Kinship Is a Verb

 

THE FOLLOWING IS A CONVERSATION between Robin Wall Kimmerer, John Hausdoerffer, and Gavin Van Horn, the coeditors of the five-volume series Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations (Center for Humans and Nature Press, 2021). It was recorded during an event hosted by Point Reyes Books and has been excerpted and edited for clarity.

 

John Hausdoerffer: In thinking about kinship, I think it’s important to begin with, What are the boundaries of our kin? We can go way internal and microscopic, down to the nerves that actually inform our brain more than our brain informs our bodies, right down to the microbes, not only managing our health but informing our way of being and interacting with the world. Then [we can go] all the way out, right to our own families, to the human and greater-than-human world, out to the cosmos—the fact that we’re made of stardust, right? Kinship reaches very far.

In thinking about the boundaries of kin, it’s important to also ask: How do we use this word, kin?

In the book [volume 2 of the Kinship series, “Place”], Melissa Nelson and I had a fun moment in a conversation. I say, “What do you think of kin as a verb?” And Melissa says, “Oh, that’s a great question. I absolutely love it. You know, Robin and so many of us steeped in learning our Anishinaabe language are shifting so many of these nouns to verbs. It really is a great gestalt shift or paradigm shift in our thinking. Using kin as a verb reminds us that kin is always alive. It’s a movement and it’s a flow and it’s a process, kind of like how wind and air flow. Or water, again getting back to that river, as ‘kinning.’” We’re kinning with the river. “So kin as a verb is permeable and it’s movable, and it requires [of us] some action or intention.”

As a way of introducing yourselves, starting with you, Robin, share with us, if you don’t mind, a time in which you think you were most immersed in kinning.

Robin Wall Kimmerer: I love this framing of experiential kinning. Because it is something that we do, isn’t it? And by way of introduction, I think of myself as a citizen of Maple Nation. I live in the ancestral and contemporary territories of the Haudenosaunee people. And I live in the territory of sugar maple forests. When you ask this question, what immediately comes to mind is the sensation of being on my knees in a maple forest, in the springtime with my basket, going out to gather food or medicine. In this case, the memory is of leeks; I can smell those crushed leeks under my knees and am so grateful for their presence after a long winter—to feel this vitality coming up from the ground, the fact that they are offering themselves to me, as food. That way of thinking—that they are alive, they have agency, they’re offering this gift—that’s part of kin and getting to know them, getting to know their gifts.

But what really made me think about it as kinning is when I had some of them in my basket. Then I noticed that they were real close and too dense for one another. There wasn’t room for them to stretch out. And I felt this: Oh, I see you have the gift of being leeks. I have the gift of mobility that you do not. I understand what you’re asking of me. Could you separate us? Could you move us and transplant us around so that we have more space? And in that act of gently removing them, I had to think, Well, where do they want to live? Where’s the right place for their thriving? Suddenly in that act of being asked and then responding to move them around, we were in reciprocity with each other. And to me, that’s what kinning is. We become kin when we share gifts and can help each other out, just like members of our human family. So that for me is a moment which is really alive, of feeling like I was in a reciprocal exchange of gifts with those leeks. And it has changed my perspective on our responsibilities as humans ever since.

John Hausdoerffer: Incredible. You know, from a Western ecology perspective, you’re talking about kinning almost as becoming a keystone species, right? I wonder—and I want to hear some of your thoughts on this, Gavin—but Robin, one of the things that struck me about Melissa’s comment was the power of intention. And one of the things I know about you, and I’m hearing it in your story, is the intention of gratitude seems central to kinning for you. Could you talk a bit about intention and gratitude and their role in the act of kinning?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Oh, absolutely. I think oftentimes we dismiss gratitude as a kind of good manners—you know, it’s politeness—but to me, gratitude is this powerful sense of connection because, in gratitude, you can’t be anonymous. I am grateful for you, you as an individual who is sharing with me, and gratitude just invites reciprocity because you feel so grateful for the presence, for the gift, for the teaching of those beings, that you want to give your own gift in return. And that’s the synchronicity that makes kinship for me. And it grows out of gratitude for the beings and for the gifts of those beings.

