Every now and then I encounter a writer who is completely refreshing, challenging, authentic and mindful.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is one such writer. Fellow blogger Carol A. Hand (https://carolahand.wordpress.com) recommended Kimmerer’s 2013 work “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants.”
It is a wonderful journey into a cultural and ecological life. Kimmerer speaks passionately about returning to the culture of her ancestors, being born a plant biologist, yet finding a way to her people’s language – Potawatomi and Anishinaabe – which are a reflection of the land and the people, and how that knowing was a way to wholeness and understanding which science alone could not provide.
Kimmerer advocates for the land, in particular, for plants, their relational and physical presence, and their place in the ecosystems we too inhabit and benefit from. Plants are beings, not “its” or objects, and deserve our attention, reciprocity, and care. Kimmerer speaks about animacy, how the language of sentience changes how we experience plants, and, ergo, that when we see and experience plants as beings, it changes our relationship to plants, to nature. Thus we value our neighbours.
Kimmerer is clearly in sync with Deep Ecology (which also has antecedents in Process Philosophy and Theology) and the desire to change how we see and work with nature. For Kimmerer, the journey to valuing plants more than scientifically has come through reconnecting with her indigenous roots, and in particular her people’s language, and their relational understanding of nature.
It is a book of biography, science, and life, but predominantly it is a book of indigenous wisdom we most urgently need for all peoples, and it is a book that encourages us to take our own paths to positive relationships with nature. Kimmerer left me with a heartfelt understanding that indigenous cultures had a reverence for nature that would have prevented the destruction caused by the objective consumption model.
Another access point to get to Kimmerer is a podcast at ‘On Being’ with Krista Tippett at https://onbeing.org (also found at iTunes podcast subscription). It will enlighten and refresh.