"Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants"
Updated: 6 days ago
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. Her glorious, healing, sense-making book has become my sacred text.
Dr. Kimmerer's chapter on Aster & Goldenrod, for instance, has particular resonance. Years ago, I paired these two in my front garden for late-season pollinator food and, yes, beauty. As a career arts educator and occasional visual artist, 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. "Reciprocity" goes beyond our collective human effort at repairing the harm we've done. Instead, we are tasked with noticing, then imitating ( in ways suitable to us) how trees, geese, bees, flowering plants, other living beings, behave while doing multiple beneficial things at once for our shared green blue world. Their behaviors demonstrate a generous love of the living planet. It is about 21st century people learning how to return the love, i.e. reciprocity. Even if we're from settler cultures.
"Reciprocity" with Nature is about giving life-enhancing gifts back to her in thanks for all she has given. As with love, such gifts may indeed circle back to the giver: an experience of expansion, of being sated, a calm noticing of quiet beauty, abundance, maybe even joy.
This big goal is what Echotopia is about. 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, didn't adequately honor my bioregion's stunning, fragile & precious life systems. I figured that if I could go beyond regeneration and restoration, embedding "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 the core value of Echotopia, its primary mission.
For me, Braiding Sweetgrass is a 'must-read' book. Thank you, V.