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How to Own Land

It has been a hectic week and I finished the first week of being a full-time student. My body and mind know this and are telling me it is time to have Sabbath.

I enjoyed the classes this week and they are an eclectic mix: The Tao of Leadership, Eco Ethics and Leadership, and Leadership, Language , and Culture.

In the Eco Ethics class. we talked about challenges faced by humans as we deal with environmental issues from largely a human driven perspective and agenda. It is about ownership and domination in large part and our thinking has to shift. As my figurative dad, Albert Einstein (wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviour according to students) said, “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that got us into those problems.”

I came across this poem that shifted the perspective from humans being outside nature to being part of nature. I used a short story with students written by Leo Tolstoy called How Much Land Does a Man Need? Tolstoy challenged the notion of ownership as we understand it in the ‘advanced world’. Morgan Farley’s message is gentler and takes on the perspective of others living in the world with us, not separate from us.

Find a spot and sit there

until the grass begins

to nose between your thighs.

Climb to the top

of a pine and drink

the wind’s green breath.

Track the stream through alder and scrub,

trade speech

for that cold sweet babble.

Gather sticks and spin them into fire.

Watch the smoke spiral into darkness.

Dream that animals find you.

They weave your hair into warm cloth,

string your teeth on necklaces,

wrap your skin soft around their feet.

Wake to the silence

of your own scattered bones.

Watch them whiten in the sun.

When they have fallen to powder

and blown away,

the land will be yours.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

16 responses »

  1. I find it useful to see myself as of the land. Then I never have to worry about what’s mine :-)
    All the best in the classes ahead!

  2. Ivan, maybe you should share with us now and then the contents of your course, especially something like Eco Ethics. That will be so valuable to any readership in general.

    Very interestingly, I had done a blog post on Tolstoy’s story too but I viewed from a straight and simple philosophical standpoint. If it interests, here it is:

    • Rex, I will try to put together a post in the next couple of days. I had never considered the story in the light of an ecological message, but after I thought about it the message fit with philosophy that underpins Eco Ethics.

  3. The truth at last, I’d say. This is a pleasant end. Beautiful.

  4. This is an amazing poem Ivon. Very Moving.

  5. “When they have fallen to powder

    and blown away,

    the land will be yours”

    What a beautiful line, Ivon. Exquisite.

  6. Glad to see you around my friend. Best wishes in class. Arrived just on time to wish you the best in class!

  7. Pingback: Being a Bee | Teacher as Transformer

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