Know Your Bioregion!

Recently for a class I was assigned to read Stories in the Land, a collection of stories published by the Orion Society describing the projects undertaken by teachers who received their place-based education fellowships. The introduction mentions a list of twenty-seven questions from the book Deep Ecology intended to help someone judge how well they know the region where they live. (I haven’t read Deep Ecology yet, but it’s on my list.) I was intrigued, and with a little Googling I managed to track down the questions.

  1. Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap.
  2. How many days until the moon is full (plus or minus a couple of days)?
  3. Describe the soil around your home.
  4. What were the primary subsistence techniques of the culture that lived  in your area before you?
  5. Name five native edible plants in your bioregion and their season of availability.
  6. From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?
  7. Where does your garbage go?
  8. How long is the growing season where you live?
  9. On what day of the year are the shadows the shortest where you live?
  10. Name five trees in your area. Are any of them native? If you can’t name names, describe them.
  11. Name five resident and any migratory birds in your area.
  12. What is the land-use history by humans in your bioregion during the past century?
  13. What primary geological event/process influenced the landform where you live?
  14. What species have become extinct in your area?
  15. What are the major plant associations in your region?
  16. From where you are reading this, point north.
  17. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where  you live?
  18. What kinds of rocks and minerals are found in your bioregion?
  19. Were the stars out last night?
  20. Name some beings (non-human) that share your place.
  21. Do you celebrate the turning of the summer and winter solstice? If so,  how do you celebrate?
  22. How many people live next door to you? What are their names?
  23. How much gasoline do you use a week, on the average?
  24. What energy costs you the most money? What kind of energy is it?
  25. What developed and potential energy resources are in your area?
  26. What plans are there for massive development of energy or mineral resources in your bioregion?
  27. What is the largest wilderness area in your bioregion?

A couple of these are a little, well, granola (celebrate the solstices? I’m certainly aware of them, but I’m not a pagan). They’re still food for thought, though. I could rattle off native tree species and resident and migratory birds without even pausing to think. The question about where my garbage goes initially brought me up short, though (a little more Googling confirmed there’s a landfill outside Eagle River), and I find it surprisingly hard to keep track of where north is when I’m inside a building!

What about you? Which questions can you answer off the top of your head?

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4 thoughts on “Know Your Bioregion!”

  1. I can probably answer around half of them (I’m pretty good with the north thing!) I had to laugh at #3, ’cause around here the answer is “clay mixed with clay.” :) I don’t know much about the geography & subsistence cultures around here, mostly b/c I’m not from around here. But I remember studying the native cultures and effects of the glaciers where I grew up near Lake Erie. It was the kind of thing I didn’t understand the reason for studying at the time (Jr. High), but was glad to know as an adult.

  2. Not wishing to brag – but why not? :) I know all of them except No. 22, which was the trickiest as I know the names of only about half the people who live “next door”, about 8 households each half a kilometre or so away. And No. 26 is the scariest as there’s a current push for coal seam gas exploration in our area, and in my very valley. Many of us are against it.

    I’ve read Devall’s “Deep Ecology”; and other titles I’ve found worth reading are “Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: Practising Deep Ecology” by Devall; “The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology”, by Drengson; “Deep Ecology for the 121st Century” by Sessions; and “Thinking like a Mountain” by John Seed and others.

    John Seed is internationally known and lives in our area, and a local author is always a plus when reading a book. I like Seed’s as it gives ideas for “workshopping” experiences that turn one’s attention away from humans for a change. Definitely useful in nature education.

    Of course if you don’t have copious spare time, just one of those books will give you the general idea.

  3. a large majority of people do celebrate the winter solstice here in the US, but we call it christmas and the christian-roman-mythric churches got the date wrong. i’d rather we return to a celebration of the equinox and solstice, much more important yearly markers than those we have now like labor day, memorial day, and that completely irrational and prefabricated “new year’s” eve.
    as for species around here, i think its amazing that i’ve counted and identified 25 bird species that either fly over or land in my little rental house yard, 6 mammals, one reptile (not counting my turtles) and several hundred insect species that I can’t name. all in an 80 year old neighborhood in the south end of kansas city, mo.

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