The richness of life is in its immense diversity. The great diversity of languages and cultural groups in this bioregion — from Tlingt to Mattole, from Pomo to Haisla, has suffered grave damage for the last two centuries. Now these ancient voices are being supplemented by a dizzying range of new cultures taking root in the region. How can the wisdom of those who know this place well be blended with the vibrant voices and traditions of those who are just learning its ways?
The Japanese-American Plaza in Portland.
A world rich with cultural diversity honors the unique qualities and contributions of many cultures. Different religions, ethnicities, languages, and cultural traditions create a human tapestry that greatly contributes to Society. Honoring this diversity, turning it to advantage, is a fundamental aspect of Social Equity.
Ask yourself what specific communities or populations know about certain mountains, or wetlands, or farming a special crop, or wildcraft harvesting a rare medicinal plant. You will learn that a specific soil in just the right climate will grow certain plants well. People co-evolve with place similar to the way plants and animals co-evolved with their ecosystems. Cultural Diversity respects local knowledge and the role each culture has to play in creating Reliable Prosperity.
The Columbia River tribes tend the salmon runs and
with a salmon feast as the fish return. In honoring the life of the salmon, and the flesh they feed to people and dozens of other species, they honor the exquisite poetry of living systems in our bioregion. Mennonite farmers have their own way of honoring the land, and so do practitioners of ecological Forestry falling in love with the interconnectedness of life in the forest.
Cultures can grow and diversify in a place within a few decades if they are attentive. Media tied to a Sense of Place provide a twenty-first century fire circle, allowing hundreds of local communities a chance to witness and share their unique relationships to their beloved rivers, forests, and mountains.
In time, people grow into the contours of their place. People living in place have always acknowledged the practical skills of those who knew how to sew fishing nets, prepare an herbal poultice, or track animals. One role of cultural diversity in reliable prosperity is to learn how to live well in place by putting the stories, songs, dances, and special knowledge of many cultures to appropriate use.
Celebrate the intrinsic worth and richness of cultural diversity in all its forms. Find ways to harness this diversity in the service of reliable prosperity.