CJ 5 – Offerings

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 4.45.29 PM

How do you give back to something that gives you so much? Robin Wall Kimmerer recommends an offering. Reflecting on my own personal spirituality, I have realized that I am lacking in the offerings department. I do not regularly offer a prayer, an act of service, or gifts. What I do offer, however, is a commitment to a particular thing, universe, Earth, or individual, that I will do my best. I want to show them that I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to receive something, to be with someone, or to connect with something and will, therefore, ensure they understand my gratitude for such. I offer thanks.

The following images have been compiled from moments I have captured in nature. I realize now that these spaces often exist in one-sided relationships with the individual visiting them. We take, we receive, we offer nothing in return. If I find myself in these spaces again, I will be sure to offer them something for their beauty, solace, and willingness to give.

Advertisements

CJ 4 – Decolonizing Encounters

IMG_8172While enjoying my vacation to Hawaii last December, I decided to take some of the beautiful pieces of nature I found there home with me. At the time, I believed this to be a great way to remember the soft sand and shells that lined the beaches. There were so many things expelled from the ocean waters and so much sand on the beach, I believed a little bit could not hurt. I have arranged some of my findings on top of a pile of sand for my creative journal this week not for the beauty, not to encourage others to do the same, but to illustrate how problematic this action was.

Upon collecting these items from one of my favourite North Shore beaches, I was under the common colonial impression that these things were mine to take. Somehow, I had acquired ownership over these items and because, seemingly, no one else was using them meant that I could. I now attempt to disrupt this ever-so popular idea that when travelling, visiting a new place, or simply seeing something we like is an invitation to ownership; to colonize or steal. Who is to say that this sand, these shells, and this coral I took was not already in use? Perhaps with systems of their own. Other organisms may have called these items home and I may have completely forced them to assimilate into an environment that is now restricted to a plastic bag in my bedroom. This new environment is not better than the alternative. Just because it was not being used by someone like me, someone of my same species, race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ideologies, religious beliefs, or other, does not mean it was not being used at all. 

CJ3 – Terra Nullius

IMG_0236

 

When my family before me sought out for new hope in a new country, Canada was the chosen place. While this place sent no invitation, they saw pristine agricultural land. Terra nullius, or empty land, is not a dated concept. Seeking adventure, I too find myself caught up in such ideas. “Perhaps I could build a home here” or “this would be a great spot to camp for a while”. But this space is not my space. It is not land waiting to be settled; waiting to be invaded.

Reflecting on the peace I desired while enduring outdoor experiences, I recall a few instances of being in ‘the middle of nowhere’. This language suggests that a ‘where’ needs to be assigned to such place. Looking out on this open space in the photograph above, I tried to imagine what some of the capitalist ancestors before me and those living still today may have seen/see when they look into an area that is not deemed as settled. Like a game of Monopoly, each section of this place will be industrialized. If this space would be as unlucky as the majority, it would turn into a carbon-emmision hub, landfill wasteland, and suburban cookie cutter ecosystem. Garbage would fill the waters, pollution would fill the air, and people would fill the homes. But what about those who lived here before us? Individuals who live among us and are oppressed by our system. Where is their home?

When my family before me sought out for new hope in a new country, Canada was the chosen place. At the expense of the land, many of the Indigenous Peoples, the biotic and abiotic, social justice, and environment in it’s entirety. If we grow to dislike this place too, or destroy it beyond the opportunity for succession, at least we have an invitation back home.

I write this with a heavy heart and immense gratitude for my settlement here. I will strive to repair damaged relationships between white and Indigenous folks while attempting to live in harmony and reciprocity with this land.

Ecoliteracy Braiding

Mac, Laura, and I all describe acts of reciprocity throughout our ecoliteracy love letters and poems, as well as discuss ignorance and the importance of sustainability and connection to this place. While Mac comments directly on the impacts of recycling within the University, stating he is “knocking on doors” and “my only obstacle is you [the university]”, Laura writes about a relationship between humans and the environment. Much like a relationship between two people, Laura describes how one-sided relationships do not work, “One will be forced/ To Fade away,/ Leaving the other with nothing.”. I discuss the connection between nature and ourselves, drawing parallels between things we see in nature and in each other, stating there is “opportunity for succession”.

As Mac discusses the need for more eco-focused initiatives such as recycling, I discuss the importance of finding the natural within ourselves and embracing it, “your natural hair, natural face, natural lawn”. Mac’s contribution focuses more on sustainable practice, stating “We could change the Earth,/ you and me”, while I contrast an individual being (myself) to nature and the idea of natural, stating it is “One that disrupts only for benefit”. I was drawn to Mac’s poem because not only was it beautifully written, it sparked slight anger inside of me that something a simple as recycling is being lobbied for still today. I spoke about this passionate anger I felt as a reader in my letter, relating it to natural disasters. I stated the “disaster, entropy, the fire that burns inside. But all this too has a purpose”. The purpose of this particular anger is to ignite change and fuel the motivation to educate others on these issues.

I felt some of this anger too while reading Laura’s poem. Again, this was well written and catalyzed an emotional response, but most importantly it was extremely relatable. I believe many individuals could speak of a once glorious relationship in their life that has dwindled or “forced to fade away”.  Drawing this connection between a failed relationship and our failing relationship with the Earth could help others relate more easily. Although I do not connect the Earth to a failed relationship, I believe that I connect the reader to the natural state of our Earth which may cause feelings of hope and passion. Laura’s poem ends on this hopeful and inspirational note, stating we must “Repair what has been broken/ Starting now./ Then,/ Maybe one will not,/ Fade away”.

All three pieces discuss ignorance, either regarding knowledge, relationships, or connectivity. David Orr suggests that this ignorance is “an inescapable part of the human condition”. This means although the three of us may have developed past ignorance, there will always be others who will not understand the importance of reciprocity to the land which we live. Orr also suggests that “some knowledge is increasing while other kinds of knowledge are being lost”. He calls for more environmental education because if we cannot live sustainably and in harmony with our Earth, our other knowledge means nearly nothing. Mac’s poem demonstrates these two concepts told by Orr as he personally educates those in his dormitory, “raising awareness of the things we must omit”. Laura states that “Unless,/ The knowledgable can leap”, meaning she understands we will not all make the necessary changes for sustainability. I discuss an understanding that this Earth is “bigger than you and me” and that we must “start giving back, appreciating this place for all it does for us while asking for nothing in return”. Overall, the three of us discuss the importance of environmental educational in terms of literacy and spirituality, indicating that reciprocity is crucial for sustainability.

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

CJ2 – Powerful Acts of Reciprocity with the Land

Creative Journal Two:

img_7835.jpg

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:

cjr1

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.