long as humans have been around,
we’ve had to move in order to survive.”
So arises that most universal and elemental human longing for home, and
so begins Greta Gaard’s exploration of just precisely what it
means to be at home in the world. Gaard journeys through the deserts of
southern California, through the High Sierras, the Wind River
Mountains, and the Northern Cascades, through the wildlands and
waterways of Washington and Minnesota, through snow season, rain
season, mud season, and lilac season, yet her essays transcend mere
description of natural beauty to investigate the interplay between
place and identity.
examines the earliest environments of childhood and the
relocations of adulthood, expanding the feminist insight that identity
is formed through relationships to include relationships to place.
“Home” becomes not a static noun, but an active
verb: the process of cultivating the connections with place and people
that shape who we become.
create a sense of home, Gaard
involves herself socially, culturally, and ecologically within her
communities, discovering that as she works to change her environment,
her environment changes her.
As Gaard investigates environmental concerns such as water quality, oil
spills, or logging, she touches on their parallels to community issues
such as racism, classism, and sexism, uncovering the dynamic
interaction by which “humans, like other life on earth, both
shape and are shaped by our environments.” While maintaining
an understanding of the complex systems and structures that govern
communities and environments, Gaard’s writing delves deeper
to reveal the experiences and realities we displace through euphemisms
or stereotypes, presenting issues such as homelessness or hunger with
compelling honesty and sensitivity.
Gaard’s essays form a quest narrative, expressing the process
of letting go that is an inherent part of an impermanent life. And when
a person is broken, in the aftermath of that letting go, it is a place
that holds the pieces together. As long as we are forced to
move—by economics, by war, by colonialism—the
strategies we possess to make and redefine home are imperative to our
survival, and vital in the shaping of our very identities.
The Nature of Home
Taking Root in a Place
by Greta Gaard
of Arizona Press,