Earth’s Caregiver Braid

Before enrolling in this class, my thoughts about ecoliteracy could easily have been summed up by this silly little poem I quickly jotted down.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Trees are green

Go green too

However, after reflecting on what I have learned about ecoliteracy in class, it is obvious that this poem was a very shallow understanding of what is means to be ecoliterate.  Being an ecoliterate person is so much more than one just “living green”.  A person truly committed to ecoliteracy is someone who, is not only dedicated to improving the environment through their own personal actions, but is someone who is also concerned about educating others and contributing to a society that behaves responsibly towards the environment.  For this assignment, I created a concrete “heart-shaped” poem using adjectives that I believe embody the definition of one who loves and is dedicated to ecoliteracy.

Brehanna’s poem is similar to mine in many ways. Just like mine, Brehanna depicts love, appreciation, knowledge, education, action, vision and many more things as part of what embodies ecoliteracy. Her poem is different in the sense that it tells a story of ecoliteracy, whereas mine is created using over forty different adjectives in a heart-shaped poem describing those with a love for the environment and who embody ecolitireacy. Brehanna concludes her poem with, “Thank you for showing me your ways, I’ll hold these close for all my days”.

I feel a strong connection with these phrases as I also feel that we must appreciate our environment and show our love and gratitude by giving back to protect our earth.

Samantha’s poem offers a different perspective on ecoliteracy. Her poem is written to her parents, thanking them for her outdoor childhood experiences. These experiences shaped Samantha’s view of nature and enhanced her understanding of ecoliteracy. Initially, I felt that our poems were very different.  I did not think or write about how my experiences growing up shaped my view of ecoliteracy.  However, after reading Samantha’s poem, I realized that my childhood outdoor adventures were reflected in my poem as it was these memories and experiences that contributed to my choice of adjectives describing a person that embodies ecoliteracy.  A person who loves nature and feels a responsibility to ensure that everyone can continue to enjoy this wonderful gift by keeping it safe.  Upon reflection, I see that our poems are actually not that different, despite being written in very different styles.  Both poems depict ecoliteracy similarly by expressing such underlying themes as awareness, appreciation, education, learning, knowledge and love.

In Kimmerer’s preface he writes, “. . . old stories and new ones that can be medicine for our broken relationship with earth, a pharmacopoeia of healing stories that allow us to imagine a different relationship, in which people and land are good medicine for each other” (Kimmerer, 2013, p. x). Kimmerer believes that there are a variety of ways to repair, deepen and strengthen the human relationship with earth. The land needs human interaction and vice versa. This is another form of ecoliteracy, that one might call the base of ecoliteracy and from there humans decide what themes they want to be involved in to sustain the environment thus strengthening their knowledge of ecoliteracy.

In summary, Brehanna, Samantha and I wrote poems that told very different stories but shared many of the same themes and, as Samatha wrote, “a bird’s eye view” of nature.  Reading each of these poems deepened my understanding of ecoliteracy in some way with their similar messages and themes woven throughout.  Kimmerer’s belief that interaction between people and nature is important is mirrored in all of our poems.  We too, feel it is important to love and appreciate the nature that surrounds us, and to educate others in order to sustain these earth’s gifts by wisely taking care of them.

Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.


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