What is viviculture?

vi • vi • cul • ture (n)
[vivi : life + culture : an integrated pattern of knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon our capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations]

  1. the practice of caring for, improving or promoting the development of life
  2. an appreciation, respect and reverence for life

Viviculture is an approach to life – to living. What it means is very much a work in progress. I don’t pretend to do everything I talk about on this site all the time. They are goals, and some days I do much better than others. Over time I just hope to get closer.

So what does viviculture really mean, in practice?

It means becoming conscious of the many small decisions we make every day, and to try to decide in a way that supports and enhances the life of those around us.

For me, it means giving up meat, and using a manual lawnmower, even though my neighbors think I’m a little loopy. It means gardening with native plants, without pesticides, and learning to appreciate the deer’s occasional “trimming” of everything I plant. It means buying locally-grown, organic produce as much as I can.

It’s not about feeling guilty for all the things I haven’t done. It’s about trying every day to be a little better than I’ve been. No one is perfect. We’re all at different places in our lives, and every step forward, no matter how small, is a good thing. We should celebrate those good things instead of agonizing over the bad.

What is viviculture based on?

More generally, viviculture comes from the idea that life is what makes the earth special – unique, as far as we know. As living things, we owe it to ourselves to make the most of life, and to make life better for all living things.

What follows are some brief notes to myself – reminders of how I want to be. I hope to refine them over time into something more coherent (Your suggestions are welcome).

Living on a human scale

  • to favor direct, personal action, interaction and
    responsibility over indirect or collective efforts
  • to choose solutions I can do myself
  • to take care of myself, myself – if I don’t know how to take care of it, I will learn. If I don’t have the time to take care of it, I will drop it (but still keep my promises ).
  • to eschew mechanical aids where I can, especially those that need more energy than I, personally, can provide (like a car, or gas-powered lawnmowers).
  • to take advantage of modern tools, but try not to depend on them.
  • to favor local products and services – to appreciate their uniqueness, flavor and individuality
  • to appreciate details – details I can see only when I’m
    walking, slowly, with no noise louder than the sound of my own voice, my own footsteps

Patience, humility, compassion and understanding

  • to slow down – many natural processes take longer than I’d like – longer than I’ll live, or at least longer than I stay in one place. Slow down. Take time to get to know where I live.
  • to let go – Let things be themselves. Give up control. Know that I will never have all the answers. The living natural world, in all its complexity, has a lot to teach us if we only let it. Instead of trying to control our environment, try harder to understand it and find my part in it.
  • to do nothing – if I don’t have complete understanding (and who does?) then watch and wait. Take minimal action to minimize potential consequences. Avoid work that requires more work (that is, “high-maintenance” activities).
  • to learn – think more than one step ahead before acting. In other words, think about the consequences of my actions, and then the consequences of those consequences.
  • to improve – I can always be better than I am
  • to live and let live – minimize the sacrifices other living things have to make so I can live the life I do.
  • to respect individuality and independence – suspend judgment and enjoy the infinite variety of individuals.
  • to seek understanding – assume every living thing is doing the best that it can, and don’t hold it against them.


  • to participate – if I like doing something, I won’t just watch. I will do it, too.
  • to share – if I like doing something, I will do it with
    others. If I know something, I will share it with others.
  • to give – do things for others. Reach out and invest time, care, hope, love in other people.

Joy, health and wholeness

  • to laugh
  • to have fun
  • to focus on the positive – move forward, not back. Live in the present, not in the past. Make the most of the moment. Seize the day.
  • to be well – avoid problems instead of trying to fix them after the fact.
  • to keep the big picture in mind
  • to keep it together – resist breaking things into parts, or at least put the pieces back together before drawing any conclusions
  • to recognize interdependence – dependence is never


  • to embrace change and move with it – appreciate, but not cling to any time, place or situation. Even aging and death are part of the process.