Contemplative Ecologies 14

Happy first of June! This week, I was driving from L.A. to Seattle, so all five of my top posts are podcasts I listened to along the way. They include: a beautiful Dharma talk on Eros (love) and environmental activism, a playful dialogue about Dark Ecology, a lecture on ecodharma, an interview with the author of The Patterning Instinct, and a discussion on Robert Keagan’s stages of development and Buddhism. Hope you enjoy!

1. This four-part Dharma talk, called An Ecology of Love, given by Rob Burbea at Gaia House, is one of the best dharma talks I’ve listened to in a while. It highlights the relationship between Eros and our love for the Earth. Rob explores how the erotic dimension of experience relates to the imaginal (Psyche) and conceptual (Logos), explaining how each can deepen and expand the others in a life-affirming and sacred vision of environmental activism.

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Contemplative Ecologies 13

Today is my move-out day. I’m leaving L.A. (after 4 years) and looking for apartments in Berlin next month (let me know if you have any leads!). This week’s top 5 posts include: a lecture on spirituality and systems change, a dialogue with a preeminent contemplative philosopher, a futures study on the societal impacts of climate change, an essay on art and climate trauma, and two web portals for envisioning positive futures. Hope you enjoy!

1. This lecture by Jonathan Rowson for Theos (a Christian think-tank) explains the philosophy informing Perpectiva. He “argues that cultivating ‘spiritual sensibility’ across society is essential for solving the world’s most complex political problems – and that the spiritual could and should be pivotal in this process. In his recent publication Spiritualise, co–published by the RSA and Perspectiva, Rowson argues that our public debates aren’t working because we are far too coy about discussing human nature, meaning and purpose. He believes that spiritual matters underpin all of our most urgent shared living questions – how we wake up, grow up and wise up to the challenges of our time, not least the slow death of democracy, technological overreach and ecological insanity.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 12

This week, I was caretaking, hosting family, and recovering from shingles, so I made very few posts. Still, I managed 5 posts about eco-Marxism, biopunk, contemplative ecology, eco-democracy, and mindfulness for sustainability. Hope you enjoy!

1. The Ecologist published a short history of ecological Marxism:

“…in the closing decades of the twentieth century an ecological Marx was unearthed, thanks to the work of David Harvey and many others. Then, at the turn of the millennium, Paul Burkett – in Marx and Nature – and John Bellamy Foster – Marx’s Ecology – presented Marx as a thinker whose core concerns were ecological… These authors, together with the recently departed scholar-activists Joel Kovel and Elmar Altvater, as well as Jason Moore – Capitalism in the Web of Life – and Andreas Malm – Fossil Capital – have ‘brought capitalism back in’ to discussion on nature-society relations, sparking a sustained regeneration of ecological Marxist thought. Moore – alongside Marxist feminists such as Carolyn Merchant – have helped the renascent ecological Marxism converse creatively with feminist and social reproduction theory. The upshot has been a radical rethinking of Marx’s project. No longer can ‘nature’ be seen as playing a bit part. His anthropology, after all, is premised on the understanding that human creatures fashion their relationship with the rest of nature through the production of their means of subsistence.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 11

Hello everyone! This week, my favorite 5 posts are about the commons-based phase transition, affective ecology, transition design, Theory U, and solarpunk. Hope you enjoy!

1. Michel Bauwens has a new interview and article on the postcapitalist commons-based phase transition. The Symbiosis Research Collective also published a nice article on the topic. Here are excerpts from the former:

“Our best hope is to strengthen the social forces aligned with p2p and the commons during the brief intermezzo in which our civilization prepares for major catastrophes, and to have enough seed forms ready to attract those that will be vitally interested in resilient economic and social alternative forms. Things will probably get a lot worse before they can get any better, but we hope the ‘imaginal cells’ of the commons will be a significant factor in diminishing the amount of damage in the transition period.”

