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Newsletter | #18 -

Newsletter | #18

Ayubowan*, friend. 🙋‍♂️

Where is the ‘lion kingdom’? What key books discuss soundscape ecology? How can Buddhist philosophy set out a way to tackle the sixth extinction with love? What techniques can make urban gardening a viable reality? How can mental health services support those experiencing eco-distress?

Read on for the answers!

*“Hello” in Sinhala, one of the official languages of Sri Lanka.

Soundscape of the week 

‘Storm in Sinharaja’:

“Frogs, insects and birds sing in the early morning light, then a monsoon storm passes over the rainforest. As the rain eases, the wildlife becomes active again.”

Layered vocalizations are gradually overtaken by the crackle of the rainfall hitting foliage in this recording by Marc Anderson in the Sri Lankan Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, in recognition of its status as a biodiversity hotspot. Its name translates to ‘lion kingdom’, in reference to a legendary protector of the forest; now, its populations of large mammals includes purple-faced langurs, a small number of leopards, and just two (male) Sri Lanka elephants (a subspecies of the Asian elephant).

Articles and essays

📚 A companion piece to our previous article on films about nature field recordings, ‘Top Five Books on Soundscape Ecology’ provides a similar rundown of defining texts related to the discipline. Authors whose work is included range from front-runners like Bernie Krause and R. Murray Schafer to newer names working in field recording, digital bioacoustics, and even pure sound enthusiasts like Trevor Cox.

We hope that these titles will inspire readers to reach further into the worlds encapsulated within soundscape ecology. Please feel free to reply to this email with suggestions of other favorite books on this and connected subjects!

🏞️ The current featured episode of podcast Wind Is the Original Radio, ‘A Portrait of the White Mountain National Forest’, presents a recording from a federally managed forest in the northeastern US. Made by field recordist Jared Blake, he describes hiking “from the parking area directly up the Wonalancet River, jumping from rock to rock […] [meaning he could] experience and capture parts of the Wonalancet largely unknown to the world” – its rush and babble and the hiss of rainfall is now available for listeners to experience themselves. 

👉 Additional episodes of Wind Is the Original Radio are available on Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher, with new installments released every Friday.

Content from the extended community

☸️ “[We assume] that nature is everything other than us—that is, we’re not part of nature and the wild is everything other than us. […] And that I think is what’s driving the ecological crisis at its deepest level, because that distance, that separation, enables a kind of instrumental and exploitative relation to ‘nature.’” 

‘An Ethics of Wild Mind: An Interview with David Hinton’ lays out the poet, translator, and author’s “calls for a radical reweaving of mind and land”, to undo “the shifts in human consciousness that [have] distanced us from nature”. By drawing on Tao and Ch’an Buddhist philosophy, he attempts to provide a way for us to “navigate the sixth extinction with an ethics tempered by love”.

🏛️ “In a world where most of us now live in the [urban] sprawl […] [we need to look] at the urban garden seriously, not as a way of self-sustaining a whole city, or reducing our food miles, or cutting down our emissions (even if they may end up doing so) but for something more ineffable: because they enrich our lives.”

Six writers based in five cities (Beirut, Lebanon; Chengdu, China; Glasgow, Scotland; and London and Bristol, England) refute the backlash that has arisen against local food, in this Vittles newsletter making ‘The Case for Urban Gardens’

They focus on “the unquantifiable aspects” of the practice, for example, by recreating “an intimacy with land” which has been lost due to “developments that offer no interactable green space”; using “foraging […] [as] a tool with which to reclaim the land at the heart of the city, as well as connecting ancestral knowledge and day-to-day survival”; lobbying councils to be allowed to create urban farms on derelict land; “guerilla gardeners […] operat[ing] under the radar, […] squat[ting] land encircling slums; on railway embankments; along abandoned stretches of canal”; and setting up “sustainable and wildlife-friendly [garden] space[s] […] rooted in a celebration of both horticultural and human diversity”.

⚕️ “We do not yet know how eco-distress might look across cultures and identities. How environmental trauma might inscribe itself in the body. […] These challenges are as difficult as they are numerous—but perhaps the real challenge lies in our crisis of disconnection. A crisis that has kept us separate from each other and from the land that sustains us. Only by rebuilding these ties, might we find healing.”

‘How Climate Change Is Forcing Therapists to Mend Their Field’ confronts global mental health services’ failures to adequately support the impacts that climate change is having upon people’s mental health – failures which the UK’s Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) is attempting to overcome by providing targeted training.

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We hope you have a regenerative week. 🙏

With best wishes,
Neil and Team

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Neil Clarke is an independent comics writer based in East London, who really wishes he could draw.