Prairie emergence: Ecological restoration through  self-organization Biosemiotics in America Symposium Purdue University R...
Issue: Ecological Restoration  <ul><li>How to restore the earth’s ecological systems that are being degraded at a perilous...
Presentation Overview <ul><li>Chronology of Human/nature interaction in the Minnesota River Basin (MRB) </li></ul><ul><li>...
Minnesota River Basin
North American Prairie
Prairie Lake Region Anfinson, S.  1997
Tall  Grass Prairie Big Bluestem With Blooming Blazing Star
Big  Stone Wildlife Refuge
Nature Impels Us Not to Admire a Small River ‘that Ministers to our Necessities’ But the Nile, the Ister [Danube] and the ...
Industrial Agriculture Mono-Crop  Pesticides Fungicides Herbicides Artificial-Fertilizers Genetic- Engineering Drainage : ...
Potentially on of the most beautiful prairie rivers in the nation, the Minnesota functions as a drainage ditch for farmers...
Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Zone
By 2001 improvement in MRB  water quality had occurred   (MPCA, 2000) <ul><li>After 150 years the direction of MRB </li></...
The Minnesota River Project <ul><li>Sponsor : National Science Foundation & </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Protection Age...
Gregory Bateson   (1904-1980) Ecological Anthropologist & Communication Theorist    Major Works : “Steps to an Ecology    ...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><ul><li>Global environmental degradation derives ...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Culture  is a biophysically embedded living  ...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>The living system that is   Culture   is like...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration Dynamic Equilibrium through Self-Organization:   “ Ec...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Self-Organization   is the living system (inc...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Turbulence   from pollution provides negative...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Turbulence   from pollution provides negative...
Contemporary Environment Dilemma <ul><li>Large-scale, ecosystem-based restoration of the environment is needed. </li></ul>...
Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems  Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Modern Western culture’s  epistemological  </...
Modern Western Society’s Fundamental Epistemological Error <ul><li>From  Cartesian reductionist view  d ominant in </li></...
Bateson’s &quot;Separation From Nature” Cluster of Ideas   <ul><li>It’s us against the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s...
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MN River Basin Restoration (Part I): Richard Currie Smith

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Richard Currie Smith, Ph.D., ecological anthropologist presents his Minnesota River Basin research (EPA/NSF funded)

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  • MN River Basin Restoration (Part I): Richard Currie Smith

