You Are Where You Live: How the sky, rain, geography, and cultures of our place shape us plus Sex in the Wild (a First-Hand Account)
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  Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions         January 2013 

Montage of ancient plants from What Would Nature Do? issue of YES! MagazineHow the sky, rain, geography, and cultures of our place shape us.

You Are Where You Live

by Susan Griffin

As I was moved to learn recently, certain whales habitually congregate in one area of the ocean to compose a single piece of music together.

Did Peter Berg know this? It would not have surprised him. The phenomenon validates what he had been saying for decades. He understood so early and so cogently how we all collaborate, in the songs we sing and the thoughts we think—collaborate not only with each other but, by virtue of our very existence, with where we are. With place.

Whale songs would of their nature contain so much: the briny taste of sea water, for instance, or topographical features of the ocean floor over which they float as they sing, even the particular weather of the area. The sound that emanates from these majestic creatures reflects all that sustains them.

That not just forests and rivers but songs are part of what defines a region was one of the great contributions Peter made to the way we imagine ourselves and the Earth today.


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Some of the subjects of Rachel Sussman’s Oldest Living Things in the World project have been around since before recorded history, like the 80,000-year-old clonal colony of Quaking Aspen (top-right).


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  More from the Winter issue of YES! Magazine …  

What I learned about love from a hermaphrodite, a cannibal, and a dizzyingly diverse array of sea creatures.
Eva Hayward IllustrationSex in the Wild (a First-Hand Account)
by Eva Hayward

“Naked lungs,” nudibranchs: Undulant sea slugs, frilled and harlequin. They are hermaphrodites and cannibals. Male or female, mate or lunch: permutations abound.

In general, we pretend sex is obvious, as if our chromosomes calculate our entire physiology. But as we’ve slowly come to realize—with the help of feminism, “queer theory,” and biology—sex is many processes that include X and Y chromosomes, hormones, gonads, internal sex structures, and external genitalia, as well as history, culture, environment, and variables still to be named. Some marine inverts “know” that sex is a process; know it as part of their way of life.


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