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  • Rick Bonetti

Our Bioregion and The Commons

Many decades ago I studied geography (regional, physical, human, economic, historical, political, and urban) because a spatial understanding gave me a grounding for history and a focus on our relationship with our natural environment. This was before ecology as a multidisciplinary approach and quantitative analysis (we were still using IBM punch cards.)

However, I learned that political boundaries frequently disregard natural bioregions and watersheds. As a result, regions that functionally should belong together because of their commonalities, are often fragmented in how they are governed or otherwise managed. Political boundaries may be fought over and frequently change over time, in part because they don't make sense from a bioregional worldview perspective.

Oregon's Rogue Valley is part of what some call "Cascadia" - a bioregion whose southern boundary runs from the Eel River drainage in the North Coast Ranges up to Mt. Shasta and then along the Modoc Plateau in northern California. Two defining characteristics in addition to biological systems are the volcanic Cascade mountain range and the Cascadia subduction zone that lies off the coast.

David McCloskey coined the term ‘Cascadia bioregion’ in 1981, and has assembled several maps. McCloskey, a former Seattle University Professor, is the Director of the Cascadia Institute. Click here for an interesting Bioregional Reading List.

Michael Vincent McGinnis suggests that bioregional identity be focused on watershed, biome, and ecosystem to optimize sustainability and cooperation to preserve the commons. "Bioregionalism’s emphasis on place and community radically changes the way we confront human and ecological issues."

Joshua Lockyer and James R. Veteto propose that there are three prominent environmental social movements which are somewhat interrelated:

  1. Bioregionalism - a worldview and political ecology that grounds environmental action and experience

  2. Permaculture - a design science for putting the bioregional vision into action

  3. Ecovillages - the ever-dynamic settings for creating sustainable local cultures

Learning to have a global, evolutionary worldview as well as a bioregional local focus is important for sustainability as the world continues to urbanize and become less connected to the land.

Mythical State of Jefferson

A 2013 book by Jack Sutton and Jefferson Public Radio's PRS program "As It Was" both refer to the "mythical state of Jefferson." History can be fun, but some political conservatives would like to create a separate new State of Jefferson, carved out from counties in northern California and southern Oregon - in my opinion, this state should remain mythical.

Note: The U.S. Forest Service identifies the Rogue Valley as part of M261 ecosystem province..


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