From Shasta Bioregional Gathering 5

Sustainable SF

Why did we title it “Restoring Watersheds, Communities & Ourselves”?

Planet Drum Foundation

There were two main flows of activity and thought heading into this year’s Shasta Bioregional Gathering. One was the strong resident restoration ecology movement in the northern coastal area of California composed of groups such as the Mattole Watershed Council and a half-dozen others. The second was the large number of state-of-the-art professionals in eco-restorative fields related to fish, forests, streams, and soil who also live in the area and work on projects like Redwood National and State Parks. These were the bedrock for panels, presentations, workshops, and spontaneous discussions during the four-day event.

Native American participation was the highest of any previous SBG. A Yurok elder was on the welcoming panel to describe the ancient sacred role of the SBG site, and inter-tribal spokespersons described the new Sinkyone Wilderness state park that will be limited to Native American traditional management and use. Friday’s dinner was a traditional salmon and fried bread feast by the Yurok Tribe and afterwards some elders talked about their history and culture. A panel of traditional basketmakers and other craftspersons discussed their resources considerations, poet Julian Lang and four other Yurok-Karok performers narrated tribal and personal histories, and the closing ceremony featured a representative of the Seventh Generation Foundation.

Local community participation included the SBG-endorsing, Greens-dominated, Arcata City Council, Bill Devall speaking on the ecological system in Shasta Bioregion, the director of the Northcoast Environmental Center describing a 50 year history of natural resources exploitation in the area, and Headwaters Forest protest leaders updating their case for a massive protest the following weekend.

In some ways it was a homecoming for long-time bioregional advocates since Freeman House, Jerry Martien, Jim Dodge, Judy Goldhaft, David Simpson, Jan Lapiner, Seth Zuckerman, and others gave reports, read poems or performed, and participated on panels. KayDee Simon of Arcata did a great job of organizing and coordinating the Gathering, especially in designing the highly informative program.

This SBG reflected how thoroughly bioregional ideas have led and begun to permeate local culture as well as institutional thinking. Peter Berg said that life-place considerations were in ascendancy and would eventually prevail in Shasta Bioregion and other places. For one thing, reinhabitation is the only answer to living sustainably in the future and even local government people know this now. In addition, it’s the wellspring for new ideas, idealism, individual energy, and a legitimate context for ethics and values to shift from a society that exploits natural systems to one that lives harmoniously with them. It was wonderful to see how strongly these things are coming to fruition. It’s obvious from the attendance by a truly wide range of ages that there is at least a second generation to carry bioregionally inspired activities into the future.