Williams: I really believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among... The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms — plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings — then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put ... if we don't know the names of things, if don't know pronghorn antelope, if we don't know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don't know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.
I remember a phone call from a friend of mine who lives along the MacKenzie River. She said, "This is the first year in twenty that the chinook salmon have not returned." This woman knows the names of things. This woman is committed to a place. And she sounded the alarm.
London: What do you think happens when we lose a sense of intimacy with the natural world around us?
Williams: I think our lack of intimacy with the land has initiated a lack of intimacy with each other. What we perceive as non- human, outside of us, is actually in direct relationship with us.
London: You were talking about the concept of "community." What does that mean to you?
Williams: Community is extremely intimate. When we talk about humor, I love that you know when you're home because there is laughter in the room, there is humor, there is shorthand. That is about community. I think community is a shared history, it's a shared experience. It's not always agreement. In fact, I think that often it isn't. It's the commitment, again, to stay with something — to go the duration. You can't walk away. It's like a marriage, only I think it's more difficult to divorce yourself from community than it is to a human being because the strands are interconnected and so various...Read the whole interview here.
Today I'm grateful for: the beauty of the birds, deer and trees at Fort Snelling State Park; David Sibley's bird books; the vast paradigm-subverting, collaborative creation that is the web; my community; my home, my friends; my Twitter buds; good health; the freedom and ability to be with some folks through difficult times when I can; people who help me through the hard stuff; Beth Kanter's good work in the world, and the good work it inspires in others.
Holding in prayer today: Community members and all recovering from surgeries and illnesses; a housemate who'll be having surgery tomorrow; a difficult relationship; J&J in their new marriage; ML, PC, SP, HC; Elaine; SG adjusting to a lot of changes; sisters traveling in Uganda; the suffering people of Burma and the suffering people of China; the people of the United States, esp. people working to make this nation less mean and more hospitable; Sisters of St. Joseph in Japan.