Braiding Sweetgrass: Part 4 Jul 2, 2020

It is no easy task to choose a life that breathes into intentional community. Like any relationship, there are times of struggle, disagreement and pain, but there is also a system beneath all of that that roots us and connects us for life. We see it all over Enderly Park. People that can look back on difficult memories of our neighborhood and mourn together but also recognize how much stronger it made us. In the most vulnerable of times, we learn how important it is to have people to support us and give support in return.

In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer tells us about the “Three Sisters”, corn, beans, and squash, and their relationship to one another in a garden. In my limited experience with gardening, I have learned to adapt to a method of gardening that creates organized and strategic blueprint. One that allows me to find all the peppers in one area and beans in another, diligently weeded to appease my appetite for a tidy garden space. After reading about the relationship of the sisters, I realize that this method neglects the natural sisterhood that many plants share with one another, making them strong and sweeter. Because Kimmerer grows these seeds with each other, they have the opportunity to give each other the gift of diverse nutrients and receive better growth in return.

Our culture has guided us to live lives independent from those around us. It is our custom to climb the ladder of success and leave anything that hinders us behind. Because of this, we have a difficult time taking care of our neighbor especially when it takes more than a cup of sugar and a passing smile. Like our organized gardens, we fail to see how the commitment to establish a diverse community can expand our gifts and build a strong foundation in our relationships. By investing in the lives of people around us, we have the ability to develop a deep rooted system of care for our neighbors and receive the same in return. Though it takes time to build these relationships, at the time for harvest we will see all of our hard work come to light and be able to share that gift with one another. “Good communities don't make themselves, we’ve got a lot to be grateful for, and we all have to do our part to keep it going (169)”

By working towards a community that builds and grows together, we actively take part in ridding ourselves of the desire for individualism. We have seen how much healthier and balanced our lives become when we know that our neighbors use their unique qualities to build towards our common goal as they can count on us to do the same.

Written by Marissa Bucklew, QC Family Tree Sustainability Intern 2019-2020. Marissa is an intern from the NBA XPLOR program which invites young adults to spend a year with non profit organizations around the nation. This year, she has worked closely with the neighbors to build relationships to deepen our connection to this community as well as spread the stories of neighbors. She also works to maintain the physical space of QC Family Tree, including our gardens and resident spaces.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013.