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Kristen Lang: a note on Earth Dwellers

The notion that humans might do well to view themselves as embedded or entangled in the rhythms of the Earth’s ecosystems is obviously not new, likely older than language. Even amid the oppositional tendencies of industrialised cultures, intimate and immediate relatedness to the places we inhabit continues to be given voice, strained though the effort may have become. There’s recognition that weakened connectivity to the natural world might be something to lament, something to remedy. In truth the need is urgent: climate change, habitat loss, human-induced species loss (that huge thing we make so little of – two words for our destruction not of a life but of an entire life form).

Ecological restoration is thankfully a growing, global occupation, populated by soil ecologists, entomologists (we need more of them), meteorologists, ornithologists, Indigenous elders, farmers, volunteers…and why not poets? This is, after all, a cultural as well as a physical undertaking, one that reaffirms, shouts out about, the all-life, deep-time context of human history. Humans may have emerged only recently but we are of and joined to the planet’s physical and biological matrix. I would love to write for a culture within which these relationships truly matter.

Earth Dwellers is my way of saying they do matter. They matter to me. If we are lucky, we will enter an era where they matter on every level, each breath drawn with an awareness of and a responsibility for this more-than-human world. Right now, it seems either too easy or too necessary to forget that what we take, every bite, every bauble, every city space, every water drop, comes from somewhere real. It’s what we need to solve – how to take without collapsing ecosystems, without the history of the planet meaning nothing at all.

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