Welcome to the forest of thought

What is the idea behind the Forest of thought ?

One way of think of it is that all our ideas, thoughts, concepts and experiences are interwoven into a complex ecology of ideas, that is always changing and developing. This is what we might call the Forest of Thought. And our lives are completely embedded in this ecology, whether we realize or not.  As we move through the forest, we usually stick to our old familiar paths, casting cursory glances at the same old trees and bushes, the same species of ideas, day after day. We’re not really paying attention. And when, once in a while, we do stop to examine our surroundings more closely, it’s always from the fixed viewpoint of our old familiar trail. Rarely do we get down on our knees to poke around in the underbrush, or climb the treetops to get an overview, or examine how networks of roots and mycelia might connect various ideas underground. 

What would it take to gain new perspectives – re-examine the familiar and catch glimpses of the new? Maybe we’ll have to risk getting a bit lost; risk getting caught in the thickets and bramble, but finding that it’s all worth it when we occasionally stumble into sun-dappled glades of insight. 

The past decade, I’ve been struggling to understand how we might live differently, in relation to other humans and other species, on this beautiful, blue planet we call home. But I keep pushing up against my assumptions about the world, and about us as humans. I feel sure that there’s many more ways of thinking to be discovered, that the Forest of Thought is far from being chartered territory. So this podcast is an attempt to wander and wonder more freely in this ecology of ideas, together with others. Each episode will feature a guest, and together we’ll try to entangle ourselves in the ideas that we otherwise take for granted, or try to glimpse what new ideas are showing themselves as seedlings on the forest floor. 

The first season is called Landmarks, and in it we’ll be exploring those foundational ideas that we live by – the landmarks that we use to orientate ourselves in the landscape, often with such ease and familiarity that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. 

Look forward to wandering and wondering with you!


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  1. William McCreary
    October 4, 2020

    Beautifully stated, Ingrid. I’m so proud of you and your novel idea for this ecological interconnection of thoughts and projects. One “tree” in the Forrest of Though and Action that I’d recommend for a future issue is an interview with Dr. Wes Jackson. He is the founder of “The Land Institute“ near Salina, Kansas. He is also a two time “ MacArthur Genus Award” recipient. And as a world class geneticist and chemist, he has been developing the Institute since 1978, when he and his wife inherited their family farms. His most recent development that also serves to provide financial support for the multidimensional work of the Institute is large plot of prairie that is now officially designated “a cemetery for natural burials.” Families purchase burial plots for rejoining the dead with the organic cycle of life without the chemicals associated with embalming. Though cremation is also a way of scattering the ashes of the dead at the Institute’s cemetery, natural burials of the dead are especially encouraged. In Utah, for example, naturalist and author Edward Abbey instructed that his body be secretly and illegally taken out into the desert and left to be “recycled” by the natural rhythms of the desert, involving wind and rain, birds and coyotes, insects and such. The Institute, however, provides for a legal site for ritual and family burials on the central plains of Kansas. Research is ongoing. Organic farming techniques further seek to join insights from such knowledge sources as the natural sciences, fine arts (Wendell Berry has been a frequent “faculty” member) and Native American farming. All are woven into the tapestry of lived community that is intentionally formed among students, faculty and staff living at the Institute. I highly recommend that you check the Institute out and include Wes as a contributor to your beautiful Forest!
    You may recall my sons with you and your sister at the JCC ages ago! Your mother sent me the link to your good work. This is such a critical time for our planet. Your “Forest of Thought” is itself a “genius” innovation. Thank you for your important work.
    All the Best,
    Dr. Bill McCreary
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    • Ingrid
      October 9, 2020

      Hi Bill,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments! Sorry, it took me a few days to notice it. Yes of course I remember you from our time in Salt Lake. I’m so glad mom shared the podcast with you!
      Thank you for bringing Wes Jackson to my attention, I had not heard of the Land Institute before. Sounds like a very interesting place and project, I will definitely look into it. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I really appreciate it.
      Very best,

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