it’s a misnomer, of course—or at least redundant—to distinguish ourselves as “land-based”: even space stations are land-based in that every molecule of their construction is mined, synthesized and assembled from some type of earth. Every community is land-based—as in, wholly dependent on the land.

But does every community root their relationship in acknowledging that dependency?

Most of us prefer the experience of independence—we feel stronger, safer, and in control.

Strange things happen, though, when you begin to experience the natural world less as a hardware store and more as your extended family.
Suddenly, or gradually, or intermittently at least, you’re in relationship. One day the Other—your fellow community member, the Red-tailed Hawk nesting on that branch, even that babbling brook over there—expresses (gasp!) their own presence, their own needs, their own autonomy.
To awaken to relationship with the natural world means discovering something richer, deeper, more astounding than you’ve ever imagined.
It also means encountering a profound, and permanent, vulnerability—your incurable dependency on the land.
At the Mesa Life Project, we are developing our community, not on the land but with the land. While some “people” are easier to negotiate with then others, we know and accept that there are many, many stakeholders in this enterprise. Our goal is to make room at the table for everyone. The mountain we call home, after all—the Grand Mesa—is, indeed, the “Great Table.”

Chris Schlake

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