Why Sea Ranch Matters Now

Sponsored by The Center for U.S. Rural Cultures Studies, “The Sea Ranch Nonhuman Residents Project” is a step in a rehabilitation process aimed at reanimating “Live Lightly on the Land.” This remarkably relevant sustainability ethic is woven throughout TSRA literature, but has been functionally abandoned in current landscape management practices approved by The Sea Ranch Association. This project is an opportunity to reintroduce management practices that avoid unnecessary destruction of nonhuman habitat.

The place humans call “The Sea Ranch” is a fragile, diverse, interdependent biological complex: this place is the other animals, the grasses, the trees; all the flora and fauna are one fabric. What human SR residents call “wildlife” are other animals who’ve done their best to adapt to human animals here for decades. To call them “wildlife” is an easy way to abstract them, to make it seem like they aren’t individual beings, in families, who are trying to survive in an unnecessarily hostile human-controlled environment.

Sea Ranch “wildlife” are beings without power or a voice in human processes that stress, maim, and kill them. No value is attributed to the quail or deer or any other-than-human animal, and no consideration of them is part of development, design, or building of human habitat. TSRA’s relationship with other animals here is the very definition of authoritarianism. And, that power-stealing relation is where all other manifestations of authoritarianism grow.

Authoritarian tendencies have no place in a struggling democracy. Democracies require healthy social soil, which is created in relations between humans and between humans and other beings. In a democratic culture, relational power sharing is fundamental, and it creates the conditions for the possibility of including all humans and all other beings in consideration.

Without a mindful, devoted personal power-sharing practice, everyday authoritarianism invades and spreads, killing any remaining native democratic processes. Power-stealing patterns quietly poison the social soil in which democracies grow. Our democracy dies without our individual power sharing practices. With them, we create a new world.

“The Sea Ranch Nonhuman Residents Project” is a chance for the humans of The Sea Ranch to challenge the stereotype that “all old white people are authoritarian.” In this time–when state-level authoritarianism surrounds us–and in this place, in California, it is imperative we are relationally democratic. It is our responsibility as U.S. citizens to share power. No social, economic, religious, or academic status relieves any of us of that responsibility. No age reached. No experience level. No exceptions.

When we encounter relational power-stealing, we must speak up, reframe the relation to share power, and provide a democratic alternative. “The Sea Ranch Nonhuman Residents Project” is an effort to demonstrate and model those steps.