The complexity of home ground.
What if the ground of our creativity, of our well-being is the ground itself? And, if the ground where we live is compromised by extractive technology yet still carries life and potential for nurturance, what should we do?
For many of us, our understanding of beauty is based in this life and land. What if, as a people, most of us are late-comers, immigrants, and we did not and have not understood the land or cultures already here. What if a careless people came to a land they did not understand? And we are their descendants.
What does life ask of us or beauty require in these circumstances?
It seems to me we are always asked to stand in relationship. And understand where we stand. One way to pursue understanding is through history, through what can be learned about the convergence of a human culture with a natural place over time. Another way is through presence, through being on the land with the force it carries, as well as with whatever story or shrine might be connected to that particular place.
Matthew Vestuto is an indigenous scholar, historian, and storyteller of the land and people of Ventura County. He is a member of the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians. His family connection with Ventura County goes back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. He is open-hearted, friendly, easygoing, and a generous fount of information.
We are in a hopeful time, in that our nation has begun to address the worsening consequences of human-caused climate change. Yet, we are also in a dangerous time because the threat is so dire. There are no easy fixes, and we will need to work for our earth and its many life forms with strength and fortitude for all our children and grandchildren.
Matthew Vestuto holds a degree in Language Revitalization, Linguistics and Media from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He is a Board member of Advocates for California Indigenous Language Survival. He also offers placename walking tours in the Ventura River watershed.
A small group of Ventura County Poetry Project Board members and supporters enjoyed and learned from his placename walking tour on May 2, 2021. With Matthew as a guide, we gained a greater understanding and sense of allegiance with our chosen place, our home. We can only love and belong fully to our home through knowledge and connection. Thank you, Matthew Vestuto.
To contact Matthew Vestuto, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Fabulous! Thanks for the thoughtful piece, Marsha.