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Photo by Tessa Denison

Human Ecology

The past few days have found us diving head first into the often overlooked reality that the world in which we now inhabit is not simply made from a few handful of stories, but countless complex worldviews that spin a colorful web of possible potentials that make up the ethnosphere, which we are learning is no less important than say, the biosphere. Where we are now in Chiang Mai, we are at the cross roads of myriad cultural lineages that extend from Tibet to Vietam and everywhere in between. Yet here, as is typically the case in other regions of the world, only a few versions of how to live as a human are given much airtime. Education is increasingly homogenized and with this the creative spark which has ignited the hope and ingenuity of innumerable generations past is growing dimer at a staggering pace.

Our time in Chiang Mai has found us exploring the stories so often not told. The tales of refugees and animals whose limbs were lost because of land mines. The mythologies and daily practices of Animists and Theravada Buddhists. The dreamlike whisper of silence when cellphones and automobiles are no longer disrupting presence. The sound of a bell ringing, a woman singing far away…

We are taking time, while sitting under the shade of 1000 year old temples and ancient Boddhi trees, to reflect over what aspects of our core values are ultimately the result of societal conditioning and not stemming from natural law. We converse with monks and members of several different “hill tribes” who have values that veer far from the story capitalism offers and are desperately trying to preserve the life they have before it too fades into distant memory.

Tomorrow we head to the small P’a Kya Gyon forest community of Huai Hin Lad Nai. This community has chosen to live in the same way for hundreds of years, successfully avoiding the horrors of war, religious assimilation and colonization. Here we will dive deeper into learning how to live simply in this time of increasing climate crises. We will spend our days using our hands, weaving and preparing organic food. We will wake with the sun, learn from monks and hear stories from elders about how to live well in a place you know well for the benefit of a time we will never know. We will walk slowly and drink tea we harvest ourselves. We will listen to the trees and build new relationships with new friends as we further explore what it means to be human…