Art, Ecology & Education – An enquiry of connections

Lars Schmidt, Berlin, Germany, July 2006

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_What does art have to do with ecology?

Ecology could be described as the science of the correlations between organisms and their seemingly non-living environment, through which life evolves continually.
And to me, one purpose of art would be, if you then wish to instrumentalize it, to feel connected to life and its processes.

_How can I imagine a connection between art, ecology and education?

These areas are linked already.
The question is how far we realize that or are conscious of that.

The process that creates art, ecology and education is the same.

Nature, and respectively the perceived ongoing development of life is based on patterns, which can be expressed through art and thus may be realized. The artistic process offers tools of communication, exchange and self-experience and is thus a tool of education.
Art, ecology and education are manifestations and expressions of life and natural processes.
Through conscious linking of these areas we have the possibility to realize that.
Herein lies the potential for innovation, for a better quality of life and for intuitive environment protection.

_This is all too complicated for me. Is there an easier way to get this?

The easiest way to find access to all this is to confront yourself with nature and artistic activities in your own life.
An access to nature could be your own or a community garden, the creation of a little balcony- or windowsill-garden or more frequent visits in parks.
Artistic activities range from dancing, singing or making music to drawing and painting.You name it.
Through active participation in natural, creative processes and through observation so much knowledge and understanding is being communicated by itself and in an individual way. Thus a consciousness develops which is also being transferred into other areas of life.

_What signifies an ‘integrated worldview’?

To perceive the world in an integrated way means to be conscious that everything is in connection with everything.
The same processes and patterns are to be found on any level.
Man experiences himself as embedded in the network of life and is thus a part of and dependent from the earth, which functions as a living system, a living organism.

This understanding of being an integral part of the whole can be comprehended intellectually, as well as intuitively.
I consider it important to investigate these two aspects of understanding, if we want to learn how to live sustainably. – Which, in a few generations, will have a much more obvious impact and urgency.

An intuitive, immediate comprehension that there is no separation between ‘myself’ and ‘the environment’ might or might not happen. Nobody can be taught intuition. I can only transmit to listen carefully.

In any case, it surely helps to realize that our conscious thinking is limited and that it is not possible for our intellectual understanding to grasp the complexity of life.

If an intuitive understanding is not given, it was and is up to stories and myths, as well as certain ‘rules of the game’ to communicate an integrated worldview and coherent ways of behaviour and practice.

_What do the terms anthropocentric and biocentric mean?

Anthropocentric means that man perceives himself, his needs and aspirations as the most important there is. He puts these before the needs of animals or plants, of areas or landscapes. It can be seen as a point of view that serves man before all else.
Biocentrism describes a way of perceiving in which the well-being of the Earth as a whole comes before all. Man serves the Earth. Nature and man are not being separated. There is only a totality, and thus there is an understanding of ‘family and relationships’ that includes humans, animals, plants, mountains, rivers.

_What would be an integrated way of life?

First of all it would mean that everything in my life is being realized as interconnected and interdependent.

It would mean that I do not identify with my living situation, my thinking or my emotions, but that I understand all of this as manifestations of dynamic processes. ‘I’, in that sense, do not exist, ‘I’ am life itself.

Out of this understanding an integrated way of life will emerge.

_What is a sustainable community?

Sustainable communities at their basis are aware that change is a core principle of the world, and they live and act accordingly. They are alert and know how to listen. And they strive to fulfill their needs and realize their objectives without limiting the chances and possibilities of future generations.
They thus work for the whole. Not for personal interest, profit or so-called progress.
They integrate the understanding of interdependence and interconnectivity with the surrounding ecosystem.

_I live in a city. What kind of possibilities are there to live in a more ecologically conscious way?

There are many opportunities. In a city most of them are connected to our consumer behaviour, since here most of the time we are dependent on getting things like food, clothes and energy from ‘the outside’. But there are also a lot of possibilities to become more independent and live in a more ecological way, which we can create ourselves.
It is very important to realize that no matter where we live, we are embedded in the processes of nature and have an effect on them and that thus, the action of every one of us will have an influence.
City and nature are not separate.
We humans and our cities are living parts of nature and completely dependent on her.
But often we first have to reestablish a connection to natural processes and pay attention to them, to be able to realize that.
Then, with time, adequate actions will occur. Also these actions might vary in their radicality.
I would not tell anyone how to live. But I sense that, in a natural way, I speak for and protect what I perceive and love as wonderful, mysterious and alive.