At twenty-two, caught in a winter storm, blowing hair tickling my face, I watched the swaying dance of marsh grasses animated by the wind and stood stone-like, in awe. At that pregnant moment I came to know the cosmos before me: the grass, the lake, the wind, the ducks, and clouds and sky and stars and moon as co-revelers in a dance; a dancing into being. I realized too–immediately, not in retrospect–that I had a role in that dance, at once spontaneous, unbounded, mysterious, but I had no way to choreograph its steps or perform its movements. Instantly I became part of something larger, something beautiful, something entirely Other and still me at the same time. This vision sustained me for a decade or more, even as it poked at me, festering. It wouldn’t leave me alone!
Unable to get on with life in a Western way I finally sought a different way of being, one being pressed upon me it seemed, by the cosmos itself, luring me from afar, irrepressible. No longer able to turn my back, I turned towards it seeking the nature of nature, seeking patterns, seeking beauty, seeking the deep intelligence that underlay the forms I saw all around me. I began to feel it. As I became increasingly one with this intelligence, my skin slowly became less boundary and more locus of connection. I felt myself increasingly integral to the forest, even necessary, like an organ within an organism, an intelligent organism. The forest began speaking to me through me and I began to feel a sense of wholeness for the very first time, a sense of boundless meaning. I felt like a human being.
La Terre is a human niche.
A human niche is a milieu that educes a flowering of the fullness of humanness. It is both an activity and a place, a mode of doing and where it is done.
As an activity it may something practical, like developing ways of creating and living in a niche; such a niche-making activity might be the creation of sustainable ways of inhabiting Earth in harmony with non-human neighbors or simply warming oneself by a fire at the forest edge. Niche-making may also be something more mysterious, like noticing and pointing up at Venus in the evening sky just above the horizon–and the way that feels.
Niches and niche-making, as it is used here, must be seen as the making of subtle additions to what nature provides, a blending with other, wild niches. Grown rather than made, such a niche would seem to arise out of the Earth like trees.
La Terre is a way of thinking.
Einstein famously declared that one cannot solve problems with the types of thinking that created them. La Terre strives to hold loosely, tenuously, to old ways of thinking, to old thought patterns, so they may change.
As a way of thinking, La Terre asks how humans might better fit within living forests as a dynamic principle, cycling and waxing and waning as a forest does. It asks how we might better make even the densest of cities more of an extension of forests than they currently are.
La Terre asks how an individual human being might come to know her function in milieu, how she fits–and come to know that she knows? Finally, La Terre asks how modern humans as a collective might fit within Gaia, within the biosphere, the living Earth?