ALLY A subject determined by another to have mutual interests based on their actions.

BIOREGION A region determined by a watershed, literally an area of land through which all liquid flows toward a single body of water- usually a river. It can also be recognized by the presence of certain economic/material, cultural and species/ecological characteristics. We all live in a bioregion, but its boundaries rarely coincide with political borders. Bioregional mapping can be used to imagine a physical and cultural area that displaces human centrism, allowing for the consideration of other species and different possibilities for coexistence. A good tool for imagining the ground beneath the sidewalk.

CONSENT Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

DECOLONIZATION The long term political, economic, spiritual, process of reclaiming all aspects of life from imperial control and rebuilding indigenous power-bases.

ECONOMIC ENTRENCHMENT The process of limiting peoples imaginations from inventing the wide array of possibilities for living a fulfilling life and doing fulfilling work by the strict and often violent control of land, resources, capital, and knowledge.

ETHICS OF SCALE Geographer Neil Smith proposed three telescoping scales of relations: the urban, the nation-state and the global. He proposes the urban as the site of production – where the materialization of life is most directly realized and regulated. There are other scales within and between those proposed by Smith – extending from the family unit and neighborhood to larger and more complex organizations. Understanding how actions function and resonate across scales creates an ethical system or metric.

More on Smith’s consideration of scale in this essay: Contours of a spatialized politics. Here he lays out units, each with potential internal negotiations: body, home, community, urban space, region, nation and global boundaries.

FINANCIALIZATION Control of the present through a contracted future.




PETROLEUM SPACE/TIME CONTINUUM The experience and realization of time/space based on the speed and mobility enabled by petroleum/oil. Descriptions of this might include: compressed, nodal, disjointed

PLUME A political region or territory defined pollution, toxic substances, or contamination.


RECTIFICATION A technological term for the aggressive engineering of a river’s boundaries in order to create a straighter channel that would facilitate shipping speed. This involves removing s- curves and eddies, and frequently eliminating riparian habitats.

RECOVERY The re-entrenchment in unsustainable, imperialist economic relationships to each other and the land.

REGION Through engaging with the question of scales, we have come to think more clearly about regions, not as static territories but as always shifting volumes tied to other spaces. Current planners in the neoliberal/global economy have thought about regions as a way to optimize the flow of goods, financial services and business opportunities. In the 1970s environmentalists used the ideas of a bio-region to think about the way we impact habitats, watersheds, and animal migration. We have been interested in thinking about regions in both ways—how can we be aware of the way we use space and land so that the impact takes into account migrations of animals and people, downstream watersheds and other human ecologies?

3 thoughts on “Glossary

  1. Johnny Ridenour

    I’m attempting to learn more – and write about – the “scales of contemporary existence” Claire Pentecost writes about in Deep Routes. I wish to overlay these with the idea of family as agent of social change, permaculture zones 00 (self) and 0 (the home), and Christopher Alexander’s piecemeal design as I build a neighborhood urban farm and define an intimate- and neighborhood-scale economy. Can anyone point me to where Neil Smith specifically discusses the ethics of scale and specifically the family and neighborhood levels?

    1. admin Post author

      your question steered me to Smith’s:”contours of a spatialized politics”
      “scale is the criterion of difference not between places so much as between different kinds of places.”
      “It is possible to conceive of scale as the geographical resolution of contradictory social processes of competition and cooperation. The continual production and reproduction of scale expresses the social as much as geographical contest to establish boundaries between different places, locations, and sites of experience.”
      “In a literal as much as metaphorical way, scale both contains social activity, and at the same time pro-
      vides an already partitioned geography within which social activity takes place. Scale demarcates the sites of social contest, the object as well as the resolution of contest. Viewed this way, the production of scale can begin to provide the language that makes possible a more substantive and tangible spatialized politics. —–

      I want to explore this further by examining a sequence of specific scales: body, home, community, urban, region, nation, global. I want to focus loosely on at least four aspects of each scale: (1) identity, or the characteristics that render each scale coherent; (2) internal differences; (3) borders with other
      scales; and (4) political possibilities for resistance inherent in the production of
      specific scales, the abrogation of boundaries, the “jumping of scales.”
      I might add bioregion as a counter-intervening way to think about region.
      … not sure if that article gets into the ‘ethics’ or if that is implied.
      Your question about household scale also reminded me of the way that is discouraged by not giving sufficient permission to people to think it through and retool the material resources they have available to them. old story. also check out
      on spatial scale re; your project (nation/global vs household autonomy)

      1. Johnny Ridenour

        Thanks! Those look very useful. The sequence of specific scales you mention is right along the lines I’m exploring as well.


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