Intro

Sacred Headwaters is a bi-weekly newsletter that aims to guide a co-learning process about the existential issues and planetary limitations facing humanity, and about how we can reorient civilization in a way that will enable us to thrive for centuries to come.

The climate crisis is the foremost issue we’re facing, but as you’ll learn in the readings over the coming months, it’s just one of a number of issues with the way our current human civilization has integrated itself into the planetary system. Traditional western media outlets cover the climate crisis, but it tends to focus on alarmist headlines and gives a reductionist view of both the problems and the solutions. The goal of this newsletter is to provide a deeper understanding of the issues, what’s at stake, and how we might approach mitigating them, up to and including restructuring our civilization to live within the bounds of the earth system. Each newsletter will include an annotated list of articles — targeting one or so hours of reading every two weeks (it’s a bit closer to two this week) — and a book recommendation; feel free to bite off as much as you can chew. I hope these readings will help you understand and explore what a meaningful and sustainable life looks like and encourage discussion and dissemination of information about the ecological crises confronting humanity.

Many of the readings will be depressing. It’s easy to fall into a feeling of helplessness or nihilism. I’ll be doing my best to include pieces about proactive steps and hopeful opportunities in each newsletter. Humanity can survive these crises, but to understand how, we need to understand the stakes involved and the risks of both inaction and insufficient action.

What’s in a Name?

The Sacred Headwaters -- or Klabona -- is a region of northwest British Columbia in Canada; it is a vast wilderness, one of the most biodiverse regions in Canada, and the source of three of North America’s largest salmon-bearing rivers. It’s also constantly under threat of industrial development, including, most recently, massive-scale open pit mining that puts the entire ecosystem at risk. The Sacred Headwaters is emblematic of the overarching challenge we’re facing -- learning how to live within earth’s means as part of the earth system instead of separate from it, depleting it. It’s also a place where we can find lessons about how to do that. The First Nations have lived there for thousands of years, harvesting salmon and other natural resources in a sustainable cycle. Indigenous culture has much to teach us about what real sustainability looks like, and we need to open our minds to every learning opportunity if we’re going to continue inhabiting the earth for the foreseeable future.

Why subscribe?

Not everyone needs to be an expert, but information is critical for sensemaking and traditional media fails to convey a lot of the important details surrounding the climate crisis, soil degradation, and more, and it typically fails to question the underlying assumptions of our culture that are related to the causes of our ecological crises. I believe it’s important for people to know as much as possible about the practical issues and solutions, and about the structural problems that are currently preventing us from taking real action; without that knowledge, no one can be expected to push for change. Subscribe to join me and others on this learning journey and explore how we can transition to a sustainable world view — and world:

Like what you’re reading here? The more people we can reach, the more impact we have, so please share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues.

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Nick Gottlieb
I'm a web developer, outdoor adventure photographer, and writer, trying to explore meaning in the midst of a collapsing civilization.