They say, “Home is where the heart is.” If this is true (and I believe it is), then my heart beats in more than one place.
I’ve written of my landscapes of the heart on the ranch, in Santa Fe, and Arizona. Another place of pulse that I have not yet written so much about are the nearly 20 years lived in Davis, CA.
I was beyond blessed to return to University of California/Davis for the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Conference 2019 for a time of idea exploration and reconnection with deep roots.
First, the UC/Davis Campus—the arboretum where I studied, read, and ran for years.
The quad with inevitable bikes in the Bicycle Capital of the US:
I presented with the panel “Beyond Retreat: (Re)thinking Pastoral Landscape in the Posthuman Turn” (Chaired by Stefano Rozzoni, University of Bergamo. Gratitude to my professor, Dr. Jennifer Wells, for connecting me to this organization and Stefano). I presented on “Pastoral Landscape Through an Ecolinguistic Lens.”
My doctoral work focuses on exploring the relationship between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination.
Ecolinguistics and linguistic human rights ground this work.
Ecolinguistics explore the role of language in the life-sustaining interactions of humans, other species, and the physical environment. The first aim is to develop linguistic theories which see humans not only as part of society, but also as part of the larger ecosystems that life depends on. The second aim is to show how linguistics can be used to address key ecological issues, from climate change and biodiversity loss to environmental justice (Skutnabb-Kangas & Harmon, 2018).
Linguistic human rights can be defined as “only those language rights . . . which are so basic for a dignified life that everybody has them because of being human; therefore, in principle no state (or individual) is allowed to violate them” (Skutnabb-Kangas, 2008, p. 109).
At the end of my presentation I posed these thoughts to muse:
Language as natural element of landscape.
Language diversity as element of ecological diversity.
Diverse linguistic landscapes as integral for global sustainability.
When not immersed in all things literature and ecology, it was a time of reconnecting with deep roots and friendships. My final years in Davis were all about babies, babies, and babies—having them, holding them, loving them.
Because of these baby years, when I found myself at the Farmer’s Market in Davis Central Park a newborn (grandson of a deep-roots-bookclub-friend) I felt all of the places where my heart beats slide together.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2008). Linguistic genocide in education or worldwide diversity and human rights?” Hyderabad, Telangana: Orient Blackswan.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Harmon, D. (2018). “Biological diversity and language diversity.” In The routledge handbook of ecolingistics. New York City, NY: Routledge.