Landscape, is a human concept. It is more than simply a place, or the land that we occupy. Land becomes landscape when it passes through the lens of our eyes and we ascribe to it not only our own values and emotions, but also the value and emotions of the culture we share as members of this society. Just as we are shaped by the laws and culture of our society so to is the landscape. Without, sometimes, considerable conscious effort we cannot see the landscape free of this ‘cultural looking-glass’. As individuals I don’t think it’s ever possible to look at the landscape neutrally, though over time, our experiences can change us, and so, also, how we value and view the landscape. This is important if we ever want to change our relationship with the landscape we live in, if our role as an actor in the landscape is to change, if we are to, individually and collectively, become responsible stewards of the places within which we live…because it is one thing to say we are good stewards and something else entirely to actually be one.
People continue to be drawn here to the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. We all have our favorite places that hold us, and, unfortunately, over time, can come to sadden us as we see them degraded and homogenized by the momentum of our culture, the economic engine we all depend on, that is still systematically converting our landscape into one that can be found almost anywhere with the exception sometimes of a geography too expensive to alter. Even climate, we are beginning to realize, is within our ability to change, though we are finding, such changes are likely beyond our control. Continue reading