Gentle Action begins from the realization that we are all inexorably a part of the one world, actors with responsibilities, values and obligations. Since an objective ‘problem’ no longer lies outside us, in some external and objective domain, what is now required is an action that arises out of the whole of the situation and is not fragmented or separated from it. Such an action need not be violent but could, for example, arise out of a very gentle, but highly intelligent ‘steering’ of the system, in which each one of us assumes responsibility.
Physicist F. David Peat, Gentle Action
Born and raised in unceded sovereign Coast Salish territories on the wild West coast of settler Canada, I am a researcher, practitioner, scholar, advisor, teacher, and mentor in the transdisciplinary field of culture and sustainability. Since 1990 my work has focused on the role of our sensory aesthetic engagement with place, world, and other beings in informing, forming, and transforming beliefs, values, practices and policies. A key focus has been the role of the arts, and of artists as wayfinders and guides to "cultures of sustainability", or what MIT professor emeritus John Ehrenfeld terms a "sustainably flourishing" future.
My work includes researching, building, and leading multi-sector collaborative initiatives that bring the power of the arts to conversations and strategies for attaining sustainable futures, initiatives that invite publics across cultures to engage deeply with their home places and habitats, and bring diverse perspectives and public opinion to the conversation. As an advisor I have assisted startup and existing organisations concerned with finding the opportunity embedded in negative futures. From 1997 through 2002 I was Co-Founding and Creative Development Director of SongBird, Canada's first arts-initiated and arts-led collaborative project and organisation to bring together multiple sectors and urban publics to address the complexity of sustainable futures, and to collectively envision and plan responses at the forefront of change.
I write, publish, and lecture internationally, developing and leading courses of study and professional workshops that bridge disciplines, professions, and cultures, bringing the creative imagination to collaborative process, pursuing innovative responses to questions arising from the complex, "wicked" problems of climate change impacts, biodiversity loss, and local place-based challenges.
Over 25 years I've been investigating the trajectory, impacts and outcomes of Ecological Art (Eco-art) practices.
Ecological art is by definition not discipline specific. Ecological artists work for systems change: from the natural and the personal, to the socio-cultural and political. We do not answer to clients, but to the integrity and well-being of the complex, enmeshed biocultural systems of life, aiming to move humanity toward a future of sustained flourishing for all life. This is the heart of Praxis.
I am immensely grateful to dwell in the unceded sovereign territories of the Snuneymuxwx (Nanaimo), Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees), and Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) nations, and for the insight and friendship of First Nations teachers and colleagues over the years. I hold a graduate degree in Values + Environment from Lancaster University's Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy. Until 1997 I was also an internationally exhibited artist, having trained from the age of 10 years with international and local masters in the techniques and technologies of traditional fine arts, film photography, and interactive media.
SCALE/LeSAUT Canada (Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency/Leadership Sectoriel des Arts sur l'Urgence de la Transition écologique) (roundtable)
Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy/ Société Canadienne de Philosophie Environnementale (Original Steering committee)
International Society for Environmental Ethics
International Environmental Communications Association (Founding Member)
International Ecoart Network (since 2001)
Broadly, a study of human engagements with "environment" and other species; Specifically, the study of the role and impacts of embodied, sensuous aesthetic engagements in those relationships.
Biocultures - could a revelation + embracing of bioculture help transform understandings, values, and ultimately change behaviours and policies in industrialised cultures?
The role of "art" + design in human-environment + interspecies relations, esp. the potential role of these practices and their artefacts in determining socio-cultural understandings, desires, values + behaviours
Tracking the transformative capacity of artist-initiated and arts-led collaborative practices to generate change in socio-cultural systems + public policy.
The generation and nurturing of emotional connection, affinity and sense of duty in humans toward places and other species through embodied, sensory aesthetic engagements, + practices, esp, over time.
Animism + Interrelationality in human-world + interspecies relations
Environmental Studies (Values + Environment)
EcoPhenomenology, Environmental Ethics + Applied Philosophy
Social/Cultural Anthropology, Social Sciences
EDITORIAL ADVISOR: Canadian Journal for Environmental Philosophy/Le Revue Canadienne de Philosophie Environnementale (CJEP/RCPE)
SECTION EDITOR: The Trumpeter, Journal of Ecosophy (2016/18)
Anthropology of Consciousness, American Anthropological Association
Environmental Humanities, Duke University Press
Geographical Review, American Geographical Society
Music & Arts in Action, University of Exeter
The Trumpeter, Athabasca University Press
Assessor: UNESCO UniTwin Program
RESEARCH AREAS + INTERESTS