From the Chair: Home.
Northeast Florida. The Lower Basin of the St. Johns River. Our very own bioregion.
This is where we live, love, work, and have our being. We are bonded to the land here, of this area we have a sense of place.
Recently, at the Earth Kinship Conference held at UNF*, author Kirkpatrick Sale told us about the Spanish word “querencia” – the need to identify with a place, to understand one particular land area as home. He said querencia implied “a deep, quiet sense of inner well-being that comes from knowing a particular place of the earth, its diurnal and seasonal patterns, its fruits and scents, its history and its part in your history where, whenever you return to it, your soul releases an inner sigh of recognition and relaxation.” My son Justin’s Spanish teacher, Cristi Peterson, told me querencia is a homing instinct – it is the longing of sentient beings to return to the place they were raised or to the place to which they have grown accustomed…
We know what beach people say: “Whenever I’m going home and finally drive up over the Intracoastal – that’s when I get a sense of peace.”
Similarly, when I fly into the Jacksonville airport, look down and see all those beautiful wetlands below – miles and miles of pristine marsh – and the winding River, and the majestic Sea – all out my airplane window – well, right then I am neck deep in “querencia.”
The late, great Sierra Club warrior David Brower (see page 3 for more on Mr. Brower) was often accused of “always being against everything.” Brower would respond with things like: “Yes, I’m against dams but that is because I am FOR rivers.” Have you noticed that the editorial section of our local paper can not use the word “environmentalist” without putting “radical” in front of it?**
Indeed, we at the Sierra Club are against some things. But it is because we are FOR the protection and preservation of our home, the natural place to which we are bonded; where we live, love, work, and have our being.
Thank goodness for querencia.
* The Earth Kinship Conference was, once again, a terrific event, thanks in large part to our own Sierra Club members Pat Jeremiah, Martina and John Linnehan, Roger Bass, Sarah Kivler, Paula Pederson, and Sarah Bailey – all on the EKC steering committee.
** Thanks to Brian Vonn for pointing this out to me.