Kinship of NaturenessFeb 23, 2023
Of rest, stillness and dreaming in the winter,
of emergence, play and curiosity in the spring,
of long days, focus and celebration in the summer
and of harvest, gratitude and reflection in the autumn.-adapted from Jon Young’s 8 Sheilds Principle
Kinship is based on the understanding that everything in the natural world is interrelated and that humans are a part of this as cohabiters.
In the recently published article Environmental Kinship: Learning About, In, With, and For Nature by Megan Gessler, Heather Fox, Amanda Higgins, Anne Meade, Claire Warden, and Sheila Williams Ridge Kinship is explored as rooted in a deep kind of knowing that includes, but goes beyond, cognitive understanding. Humans, like other living things, are social beings. We live in relationship to others, not just with other humans, but with the entire natural world. Our evolutionary roots are in nature. This rootedness is an essential part of our physical reality, but it’s also part of our emotional, psychological, and spiritual reality. We are ecological beings. Kinship recognizes this reality as being significant for all human beings.
Their Guide to NatureBased Pedagogy for Early Childhood Programs is a holistic approach to teaching and learning about, in, with and for the whole of the natural world, with a reach that extends beyond early learning. When viewed through the lens of Social Emotional Learning, these considerations become foundational to every program, workshop and curriculum created at NatureConnect 365.
Learning IN nature with regard to affordances provided towards agency, exploration, accessibility, equity, and engagement.
Learning WITH nature and cultivating kinship through relationship, participation, connection and acknowleded permission.
Learning ABOUT nature through inquiry, curiosity, study and initiative.
Learning FOR nature in reasonance with reciprocity, sustainability, responsibility, loving kindness.
Our values and vision to create positive social and environmental impact is realized through fostering community and connection to ourselves, each other and nature.
“Kincentric ecology,” a phrase coined by ethnobotanist Enrique Salmón provides a helpful guide to the intertwined threads of kinship: social, mythological, and practical. Salmón asserts that “life in any environment is viable only when humans view their surroundings as kin; that their mutual roles are essential for their survival.” From a kinship perspective, the landscapes of which we are a part—including rocks, rivers, oceans, prominent geographic features, and other non-human plant and animal persons—provide a shared sense of place and require appropriate human care and respect.
This kinship is deep and wide—and dwells within the human body. In the last century and a half, evolutionary and ecological sciences have brought additional insights to bear on what it means to be human. In 2019 The Center for Humans and Nature’s “Kinship Project” began to piece together art, story, music, books, research, and podcasts all centered upon the human experience of kinship that considers these connections through a range of different scales: from deep-time cosmic and evolutionary relationships to community watersheds, landscapes, and bioregions; interspecies entanglements; and biological and mythological understandings of human interbeing.
For me, Kinship with nature has been a reliable touchstone of place and belonging throughout my life. Some of the residual benefits I have experienced through this connection with nature ( in alignment with 8 Sheild’s creator Jon Young’s observations of social benefits of nature bonding) include:
1) Happiness: childlike wonder, curiosity and innocent joy,
2) Vitality: a feeling of an abundance of energy in the body,
3) Focus: Capacity to listen to others unconditionally and mentoring,
4) Empathy: for people and other living beings,
5) Visionary: A deep ethic born of conscious awareness of our interdependence with all others resulting in a commitment to service to others, the future generations, conservation, sustainability and regenerative living principles,
6) Aliveness: Increased sense of gratitude and appreciation for life itself,
7) Love: Greater capacity for understanding, compassion and forgiveness,
8) Presence: Access to greater creativity and a quiet mind.
My practice is seasonally based. My philosophy is EveryBody EveryDay. Won’t you join us in exploring your own emerging kinship with planet Earth.
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