Narrative Sovereignty To see the big picture as designers enabling social and ecological solutions, permaculturists can step out of a circle, and be the holder of the circle as if holding a container – inviting holders of the local Traditional Ecological Knowledge to be in the center and in charge of the narrative, and be its storytellers as much as possible.
Considering that many places that still hold TEK and indigenous wisdom operate more with oral cultures rather than written ones, such knowledge is passed down by word of mouth and may have limited ways of documentation in a written format. Principle 0 requires our presence on the landscape to take time to listen, dialogue, and with consent, eventually collaborate for collective impact. It also encourages us to ensure proper consent for the documentation, use and reference of this knowledge.
A passion project I have been prototyping called Kalikhasan – Living Story Landscapes5 works with multimedia artists and culture bearers using photography and video among other media to practice an approach called narrative sovereignty.
Principle 0 offers ways for local partners to share their own experience from their own lens and voice, rather than tell it for them in its entirety. If storytelling is not easy, engaging more relatable communicators or sectors to facilitate may help locals. One example is working with an indigenous facilitator to deliver the session to indigenous communities. This can also include engaging one more local person closer to the community to ensure a familiarity of language, the history of the landscape and the local flora and fauna.
Engaging counter-mapping tools so locals can map their own territories and landscapes is one way we can engage them to define the scope and definition of their ecological interventions. One inspiring initiative that we are collaborating with is the work of the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA) in the Philippines6 that uses digital 3D mapping of ancestral domains. This includes the many dimensions of a place – from natural to political and from economic to spiritual – that need to be identified in terms of geographic locations.
© Sarah Queblatin
Kankanaey elders of Sagada drafting a vision for their DRR plan in a workshop with Kankanaey farmer and cultural worker Dom-an Macagne and Sarah Queblatin
From one indigenous person to another. Reymondje Apinohon, an indigenous Green Releaf permaculture facilitator from the Higaonon tribe, sharing ways with the Tobog and Biga tribes in Kalinga.
issue 110 winter 2021
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