Welcome to Issue 37.1 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
Hello again! Did you miss us?
As you may have noticed, I’ve decided that this is still week 37, even though there was no Digesting last week. Time has felt very flat to me these last few months, and it’s important to acknowledge that a week did in fact pass, even if it is not documented here.
Spending a week not on Zoom is really good for the brain. I turned my phone off for a few days, too—and the remarkable thing about those few days is that I didn’t find myself looking for a phone to check, or wondering what was going on on that tiny screen. Yes, knowing what is going on in the world and doing work that needs to get done are important.
And, reality is the place that you are. This week, I got to finish reading How to Do Nothing, by Jenny Odell. It’s about the attention economy—little red notifications and ads with dancing people. It’s about where we choose to put our attention and the importance of that, along the lines of adrienne maree brown’s idea that what you pay attention to grows.
The last part of the book is about place, and putting our attention on the place that we are in, specifically as opposed to a screen we are not in. Odell argues that once we start putting our attention on the things that live and grow in the place we are in, we gain access to both a care for and satisfaction in being there.
This idea is deeply tied to that of bioregionalism, which is basically a practice of knowing what is special (autochthonous, endemic) to your place. Odell draws on learnings from the Ohlone people, who are native to the land on which she writes, to develop this concept; much Indigenous governance and territory is bioregionally aligned.
As I re-enter the whirlwind of news, it’s clear to me that the biggest headlines are always about what is most present in time, not place. Here are a few other headlines that are about place:
A Push Emerges for the First Native American Interior Secretary, about the crucial need for the 500 million acres of public land in this country to be overseen by an Indigenous person
A Plan to Save Wildlife May Have Done More Harm Than Good, a review of trade bans on endangered species, and why it’s important and challenging to keep animals in their places (warning: gnarly pangolin scenes!)
Tomorrow My Family and Neighbors May Be Forced From Our Homes by Israeli Settlers, a powerful account of the ongoing violence and displacement under the Israeli settler-colonial regime
And now for a friend out of place: a tiny owl fell asleep in the tree en route to become Rockefeller Center’s Christmas showpiece. The owl has been rescued, swaddled in a blanket, and is doing just fine.
The Second Look
Half-baked cultural criticism back next week from Gabriel Coleman.
Also back next week from the superb Latifah Azlan!