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Peter Berg, bioregionalism


Yesterday, I attended a public lecture by Peter Berg, one of the founders of "bioreginalism," an important branch of contemporary ecology movement. The lecture was held at Kyoto Seika University, chaired by Professor Yuichi Inoue, a Japanease deep ecologist. After the lecture, Yuichi held a small meeting and we had a chat with several college students there.

Before the lecture I had a chance to talk with Peter. He asked me about the difference between "life studies" (the idea I have proposed) and "life style" (probably the word Peter likes to use). I replied that in a broad sense "life style" includes "life studies" because one's life style includes one's way of thinking, learning, and studying, but I didn't think I fully replied to his question. Actually this is a difficult question to answer. He seemed to have an interest in my book on life studies and asked us about an English translation, however, I have not translated an ecological aspect of life studies yet. Those papers were written only in Japanese.

Peter Berg was the founder of Planet Drum Foundation and have been a main figure in the ecological movement since 1970s. His lecture was (seemed to be) based on his 2001 lecture at University of Montana, "The Post-Environmentalist Directions of Bioregionalism," which is uploaded on the Foundation's website.

In this lecture (Montana) he talked as follows:

What is a bioregion? This idea doesn't come from pure natural science. Bioregionalism is a cultural idea. It's an attempt to answer, "Who am I, what am I, and what am I going to do about it?" It's a way for people to look at the place where they live in terms of fitting into natural characteristics.

He thinks that bioreginalism is an attempt to answer "Who am I, what am I, what am I going to do about it?" questions, hence, this seems to be a similar attempt to our "life studies" project. He went on to say:

So, the idea of a bioregion is based on natural characteristics and natural science, but it is a cultural view that's not only held by people in parts of North America, but also Europe. (....) Bioregionalism is becoming a popular movement that roughly follows the idea that people who live in a place have a certain inhabitory obligation to live in harmony with the natural systems that are there. We call this reinhabitation, becoming inhabitants again.

In Japan there have been many similar movements at least since 1960s, so this idea might be familiar to the Japanese. I love Peter's idea, but at the same time, I came up with various questions I would like to ask him when I read his paper. At the small meeting at Kyoto Seika University, I was able to talk with him a little, so I will write about it next time.

(To be continued...)

Photo: At Hawaii Airport (what's this, anyway?)

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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