What is an invasive species? Exotic plants have been brought to the California floristic province for hundreds of years. Some of them adorn yards and properties as botanical reminders of other places; fragments of our global heritage and symbols of interconnectedness.
When an exotic becomes invasive, it becomes a being not in right relationship with the land around it. An invasion is "an unwelcome intrusion." This means that rather than being a respectful guest, the invader is not in right relationship with the host; some aspect of respect or trust or symbiosis has been violated. Invasion can also be equated with aggression or domination.
Invasive human cultures came to the Pacific coast from Europe, via Spain, Russia, and America. This means that the European cultures which came here did not respect the land; they were not in right relationship with the people and the land who were originally here. Instead, they sought to alter it to a different order, to force it to obey a system that is not native and does not conform to the pre-existing relationships which were formed over millennia by the land itself.
The effects of invasive plant species are many, but primarily they cause ecological damage by disrupting the long-established systems within habitat spaces. They interfere with pre-existing relationships by altering the landscape, making it difficult for food webs and other life systems to function correctly. They cause disturbance in the system, pushing the land out of balance so that it must evolve to seek a new homeostasis.
The magician's brush
The work which undoes invasion is rehabilitation. To a certain degree, the effects of invasion are irrevocable. But there is also a great deal of healing work which can be done to bring a culture – whether of plants or of humans – back into right relationship with the native landscape, the original peoples of a place.
Art is the beginning of culture. From the dawn of time, religious rites of right relationship with the world were inscribed on rock faces, deep inside caves, at sacred mountains, along sacred waterways. Culture is a set of meanings, values, ideals, and concepts which are passed along through media.
If wielded by the correct hand, the paintbrush becomes a tool of medicine, a surgeon's implement for cultural healing.
It is my hope that our generation's contributions to the arts and the culture of global society can be a constructive force of growth, weaving a new tapestry of interconnectedness. The exotic cultures which join together here at the Pacific coast may form a shared vision of beauty, respect, and right relationship, fearlessly examining and healing the wounds of invasion, moving forward into a new day.
First salutations to the stars.
Thanks to all relatives and ancestors.
May all beings be happy and free.