Sundown, Alpine Lake, . . .
On the road in the Northwest of America.

On the Necessity of Culture nested
in wild Nature

Just as the world needs vast stretches of roadless wilderness,
where the ways of Nature pure and unfettered remain the
supreme dominant formative force, so too, in my view, the world
needs roadless areas in which humans are encouraged to build
small shelters, homesteads and self-sustaining villages. Why?
I would say as a demonstration of new and creative possible
solutions to the perennial problem of Culture co-exisitng in
harmony with Nature. After all, that is the primary problem not
only of our time, but I would argue, of any time.

At present, in the contemporary North American metaphysics of
wilderness—the why, wherefore and meaning of wild nature—the
only real challenge, and it is a tremendous one, is the two-step task
of fighting to acquire wilderness and then protecting it. But, in a way,
I would suggest that the challenge of culture + wilderness, how
to live sustainably and artfully not just in a material, but also and
perhaps more importantly in a spiritual sense upon the Land is
much greater. And more necessary. More urgent. Why? Because
contemporary humans—those children of an amazingly imbalanced
culture with, on the one hand, the remarkable and revolutionary
technologies of information, and on the other utterly backward
energy technmologies and runaway militarism—also need a
clear slate upon which to demonstrate their new ideas, and their
skill and craft in designing renewably structures of all kinds which
nest themselves harmoniously within Nature's web. Contemporary
humans, like all members of our unique yet troubled species
who have gone before us, need the chance to build a home
and a path, which, like the best of those of the past, might last
a thousand years or more.

The question I ask myself is whether humankind may once again
become not man the destroyer, but man the creator of habitat. We
already have much of the necessary knowledge. And we certainly
have the technology. Now we need the find the wisdom to limit the
power of those tools, and the energy to gain the insights which will
reveal the appropriate places, scales and season.

For me, the notion of protection of wilderness is as necessary
as it is onesided. I think we also need the idea of humankind in
the right place and at the right scale as a perminant co-inhabitant
of the wild land.

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South/North Sister—
first light
Black Butte
Ponderosa Pines— after burn Manzanita

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008
(created: VII.27.2008)