The Ecology of Paradox: Disturbance and Restoration in Land and Soul

Rowland Russell (2007)

This heuristic study explores environmental disturbance and ecological restoration in several North American settings in order to uncover epistemological, philosophical, aesthetic and ethical considerations revolving around those place-based processes. With fire as one of the central metaphors of this work, the initial place-based chapter examines Northern New Mexico's Pajarito Plateau to explore the region's fire ecology. The study then moves to the Pacific Northwest to draw restoration practice that attempt to restore wild salmon to urban Seattle habitat. The third place-based chapter focuses on the Midwest grass and farmlands in order to investigate the seeming contradictions between commodity and diversity in prairie landscapes. In the final chapter, the metaphorical implications of disturbance and restoration are explored in terms of individuals, communities and as a society. In explicating the philosophical and phenomenological foundations of disturbance and restoration, personal experiences are used in the study as examples to develop applied practice of paradox. It also examines and illuminates correspondences between ecological and eco-psychological cycles of disturbance and restoration within the context of paradox, which for the purpose of this work is defined as any place or context where seemingly contradictory elements coexist without canceling each other out. Drawing from place and literary sources, the study seeks to extrapolate a metaphorical correspondence in exterior and interior realms of paradox. The conclusion is that attention to processes of disturbance and restoration in nature can yield wisdom that informs our relationships with our ecological surroundings, our communities, and our individual selves. Furthermore, specific practices can emerge to help humans deal more healthfully and strategically with the complex, divisive issues of our places and times.omplex environmental issues of the 21st century.

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