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