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July 11, 2024

Exploring Ecocultural Identity

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
– Chief Seattle c. 1780~86 – 1866

While young children probably don’t refer to it as their “ecocultural identity,” they are natural teachers for us when it comes to experiencing and remembering our deep and inherent connection with the natural world. For them it is still a matter of simple and total connection. Immersion, delight, and true caring about every leaf, every butterfly, seem to come more easily for young children. As adults we may have more unlearning than learning to do – unlearning the false separations between ourselves and nature.

When you step outside, whether you are in a natural place that is special to you or anywhere you are, consider your ecocultural identity. This is comprised of your own connection and response to the environment, the air, the weather, the life forms all around you. There is always an opportunity to increase our awareness of the life around us and in us, and doing so supports our work with young children and with one another. This does not take work, but pause; not effort, but reverence. You might consider how your community, your neighbors, and your ancestors relate to the land. Today, what do you long for in your connection with nature? How can you lead, how can you follow invitations from the natural world? Are you interested in doing this?

A dedicated and thoughtful group of nature practitioners in early care and education, the Environmental Kinship International (EKI), developed a beautiful invitation and resource to support people in deepening their connection with nature and helping children and families do the same. The Environmental Kinship Initiative explores the abundant opportunities for community, reciprocity and spirituality in nature. Joyfully, their resources are free and available here.

With thanks for every thread in the web of life.

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