"Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants"
Updated: Oct 22
Three years after I launched Echotopia, V. stopped by my market stall one Saturday, looked thoughtfully at my set-up, and told me about Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants. V. then said that my mission-driven business embodied Dr. Kimmerer's philosophy. After hearing that news, I read the book. Though I don't believe in s/hero worship, Robin Wall Kimmerer is now one of my guiding lights ;-). In fact, her glorious, healing, sense-making book has become my sacred text.
Dr. Kimmerer's chapter on Aster & Goldenrod, for instance, has particular resonance for me. Years ago, I paired these two in my front garden for late-season pollinator food and, yes, beauty. As a career arts educator, I loved the color combination. I had taken an introductory workshop on beneficial natives at Blue Water Baltimore and had transformed my small gardens with selected plants who provided food for the greatest numbers of pollinators throughout the growing seasion. Turns out, Aster and Goldenrod also compete for space, and are constantly moving and changing but that's another story. Still, every year, hungry, tired bees congregate at both plants until frost time, wherever and however Aster & Goldenrod are on offer. Front garden photos below are from 2016.
Dr. Kimmerer uses the term "Reciprocity" to warmly invite in reflections about, and actions for, transforming human behaviors in the world - in the service of repairing the harm we've done. "Reciprocity" with nature, that is, returning gifts back to her in thanks for all she has given, is what I aim to model & do, albeit via a business! That's why I invented our unique Seed Rounds as part of our product line. I had decided that creating LESS trash, being LESS bad, wasn't respectful enough to my bioregion's fragile and precious life systems. I figured that if I could go beyond regeneration and restoration, and even embed "Reciprocity" into our economic exchanges, everyone and everything benefits. I just didn't have that word. "Reciprocity" is a term I now use all the time to describe Echotopia's mission. I highly recommend Braiding Sweetgrass, as well as all the work of Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer. Dr. Kimmerer points an honorable way forward for us all. Thank you, V.