This summer at QC Family Tree, we decided to crack open a new book together and share our thoughts about Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass''. After reading just a few chapters, I have already learned so much about our connection to the soil we occupy and the relationships built through these shared stories. We invite you all to join us for this incredible read and see how we use this as a tool to connect with our community. Every Thursday, there will be blog posts to talk about the book and the connections to our community.Welcome!
As we move through the spring and start to sow seeds of summer, I reflect back on the stories that have been planted in these grounds. Just today, one of our beloved youth reminisced about the memories he had living in this very house I call home. It was this sweet reminder that this house is full of loving stories of community and support. When reading the first few chapters of “Braiding Sweetgrass” in our garden, I could imagine how some of the stories so easily connected to the folks who live in Enderly Park. Rather than following “the stream from grove to grove”like the boys in Indian Territory (11), the youth have created paths called “The Cut” from block to block not through structure, but through tradition to get the resources they need. These simple actions of sharing valuable short cuts with one another embraces the stories that connect us with every footstep that marched across its grass.
But I am sorrowful when I read on about Kimmerer’s ancestors being constantly removed from their land and home because someone comes and pushes them away. I mourn for the grandparents that watched their homes be taken from them and all of their values ignored, again. This is the same pain that riddles the streets of Enderly park. A familiar tale of a system deciding their land can be better used otherwise while their homes, business, churches, and traditions are pushed to another overlooked land, at least until the next cycle of displacement. Brooklyn, Charlotte's once shining, black-led economy, is now the story of this wealthy city's deep wounds. A city that mourns its regretful history while being blind to the neighbors who are facing these same issues everyday.
Amidst all the pain, the neighbors still find ways to come together and support each other. Somehow, those seemingly random “cuts” become known to all the children who choose the grass and dirt trails over the sidewalks built around them. Somehow when a washing machine is broken, clothes still get washed. Somehow, when a community can bathe in its tears over the death of so many dear to all, it can become a stronger and more united kinship.
“The tree acts not as an individual, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do it, we don’t know yet. But what we see is the power of unity. What happens to one happens to all. We can starve together or feast together. All flourishing is mutual.”(15)
It is together that communities like Enderly Park persevere and survive. Together, we will find the solutions to supporting our neighbors through their pain and suffering. Together, we will carry the traditions of this land through for generations to come.
Thank you Robin Wall Kimmerer for reminding us that our unity is what will be our strength in years to come, even through the hardship.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013.