 

We become kin when we share gifts and can help each other out, just like members of our human family.

 

John Hausdoerffer: Gavin, how about you—kinning, what does that say to you?

Gavin Van Horn: It’s almost too easy to get lost in listening to the two of you. Which reminds me that part of kinship is deep listening. That’s part of the reciprocity that Robin is talking about. When I say “listening,” I don’t mean just with our ears. I mean with our entire bodies. That represents kinning to me.

You, John and Robin, have heard me talk a little bit about the practice of walking—attentive walking. Sometimes that means you take off your shoes, weather and ground permitting, so that your skin can touch the earth’s skin and have that sense of tactile topography and conversation with the land. The word conversation, the etymology of that word, means “to turn with.” Whenever we’re kinning with other species or a landscape, we’re trying to adapt our own behaviors so that we can turn with the land, turn with those fellow creatures.

Sometimes we think of our bodies or our skin as the end of us, the end of the individual. John, you end there at your skin; Robin, you end there; and I end here. But I think it’s much more helpful to think about the skin as a membrane—which is what it is. It’s actually our ability to hear the world. Think of yourself as a drumhead when you go outside. You’re not “out there” observing the world through a myopic lens, from your own perspective. The world is actually playing you.

If you can, tune in and be receptive to that—which is listening, receptivity, reciprocity. These things are a constellation of companions. It might not be everybody’s [preferred practice], but I like to take my shoes off and get a feel for the landscape. That, by necessity, requires that I slow down, because otherwise I’ll trip or cut my foot or whatever, depending on where I am. That kind of slowing down allows me to listen more deeply to the place.

John Hausdoerffer: I don’t know about you, Robin, but I’m going to sit with “the world is actually playing you” for a couple of years. Gavin, can you just say a little bit more about that? I mean, it’s going to be an outstanding bumper sticker and end up on my car very soon, but what’s really underneath that?

Gavin Van Horn: It’d be a quote. “‘You Got Played,’” and then, “[signed] the World.” I’ve never been so exposed to the notion of kinning as a verb as I was when I was put in conversation with Robin and all the other contributors [to the Kinship series]. It comes up throughout the books. You know, sometimes when I look out and I see a swallow, I don’t think, That’s a swallow. I think, There is a swallowing, an action upon the world. I think it’s helpful if we can begin to think about the ways that certain nounings of the world can be an objectification of the world. And I think we’ve had more than enough of that. What we need is the subjectification of the world, which is more in alignment with what the world actually is, which is as Thomas Berry once said “a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”

John Hausdoerffer: Robin, this is something I’ve heard you mention in talks and some of your writings—the word ki—as opposed to calling last night’s harvest moon “it” or a mountain “it.” Can you talk about ki a little bit and how that fits this conversation?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Absolutely. Flowing from exactly what Gavin was talking about: the English language is a language of objectification of the living world, right? When we see that beautiful moon, we say “it” is shining; those swallows, “it” is chittering as “it” flies overhead. In English, we “it” the living world, whereas in Potawatomi that’s not possible. We use the same grammar for each other as we do for our plant and animal relatives.

As a writer, particularly as a science writer, I am so frustrated by the need to conform to the objectification of the Western scientific paradigm and refer to my teachers and companions as “its.” And so, interrogating the animacy of Bode’wadmi, my own language, there is a beautiful word that we have that means just “an earth being.” This was given to me by one of my language teachers: bmaadiziiaki. You know, it’s a beautiful word and will never find its way into English, but aki, and then that little sound at the end, ki, comes from the word for earth—for the animate, living earth.

And so I proposed that we use ki as a neologism, as a new word, instead of it, so that we don’t have “it” swallows and owls and foxes and dandelions—so that we can say, Ki is growing in the yard, ki is running along the hedgerow. Not “it,” but “ki.” Try it!