    1. 1. Prairie emergence: Ecological restoration through self-organization Biosemiotics in America Symposium Purdue University Richard Currie Smith, Ph.D. September 30, 2006
    2. 2. Issue: Ecological Restoration <ul><li>How to restore the earth’s ecological systems that are being degraded at a perilous pace? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human/ecosystem communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ecosemiotic approach </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Presentation Overview <ul><li>Chronology of Human/nature interaction in the Minnesota River Basin (MRB) </li></ul><ul><li>Gregory Bateson's “living systems” approach focusing on human/ecosystem communication </li></ul><ul><li>Self-organization through re-framing in the Minnesota River Basin </li></ul><ul><li>Implications for restoration of our planet’s living systems </li></ul>
    4. 4. Minnesota River Basin
    5. 5. North American Prairie
    6. 6. Prairie Lake Region Anfinson, S. 1997
    7. 7. Tall Grass Prairie Big Bluestem With Blooming Blazing Star
    8. 8. Big Stone Wildlife Refuge
    9. 9. Nature Impels Us Not to Admire a Small River ‘that Ministers to our Necessities’ But the Nile, the Ister [Danube] and the Rhine.” Loginus(18 th Century Landscape Painter)
    10. 10. Industrial Agriculture Mono-Crop Pesticides Fungicides Herbicides Artificial-Fertilizers Genetic- Engineering Drainage : Surface and Subsurface
    11. 11. Potentially on of the most beautiful prairie rivers in the nation, the Minnesota functions as a drainage ditch for farmers and a toilet for many rural Minnesotans. Its cleanup poses daunting challenges and costs.
    12. 12. Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Zone
    13. 13. By 2001 improvement in MRB water quality had occurred (MPCA, 2000) <ul><li>After 150 years the direction of MRB </li></ul><ul><li>ecological degradation changed for the </li></ul><ul><li>better. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul>
    14. 14. The Minnesota River Project <ul><li>Sponsor : National Science Foundation & </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Protection Agency </li></ul><ul><li>Team : multidisciplinary </li></ul><ul><li>Goal : “improve understanding of natural and anthropogenic processes that govern the quality of water resources.” </li></ul><ul><li>Time-Frame : 1997-2001 [Ongoing to Present] </li></ul>
    15. 15. Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) Ecological Anthropologist & Communication Theorist Major Works : “Steps to an Ecology of Mind” (1972 [2000]) “ Mind and Nature” (1979 [2002])
    16. 16. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><ul><li>Global environmental degradation derives from the ideas of modern western humans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Restoration best accomplished by concentrating on these ideas </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Culture is a biophysically embedded living communicative system through which members of a group interact with nature. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For human’s there is no direct experience of the environment , there are no trees or rivers in the human brain only images ( signs ) of them. </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>The living system that is Culture is like a </li></ul><ul><li>forest, a tree in a forest, or a cell in a tree. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It maintains a state of dynamic equilibrium through self-organization </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration Dynamic Equilibrium through Self-Organization: “ Ecosystems such as a seashore or a redwood forest are undoubtedly self-corrective. If in a given year the population of some species is unusually increased or reduced, within a few years that population will return to its usual level… [or] when the growing seedling bends toward light, it is influenced by difference in illumination and grows more rapidly on the darker side, thus bending and catching more light- a substitute for locomotion. Gregory Bateson
    20. 20. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Self-Organization is the living system (including cultural) tendency to maintain a state of dynamic equilibrium through: </li></ul><ul><li>Oscillation : positive and negative feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence : creating innovative solutions to dilemmas , especially in times of turbulence </li></ul>
    21. 21. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Turbulence from pollution provides negative Feedback that a society is out of balance with the environment </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pain of an environmental dilemma, or an intractable double-bind dilemma in which psychic and emotional pain is even greater , can foster the emergence of novel and creative solutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The environmental dilemma therefore becomes a stage in a learning process </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Like a drunk “hitting-bottom” pain of pollution serves a crucial purpose in creating solutions. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Turbulence from pollution provides negative Feedback that a society is out of balance with the environment </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pain of an environmental dilemma, or an intractable double-bind dilemma in which psychic and emotional pain is even greater , can foster the emergence of novel and creative solutions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The environmental dilemma therefore becomes a stage in a learning process </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Like a drunk “hitting-bottom” pain of pollution serves a crucial purpose in creating solutions. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Contemporary Environment Dilemma <ul><li>Large-scale, ecosystem-based restoration of the environment is needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Small-scale, local control of the economic development of the environment is increasing. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Gregory Bateson’s Living Systems Approach to Ecological Restoration <ul><li>Modern Western culture’s epistemological </li></ul><ul><li>assumptions* toward nature are flawed and deep cultural change is needed </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This includes ideas about aesthetics (beauty and the sacred) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>*Epistemology = Way of knowing and </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>thinking about nature </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Modern Western Society’s Fundamental Epistemological Error <ul><li>From Cartesian reductionist view d ominant in </li></ul><ul><li>western science and society for last 300 years </li></ul><ul><li>Humankind is separate from nature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nature is best known by breaking it into parts and analyzing the Parts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humankind’s rational intellect is superior to nature </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Bateson’s &quot;Separation From Nature” Cluster of Ideas <ul><li>It’s us against the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s the individual (or individual company or individual nation) that matters. </li></ul><ul><li>We can have unilateral control over the environment and must strive for that control. </li></ul><ul><li>We live in an infinitely expanding “frontier.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Economic determinism is common sense. </li></ul><ul><li>Technology will do it for us </li></ul>

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