What is Bioregionalism?

Bioregionalism celebrates local ecology, community, and culture.

Bioregionalism is the practice of intimately exploring, knowing, and caring for the natural and human communities within a region defined by nature, our bioregion. As "bioregion" literally means 'territory of life,' the goal is to define and connect with a place based on its life-forms. This is achieved by appreciating the ecology, history, culture, and cycles of the seasons where we live.

We provide guidance from a distance for home-learners and in the classroom for our on-site students. No two people learn the same way, so why ask them to? Through independent learning experiences, projects, targeted skills practice, and hands-on activities, children can learn at their own pace and in their own way.

Our Model

Oak and Orca School provides a model of bioregionalism within the modern world. Named after a tree and animal in its bioregion, the school strives to connect students, their families, and the community at large with the place they live. Bioregionalism is woven into the educational approach, policies and procedures, land use, and organizational infrastructure at Oak and Orca.

The school uses a framework of bioregional education around which knowledge and skill in all subject areas is built. Components of bioregionalism are integrated into a bioregional curriculum and the lifestyle of the Oak and Orca experience. Study of the local bioregion, experiential learning, consensus decision making, participatory democracy, ecological education, field work, nature interpretation, nature awareness, and deep ecology are all bioregionally related concepts integrated into student life at the school.

Bioregional Education in Action

The focus of bioregional education involves encouraging children and adults alike to:

Bioregional Definition

The North American Bioregional Congress' 1985 statement:

"Welcome Home!

"A growing number of people are recognizing that in order to secure the clean air, water and food that we need to healthfully survive, we have to become guardians of the places where we live. People sense the loss in not knowing our neighbors and natural surroundings, and are discovering that the best way to take care of ourselves, and to get to know our neighbors, is to protect and restore our region.

"Bioregionalism recognizes, nurtures, sustains and celebrates our local connections with:

"It is taking the time to learn the possibilities of place. It is a mindfulness of local environment, history, and community aspirations that leads to a sustainable future. It relies on safe and renewable sources of food and energy. It ensures employment by supplying a rich diversity of services within the community, by recycling our resources, and by exchanging prudent surpluses with other regions. Bioregionalism is working to satisfy basic needs locally, such as education, health care and self-government.

"The bioregional perspective recreates a widely-shared sense of regional identity founded upon a renewed critical awareness of and respect for the integrity of our ecological communities.

"People are joining with neighbors to discuss ways we can work together to:
1. Learn what our special local resources are;
2. Plan how to best protect and use those natural and cultural resources;
3. Exchange our time and energy to best meet our daily and long-term needs;
4. Enrich our children's local and planetary knowledge.

Security begins by acting responsibly at home."

The above was reprinted in an essay anthology entitled HOME! A BIOREGIONAL READER, ed. Van Andruss, published by New Society.

Bioregionalism is a philosophy of life that seeks to harmonize a fulfilling human lifestyle with the natural systems that support all life on Earth. We began a bioregional school because we wanted to see our children develop the skills required for a bioregional lifestyle and to empower them to create harmonious, yet fulfilling, lives for themselves. The bioregional vision is to regain a sense of deeply belonging, intimately knowing, and truly loving the land, the community, and the history of where we live. In modern times, many of us have lost touch with the land; through a bioregional approach, we try to regain that connection.

What Others Have Written About Bioregionalism

"The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery -- not over nature but of ourselves."
Rachel Carson
"Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them."
Madeleine L'Engle