John Hausdoerffer: I wonder if that also helps us define kinning. You mentioned “companion” and “teacher,” and ki awakens that discovery of greater-than-humans as companions and teachers, [which is part of] that process of discovery. One of the things I’m thinking about right now is Richard Powers [who has an essay in Kinship, volume 3, “Partners”]. In his book, The Overstory, he talks about Douglas fir trees sharing 25 percent genetically with humans, and through mycelium and fungal networks, when they die, being able to spread nutrients throughout the forest. So they are kin not only genetically, but Douglas fir trees are my elders for how I should live when I’m approaching the end of my life—how to share whatever forms of richness I care about with the rest of the system. To me, that’s a companion when I’m skiing through a Doug fir forest or heating my home with Doug fir wood; it’s also a teacher on how to live when I become an elder. I guess that’s kinning—discovering the companion, the teacher.

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Absolutely. I love how you broke that down, because usually we think about kinship as genetic kinship, right? We think about it as sort of ecological interdependence. But you’re taking it even farther into that realm of ethical responsibility for each other. For sharing knowledge, for sharing wisdom, for sharing teaching—it moves beyond the physical into the emotional and spiritual, as well as really vital dimensions of this bigger notion of kinship that we’re talking about.

John Hausdoerffer: Robin, you have this awesome part of your essay in Kinship talking about this idea that if humans come last in a creation story, then everything’s our elder. I wonder if that shifts [our perspective] not only to kin as a verb, but shifts [us toward considerations of] the greater-than-human world as elders.

Robin Wall Kimmerer: The notion of elderhood and what you’re invoking for me, John, is this sense of humility, that we are the “younger brothers of creation,” as my Haudenosaunee neighbors say. In the common way of thinking about what humans are all about, it’s like, Well, we’re masters of the universe. To me, one of the great missing pieces in that imbalance is the value that we give to humility. I mean, when we’re looking at kin who are cacti and starlings and lichens and salmon, oh my gosh, your head explodes reading this whole beautiful [Kinship] series, right? Because there are so many kin, but [the books’ contributors] thread through with this sense of humility that those beings have something to teach us. They have been here longer than we have. Maybe the boundaries of the barriers of the skin of their feet—as Gavin was talking about, dissolving those membranes between ourselves in the world—they’ve done it better than we have. We could learn from them.

Gavin Van Horn: One of the things that stood out to me rereading your essay, Robin, [were] these different models that we carry around in our heads [to depict] how life is related.

Sometimes people use the metaphor of a ladder, or sometimes the tree of life. But one that you used was the placenta—this nurturing, branching metaphor that is our very sustenance as children. We hear the phrase “kingdom of life” a lot [to describe] the different floral and faunal kingdoms, but one word that got repeated in the book was kindoms instead of kingdoms. It would be more appropriate to group things not with a royal metaphor, a hierarchical metaphor, but to think of things as being in kindoms, as existing in relational kindoms.

John Hausdoerffer: So what does that tell you about kinning? Where’s this kinning project grow from, Gavin?

Gavin Van Horn: It’s wildness, a depth of rootedness in place, that is dependent on the way that we become and are kin with those other-than-human beings who surround us and are reaching out and actively engaging us. The Kinship series was inspired by three things. One of them we’ve already mentioned, which was Robin’s work on ki—on language being incredibly important for shaping the way that we see the world and how we engage with it. The second thing was informed by Enrique Salmón, who is also a contributor, an ethnobotanist, and Rarámuri. He talks about kincentric ecology, the idea that humans, as John has already mentioned, could be a keystone species in a landscape. The last piece was really where the inspiration grabbed hold: in 2017, the third largest river in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Whanganui River, was legally designated as a living entity—a person—with the full rights of personhood in the legal system of New Zealand. This was the basis of bicultural work between the Maori people that live in that watershed, who consider themselves stewards of that watershed, and the government of New Zealand.

That [designation of personhood] is reflected in a number of things that preceded it. There are rights-of-nature clauses [for example] in the Ecuadorian constitution and among the Ho-Chunk Nation and in other places—recently the Klamath River in the Pacific Northwest. But, for some reason, [the recognition of personhood for the Whanganui River] really made a splash and got on people’s radars that the category of personhood is much broader than just the human. We’re talking about agents that we’re engaged with, that interact with us, that in many cases we necessarily must show deference to on behalf of the health and well-being of the landscape. So, we said, “What are these nonhuman persons? Let’s gather some human persons together and have them tell their stories about this range of nonhuman personhood.”

