Ecoliteracy Love Letter

Dear the Person I Aspire to Be,

I love the way you laugh, the way you let go, the way you realize this place is far bigger than you and me. The way you’ve accepted your natural hair, natural face, natural lawn, your naturalness.

But what does it mean to be natural anyway? For you, it’s your ability to strip the synthetics, the man-made, the negative and realize that all you need surrounds you. It’s gratitude; for the birds that sing each morning, the sun that kisses your skin, the plants you eat, the ability you have to experience such a wonderful place with senses that are able. Sometimes, it’s the bad. It’s the disaster, the entropy, the fire that burns inside. But all this too has a purpose. Power within, strength to conquer, resilience, and the opportunity for succession. Finally, it’s the connection. It’s the symbiosis. It’s the community I form with not just my own kind, but the many others that inhabit this planet Earth. It’s reciprocity.

A natural being is one that cares, one that is aware, one that is adaptable. Most importantly, one that is kind. One that disrupts only for benefit. One that realizes that the greatest opportunities stem from this space we share. Life stems from this space. What did we do to deserve this space? It is time we start giving back, appreciating this place for all it does for us while asking for nothing in return, flowing like the rivers and being as open as the sky. It is time I change this letter’s address from the person I aspire to be, to my future self instead.

With love always,

Natalie

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CJ2 – Powerful Acts of Reciprocity with the Land

Creative Journal Two:

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A recent grocery repeint indicates I may not be doing my best to help reduce my waste and carbon footprint on this planet. Highlighted are all the items which generate some form of non-compostable waste, whether it be a plastic wrapping or contents inside of a can. Circled in red are all the items that not only produce non-compostable waste, but also non-recyclable waste. Most of these items were wrapped in a thin plastic or wrapper that is not easily recycled at local facilities, or not recyclable at all. Even fruits and vegetables fell victim to this unnecessary packaging.

“Maple Nation” reminded me that there is much more to this life I live than the people I interact with. My choices directly effect the environment which I reside in. The phrase on the top of the receipt “You’re at home here” could allude to the fresh produce, meat, and diary which is often local, but I do not wish to live in a home filled with plastic waste. I want to start making choices that my environment would be proud of, ones that would make the birds sing louder and the trees stand taller. This is my ecological pledge, my leap for action: to live sustainably. I will act on this pledge by reducing my waste and being more considerate in my purchases. This could include taking advantages of farmers markets or choosing food that is not going to generate non-compostable waste when possible. While I already use my own reusable grocery bags, I could begin to support businesses that do not excessively wrap fresh food in plastic for ‘sterility’. I feel that if I begin with what I consume most of, food, others will follow. This could include but is not limited to my toiletries and clothing purchases. For now, I will commit to this change of reducing my waste even before consumption.

CJ1 – What Does the Environment Mean to You?

Creative Journal One:

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When pondering upon the things that matter most to me, I cannot help but mention the environment we live in. As I further my scientific knowledge, I gain a stronger appreciation for the things that I see, hear, touch, taste, smell, can do, and can coexist with. My recent travels to Hawaii were liberating; confirming that my presence in this space is meaningful, purposeful, and cannot be taken for granted. As I experienced new life in the ocean, I felt connected to the creatures beneath the water. Each with their own brilliant colour and methods of movement, I was fascinated by the world we often forget exists, but the world which greatly effects our place on this Earth. I related deeply to the Sound of Silver Bells by Robin Wall Kimmerer. As a science student, majority of my learning involves theoretical, hypothetical, or observed processes which are discussed in a classroom setting. It was rare to see these things talked about so regularly observed in live action. The students, biologists rather, embarking on the journey with Robin reminded me of myself, and the first time an instructor took our teaching outside the classroom roughly four months ago. This moment surveying plants disrupted all pedagogy I was exposed to prior and catalyzed the realization I was missing for so long; I am part of this environment and it is part of me too.

This realization seems so simple yet is lacked by so many science students I know. I began to connect this thought to all things I saw in the environment, particularly while in Hawaii. The bright and beautiful colours of these fish swim within me. The sand I grew to know so well runs in my blood, but as minerals necessary for survival. The sun kisses my skin, sometimes a little too affectionately. The green grass, the trees, and all the plants provide me with air to breathe and food to eat. All of these worlds collide with mine; they flow into me. Ignoring this would be the largest disservice I could do to myself. Ignoring the ways in which I am in this place and how this place is in me means I could not successfully save this place nor save myself. I am motivated more than ever to do better.