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Dear readers,

It’s time once again for an editorial piece about the upcoming theme. In our next publications, we'll be delving into the topic of indigenous practices. Here I would like to offer you a short introduction to this important topic. 

Nowadays we struggle with major problems like climate change, the great acceleration, but also a growing sense of individualism. Projects like NL2120 and others increasingly search for nature-based solutions, taking the local systems and resources as starting points for design. 

This is not something that is new but is actually something indigenous populations have often already done for ages. What if we start listening to these groups with traditional knowledge, skills, and techniques? Groups that are already more connected to earth’s systems. Indigenous practices are often based on the local environment and resources, offering site-specific solutions to problems. These are practices that have been developed over millennia and are based on long-term observations and experiences and direct contact with the environment. People have deep understanding of patterns and processes in their landscape, which makes them inherently climate resilient. All of this makes their knowledge highly valuable, especially for designers looking for nature-based solutions.

However, due to globalisation, colonisation, etc people got more and more disconnected from the landscape they are living in. Land dispossession and displacement have made it increasingly difficult for indigenous populations to retain their resilience. This increases health risks, and food insecurity. While, if combining traditional knowledge and science, sustainable solutions, practices, and tools can be developed. For example, traditional observations can improve meteorological predictions, increasing (food) security. IPCC now also recognises the significance of including inherently climate resilient indigenous populations.

Also in the Netherlands, people are deeply disconnected from their landscape. The Dutch have historically viewed the landscape as something to be managed and controlled. In my view, we should not just be looking at water and soil as steering mechanisms for nature-based solutions, but also embrace traditional knowledge and practices. To present a simple and broader example, consider that many indigenous populations have a community focused style of living. Incorporating this ethos into architecture and landscape design can enhance sustainability and foster inclusivity, particularly for women and other less privileged groups, while also addressing the challenges posed by increasing individualism.

In the recent decades people have increasingly gotten disconnected from the landscape they live on/in/with, and therefore TOPOS wants to show the importance of indigenous practices in the upcoming theme!

Best regards,

Shanna Koppejan

On behalf of the editorial of TOPOS

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