John Hausdoerffer: We’ve also seen the city of Toledo [in Ohio] recognize, or at least attempt to recognize, the personhood of Lake Erie. This is incredible. We know in the 1880s that sadly the Supreme Court recognized the personhood of corporations. So let’s shift that and let lakes sue agribusiness—for making it impossible for kids to swim there, for collapsing ecosystems and fishing industries. It’s exciting that kinship can lead to this revolution on personhood and I think, therefore, a revolution in legal rights, but I want to go even bigger than rivers here.

Last night was the harvest moon. And I’m going to ask you both about how seeing greater-than-humans as kin is an act of resistance. I think kinship is the opposite of estrangement. I think kinship is the opposite of alienation. I think kinship is the opposite of objectification of people, of the greater-than-human world. If we can see the moon as kin, what can’t we see as kin? Robin, I’m curious to know your reaction to kinning with the moon. How can kinship itself be a subversive act of resistance?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: Let me start with Nokomis dbek giizhes, who is our name for the moon. And what that means is “Grandmother Moon.” That’s how we speak of her. It’s not “the moon.” It is “Grandmother Moon.” Within our long framework of understanding kinship with the moon, that is not a strange concept in Anishinaabe thinking. As you just heard in the language, she is our grandmother. She has special responsibility for women, moving the water in our bodies, the way that she moves the tides, bringing forth babies. She is the ultimate kinfolk. If we can come to think about someone as distant as the moon as our kinfolk, how is that a radical proposition? is what you’re asking. Gosh, there’s so many dimensions to that, but to me, kinship is a radical challenge to the status quo—a dangerous conception—because when we feel kinship, when we practice kinship, we belong. It gives the lie to hyper-individuality.

Kinship makes us feel part of this collective “we,” and many of the social—and certainly economic—institutions in which we are embedded depend on alienation. They depend on isolation. If we are alienated from the living world, then we can commodify the heck out of it. We can extract everything and make it all into property, make it into natural resources, not the gifts of our relatives. So kinning is a very real antidote to saying that the world is just stuff and all this stuff belongs to us. Kinning with Grandmother Moon, with salamanders, with lichens on our rooftop—all of those are acts of resistance to the objectification and commodification of the world.

But I want to say that it also brings us joy. It brings us joy and happiness, and that too can be understood as a radical reclaiming of who we are as humans.

John Hausdoerffer: Thank you for that—a reminder of what the anarchist Emma Goldman said: “I don’t want a revolution I can’t dance to.” If this struggle doesn’t have joy in it, we’re in some trouble.

Gavin, you sort of tagged the subtitle [of the Kinship series], Belonging in a World of Relations. I’m curious, first of all, your thoughts on kinning with the moon. If the moon is kin, how does that empower us to resist all places being objectified and empower us to kin with all places? But I’m also curious how the word belonging came into the subtitle. But start with the moon, if you will.

Gavin Van Horn: I love what you say about joy, both of you. I think of joy as a more sustainable emotion to fight for what you love. I would only add to what Robin had to say by saying that extractivism, as it’s sometimes called, is the kind of mythological water that most of us swim in. That people are in a race to get to the minerals on the moon is another manifestation of those broken relationships. It’s just transferring them from Earth to somewhere else. You know, we carry these ideas in our rockets. They don’t disappear in the atmosphere on the way up.

So, I do want to say that part of the joy of this book—joy—is that there are so many alternative stories. This [extractivist mythology] is not the only story we are left with or that we have. That’s just one particularly virulent story that is told. To your question, John, about an act of resistance, those stories themselves are acts of resistance and they’re throughout these books—various ways to think differently, to not think in pyramid terms but to think in more “circle” terms, as Robin put it.

As far as my kinning with the moon? When you asked that question of Robin, I thought of the tides—the love affair between the water and the moon. Especially now that I’m here in California, the intertidal zone is revealed and disappears twice daily, showing all the life that thrives in that ecotonal area. But I also think about times of being comforted by water, putting myself in a ball and bobbing with Lake Michigan or the Pacific.

 

If we can come to think about someone as distant as the moon as our kinfolk, how is that a radical proposition?

