by Michelle Berditschevsky
“Bioregional” is our middle name, and when I learned that Guiseppe Moretti, a founder of the Italian Bioregional Network, would be passing through Mount Shasta with two colleagues, I jumped at the chance to offer them hospitality and reconnect with a larger sense of the bioregional movement.
As a life-long farmer in northern Italy’s Po River Basin Bioregion, Guiseppe is deeply connected with the land he inhabits and has been involved in bioregional thought and practice since the 1970s. He was accompanied by his partner Mariateresa and friend Rocco Jaconis. Conversations in the course of meals, walks, and an outing to the source waters at Panther Meadows brought our parts of the world closer together through the bioregional threads we share — seeking the right relationship of human culture with the interconnected sacredness and wholeness of the natural world.
He left us with a little book, “Watersheds of the Mind,” that he authored. Here are a few excerpts expressing his view of the bioregional concept:
“…[W]e are part of a larger dream, the Dream of the Earth, a dream that has accompanied us for thousands of years and never stops inspiring us. It speaks in terms of relations, of sharing, of reciprocal mutual diversity. It speaks to us through myths and archetypes, through poets and simple people, through the vital breath of all things wild….
[I]t is this “Dream” that the bioregional idea wants to propose again, showing…the necessity of restoring the meaning of relationships with everything that runs, crawls, swims and flies; with the cycles, with the climates, winds, rains, snows and everything that creates and sustains life. And to believe in it so much that whatever the differences of culture, class, religion, ethnic or language are, it represents that ‘common ground’ that we all can refer to and finally find the agreements and the necessary joyousness in respect to differences and necessities….
“The bioregional idea teaches in a specific and concrete way. It starts deep within us, and from the place where we live, we understand how to be part of its web of life. The world today is dominated by a process of globalization both economic and cultural which enslaves people and sets them rootless in their own place. The bioregional concept proposes the exact opposite. To stay in our own place, take care of it, defend it, respecting its diversity by listening to the spirit of the place as it informs us where to sow, where to build, which cloth to tailor, which technologies to use and how to give thanks to the mountain, the river, the forest, the fertile plain, the sea….
“The bioregional idea is not a new ideology or a new political party nor a new form of religion, but a practice of life at the bottom of which is the awareness to be and act as part of the wider community of the place where we live. Community in bioregional terms means trees, animals, water courses, mountains, herbs, insects, rocks, seas, as well as human beings. It’s not difficult to think in bioregional terms, we just have to leave behind the exclusivity and arrogance that characterize most of modern society and start to think in terms of relations.
“There is a term that sums up the path to follow, it is ‘Re-inhabitation’ — we must inhabit our place again from a perspective that redefines the theories, the techniques, the practices, the temper and sensibilities so as to find a way to integrate with ecological systems at every level: economic, technological, agricultural, educational, in terms of energy use, politics, religion, anything useful for the society to live sustainably and with dignity in the bioregion where we belong.”
Our Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center has been connected to the bioregional movement since the early 1990s. We collaborated with Peter Berg (one of the original founders of bioregionalism) and his wife Judy of Planet Drum Foundation to host two Shasta Bioregional Gatherings that brought together people from Southern Oregon to the Bay Area, from the Nevada border to the North Coast. These gatherings were like going to heaven and being with like-minded people who share these beautiful values. The bioregional concept continues to deeply inform the direction of our work, our participation in the “Dream of the Earth.”