Friday Open Thread: What are you reading? ~ Braiding Sweetgrass

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“Suppression of our natural responses to disaster is part of the disease of our time. The refusal to acknowledge these responses causes a dangerous splitting. It divorces our mental calculations from our intuitive, emotional, and biological embeddedness in the matrix of life. That split allows us passively to acquiesce in the preparations for our own demise.”

“We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world. We need to restore honor to the way we live, so that when we walk through the world we don’t have to avert our eyes with shame, so that we can hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgment of the rest of the earth’s beings.”

“When a language dies, so much more than words are lost. Language is the dwelling place of ideas that do not exist anywhere else. It is a prism through which to see the world. Tom says that even words as basic as numbers are imbued with layers of meaning. The numbers we use to count plants in the sweetgrass meadow also recall the Creation Story. Én:ska—one. This word invokes the fall of Skywoman from the world above. All alone, én:ska, she fell toward the earth. But she was not alone, for in her womb a second life was growing. Tékeni—there were two. Skywoman gave birth to a daughter, who bore twin sons and so then there were three— áhsen. Every time the Haudenosaunee count to three in their own language, they reaffirm their bond to Creation.”

“until we can grieve for our planet we cannot love it—grieving is a sign of spiritual health. But it is not enough to weep for our lost landscapes; we have to put our hands in the earth to make ourselves whole again. Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.”

― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is a 2013 nonfiction book written by Indigenous author Robin Wall Kimmerer and published by Milkweed.The book is about the world of botany as described and explored through Native American traditions. Kimmerer, who is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, also shares stories about her own experiences working with plants and learning to become reunited with her own people's cultural traditions. She also gives a background on history in relation to plants and also discusses botany through a scientific perspective.

American Indian Quarterly writes that Braiding Sweetgrass is a book about traditional ecological knowledge and environmental humanities. Kimmerer combines her training in Western scientific methods and her Native American knowledge about sustainable land stewardship to describe a more joyful and ecological way of using our land in Braiding Sweetgrass.

Kimmerer said about the book that "I wanted readers to understand that Indigenous knowledge and Western science are both powerful ways of knowing, and that by using them together we can imagine a more just and joyful relationship with the Earth." Plants described in the book include squash, algae, goldenrod, pecans and the eponymous sweetgrass.

Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer discusses topics found in her new book “Braiding Sweetgrass” in which she shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.

[September 2, 5:30 p.m. Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall, Cornell University]

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phillybluesfan's picture

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Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

phillybluesfan's picture

In August 2020, OEC’s Emerging Leaders Program hosted a lively and profound book discussion, with New York Times bestselling author, Robin Wall Kimmerer. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she weaves indigenous wisdom with the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

The OEC is proud to host conversations with environmental champions from all walks of life. We are grateful to Robin for joining us and we appreciate everyone who tuned in. You can watch the full recording if you follow this link:
https://theoec.org/blog/discussion-of-braiding-sweetgrass-with-author-ro...

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Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

lotlizard's picture

not December 24th as in Germany, or December 25th as in the U.S.

http://infogalactic.com/info/Sinterklaas

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Lookout's picture

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Azazello's picture

Seems like a good book comes out around each presidential election.
In 2015 it was Thomas Frank's Listen Liberal!,
this time it was Taibbi's book.
Wish I had read it when it first came out in 2019.
It explains a lot.

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It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Azazello

well as the Why.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Azazello's picture

@enhydra lutris
Things have changed.

The problem we all have is the commercial structure of the business. To make money, we've had to train audiences to consume news in a certain way. We need you anxious, pre-pissed, addicted to conflict. Moreover we need you to bring a series of assumptions every time you open a paper or turn on your phone, TV or car radio. Without them, most of what we produce will seem illogical and offensive.

The trick is to constantly narrow your mental horizons and keep you geeked up on impotent anger. It's a twist on Manufacturing Consent's description of an artificially narrowed debate.

The Herman/Chomsky thesis in the mid-1980s highlighted how the press "manufactured" public unity by making sure the population was only exposed to a narrow range of political ideas, stretching from Republican to Democrat (with the Democrat usually more like an Eisenhower Republican). So long as you stayed on that little median strip, you accepted a broad range of underlying principles that never popped up in the sanitized, Nerfball version of debate that op-ed pages exhibited.

The difference now: we encourage full-fledged division on that strip. We've discovered we can sell hate, and the more vituperative the rhetoric, the better.
This also serves larger political purposes.

So long as the public is busy hating each other and not aiming its ire at the more complex financial and political processes going on off-camera, there's very little danger of anything like a popular uprising.

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It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

loss of language is a very great loss; ideas, cultures, understandings, and skills of all types are lost with it. It is a way of understanding, investigating and interacting with reality.

I myself am trying to clean out a backlog of thousands of magazine and journal articles and won't be reading much else for some time to come.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

mimi's picture

After Trump leaves, US and Israeli aggression against Iran remains

Israel's assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist is the latest act of aggression in the Trump-Netanyahu campaign to undermine the Iran nuclear deal. Although President-elect Joe Biden has voiced support for returning to the JCPOA, longstanding US-Israel hostility to Iranian sovereignty will continue under his watch.

Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter debunks the myths about Iran's nuclear program and discusses the next phase of the US and Israeli campaign against Iran under Biden.

Guest: Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector, former Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, and author of Dealbreaker: Donald Trump and the Unmaking of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

I have nightmares of Dumpolino have to make a war no matter where. Germany is a target too.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

mimi's picture

costly war on drugs"

So glad she is coming back to fight.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

in prison who is presently being investigated for a murder that occurred about 15 years ago.
"Hiding in Plain Sight: Who killed Natasha Atchley?" is one of the books written about it.
Lots of local speculation that an elected official was the perp.
I did respond that I am unavailable to represent him pro bono.
If I am going to get involved with that, I must get paid.

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mimi's picture

would be nice if we had a strike like that in the US.
Just dreaming...

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS