The Center for Humans and Nature Manifesto

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This document reflects our values, our beliefs, and our intentions.  It is—in short—our manifesto.

We value:

  • Community, interdependence, and connectivity.
  • The intrinsic link between freedom and responsibility, for both individuals and communities.
  • The capacity of the Earth to nurture life and sustain its ecological and evolutionary processes.
  • The integrity, health, and resilience of our interconnected human and natural communities.
  • The diversity, beauty, and inherent creativity of nature.
  • Deliberative democracy carried out by an engaged, informed citizenry.
  • Justice and equity in our economic systems and relationships.
  • Consideration of the needs of multiple generations – for all species.
  • Creative approaches to conservation and restoration throughout our landscapes.
  • The cultivation of empathy and humility in the face of complexity.
  • Varied ways of knowing the world and the insights that multidisciplinary and multicultural approaches can reveal.

Our dominant contemporary culture rests upon several tragically flawed premises: that humans are separate from nature, that nature is merely raw material for human use, and that it is acceptable and “natural” for humans to exert unlimited control over nature.  Furthermore, contemporary culture largely regards the natural world as a fragmented collection of discrete parts, rather than as an integrated, living, co-evolving whole.  This atomistic and disintegrative perspective ignores current scientific knowledge and distorts our sense of self, nature, community, economy, and democracy. 

We recognize the consequences of such an impoverished worldview, where:

  • Non-human life is not included in our understanding of community or democracy.
  • Nature in its many forms—non-human animals, plants, soils, waters, oceans, minerals, and even human labor and the human body—is increasingly commodified and seen as objects to be bought and sold.
  • Surrounded by “commodities,” human beings become essentially “consumers” within an artificial economic reality.
  • Meaning is derived largely through consumption, competition, and self interest. 
  • Understanding ourselves as owners of land, water, and air, humans act as if we have no responsibilities in relation to these systems of life. 
  • Human economies and communities are not seen as dependent upon and embedded within the natural world, nor as subject to its real ecological constraints.
  • The authentic and ultimate sources of wealth in nature are disregarded.
  • The distribution of wealth is unjust, with extreme inequities between rich and poor.
  • “Progress” in science and economics is defined without reference to ethical principles, frameworks, and unique realities of place.
  • Political systems are subject to corruption as narrow interests gain power over the long-term public interest.
  • Typical “solutions” to social and ecological challenges are myopic, reductionistic, and driven by short-term thinking.

We at the Center for Humans and Nature believe:

  • That “business as usual” is not inevitable; we can create the future we seek.
  • That there is urgent and immediate need for change.
  • That change need not come about by coercion, but can take place through cultural transformation.
  • That the loss of biological diversity and the degradation of soil, water, and air quality are the most fundamental economic losses.
  • That human beings are capable of creative imagination and empathy, and are able to recognize and respect the intrinsic value of life. 
  • That “rights” are not reserved only for human beings and that, furthermore, human rights are properly understood to entail responsibilities – to all people, generations, species, and ecological systems and processes.
  • That extinction is a “bottom line” event that we should not knowingly cause.
  • That insights from contemporary evolutionary biology and ecology allow us to overcome a fragmented vision of reality and see the individual within the context of kinship, community, relationship, and interconnectedness. 
  • That ecological realities and constraints, not currently recognized by the dominant ideology of economic growth, offer opportunities for social and spiritual development.  

The Center for Humans and Nature promotes:

  • Creative ways of thinking about ourselves and our relationship with nature.
  • Imaginative approaches to sustainability, progress, growth, wealth, and the common good.
  • Restoration to a socially and ecologically interconnected world through democratic ecological citizenship.
  • Cultures and communities that integrate science and religion, emotional intuition and rational thought, philosophy and action, biodiversity and human well-being, conservation and economic plenitude. 

We act upon a simple, but profound conviction: that ideas and ideals matter.   

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