A silhouette illustration of a beautiful gnarled tree, with windswept leaves and a twisted trunk. An elegant line curves near the base of the trunk, while the tree roots nestle against the earth.

Earth Care and Environmental Activism

How might disability wisdom inform the way we approach ecology, sustainability, and environmental responsibility?  In this strand, we trace ways that disability experience can deepen environmental affinity.  Disability culture values interdependence as a fundamental reality and a generative way of being in the world.  Ecological thought echoes that same principle.  Ecosystems are built through interconnection: each individual and every species is part of an interlocking whole.  No one is independent.  We are all inescapably bound up with each other’s lives; we depend on each other to survive and thrive.

In these conversations, we explore the way disability shapes our relations with earth and the ways we approach environmental activism.  Might our own experience of living with impairment shift the ways we recognize and reckon with environmental damage and ecosystem harm?  We probe the physical terrain of access, what it takes to find accessible ways into wilderness and what it means to pay attention to the earthiness present in our everyday ecologies—in the sidewalk cracks, at the edges of the parking lots, in the weeds of our actual lives.

Together, we ask how disability politics might open up important conversations about sustainability and environmental practice.  How shall we marshal limited resources?  How do we contend with a finite supply of energy?  How do we make choices that respect and acknowledge our human limits?   These are ecological questions, but they are also disability questions.  Might our own disability strategies for living well amidst limits offer valuable insights for charting more sustainable futures?

The Conversations

Marina Heron (Tsaplina) in conversation with Julia Watts Belser

Naomi Ortiz in conversation with Julia Watts Belser

Naomi Ortiz in conversation with Julia Watts Belser