Applied Ecopsychology & Ecopoetics
Disconnection from Nature, within the philosophy of Ecopsychology, is the root of our society's fast-paced destruction. We spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors, on average, and the time that is spent outside is most often spent engaged in activities or thought processes that do not put us into direct relationship with nature, but rather, maintain the separation we have become so accustomed to as a result of our interior/indoor lives. (Michael Cohen)
Michael Cohen, Founder of Project Nature Connect, has taken the concepts of Ecopsychology outlined at length by Andy Fisher and designed a comprehensive program that enables meaningful reconnection with more-than-human nature (a term coined by David Abram) via Applied Ecopsychology. Palouse Walk is based on those principles, which have been shown over the past 20 years to have healing and restorative effects for those who engage, promoting global ecological healing and social justice as all voices are given respect, weight and validity.
Ecopoetics, as a field of literary criticism, activism and writing, similarly considers the ways in which language can connect, disconnect or serve to raise critical questions about the nature of society, the nature of nature and the nature of language itself so that we, as humans, recognize the power of language in shaping consciousness. Ecopoetics, similar to Ecopsychology, arises out of the sense of crisis the planet faces with our ongoing large scale human-driven destruction.
One of the foundational elements of Applied Ecopsychology is the agency given to each and every voice, human and more-than-human. The power of the written word is the way in which each voice is given WEIGHT. The Palouse Walk helps participants learn how to connect with and trust the non-verbal communication we have with nature via our natural attractions and solidify those understandings and attractions through the written word. A nature-disconnected living uses words to reinforce a life without nature. A nature-connected living uses words to reinforce the complete interconnectedness of humans and more-than-human nature.
Many recent writers, such as Carolyn Finney and Terry Tempest Williams have written about the ways in which the green movement--which sought to give voice to the non-human-- has ironically been unsuccessful in including the myriad voices of all humans, giving very little credence to non-dominant perspectives within the environmental movement as a whole, and all but eliminating the voices of non-whites, women and the poor in this country and around the globe.
Linda Russo, a poet and professor at Washington State University, currently residing in Pullman, WA, writes extensively about and through places as sites and instances of inhabitance. As a wonderful gift, she has written specifically to one of the sites on Palouse Walk, ADMITTED IN A PATCH OF REWILDED PRAIRIE (The Plum Grove Tunnel). Click the hyperlink to read her poem and visit her website. Watch for a workshop to be hosted Spring 2016 at PCEI as well.
Using words to inform one another of our experiences is a powerful method for enlarging the entire experience. By honoring the many individual experiences that come together to shape a collective; by sharing your experiences--your very direct and real experiences that you have for yourself WITH nature--you reinforce this experience for yourself and for others and open further dialogue with other humans. Humans in connection with more-than-human nature that are in dialogue with one another then open the way for more comprehensive human & interspecies dialogue. The blending of the very practical, restorative and reconnective exercises of Applied Ecopsychology with the written exploratory elements of Ecopoetics form the perfect hybrid, becoming a powerful vehicle for change.
"At every level, the global life community is built upon many mutually beneficial but vastly different Natural Attraction callings and relationships. This process is so effective that the greater the creativity, diversity, and differences of each individual community member, the stronger the whole community becomes. It is as if each diverse part of nature knows something special about life so that collectively the web of life is an intercommunicating super intelligence, attraction or love, a global brain." Michael Cohen
“Ecopoetics…is the pursuit of connections that reach beyond the human sphere of interest and also, I think, beyond the frame of the artwork or poem. At the same time, ecopoetics acknowledges dis-connection—how we are both connected to and disconnected from the environment.”