 

John Hausdoerffer: Incredible. I’m glad you brought up joy and your practice of that tactile contact with the earth. And you, Robin, talking about active listening. I want to end with the practice of kinship. Our final volume [volume 5] is called “Practice.” I’m giving you a chance to come full circle, Robin, starting and ending with gratitude, but also talking about practice. I’m assuming people want to do something that helps them go kinning. For you, it starts with attention and entangles with gratitude. Can you talk a bit about the practice of kinship, Robin?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: There are so many threads that connect kinship. I love the notion of all of us kinning and paying attention in our own way, because for me there’s sort of a cycle when we pay attention. We can’t—I shouldn’t say “we.” I can’t help feeling like, oh my goodness, I am the most lucky person in the world, because when you pay attention and realize you’re surrounded by all of these amazing beings—all bearing gifts—to me, attention leads to “gift thinking,” to thinking about the world as not something that we own or possess or deserve or work for, but as a gift. That “gift understanding,” that’s what leads us to gratitude, and then leads us to reciprocity, which leads us to deeply felt and deeply lived kinning.

That cycle of attention, gift, gratitude, kinning. When you’re kinning in reciprocity, what are you doing? You’re paying more attention, which cycles you right back. So it’s this beautiful, powerful motive force of gift, gratitude, and reciprocity, driven by attention. One of the practices of attending that I think helps us feel a sense of belonging in the natural world is the same process that makes us feel like we belong in social situations. I have a four-year-old grandson who just began pre-K and he says, “Well, I don’t know anybody there.” So we chatted about the importance of learning the names of the kids that you’re sitting around the table with. And once you learn names, you say, You matter to me; we’re going to be in relationship. I need to know how to speak of you, how to address you.

I think that is the same practice of kinning that we can bring into the world. To deepen our own kinning is to learn names. I mean, it’s not just that I’m a botanist, [and think] we’re all going to go off and learn all those plant names, which is just a delight. You don’t have to have official names for plants and insects and rivers. What it takes is attention to get to know them well enough that you could call them by whatever name you come up with, but you know them well enough to call them by name. So just like my little sweet grandson learned to say, “Oh, what’s going to make me feel like I belong is learning names.” That’s a powerful gateway to kinship between us and our more-than-human kin as well.

 

 

John Hausdoerffer: Incredible. I’ve got pictures lying around, and this is from Gary Snyder’s “For the Children.” It’s just sitting here on the table in front of me: “Stay together / learn the flowers / go light.” That’s the kinning you’re talking about. Robin, when is the first time you figured out the world’s a gift?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: I’ve always known that.

John Hausdoerffer: Perfect answer.

Robin Wall Kimmerer: All of us do. It comes as a birthright. And then there’s a conspiracy to make us forget.

Gavin Van Horn: John, I want to throw it back to you real quick, because I’m reminded from your essay of you spending time with some trees as a fundamental kinning practice. Could you just say what that experience was?

John Hausdoerffer: Well, sure. There’s a word, akiing, which means “land to which we belong.” I belong to a piece of land at 10,500 feet. We’re trying to heal an old mining claim and my late brother-in-law, Abe, and I and a group of friends and family are, over seventeen years, trying to heal that land. After Abe passed, I went on a long solstice night ski to figure out where to spread his ashes. My essay is about trying to figure out where to spread his ashes. Through that, I’m trying to figure out where does this place kind of most own me. And I discover that where this place most owns me is the place where I’ve been a good member of the family, I’ve been good kin.

That is where, ironically, I cleared some dying aspen to build a yurt. Through clearing those aspen, I regenerated all the aspen trees, which are just like body parts on one body. One of the largest organisms in the world surrounds me here [in Colorado]. It’s an aspen grove. It might be the largest land organism. In clearing that aspen grove of diseased and dead trees, there are healthy, age-diverse aspens growing now. It was Abe’s idea to do that. So I spread his ashes there at the end of the essay.

As an environmental ethicist, who’s settler-colonial raised, Western trained, we’re always looking for how humans can connect with nature as if they’re separate. We have to realize there’s not a separation; we’re members of one family. So for me to learn how to be kin with that greater-than-human world, say, aspen, I had to have kinship with Abe. And to fully understand my kinship with Abe, where to spread his ashes, I had to really understand that aspen grove. That human and greater-than-human kinship is reciprocal and mutually reinforcing, always and already.

