Living Landscapes Foundation

Living Landscapes Foundation

Living Landscapes believes in exploring, creating and sharing stories that connect us with other life forms in meaningful ways. We believe in new mythologies and regenerative practices that make the world a more welcome place for all life forms. Our projects practice and explore embodied knowledge, place awareness, eco-poetic language, interspecies communication and the cooperation between humans and other life forms. 

The Foundation facilitates a range of long-term and innovative projects initiated by explorer, pioneer, biologist and writer Arita Baaijens. The projects explore the various ways people and cultures relate to landscape, the sea and other life forms. Through embodied experiences, multimedia installations, books, essays, exhibitions and expeditions Baaijens shares insights and experiences.   The world that we are part of is expressive and alive. Deep mapping, rewilding the Dutch technocratic language and interspecies communication are the focus of recent projects. With special attention to Dutch landscapes and the North Sea. 

Scroll down for info about the projects.

Board – Bas Pedroli (voorzitter), Niels Feis (penningmeester), Jelle Troelstra (secretaris), Reineke van Tol ( bestuurslid), Marjolein Kok (bestuurslid), Arita Baaijens (bestuurslid, directeur)

KvK 70523134   |  Donations: IBAN NL32 TRIO 0338 842675

 

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PROJECTS – LIVING LANDSCAPES 

New mythologies

We’ve lost our connection with the land and lack ecological intelligence. To reverse the trend Living Landscapes highlights cultures that use innovative technologies and practices based on collaboration with nature. The projects explore different knowledge systems, philosophies and alternative perspectives in the belief that a cross pollination of traditional knowledge, science and different technologies can provide the building blocks for constructing a new mythology for the post-Anthropocene.

Founder Arita Baaijens: Thirty years of exploration in wild places taught me that the separation between man and nature is an idea that exists in the western mind only. Nature is not ‘out there’, we are part of it. During my travels I was struck by the intimate way herders and nomadic people relate to the natural environment. Land in those regions has agency, intelligence and spirit. Closer to home, in the Netherlands, nature is considered a resource or at best a pleasant decor. We are stuck with an outdated model of reality. Let’s explore new narratives and in doing so create the world we want to live in!

 

2023. Job interview at the sea. How to become a Speaker for all life in the sea. Netherlands.

Most of us don’t have a clue about the myriad of life forms with which we share the planet. We act as if we’re the only ones that matter and ruin habitats of other living beings.  This project investigates and aims to transform the bossy attitude of the Dutch with regards to the North Sea. Too often the sea is considered to be an industrial zone rather than a home for plankton, shells, fish and other marine life forms.

To change this perspective and challenge the outdated anthropocentric worldview, Baaijens prepares for a job interview at the sea for the position ‘Speaker for all life in the sea’. The interview will take place summer/autumn 2023. Source of inspiration is the first zoöp in the world: The New Institute in Rotterdam. Zoöp stands for an organisational form of cooperation between human and nonhuman life that safeguards the interests of all zoë (Greek for ‘life’). The zoöp model requires that at least one seat in the board room is reserved for All Life Forms. The project ‘Job interview at the sea’ assumes that the Netherlands will become a sea zoöp in the near future. Hence the need for a Speaker for All Life in the Sea.

The process and findings will be shared in various ways with the public. Book and a documentary follow. Stay tuned!

2021-present. Language for the Future, Netherlands.

The speculative project ‘Language for the future, in conversation with the North Sea’ took place from March to October 2021. The project rewilds the Dutch language in order to do justice to the biodiverse and multi-voiced world we inhabit. ‘Language for the future’ argues advocates a rich and poetic-ecological vocabulary and grammar rules that express interdependence of species. Important element of the learning process is the learning language machine (algorithm) that was trained to speak on behalf of the sea. Experimental texts in which the voice of the sea resonates illustrate how the sea could tell us a thing or two if we care to listen. The poetic wild language emerges is a co-creation of the language machine, the North Sea, the public and writers. The project explores the contours of innovative language for the post-Anthropocene, and it is inspired by the following question:

What is the essence of a language and literature in a future world in which humans and more-than-humans understand each other and ecologically intelligent action is the norm?

Departure point

The language in which we express our concerns about the climate and in which we propose solutions for the future is a legacy of the nineteenth century, an exciting and optimistic era that was dominated by Western male scientists. But the belief in technology and progress is outdated, as is the idea of modern man as a rational being. Technology is as much part of our society as is our connection with nature. The latter also deserves a place in the stories we tell each other and the vocabulary we use. The ‘Language for the Future’ project advocates a society in which humans and more-than-humans fully participate and have rights. This requires that we communicate with other sentient beings. This is not as strange and far-fetched as it may seem. If we can empathise with a fictional character in a novel, we can also empathise with a landscape, a porpoise or the North Sea.

2017-2020. Paradijs in de Polder, Netherlands.

