Bioregions

 

Do you know your bioregion?

 

 

We each make our home in a living place on the Earth. Hudson Estuary, Palisades, Hudson River Valley, Lenape Territory, USA.

What is your bioregion? Your bioregion is the overall web of life where you live. Its physical structure. Its geology, climate, seasons, landforms, watersheds, soils, and native plants and animals that frame your life. It includes the culture that has evolved from living in relation to the physical frame of where you live. Local foods, music, celebrations, clothing, customs, indigenous words.

Our modern way of life ignores a simple fact that the bioregionalist practices. The survival of all life on the Earth, not just human life, depends on our everyday habitual actions. Either our actions nurture and strengthen the web of life or they break it. Our challenge today as we face life-threatening events such as extreme droughts, thousand-acre run-away fires, polluted, undrinkable water and toxic air is to realign ourselves with the dynamic, life-supporting ecosystems of the Earth. How? By each of us reinhabiting where we live through our daily habits. This is the step necessary to preserving the biosphere, which is the zone of life on Earth occupied by all living organisms, including humanity. Life can’t survive without the unique bioregions throughout the biosphere.

As ‘geologian’ Tom Berry wrote: ‘Although the earth is a single integrated life system, it articulates itself in differentiated regions, each of which has its own distinctive qualities. The life system of a mountainous bioregion is different from the life systems of coastlands, or prairies, or tropical forest.” Just as the distinct organs in our bodies together support us as living organisms, so the bioregions of the earth together support all life in the biosphere.

Image Credits: Concept: George Tukel, Map Drawing: Gary Allen, Text: George Tukel

Hudson Estuary as Bioregion

A confluence of many people flowed together in creating the bioregional consciousness of the Lower Hudson River Estuary.  Three of the key individuals were Paul Ryan, Earth Group Global Video Director, who lived with Bioregionalists in San Francisco during the early years of identifying and naming the life-regions of the Earth as Bioregions. Returning home to the Hudson Estuary, he arranged a meeting between San Franciscan Peter Berg, an early, ardent advocate of living bioregionally, and Tom Berry – a Catholic priest and ‘geologian,’ who lived on the eastern shore of the Hudson Estuary.

During this meeting, the three dove deeply into the necessity of living within the web of life. They agreed Homo sapiens are mammals just like so many other animals, who are dependent on the biosphere for their survival.  They talked about the value of indigenous peoples and their know how-to live-in place practices.

And they stressed the critical need now for ecological consciousness to become part of everyday life. All three spent the rest of their lives developing bioregional understanding. Tom Berry wrote a pamphlet on “The Lower Hudson River Basin as a Bioregional Community.” Peter Berg spearheaded what became an international effort to identify, nurture, and protect bioregions everywhere on the earth. Paul Ryan was a pioneer in using the newly developed portapak, battery-operated video camera as a tool to give each of us a voice in how-to live-in our bioregion.

New York City within the Bioregion of the Hudson Estuary​

 

The five boroughs of New York City are located within the Bioregion of the Hudson Estuary. Here fluctuating tides of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean meet fresh water flowing off the land, defining the limits of this Bioregion. The Lenape people, who inhabited this Bioregion long before European Colonists arrived, called this Bioregion Mahicantuck, meaning “great waters in constant motion.” In the video the sun-sparked fresh waters of the Bronx River are flowing to meet the waters of the East River and Long Island Sound, both of which are estuaries of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bronx Waterfall, New York City, Copyright Paul Ryan

[The bioregionalist is someone who] restores and maintains local natural systems; practices sustainable methods of food growing, water, energy, housing, and materials, and supports the work of reinhabitation.
- Peter Berg

Co-Founder, Planet Drum Foundation

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Solebury, PA 18963 USA

Delaware River Bioregion
Lenape Territory

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