We don’t leap from human care for each other to then caring for nature “out there” as resources that we don’t run out of. We don’t figure out how to do less bad. I don’t even know who “we” is, Robin. I’m glad you corrected that. I. I humbly try to figure out how to participate through my family with the greater-than-human family and through my elders, like that aspen grove, on how to respect my kin. So human and more-than-human kin are mutually reinforcing, necessarily.

I’m going to go back to what Robin said . . . that you’re born knowing the world’s a gift, but there’s been a conspiracy against it from birth.

Robin Wall Kimmerer: One of the things that I love about this collection of essays is its celebration of otherness. We get to, you know, be invited into the lives of kinfolk who are deeply, deeply different from ourselves. So much of our dialogue about otherness is, If you’re other, you are lesser than. I think that one of the keys to celebrating otherness is not you are lesser than. You are different than. You have these wonderful gifts that inspire our curiosity, our respect, our friendship, our exploration. Uncoupling otherness from lesser than, I think, is a principle that transcends, whether we’re talking about our more-than-human kin or human kin.

Gavin Van Horn: I want to pick up on that word re-membering. I think it’s a really important one. We need to remember who we are by remembering to care for the others around us. There’s an actual physical component that we’re re-membering something that’s been put out of joint, something that’s become disjointed, finding one another again. And I think that’s the heart of kinship.

John Hausdoerffer: Otherness does not mean lesser-ness. That’s a nice addition. One of the things you say, Robin, at the end of your essay, which I think fits into what Gavin was just saying about re-membering: you say kinfolk are made by reciprocity. No one needs to be lonely. This is how re-membering begins, and you have it as “re-membering.” Why do you hyphenate remembering there, Robin?

Robin Wall Kimmerer: To highlight the very things that Gavin was just invoking, that there’s so many different meanings to this re-membering, because to be a member of a family, to be invited back into the fold is to re-member, and it requires that joining again, of remembering all the meanings of that word. I think we need to re-member these ancient ways of living that are already there and reimagine ourselves in them. To me, what’s most important is the re-membrance of other ways to live and figuring out a way to inhabit those deep stories.

John Hausdoerffer: I don’t want the last word, so I’ll just say that we lost Barry Lopez in the last year. As important as Arctic Dreams is, the book that moved me the most was The Rediscovery of North America, in which he argues that Western settler-colonialists came [to the continent] with such a frontier mindset. You never need to care for a place if there’s always another place to displace and exploit. Settler-colonial culture has yet to discover the ecological cultural complexity, knowledge, understanding, challenges, allyship possible. So, for me, kinship has to be a decolonial act that begins with, as Robin says, attention. That’s hard for anybody raised as I was. A setting aside of a white patriarchal ego to see the world as it is rather than the world as it serves me, and to be humbled by the incredible diversity of cultural knowledge and ecological knowledge out there. To me, kinship is the beginning of a process of rediscovery that has to start with incredible humility and re-membering that we’re a family. And as Robin says in her essay, We come last; everything else is an elder.

 

Order the five-volume series Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations (Center for Humans and Nature Press, 2021)

 

 

Subscribe to Orion Ad
 

Gavin Van Horn is the Creative Director and Executive Editor for the Center for Humans and Nature. His writing is tangled up in the ongoing conversation between humans, our nonhuman kin, and the animate landscape. He is the co-editor (with John Hausdoerffer) of Wildness: Relations of People and Place, and (with Dave Aftandilian) City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, and the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds.

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, botanist, writer and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York and the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a student of the plant nations. Her writings include Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. As a writer and a scientist, her interests include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens domestic and wild.

John Hausdoerffer is author of Catlin’s Lament: Indians, Manifest Destiny, and the Ethics of Nature as well as co-author and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place and What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? John is the Dean of the School of Environment & Sustainability at Western Colorado University and co-founder of Coldharbour Institute, the Center for Mountain Transitions, and the Resilience Studies Consortium. John serves as a Fellow and Senior Scholar for the Center for Humans and Nature.