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Learning Journeys | Ecological Literacy | Author, poet, wilderness guide | Investor | Co-founder Atlas Unbound, Ground Effect (alexafirmenich.com)

I think we can. Let me tell you how.

Nestled in the verdant highlands of Veracruz, Mexico, is a small village called La Chinantla. It is only reachable by foot. My comrades on this grueling eight-hour ascent are researchers from the UMA University traveling to document and learn from the villagers’ ancestral techniques of landscape management. Our first lesson of the day begins just a few hours in when our guide pauses at a stone outcrop draped in emerald-green lichens. A waterfall tumbles from above. “This is the jaguar totem,” he explains. “We must ask for its permission to enter…


A story of ecological connectivity, wildlife flows, and how to create a safe passage for human and non human climate migrants

(Credit: Eiko Jones)

My skull is pounding as I launch headfirst against the cement wall. This obstacle, so near to my final resting place, is a tear in the orbit of my bloodline. I am caught in a gyre of churning water, a flailing body of skin and bone depleted by months of relentless exertion. My brothers and sisters beside me contort into the same frenzy, tails thrashing, bewildered at this impasse.

We are the urge of life to close a primordial…


When I say ‘nature’ what comes to mind?

I’m asking this question of nearly everyone I meet. Invariably the response is of a single species organism, like a tree, a flower or a bird, or of a particular favorite waterfall or woodland refuge. More rare is when ecologically-literate people like regenerative farmers respond with references to multi-species relationships, micro-rhizome networks that wire up plant communities, and just the word “Gaia.”

When I hear people use the word ‘nature,’ I wish they were using it interchangeably with the word ‘life.’ Life is everywhere, not just in postcard panoramas of untouched wildernesses…


This is the continuation of my story of coming into relationship with place (the first part can be found here). I moved from Mexico City to northern California earlier this year, and have been experimenting daily with new ways to converse , to experience and be experienced, by non-human forms of life. During the pandemic, homeward bound, silencing human voices, I have been infinitely graced by these encounters. I now cannot imagine my life without them.

I share this narrative with the hope that it can encourage you to do this for yourself, and share ways to discover exciting and…


This is my story of becoming an apprentice to a landscape. This year I moved from Mexico City to northern California and have been experimenting with new ways to converse, experience and be experienced by non-human life. It’s been a journey into an ecology of mind — a tale where the human psyche and imagination blossom and branch through entanglements with a planetary intelligence.

How is human psychology shaped by a landscape? …


( Extended version of article here )

As the climate crisis movement gains momentum, you will likely hear about a promising emergent legal concept called the Rights of Nature. In its essence, these rights are about human beings extending legal rights to other forms of biological life on Earth.

Humans listen and translate for all life, proclaiming an end to the silence of the victims of ecological destruction. A new generation of Earth guardians speaks for nature in human tongue.

The Rights of Nature and Earth Jurisprudence

To understand the brimming potential of the nascent Rights of Nature (RoN) movement, I went on a journey and asked…


Introduction

Consider the following hypothetical scenarios inspired by true events.

In Lapland, we find an impassioned girl speaking in national court, acting as a legal guardian for the reindeer herds who once migrated with her ancestors across the icy tundra. Today, the reindeer no longer have a place to call home and are dying by the thousands, their habitat razed in the extraction of iron ore and uranium.

In Indonesia, a fisherman becomes a new national hero. …


A Lacandon teenager gazing at the Metzabok lake, which has since gone dry // Alexa Firmenich

“Our oceans are worth at least $24 trillion, according to the new WWF report, Reviving the Ocean Economy”

“The economic benefit of the rainforest, if it’s conserved, is $8.2 billion a year”

Headlines that tout the economic value of nature should be a glaring red flag. This is how far we have gone in needing to protect and regenerate the planet — economic appeals to rational calculation. The translatability necessary to divert financial flows away from the most destructive of outputs does nothing to repair our broken relationship with nature.

Consider how this information lands in you. Does knowing the billions of dollars the oceans are worth evoke genuine care in you? Does it make you want to dive into the ocean and learn more about the forms of life inside of…


This is a story about Mexico’s only herd of wild bison. It is a tale of bravery, resilience and renewal. To engage in any real conversation about bison though, one must also speak about Mennonites, and vanishing prairie dogs, ancient lake beds, endless golden prairies, cowboys, and most importantly, how to vaccinate an 800-kilo bovine without getting hurt.

We can begin our tale with the lake bed. Three hours south west from the infamous border city of Ciudad Juarez, deep within the Janos BiosphereReserve, lies a ranch called El Uno. Its name is derived from a cartographical reference, Polygon One…


An Ode to the Seasons of our Souls

(Written on the road in New Mexico, October 2018)

The leaves of the cottonwoods are turning. There is a chill in the air; dusk is coming early. The first night stars emerge as we walk the old road home. Hues of amber, golden and soft, fly like pollen in the wind.

We feel a tug at our edges, slowly drawing us out of the euphoric, igniting energy held within the summer of our lives. We achieved, we succeeded, we expanded, we came home bearing glorious gifts. But there is a sense here…

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