September 28, 2023
I’m very excited to share with you that the Center for Humans and Nature’s five-acre home has grown, thanks to a partnership and land transfer of 43.55 acres to the Center from Openlands. Now, nearly 50 acres of prairie, savanna, wetland, woodland, ravine, and stream ecosystems will also be a beautiful home for Humans & Nature Press and the future Humans & Nature Farm. Here, we will work to create a welcoming place for people to explore what it means to be human in an interconnected world.
The Center is grateful to be rooting into a place where we can explore various ways that land relationship and reciprocity might be practiced. We look forward to sharing the journey with you through Humans & Nature Press and other public programming. Read on to learn more about how we arrived at this important moment and some of the many wonderful humans who helped us along the way.
President, Center for Humans and Nature
Seeds of the Center’s Land Care Practices
Strachan Donnelley, the Center’s founder, planted the seeds for the Center’s forthcoming farm and land care practices before his death in 2008. Fifteen years later, in 2023, we are beginning to realize this vision, sinking roots into land close to our founder’s childhood home and in the traditional homelands of the Council of Three Fires—the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi—as well as the Kickapoo, Sioux, Peoria, Miami, Sauk, Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Meskwaki, and other Native Peoples. We will continue to listen deeply to the wise teachers in our midst who have thought about human relationships with this land since time immemorial.
Future land care practices will be grounded in the Center’s mission: to explore and promote our responsibilities to our fellow humans and the whole community of life. Humans & Nature Farm will be a place to demonstrate, experience, and activate our relationships with and responsibilities to the living world. Strachan Donnelley understood this as a “moral bottom line,” while lifetime board member George Rabb called this an “ethic of care.” We are also inspired by Center contributing editor Robin Wall Kimmerer’s writing on reciprocity and “returning the gift.”
Our Commitment to Land Relationship
The conservation easement the Center for Humans and Nature developed in partnership with Openlands, with strategic input from Elizabeth Dunne at the Earth Law Center, highlights the three organizations’ collective commitment to land relationship and the rights of nature. Because a conservation easement is a legal “bundle of rights,” we believe it is especially important to underscore that nature also has fundamental rights that we humans have the responsibility to protect.
Opening sentences of the easement communicate that:
Humans are a part of nature, as an interrelated and interdependent community, and that by caring for the Land we endeavor to support the well-being of the whole community of life.
The Land itself has inherent and inalienable rights, including the rights to exist, thrive, evolve, regenerate, and to be respected and cared for, and that humans have responsibilities to ensure these rights are realized.
While the conservation easement is recognized and recorded within the current system of private property ownership and private property rights, it is our intent, to the greatest extent possible, to center human responsibilities in relationship with the Land.
Please Support Our Land Care Efforts
We are very grateful to you for all the ways you contribute to the Center’s work. This new chapter, rooted in relationship with the land, needs the ongoing support of our wonderful community! Please consider directly supporting the Center’s land care vision with a donation today.
Landing page photo by Gavin Van Horn.