In his interview, Bauwens mentioned the contemplative commons, saying “We need to work on a culture of cooperation for a ‘more-than-human-commons’ (i.e. Zack Walsh in the Arrow), that has strong spiritual and ecological aspects, and overcome the subject-object split introduced by the Enlightenment, but without abandoning the aspirations for human equality.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 10

Happy May Day celebrations and Happy 200th Birthday to Karl Marx! My favorite 5 posts this week are about building climate resilient social infrastructure, a meditation on deep time, a thermodynamic critique of the circular economy, an essay on environmentally induced epigenetic trauma, and a report on this year’s Ecological Civilization conference. Hope you enjoy!

1. This article about the importance of building community resilience for climate adaptation tempers the mainstream emphasis on economic and technical solutions to climate change:

“…the variable that best explained the pattern of mortality during the Chicago heat wave was what people in my discipline call social infrastructure. Places with active commercial corridors, a variety of public spaces, local institutions, decent sidewalks, and community organizations fared well in the disaster. More socially barren places did not. Turns out neighborhood conditions that isolate people from each other on a good day can, on a really bad day, become lethal.

This is important, because climate change virtually guarantees that, in the next century, major cities all over the world will endure longer, more frequent, and more intense heat waves—along with frankenstorms, hurricanes, blizzards, and rising seas. And it’s inevitable that cities will take steps to fortify themselves against this future. The first instinct of urban leaders is often to harden their cities through engineering and infrastructure, much of which is indeed pretty vital. But research keeps reinforcing [that]… it’s the strength of a neighborhood that determines who lives and who dies in a disaster.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 9

I made several big data dumps this week. My favorite 5 posts were about cyborg urbanization, urban resilience, regenerative capitalism, the astrobiology of the Anthropocene, and an animated short film on consumerism. Hope you enjoy!

1. An artificial intelligence named Michihito Matsuda is running for this year’s mayoral elections in Tama city, Japan. The AI mayor’s platform consists of 3 selling points: “(1) The ability to discover and analyze relevant petitions pertaining to Tama City, as well as break down the positives and negatives and statistically dictate whether this would have a positive or negative effect; (2) Intake the dialogue and wishes of residents, carefully calculating what the best way to implement them would be if they match the people’s desires; (3) Find level-compromise in common interest conflicts amongst the people of Tama City.”

This is yet another example of how smart cities could become increasingly conscious cities. Another blog post I read explored this evolution from smart cities to posthuman architecture. I’m increasingly interested in how cyborg urbanization (see here and here) would evolve what it means to be ‘human’ as biological and digital worlds become enmeshed.

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Contemplative Ecologies 8

I posted much less last week, because I was at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) conference in New Orleans and a symposium on Ecological Civilization in New York. So, this week’s top 5 posts will include more excerpts:

1. Last week, the BBC reported that “You’re more microbe than you are human’… Human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists… [which] includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and archaea.” At AAG, I attended sessions on postgenomics, which is an emerging way of thinking about living organisms as open, malleable, responsive multiplicities based on sciences like epigenomics and microbiomics. The image below is from an article reviewing epigenetic influences from various environmental sources.

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Contemplative Ecologies 7

This week’s top 5 posts from my daily feed include frameworks for systems thinking, a buddho-philo-fiction called Xenobuddhism, several papers on the psycho-social dimensions of sustainability, a critical review of the circular economy, and an interview exploring the politics of pixelisation and collage. Hope you enjoy!

1. I posted several rubrics for understanding system dynamics, including: Donella Meadows’ twelve leverage points to intervene in systems (of which, shifting goals, mindsets and paradigms are most effective); Rob Hopkins’ three key design principles to enhance community resilience (incl. increased diversity, modularity, and tightness of feedback); and a transdisciplinary framework for addressing health issues (pictured below).

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Contemplative Ecologies 6

This week’s top 5 posts from my daily feed include a VR meditation on aural ecology, a typology of eco-mental landscapes, a history of degrowth, photographs of the Anthropocene, and an article on space junk. Hope you enjoy!

