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From the Twentieth Anniversary Report November 2004
3. Bioregionalism and the Endangered Planet
At the very beginning of this twenty-year period, we became attracted to an ecologically sensitive social movement called “bioregionalism.” We attended the first continental congress of this movement at a camp in Missouri in 1984. A number of well known figures were there: Thomas Berry, Charlene Spretnak, Kirkpatrick Sale, Peter Berg, David Haenke, Jerry Mander, Sonia Johnson, Winona La Duke, as well as many less visible but creative workers in the ecologically aware segment of North America.
We have continued our participation in this movement both locally and continentally. We served on the continental Coordinating Council from 1988-1996. From 1990-92 Gene and Paula Brennecke staffed the continental office and our local House Church participated in organizing a continental congress in 1992 near Hunt, Texas. We made many trips across the continent from Canada to Mexico, from New England to California. Joyce taught consensus facilitation at one of the first bioregional gatherings in Mexico, assisting in spawning an enthusiasm that has moved on down to all of South America. Closer to home, we initiated bioregional organizations in other parts of Texas and have maintained a bioregional presence in North Texas for the full twenty years.
Why has this been important to us? What have we learned from this movement? And what have we given to it? Bioregionalism has given us a way of seeing the Spirit dimension of the ecological crisis. Bioregionalism is a cultural movement as well as an expression of innovative economic practices and political policies. Bioregionalism has emphasized community and consensus and living in place. The core theme of bioregionalism is that humans are always living in community with some natural region of plants, animals, and geological features. These natural regions are a truth given to us by the planet, not arbitrary boundaries like counties, provinces, and states. We actually live not in our zip-code district but in some region of air, water, soil, flora, and fauna. This region is our larger body and requires of us the same care we devote to our body. Humanity is not separate from nature or above nature, merely using it for our whims and adventures. Humanity is part of nature, an important part, the self-awareness of this planet. These themes call us to give up our old attitudes of rulership and values that include only human needs. Industrial civilization is not only fouling the nest in which we must live; it is cutting off part of our bodies; it is impairing part of our sensitivities; it is diminishing our inner lives. Indeed, our true Spirit life is to be found in and through nature, not apart from nature. The Final Mystery of the cosmos is present in the vast complexity of one spoonful of dirt. The story of universal cosmogenesis is part of the story of our daily lives. Meeting together with people who hold these awarenesses is meeting together with what Paul Tillich called the latent church. The community of the Awed Ones can show up in secular places whenever people are facing reality and responding appropriately.
The bioregional movement has given us much. It has influenced all our writing and all our gatherings and all our ethical thinking. And we assume that we have given our Spirit awareness to this movement in perhaps subtle ways too difficult to describe. Despair and delusion arise in any group of people and the ministry of spirit healing is called for wherever Spirit-awake people go.
We believe that the bioregional movement is a significant part of the vanguard of history dedicated to overcoming the trends toward planetary devastation and social injustice.