Communing with Bees: A Whole-of-Community Approach to Address Crisis in the Anthropocene
Keywords:Pollinators, Political Ecology, Community, Ecological Humanities
We are currently facing myriad socio-ecological crises, from global climate change to resource depletion to the loss of dozens of species every day. Despite a longstanding and impassioned environmental movement, these problems persist and are worsening. The extent and degree of human-induced change on the planet is significant enough to have placed us in a new geological age: the Anthropocene. Three perspectives are engaged as a way to understand this new era and address our fractured human-nature relationship: (1) political ecology, (2) the ecological humanities, and (3) the informal economy. An exploration of intersecting themes leads to the start of a new theoretical contribution, which manifests at the convergence of theories: a “whole-of-community” approach. This whole-of-community approach is one that is concerned with both inter-human and interspecies relationships to move us towards communities that are place-based, integrated, participatory, and grounded in eco-social justice and equity. Pollinating bees are used as an illustrative example of how to achieve this vision. Bees can be both a bridge and gateway. As a bridge, they can provide a way of (re)connecting human and nonhuman nature and as a gateway, they can guide humans to a deeper understanding and connection with urban natures. Reconciling humans with the rest of the biotic community through place-based initiatives is possible by fundamentally and radically expanding our current framing of the concept of community.
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