1. Last week, the New York Times featured a fantastic virtual reality Op-Doc that “provides an immersive experience into the Hoh Rain Forest, told from the perspective of the acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton.” He says, “Silence is the poetics of space— what it means to be in a place. A whole topography of the surrounding landscape is revealed to me in the many layers of the echo that comes towards me. And I think to myself, I know exactly where I am. Silence isn’t the absence of something, but the presence of everything… Silence is the presence of time undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. It nurtures our nature. And silence is on the verge of extinction… When I listen, I have to become quiet. I become very peaceful. And I think what I enjoy most about listening, is that I disappear. *I* disappear.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 5

Happy Friday everyone! Here are this week’s top 5 posts curated from my daily feed:

1. Mary Woodbury published a three-part series on New Weird fiction. She argues, “[The Weird] is as much ‘a sensation as it is a mode of writing’… ‘because the Weird exists in the interstices, because it can occupy different territories simultaneously… Weird stories can take any subject and bend it around into non-Euclidean geometry… Weird fiction has permission to go outside our usual perceptions.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 4

It’s been a busy week! I just completed 4 qualifying exams in 7 days (yippee!). And I still managed to curate plenty of content for y’all! Here are this week’s highlights:

1. Eurozine published a review of archaeological and anthropological data that contests fundamental assumptions about cultural evolution. The authors argue, “it no longer makes any sense to use phrases like ‘the agricultural revolution,’” considering that the transition “to a life based on food production typically took something in the order of three thousand years.” Even more surprising, they claim it “makes even less sense to talk about agriculture as marking the origins of rank or private property… Egalitarian cities, even regional confederacies, are historically quite commonplace… and there is absolutely no evidence that top-down structures of rule are the necessary consequence of large-scale organization.” These are bold claims, so I’m curious to learn more. A friend directed me to this manifesto explaining Foundations of an Anarchist Archaeology and this text on An Introduction to Anarchism in Archaeology, which I plan to read later. If you have other resources or opinions, feel free to post them in comments (below) or email me.

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Contemplative Ecologies 3

Happy Friday everyone! I’ve been busy completing qualifying exams, so this week’s post will feature more excerpts and less links. Hope you enjoy it:

1. I recommend two recent Aeon articles. One on The African Anthropocene:

“[There is] a common critique of the Anthropocene concept: it attributes ecological collapse to an undifferentiated ‘humanity’, when in practice both responsibility and vulnerability are unevenly distributed. While the Anthropocene continually inscribes itself in all our bodies – we all have endocrine disruptors, microplastics and other toxic things chugging through our metabolisms – it manifests differently in different bodies. Those differences, along with the histories that generated them, matter a great deal.”

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Contemplative Ecologies 2

This is the second blog post in a new series by Zack Walsh. Each Friday, I highlight the top 5 posts curated from my personal Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this week’s highlights:

1. The Great Transition Initiative just ended their round table on Vivir Bien / Buen Vivir. I recommend reading the original article and follow-up discussion which explains both the relational aspects of its cosmovision and how an alliance of autonomous movements supported by the commons can prevent its co-optation by state legislators. If like me you’re interested in the spiritual culture of degrowth, I’d also recommend this earlier article comparing the non-dual cosmologies of Buen Vivir and Theravāda-Buddhism. To stay up-to-date with publications, subscribe to GTI’s bimonthly bulletin or Facebook page.

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Contemplative Ecologies 1

This is the first blog post in a new series by Zack Walsh. Each Friday, I highlight the top 5 posts curated from my personal Facebook page. I hope you enjoy this week’s highlights:

1. There are several new pieces related to my #ContemplativeCommons project. Peter Doran published a new article, Towards a Mindful Cultural Commons. Uneven Earth published a cli-fi about the psycho-social affects of enclosures. My favorite quote: “The fences were strongest in the mind.” For those unfamiliar with the commons, I’d recommend David Bollier’s accessible introduction, Think Like a Commoner; and for a more contemplative perspective, check out Ugo Mattei’s First Thoughts for a Phenomenology of the Commons.

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