Braiding our eco-literate ideas together.

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.

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Learn! Do! Teach!

Too Hot! Too Cold! Too Dry! Too Wet!

Disappearing animals

Disappearing Habitats

Disappearing playgrounds

Wait! Stop!

WE can fix this

Big Things

Long term 20, 30 50 year impacts of our actions

Be aware, Learn

Zero-waste big events

Think Big, do! Learn!

Small Things

Playgrounds, biking, exploring

Hands in the dirt

Giggles, wiggly worms

Food fresh from the ground, Yum!

Learn! Do! Teach!

Frog and crickets singing

Polar bears lounging

Habitats thriving

Big things small things

Be the stone that creates the ripple

Learn! Do! Teach!

Many sides of activism

On January 19th and 20th we were required to attend some sessions of the Apathy in Action conference put on by RPIRG at the University of Regina.  I was only able to attend Fridays’ sessions.  I found most of the sessions very informative in content and I learned a great deal about how different activism looks.

Each talk I listened to, went about their activism for their chosen cause in different ways.  Bernadette Wagner gave an author talk about her book about uranium and the impact the Saskatchewan uranium industry has had through out history.  She said her activism comes in the form of her writing and in her performances with the Sacred Web group.  Next Michelle Stewart and Prescott Demas representing Colonialism No More, shared their experiences with activism.  Their group pitched tents in spring and summer outside the Indigenous and Northern Affairs office, in response to a call to action from the youth Atawascape to bring attention and action to the conditions youth and children are facing on some of the reserves.  Michelle and Prescott also shared that their group also helps others set up demonstrations.  They also pointed out that you don’t have to be on the front lines to be active in a cause, there are many background jobs.  Finally,  Mia Bell spoke about Fat Feminism.  Her message to me was that another take on activism is to be aware of how we move about in spaces and the words we choose to use.  For example, she challenged those with thinner bodies to think about when they sat in the lecture theaters at the University of Regina (U of R) how would someone living in a fat body(her words), find those seating options.  She said and I agree that for larger people the lecture theaters, especially in the Classroom building are very discriminatory.  Larger people simply do not fit well and the little fold over desks simply aren’t an option for large people.  This affects class choices for many students at the U of R.  She then shared a few other examples to be aware of.   These examples also tie in very nicely with Robin Kimmerer’s ideas in her chapter Maple Nation. Where she tells us that a prominent teacher in town and Kimmerer’s own parents share the sentiment that you can’t complain about the way things are if you don’t do something, as the teacher in the story says “attend a damn meeting”. So where does my new found knowledge leave me. What am I going to do?

I do strongly believe in Kimmerer’s statement that you can’t complain if you don’t do something. However, I am a mom, a wife and full time mature university student.  Right now, those are my main priorities in that order and when I am done attending to those things, there is very little of me left to give.  In thinking about the various ways that activism looks like, I maybe able to do a couple of small things.  Like next time I see a camp and my boys ask what its about, rather than saying I don’t know, I could make the time to either stop or go back at another time and talk to the group with my boys.  Or I could write that letter to the president of the U of R like I thought about when I entered the lecture theater in the classroom building and found my body doesn’t fit so well and there is no other option for me or my other classmates in the same situation. They are just little things but for now, they will have to do.

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Indoor girl, finds connection to environment.

This blog post is a bit of a challenge for me to write. I very much related to Kimmerer’s students, and their explanation of why things layered they way they do. I don’t know more than the common terms for environmental species and really, I don’t care to. I am not an outside person in any way, shape or form.  I prefer to go from my climate controlled home, to my climate controlled vehicle, to my almost always climate controlled destination. Given that, you can imagine the difficulty I had coming up with a time I felt connected to the environment.  After some thinking, and beginning to believe that I would not come up with anything, I realized that my connection to the environment is water.

I very much love watching and listening to running water.  I enjoy looking at photos of pristine lakes, majestic waterfalls, and gently running streams.  I enjoy watching and listening to the rain, water running and slapping gently against the shore.

The one time my connection to the environment and water stands out is when I was fortunate enough to visit San Diego.  My husband and I spent a week there.  We had a long list of things we wanted to see and do.  The top of the list, an absolute must was to visit a beach and the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived at a, mostly. deserted beach only a couple of tourists and surfers to be found.  I was in awe of being at the ocean.  I just stood and watched and listened.  I felt instantly calm, and at peace, a wonderful feeling.  As I stood and watched, nothing else mattered, I heard no other sounds, but the roar of the waves.  The waves were very high, and came in fast.  My husband and I speculated that there must be a storm out in the ocean somewhere that was generating such waves.  Sitting at the shore we watched the surfers, making bets as to if they would get up and ride the wave.  When we tired we of watching the surfers we turned our attention to the waves themselves.  The power and force of the waves was so impressive.  It put into perspective, just how devastating and forceful waves can be.  However, the even with the realization of the destructiveness that water can bring there was something so mesmerizing about watching the shapes, and patterns the waves took.  The time just melted away from us, as we sat hypnotized by the roar and power of the water.  I have never had time slip away from me like that when I have been outside before.  I hope to someday go back and experience that calmness again. 20180114_185020