Email to a friend, March, 2006


I have hit on a key idea for my dissertation and I think you might be able to help me out a bit. What I am suggesting is that among our many intersecting (and sometimes contradictory) identities (e.g. gender, race, class, sexual orientation etc.), we also have an ecological identity (I'm not yet sure this is the best word). But this identity has been rarely recognized, and if it emerges or is expressed, the individual is often marginalized, called a 'tree-hugger,' or 'greenie' if you're Australian (see Whitehouse, 2001). Someone who is trying to stop progress, etc. (can you think of any other names??). I'm suggesting that there are some strong parallels between marginalization of those who express an ecological identity that contravenes assumed western norms, and those who express sexual or racial identities that do not fit with the dominant norm.


I'm finding this particularly interesting as I think about my own experiences, and how as an 'environmental' teacher, I have had to carefully negotiate my 'environmentalism' in the classroom, not appearing too radical or too 'flaky'. And how wonderful it is right now to be with a group of women who share and can openly explore and express that part of their identity. There are not that many places where a strong ecological self is welcomed, since it appears to threaten so much of what we have come to know as 'normal' in our culture...progress... etc. What does this do to children in schools? In other words, what are we doing when we do not allow children (or teachers) opportunities to explore, or express their porous ecological selves, because it does not match dominant social norms in Canada? Shouldn't we be asking similar questions as we have begun to ask of the effects of heterosexism? Questions like: What micropractices of power may be making the expressions and living of an ecological self (im)possible?


One of the things I'm wondering is how the church (Catholic or otherwise) either encouraged or repressed expressions of what I am describing as an ecological self. Are there particular passages in the bible, for instance, that encourage a kind of kinship or repress it? I'm thinking in particular of the phrase "have dominion over". (I think I need a bible for this dissertation). (personal communication, June 15, 2006)


Her response emerged in a phone conversation several months later: ...for those of us who were working in the Catholic Church, the world was just the stage. We did outreach for people because they were at the apex of the hierarchy of being. The earth didn't have standing in its own right as a being worth reverence. (personal communication, January, 7, 2007)