Although I'm a recovering planner, I still like to track the design and development stories that show up on Planetizen, The Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. Yesterday, I came across one from Alaska that I hope represents a major emerging trend. It was entitled Integrating Native Values with Community Planning. The main take-away is the author's finding that:
Traditional Native culture places a strong emphasis on community and sharing, which parallels many new urbanist ideas. Reverence for elders and traditional knowledge can be incorporated into housing projects that seek to integrate multiple generations. Subsistence and living off the land could inspire developments that include community gardens or berry patches. In general I think Alaska stands to benefit greatly from incorporating more Native values into public policy–community planning and otherwise
a "berry" small berry patch © harrington
Based on how impressed I am by the wisdom Robin Wall Kimmerer displays with her combination of Native American and scientific ways of knowing, and my experience working with Native Americans in Minnesota on several affordable housing developments with some mixed uses included, the only change I'd make to the statement quoted would be to delete "Alaska" and insert "the United States." We need to shift our values and develop a much more caring relationship with the earth we depend on. It isn't just a pantry, or a storehouse, or a commodity warehouse, or a place to pile our middens. It's the only home we have. Bob Dylan, in Masters of War, nicely capturesmany of my feelings about too many of today's corporations when he sings
Toys are for children. One of the signs of childhood is demanding immediate gratification, similar to the perspectives of corporations and their leaders. We need of leaders in the corporate and public spheres who can see beyond this quarter's P & L statement or next month's election. Many of the values we need to recognize and honor I've found in my readings about Native Americans, especially the Anishinaabe. The idea of having a relationship with the earth and its persons (not just humans) based on something other than colonial exploitation is a good and necessary step forward. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking and feeling this way. Perhaps, if Native Americans show the rest of us can how to follow their original instructions, we could more readily find a sustainable pot of gold.You play with my worldLike it's your little toy
rainbow's end? © harrington
To pray you open your whole selfTo sky, to earth, to sun, to moonTo one whole voice that is you.And know there is moreThat you can’t see, can’t hear;Can’t know except in momentsSteadily growing, and in languagesThat aren’t always sound but otherCircles of motion.Like eagle that Sunday morningOver Salt River. Circled in blue skyIn wind, swept our hearts cleanWith sacred wings.We see you, see ourselves and knowThat we must take the utmost careAnd kindness in all things.Breathe in, knowing we are made ofAll this, and breathe, knowingWe are truly blessed because weWere born, and die soon within aTrue circle of motion,Like eagle rounding out the morningInside us.We pray that it will be doneIn beauty.In beauty.
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