This third – and penultimate – installment continues, once more, where the previous post left off. We’re now heading out of southern New Mexico towards the middle and more northern parts of the state.
7. Looking to the mountain of Indigenous education: Greg Cajete
Bernalillo (NM) north of Albuquerque is not a place where we would have stopped of our own accord. But it’s the town where, after a couple of phone calls to make an appointment, Gregory Cajete offered to meet us for lunch. Greg, who is the Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico and an Associate Professor in the College of Education, is one of the US’s foremost scholars of indigenous education and Native American epistemology and ethics.
This continues where the previous post left off. We’re now leaving Los Angeles and southern California to enter the rest of the Southwest – Arizona and New Mexico, mainly.
4. Unsustainable oasis in the Sonoran Desert: Phoenix
Phoenix is routinely displayed in writings and talks about the Southwest as the paradigm of unsustainability – America’s, or even (in the words of Andrew Ross, author of Bird on Fire) “the world’s least sustainable city.” It is located in the northern part of the Sonoran Desert (which extends far to the south into Mexico), on the Salt River upstream from where it merges with the Santa Cruz River to become the Gila River. As you approach the sprawling metropolis from the west, the surrounding landscape of dry sagebrush gradually gives way to a mix of sinister suburban subdivisions and strangely green fields, with beautiful mountains in the background. Phoenix is a gigantic artificial desert oasis, engineered from scratch starting in the 1870s on the very lands that, for four centuries up to the 1250s, harbored the ancient Hohokam civilization with its elaborate irrigation systems.
Before the academic year gets into full swing and I am swallowed up by the maelstrom of daily chores, I wanted to send off this four-part post with my impressions of the second Southwest USA trip that my partner Agnieszka and I took this past summer. It isn’t meant to be a tedious travelogue – nor is it, I hope, the equivalent of the proverbial slide show a distant relative puts you through during a weekend family brunch. Rather, I’d like to record and reflect on certain things about the United States’ past or present that I think might be relevant for all those of us who care about perma-circularity (by that name or any other) and about a lastingly maintained one-planet footprint.
In my previous post, I offered some thoughts about how, in our quest for a perma-circular economy and society, we could learn – or re-learn – from the great cycles of the Earth’s biosphere. In this post, I want to dwell on one of those cycles: the water cycle and, more specifically, the “water wisdom” we might gain from flowing water, in the form of rivers and streams – a wisdom I will call “hydrosophy.” While I live and work in a country blessed with beautiful watercourses and majestic watersheds circumscribed in part by formidable mountains, I couldn’t have written this post if my partner and I hadn’t traveled in the Southwestern United States this past summer and the one before. So I will begin from over there even though, as I am writing, it’s so far away from here… and I’ll end up suggesting that, perhaps, the Southwest’s most iconic river, the Colorado, might be the right place to start on our hydrosophical journey.
Before I tell you more, in forthcoming posts, about the impressions and lessons I brought back from our second summer trip to the American Southwest, I’d like to kick off this new after-summer season with a somewhat more general post about our necessary quest for deeper wisdom, about nature’s great cycles and about how we might tune into them so as to tap into what they can teach us — with the help of Native traditions that have long known about these things.