Place and Perception – The project ‘Paradise in the Low Lands’ was initiated to reconnect the Dutch with the natural world, both in urban and rural environments. Industrial farming is big business, soil is a commodity, nature or what’s left of it is used for recreation or to please the eye.  Loss of ecological habitats, the use of pesticides, pollution of water, air and soil have resulted in an alarming loss of birds, insects, wild flowers. The landscape has changed and the Dutch coined a word to express the feeling of grief and loss: ‘Landschapspijn’, which might translate as ‘landscape ache’.

Mission: Bring back wonderment in the public discours about nature and landscape; Revitalize the connection between the Dutch and their landscape; develop a methodology and a new lexicon to express ‘chora’ or the deeply felt meaning of a place or landscape; Create deep maps that express both the seen and unseen aspects of landscape.

Project leader Arita Baaijens teamed up with creatives, GIS experts, researchers, nature lovers and decision makers.

Activities:

  • Book ‘Paradijs in de Polder’ by Arita Baaijens (2018, Atlas Contact publishers, Amsterdam)
  • National campaign Sense of Place (2018).
  • Rewild the Dutch language, Dictionary for the Future.
  • Deep mapping hackatons and fieldwork.
  • Seminars

2019-2020. The Living Forest, Papua New Guinea.

2019-2020 – December and January Arita Baaijens undertook a follow up expedition to Bosavi in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Expedition ‘The Living Forest’ studied ecological intelligence and the close relationship between birds and people in Bosavi. Arita recorded bird song and ambient sounds in the field to further explore and articulate the language of the forest, as understood by the people who call Bosavi home. The soundscapes will be added to the multi-layered deep map that was created on the first journey.

WINGS Worldquest supports the expedition. Read the report. Two radio-documentaries about Bosavi are in the making for Dutch National Radio (episode 1, Dec. 2020 and episode 2, Jan. 2021).Yael Yekogian, Managing Director WINGS WorldQuest. “Arita will give voice to the unchartable with her unique method of dissecting and layering all of the critical elements that make up a culture.”

Arita Baaijens received the Women of Discovery Humanity Award 2014 for her research and is now a WINGS fellow. She carried the WINGS flag twice. The Wings Worldquest flag is recognized as a symbol of excellence in discovery and knowledge, and certifies the significance of its carrier’s endeavor.

Listen to the interview, Vroege Vogels radio

Listen to podcasts (2), Vroege Vogels radio

Read the 2020 field report.

2016-2017. The Mountain Speaks, Papua New Guinea.

The Mountain Speaks’ is the third project that was initiated by Living Landscapes. Winter 2016/17 Arita Baaijens joined the Soabesi, a clan of hunters in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Bosavi area, to learn about traditional ways of knowing, experiencing and understanding the natural environment. Mount Bosavi is a volcano considered sacred by the indigenous peoples.
Although parts of the Mount Bosavi area are at present officially protected, extracting companies are moving into the area and their activities are a threat to both the natural biodiversity of the land and the diversity of the autonomous indigenous cultures. Arita will spend two months with the Soabesi tribe to observe how the complexity of the volcano’s unique ecosystem has influenced the tribe’s culture and worldview. To observe means to actively use all the senses and pay close attention to the interaction that goes on between humans and non-humans. What does nature teach the Soabesi? What values do clan-members pass on to their children? How does the environment effect their culture and what can we learn from them?

2017 expedition field report

Feature about Bosavi expedition.

2016-2017. Mindscapes, Ireland.

Can virtual reality rekindle our inborn love for nature? Arita Baaijens believes so. Mindscapes is a pilot virtual reality film about the Irish landscape as seen through the eyes of two Irish farmers to whom the land means so much more than soil, grass and profit. Producer is We Make VR, a pioneer in the field. Sponsor logistics: Extreme Ireland.

Watch our 1 min clip The making of Mindscapes.

2016. The Landscape Speaks, Altai Republic / Siberia

Rivers and mountains sing in the Altai Mountains in the heart of Central Asia. Native inhabitants believe that everything in nature has spirit and is alive. The pilot field study The Landscape Speaks in Siberia (August 2016) established a dialogue between local communities and policy makers about the value and preservation of landscapes that are essential to the survival of the Altai indigenous culture. We brought together the sciences, traditional knowledge and the arts to document the seen and unseen qualities of the sacred Karakol Valley in the Altai Republic (Siberia). The team collected and mapped information about flora, fauna, places of power, memories, stories and mythology. The maps the team has made are being processed into a multi-layered digital map.

Special thanks to Danil Mamyev (founder of Uch Enmek Nature Park, Altai Republic), Bas Pedroli (Alterra, University Wageningen), Wayne Poulsen (consultant cultural projects), Marjolijn Boterenbrood (artist) and Carolyn Strauss (director Slow Research Lab).