Braiding Sweetgrass: Part 6 Jul 16, 2020

In many cases, it is normal in our society to seek resources from outside our community to fix issues. We call a professional carpenter when our roof is leaky, a window repair person when our windows crack, or a mechanic when our car battery dies. Living in a city puts us at arms reach for services we may need if we are willing to pay the right price.

In this week's reading of Braiding Sweetgrass, I was delighted and shocked by the courage Kimmerer had to take a group of students into the wilderness for five weeks to study the natural world. In “Sitting in a Circle”, she paints a perfect picture of what most people in my life would be like if I took them out into the woods even for a weekend: frantic. At the beginning of the course, the students were not sure how they would survive in the wilderness without access to internet, cell service, immediate food, or even shelter. Once they became more comfortable in their surroundings and more confident in their leaders, they began seeing that the woods are as abundant as the city streets we live on.

In this way, I think about the resources we commonly reach outside of our community to receive. In this past year, I have been awakened to the craftsmanship and skill that lives on every corner around me. Though the professionals typically have better marketing strategies, the local economy is alive and well in the neighborhood of Enderly park, and more often than not, a gift. There was not a single time that the lawn mower would behave on the days that I needed it, but it also meant that I got to go spend some time with a neighbor who knew just what to look for. If not for him, I would have had a much more expensive and boring day. In the same way, if there was a celebration to be had, I know a different neighbor had a side hustle of making wonderful and extravagant cakes. Across the street, a master gardener to answer my questions. A crocheter to help give personal and beautiful gifts. So much existed in the small corners of Enderly Park and so many people willing to give their knowledge to help each other out.

Just like the wilderness in “Sitting in a Circle”, our neighborhood is rich and abundant with resources to give to one another. But in order to see it, you have to build that relationship with one another.

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.