What is a Natural Community?

 

Our good friend Steve Keto will return to us in February as the first speaker of the new year, to lead off our year-­‐long discussion of “Communities and Connections.”  He’ll explore the evolving response to a fundamental question: “What Is a Natural Community?” He’ll also outline a modern land ethic, one that includes people in a cohesive, holistic, “natural” community.

Steve will begin by providing an overview of how the idea of natural community evolves, from the
writings of Henry David Thoreau through John Muir, Jens Jensen, Aldo Leopold, on up to Rachel
Carson, Sara Stein, Doug Tallamy, and Nancy and Tom Small. Touching on key works by each of these
authors, Steve will argue that an ever-­‐greater sense of crisis leads to an ever-­‐broadening sense of what “natural community” must include.

In exploring how people can become truly positive forces in the landscape, Steve will move beyond
the native-­‐plant movement into ways its principles and practices can develop synergies with the
local food movement, permaculture, and agroecology, including the food-­‐ forest gardens being
developed in the Kalamazoo area.

What is our future, as a community of people hoping to restore natural systems that have been
critically degraded and desecrated? How can we both work with the dominant culture of our times and
yet be countercultural, sowing the seeds of community that is truly sustain-­‐ able and
regenerative? How shall we better understand the conse-­‐ quences of what we do—and don’t do? How
shall we speak and act in these critical times so that people will listen to our message and work
in community with us?

Steve will bring his usual energy and his ever-­‐deepening sense of urgency to a presentation that both follows up on the message in our January film, Hometown Habitat, and sets the stage for the rest of the year’s programs and field trips. This is a program you won’t want to miss!

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Steve Keto graduated from MSU with a M.S. degree in Poultry Science and B.S. degrees in Wildlife
Management and Animal Science. During his 20 years as owner of Nesta Prairie Nursery, Steve was a
major propagator of native plants for the Kalamazoo area and for the entire state. He has been the
native-­‐plant provider and mentor for many of us. Without him, the Kalamazoo Area Chapter of Wild
Ones might never have happened and would certainly be much the poorer. He is now the Natural Areas
and Preserves Manager for WMU. He is still a mentor— and gadfly.