I had planned and was almost finished with another creation for my Creative Journal #4, but after the visit to the EcoMuseum in White City I created something that made a lot more sense and that had a lot more meaning to me.
The colonial mindset allows people to see nature and wilderness as empty land that belongs to no one, and that anything can be taken for themselves. This is what settlers thought, this is what mining companies think. “If it’s there, it can be mine.” However, this is a selfish disrespectful way of thinking. Everything that exists naturally in a landscape was created or can be used by some living being. Rocks are home to lichens and shelter for invertebrates, the water fills every living being’s cells, and the carbon and calcium in a deer’s antlers will be decomposed and re-enter the cycle of nutrients and the cycle of life.
When asked to think of my connection to the Earth, and humanity’s connection to the Earth, I (with Ben’s help) made a mandala. The outermost circle, far away from the center, represents how distant we are from nature, as a general rule. Cities and jobs and daily lives inside vehicles and buildings make it possible to forget what should be unforgettable, which is the environment around us. Yet we can get carried away by technology and modernity and don’t think of mother Earth who has always taken care of us. The snowballs in the center are (some) humans, self-centered and far, disconnected from the Earth.
Nature might seem far. However, there are connections between nature and humans, even if we don’t want to think of it, even if we try to forget. Nature’s never too far away.
During the field trip, we found many signs of animals, like feces and bones. We found a deer antler. I wanted to keep it for myself. But for me they would be just souvenirs. “Take nothing but pictures” I’ve been taught since little, and yet I wanted to take this with me. But this would have been a reproduction of the colonial mindset of empty land. That’s not what I wanted this field trip to be in the end. So I took the pictures in the space, I took pictures with the antler, and chose to leave it there, in the middle of the mandala. Before, there was nothing in the centre, just emptiness, symbolizing the distance between humans and nature. Now, nature’s always in the centre.
The snowballs will melt, the sticks will be moved by the wind, and the antler will become leaves and porcupine bones and feces and will live on. I will print the picture I took. This way I have my souvenir and the land keeps what is rightfully hers.