Access to education is a fundamental human right (People’s Movement for Human Rights Education 2013). Knowledge of one’s home place provides both an important context for self-identity and can instill an ethic of care to steward that which sustains us (Martin and Beatley 1993).
Bioregionalism provides an orientation to our home place that is informed by nature. Specifically, the watershed provides a framework for locating and learning about the ecological processes that support our cities and villages. The concept and term, originally introduced by Peter Berg in the 1960s, remains an underlying premise for ecocity development (Register 2006).
Ecocity mapping is an important tool for locating centers of vitality within a city, where density and a mix of services to support complete community development should be concentrated. Bioregional mapping expands the scope of social learning to include an understanding of the ecological processes in the territory that surrounds clusters of eco: villages, towns, and cities (together they comprise an “ecotropolis”). Engaging communities in mapping their bioregion contributes to eco-literacy and the development of a healthy culture (Aberley 1993, 1994; Carr 2004).
David Orr (2004, 11) suggests that “it is possible that we are becoming more ignorant of the things we must know to live well and sustainably.” This includes knowledge about socio-cultural history in addition to knowledge about locally appropriate technologies for securing sustenance and stewarding local resources. In a globalizing world, local knowledge is important but potentially insufficient as well. Michael Maniates (2013) argues that it is also important to learn about the political processes and international relations that shape the global processes that shape our world. Without a broader understanding of these things, the ability to use local knowledge may risk being overwhelmed in the face of turbulent times that are to come.
Lifelong education that fuels a desire to learn and helps one understand both how to live in place as well as how to contribute to a changing global world is an important aspect of building, sustaining and living in ecocities.
Aberley, Doug. 1993. Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment. Gabriola
Island, BC: New Society Publishers.
Aberley, Doug. 1994. Futures by Design: The Practice of Ecological Planning. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.
Carr, Michael. 2004. Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Maniates, Michael. 2013. Teaching for Turbulence, Chapter 24 in Linda Starke, ed., State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? A Worldwatch Institute report. Washington DC: Island Press.
Martin, E., T. Beatley. 1993. Our Relationship with the Earth: Environmental Ethics in Planning Education, Journal of Planning Education and Research, Vol. 12, pp. 117-26.
Orr, David. 2004. Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect. Washington DC: Island Press.
Peoples Movement for Human Rights Education. The Human Right to Education. Online resource (http://pdhre.org/rights/education.html).
Register, Richard. 2006. Ecocities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.