A braid is three separate strands of similar material that is woven together and the crossing of two pieces makes a connection. Two strands connect and then the third connects with one then the other forming a beautiful plait full of connections. I chose Camryn and Ashley’s poems to be the two strands that complement my poem or strand.
One of the common themes that I see in all three poems, is the importance of being to be able to be outside to enjoy nature. Camryn, says it’s a place of enjoyment, and curiosity, Ashley thanks her co worker for noticing the fish in the creek, and from my poem, “hands in the dirt,” “playgrounds, exploring,” give us the clues that being able to enjoy nature is an important part of eco literacy. Ashley and I interweave our two strands together, with the importance of children in eco literacy with their natural curiosity. Camryn’s statement about living in a healthy and safe environment complements and completes that section of the braid nicely.
Another theme among all three poems is the disappearance of animals and their habitats. Ashley is quite blunt about species dying where as Camryn comments that environment is important to every living thing and that animals are vital to human way of life, a much gentler approach. I think my approach with the disappearing habits is somewhere between the bluntness of Ashley and subtly of Camryn. Neither is approach is right or wrong it is simply a section of the braid that losing our animals and their habitats is a concern in eco literacy and one that we support.
I could go through and pick out and weave a very intricate braid of the many similarities between the three poems. What is more difficult is to find the differences. After careful thought, I think the biggest difference is in the actions to be taken. In my poem, I suggest thinking on a bigger scale, with zero-waste events, like was attempted at the 2018 Super Bowl. Where as Ashley and Camryn speak of the smaller scale recycling. There is nothing wrong with the small-scale approach, but a big scale approach may be considered more often.
Another difference is that only in my poem is there recognition of the long-term effects of our actions beyond 20 years. I refer to being aware of what we are doing in terms of our negative actions and how those may have longer lasting effects than we think, however the positive is also true. Perhaps the little things we are doing now such as home recycling is going to have a bigger impact than we think. I do believe that we do need to keep educating ourselves and if we keep trying to add the little things they may add up to big things.
Robin Kimmerer (2013) in the chapter Maple Nation, talks about doing something and I think this story is the elastic that holds the braid together. She shares in this story of how people in the community complain about the way things are in the town. The leaders in the town, Kimmerer (2013) says often tell the complainers, to show up to a meeting”. Meaning do something about it, make your voice heard. In relation to our poems, it is great to share our feelings, but we need to do something, make our voices heard. As teachers, perhaps the biggest thing we can do to make our voices heard is make our students eco literate. Get them outside, appreciate the outdoors, get their hand dirty so that they know the importance and beauty of what they could lose.
Wall Kimmerer, R. (2013). Maple Nation: A Citizenship Guide, in Braiding Sweetgrass:
IndigenousWisdom, Scientific Knowledge & the Teachings of Plants, pp. 167-174. Minnesota, MN: Milkweed Editions.