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Principles of Restoration

By Carolyn Raffensperger This morning friends and I were discussing the role of plants in mending the Earth.  In the course of that conversation my friend Hawk described a neighbor's plan to put 30 non-native roses in an Arizona desert garden.  His point was that this is the opposite of mending.  Roses in that garden will be dependent on humans for survival.  They will suck up precious and scarce water.  And they will get in the way of native plants that belong to that place. This conversation brought to mind these principles of restoration.  They are equally applicable to human and ecosystem health.

Ten Principles of Restoration Plus One

1. The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the pieces.*

2. The goal of restoration is to enable the system or organism to renew itself.*

3. All restoration is undertaken in a bio-geo-mythic field. The mythic is part of the healing field because humans use stories to understand their relationship to each other and to the biological and geological elements. The mythic field can be as damaged as the physical components.

4. Death is essential. Remember the phoenix rose out of the ashes. But she needed the ashes.

5. A healthy system is resilient.  It can move with disturbances, storms, the elements.

6. On Earth, every natural force is essential for restoration -- fire, air, water, earth and dreams.

7. Every being has a place but not a place in every place. Membership is place specific.

8. Health is membership.** A being, a force, a myth, a cure, a technology, out of place is disease.

9. Human intervention must be scaled appropriately. The small respectful gesture is a good start.

10. Timing may be everything. Music and dance can teach us the right rhythm especially the music of the spheres, the dance of the pollinators.

0. Restoration is about restoring relationships.  The only real rule of restoration  is compassionate intimacy.

* After Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac ** After Wendell Berry in Another Turn of the Crank