Spirit and the connection to place | NAAEE
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Spirit and the connection to place

Like many, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is weighing heavily on my psyche. To establish some connection to the people other than the national news, I just watched the documentary “The Babushkas of Chernobyl” available on Prime Video. Please watch it. It is such an insightful portrait of the human condition.
It has provided me days of pondering and, of course, led me back to my own spiritual journey. Not to spoil the documentary for anyone, the connection the babushkas have with the land around Chernobyl is so deeply a part of themselves that the fact the land is killing them is of little concern. Is this connection to the land something that is taught? How is such a deeply spiritual connection gained? Has the Western world lost this connection? Can understanding these differences help us reach some of the people in our own communities that seem disconnected? Does offering place-based EE help establish this connection? I have my own thoughts but I would love to hear yours!

Thanks for sharing about "The Babushkas of Chernobyl," Helen. I appreciate the invitation to establish connection with the people of Ukraine in a way other than the news.

I definitely share awe for the deep connection that Indigenous people often have with their land. Also, like your questions posed, I believe that connecting with the land and water we're currently on (even if we're not indigenous to it) offers opportunities for mutual healing and caretaking of both us and the land. I think place-based EE can definitely help cultivate those connections, but I also think that care must be taken so there isn't an exploitative approach to that education. One aspect of place-based EE that is coming to mind is how to engage with the people of the land we're on. Rather than appropriating the ways that the Indigenous people of the land have connected with their particular land, I would encourage those of us who are non-Indigenous EE practitioners to start building trust and mutually honoring relationships with the Indigenous people of the land we're on. From there, permission can be asked to share particular stories or knowledge to connect us deeper to the land. I'm definitely not an expert on this - I have been learning a lot from Chicano Indigenous Community for Culturally Conscious Advocacy & Action, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, and Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice (all linked below) specifically.

I appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree that we have to be thoughtful about our connections. Appropriation is a common issue and can be a complex maze for the unaware. It is important that we look to our land's indigenous peoples respectfully. Each of us has our own story with our lands and finding our own place does not require using others' practices or beliefs.

I appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree that we have to be thoughtful about our connections. Appropriation is a common issue and can be a complex maze for the unaware. It is important that we look to our land's indigenous peoples respectfully. Each of us has our own story with our lands and finding our own place does not require using others' practices or beliefs.