for our next little one underway. A home birth (two women and one small bag of equipment coming to your home) entails a fraction of energy and resources when compared the massive infrastructure of the hospital. I also exclusively breastfed my daughter until she was ready for solid foods which I then made for her. Breastfeeding does not require any additional packaging, advertising and transport and so is the best choice for one following the philosophy of the land ethic. There are many, many more ways in which my family attempts to live lightly on the land. The important thing is that green living is our philosophy and part of our everyday life. I like to think when my fellow friends and neighbors see me pull up the bicycle rack and pull my daughter and cloth bags out of the Doodlebug bicycle trailer at the grocery store I am showing the world that things can be done in ways other than the conventional. I know I’ve made an impact on my friends in such a way and I’m sure my children will eventually learn the strange and wasteful ways of the world when they begin to associate more and more with peers. In the meantime I find myself quite satisfied with navigating through the obstacles of compassionate living while sustaining my family in a material world.
I'm just going to close it with ways I try and do my part. That's why I went back to refer to my original post here at the GLT. I welcome any constructive criticism. English was not my first language so I tend to have issues with structure and wordiness! If you made it to the end thatnks for reading!