The Wayfinder | Ndajapysakái

Listening to the Land | Project 1

“They listen for the heartbeat of their mother as that ziibaakdaaboo (maple sap) falls into their pails. They cherish the gift given to their ancestors so long ago, and in their heart knowledge…they know that ziiizibaaakwad (sugar) wasn’t the real gift, the gift was in the making, and that without love, making wasn’t just possible” 

Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. The Gift Is in the Making: Anishinaabeg Stories (The Debwe Series). HighWater Press, 2013.

  • We start from ourselves:

The different intersectionalities that make me: All my borderlands shape me.

“My homeground didn’t want me, my new homeland doesn’t know what to do with me” P.Vera MDES Blog 2020.

“As a mestiza I have no country, my homeland cast me out; yet all countries are mine because I am every woman’s sister or potential lover. (As a lesbian I have no race, my own people disclaim me; but I am all races because there is the queer of me in all races…) I am cultureless, because, as a feminist, I challenge the collective cultural, religious male-derived beliefs of Indo-Hispanic and Anglos; yet I am cultured because I am participating in the creation of yet another culture, a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet”

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. 1st ed., Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

When we encounter these borderlines where the land seems foreign and our voices disappear. Hope comes as a result of reckoning. We listen to the land and see that there are layers and layers of soil, of carbon matter and history of people’s lives. All these layers meet in points of inflection, where cultures are created and are going to be created again and again until the earth allows it.

Caduveo—Mbaya—Guaicuru corporal ethno-graphics By Caduvea Women Artists 1998 (From Catalogue: The other Skin, Luz Ayala Urbieta) Paraguay

We listen to the land and see that history can be noted on skins, as the Paraguayan Caduveos “ethno-graphics” where tradition preserved years and years of being, passing on as knowledge keepers, identity and culture to the new generations.

Our Land | This tree is 1000 yrs old | Listen to the Land ( In QR Codes)

We listen to the land and see millennial trees posing majestically, talking to the wind and the birds, telling us that they were there, way before us, and that we have a responsibility to respect, reckon, care and listen…keep listening.

Graphics | Plaques | Objects NYC Streets Alexander-Calder-Upper-East-Side-Madison-Avenue-Terrazo-Sidewalk-Restoration (Left)
Barthman Clock-Maiden Lane and Broadway (Upper right)
Library Walk Plaque—The New York Public Library (Lower right)

We listen to the land and see in the streets of New York: the history of people’s passing by culture. The library, a clock, a cigarette butt, mosaics that make us recognize our place in that world. (“A world of many worlds”-Zapatistas Manifiesto)

Amasunu (rain); Aipóke (invisible, far away entity); Araryapu (thunder); Gualala (unintelligible sound); Pararâ (clatter, din) The land as it speaks…

In guarani language each sound has a different word . Nature talks in an onomatopoeic language.

How can indigenous and local knowledge help to facilitate land-based design practices for a sustainable future?

  • We build with community:

By listening to the land, recognizing it, giving care to their keepers we (designers) transform ourselves in wayfinders (the ones that know a way, or many ways). We situate ourselves in the pluriverse, where all those ways of being can build community and transform realities of exclusion, racism, discrimination, bigotry, social and ecological distress into possibilities of change. Where an ontological shift from capitalism and the patriarchal (chauvinist) modernist model, can allow different epistemologies to resurge and co-exist.

“We’ are travelling toward a point at which we will have to learn how to redesign ourselves.” 

Tony Fry

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