There is nothing more important to the creation of a viable society than radically transforming our relationship with land. Land is where all life comes from, where all needs are met. It is not a “parcel of property,” it is everything. Therefore we must create a way of life based on the lived understanding that to nourish land is to nourish ourselves. There are many obstacles to this work. We have to learn how to meet our needs directly from the land, move beyond concepts of land “ownership” and commodification, and accommodate climate crisis refugees. We must collaborate with indigenous people and those marginalized and oppressed by the present systems throughout this process to develop just ways of power sharing. In working to discover solutions to these complex problems, we must act as guests on the land. We have to continually redefine the responsibilities of this role as we learn through experience and a structured approach to critical education. It will not be easy, but we must have courage and perseverance in striving to create the land-based foundation of a just and sustainable society.
Work to meet all of our needs at a scale we can observe and experience. Seeing the entire process of meeting our needs from the land can give us a type of intelligence for understanding how our actions influence the systems that sustain us. If we can observe and experience the process of extraction, production, distribution and disposal all in the same place, we can begin to figure out more responsible ways of living that nourish instead of exploit.
Our culture should be shaped by the land, not the other way around. If we want to create a sustainable society, we need to completely imbed our culture, habits, world views, languages and ways of meeting our needs in the land we live in. If we meet all of our needs from the land, it becomes self evident we should nourish it.
Don’t assume we know what Nature needs. As products of an exploitive society, we must be mindful that we have much to learn from the land before we can assume we know what is good for it. In this sense, establishing spaces where humans do not interfere is just as important as transforming our relationship with the spaces that we inhabit.
Act as stewards of the land. In practical terms this means, reforest and care for the soil, deal with non-degradable toxic waste, block efforts to exploit and destroy the land, and any activity that will nourish and foster the health of wildlife and ecosystems. Since all of our needs are met from the land, ensuring the health and vitality of natural systems is a basic responsibility for human kind. It is all one system, so pollution anywhere is a threat to life everywhere.
Learn about who has access to land and why. The historically unjust forces that shape land settlement and acquisition are still influencing land access today and if unchecked, will continue into the future. Transforming these unjust forces is not possible without understanding them in depth which requires a commitment to educating ourselves in a structured way. Unless we make an effort to learn about the unjust roots of land access, we are liable to furthering the society we are aiming to change. If we intend to create a just society, these trends can not be ignored and must be interrupted.
Create pathways of de-urbanization. Create opportunities for people who desire to leave the city but are forced to stay there. We should develop avenues for urbanites displaced by gentrification and development to move into the countryside and learn ways of living a nourishing life with the land. Long term, the infrastructure we build should have many open doors for the refugees of the cities when the systems of exploitation fail to keep the city going.
Protect land from commodification. The conversion of land into money by means of owning, buying and selling it as “property” is in direct conflict with our efforts to foster a nourishing relationship with land. This process of commodifying land is an obstacle to our work because when individuals have the “right” to do what they want with their property, they do not need to be accountable to the greater need of people or the ecosystem. For this reason we should develop multiple strategies for preventing land from being commodified and transitioning privately owned land into collectively managed regions.
Create social checks and balances for how decisions are made about land. To counter the dangers of private ownership and power abuse, we should create ways of sharing property that are social and service oriented. We can build greater accountability by encouraging collective responsibility for deciding how land is used.
Collaborate with indigenous people to develop and implement structures of power sharing and land use. We must include indigenous people in the act of building this nourishing infrastructure while developing strategies for sharing power and repatriating land. The genocide, systematic displacement, and erasure of indigenous people did not happen two hundred years ago, it is ongoing today. Far from actually being dead, indigenous people are alive throughout the country but have made little progress in gaining access to the land that settlers displace them from. Worse yet, they are subject to disproportionate poverty. As settlers on stolen land, we can not expect to become “native” and live at peace with the earth without giving up power. We can not transform our relationship with land by assuming indigenous people no longer exist.
Reestablish indigenous people and cultures. If we are serious about creating a culture that is completely imbedded in the land, we have to radically transform our world views and cultures. Instead of reinventing past cultures, creating a patch-work of appropriated practices as settlers, we should work with indigenous people to reestablish their culture, asking them what role we should play in the process.