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I missed my October newsletter deadline! I hope there are folks that look forward to reading them. I know I spend a little too long on it, but given my inability to dedicate more time to IFIAAR, this is my place to gather thoughts and refocus on the concepts that started the project- whether or not there's something tangible to show for it all!

Why Look at Animals 2 is online! If you enjoyed the first 25 minutes of non stop animal footage, you'll certainly enjoy this extension.

Sarah Meadows' AMPAMOMP is lost in the mail :( :( :( but I'm hoping will somehow work through the congested USPS network between NYC and CA yet. I'll pass along details on how to get a copy from Sarah next letter.

Funny Animals- January 10/11 2020- I will be leading a two day narrative building seminar on non-human animals in Lisbon, Portugal. This event is part of the Anthropocene Campus 2020 which will include a variety of presentations, talks, and workshops centered around our changing world.


(October 24th, 2019) Greetings from Bogota, Colombia. I spent the last two weeks in this wildly varied country and the last five days along the Amazon River, the longest river in the world. Though I’d come to the country for business reasons, after discovering the proximity to the rainforest and river, I decided this was my time to go and I’m so very grateful for the circumstances that led me there.

<I decided I just don't have an ethical problem with loose 'pet' monkeys that live next to their native jungle and are free roaming>

I’ve never felt more human in some ways. By that I mean, felt so earthly, so on this planet. On the river, the sky is all encompassing beyond the thick, even, green line of trees that divides the horizon. Its constantly shifting, as many areas receive between 60-120 inches of rainfall in a year. Massive layers of clouds swarm and drift off, leaving dense, hot, humid air. The water, both river and rain, breathe unbelievable life into a forest that stretches eight countries and is the largest remaining intact forest on this planet. This entire planet. The scope is so hard to fathom and yet looking at that ever stretching green line, walking through the mud, the vines, the trees, the leaves, the flowers, I believe in its magnitude. And probably almost everything I saw was secondary forest, meaning it was cut within the last 500 years of colonial presence.

The rainforest hasn’t just given life to more individual species than any other ecosystem on the planet its also given life to hundreds of indigenous groups (estimated 1-20million people currently) for a few thousand years and steered the economies of the westernized industrial world through rubber, plants for medical advancement, extracted minerals like oil and gold, and land for export cattle and crop. The riches of biodiversity have equated literal riches for those that searched to exploit this land.  

91% of deforestation in the Amazon is linked to land use for cattle grazing. 70 people were killed in Brazil last year over land protection and environmental disputes, many, obviously murders.

I’m not sure what my thesis will be for this email, or if there needs to be one. I’m not trying to brag about going to the Amazon (if anyone wants advice on going please feel free to ask, Leticia is the jump off in Colombia, Manaus in Brazil). I had some ideas about how I could use this to rant about>billionaires-->hopeful extinction of billionaires instead of species-->democratic debate-->UBI--> All that is fine, but also lends so much to the abstraction of the forest itself. Its so much more than a symbol or representation of wildness/nature/biodiversity, its actually SO alive and filled with millions of distinct individuals with unique personalities and dna. I don’t just want to walk away and share photos and call it a trip either. I didn’t have a solid objective but it was not a vacation. I’m not sure how I want this to be represented in my life but I want to talk about it, and think about it, and read about it, and hopefully feel its breath again. 

While I was there, I finished a book well aligned with the journey- How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human by Eduardo Kohn. It was a fairly logistical text on semiotics within an anthropological framework encompassing the non-human, spiritual, and dynamic forms that shape life. Its specifically a study taken place within the Runa community of the Ecuadorian Amazon and how their language and understanding of the world opens up space for bigger ways to seeing. Though probably a long stretch from most traditional ethnographic studies, it helped give way to a conversation that can only come from this forest and the deeply entangled relationships that exist there. Losing it would not just lose the global filtration system for our air and water, but literal possibilities to expand our minds (don’t forget ayahuasca comes from here lest it become so detached in our clinical and urban usage. I hope it doesn’t just become a tool for human ego work for the most narcissistic generation to ever exist >_<) and let the forests be part of what creates and sustains us beyond exploitation.

The Amazon needs to remain a massive part of our dialogue on climate change in a practical sense, but maybe more importantly in a spiritual sense, we are all living with it whether or not we can see and touch it.

Lastly I’d like to direct your attention to two Amazon-lovers that personally inspired me to finally go and whose ongoing work with the forest is well worth your time- Naziha Mestaoui and Lisa Schonberg. Naziha regularly works and lives with a tribe in Brazil. Her largest project 1 Heart 1 Tree works to digitally connect people to nature. Lisa has been studying ant vocalizations from the forest floor to create percussion compositions through the project UAU and originally went with Lab Verde, a residency program (apply!) located there.



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Institute for Interspecies Art and Relations · 751 Bushwick Ave · Brooklyn, Ny 11221 · USA

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