Hunger: Joanne Mulcahy,

Song for Solstice / Nightwatch Off Aleutian Shores / The Return of Geese: Louise Gallop,

An Interview with David Orr: K. Lauren de Boer,

Animals and People: “The Human Heart in Conflict with Itself”: Pattiann Rogers,

“Some friends stopped by the Island Institute office a few weeks back just to say hello. They are successful entrepreneurs with a mail order business that ships specialty handcrafted wooden weaving shuttles to customers all around the world…

Our friends noted that if the trends in small business and mail order shopping continue, in ten or fifteen years many of the stores in our small downtown area will have little reason to exist. In fact, they went on to suggest, the global marketplace can quite effectively diminish the need for people to live in any particular place or belong to a particular community Without the necessary economic ties, a community, if it were going to hold together at all, would exist simply for social reasons.

We suddenly found ourselves feeling quite uneasy. This diffusion of traditional community bonds wasn’t a picture of a future that was very reassuring. It brought us back to notions we’ve been exploring here at the Institute, notions about centers that hold. As we see it, these centers form around particular aspects of our human experience, some quite private, others necessarily public. They form around our need to belong, to feel that we are part of something that matters, that we ourselves matter. They form around the love we feel for a place, a landscape. They form around our inner quest–spiritual, intellectual, and emotional–for meaning in our lives. They form around our dependence on each other for the things we need to live well–satisfying jobs, safe neighborhoods, strong educational institutions, responsive governments, healthy environments, and–yes, stable economies, local economies firmly rooted in the places we inhabit. We can’t afford to give up our customary and traditional community bonds. We can improve on them, but we can’t leave them behind. There is too much at stake.

In this issue of Connotations, friends and colleagues explore different aspects of the centers that anchor their lives, our lives…