This week, my creative journal is about a homemade offering or an act of reciprocity with the land as discussed in Kimmerer’s article. Each summer, my mom plants a garden in my backyard. She plants vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, and cucumbers. As the vegetables begin to be ready for use, we pick them. We only pick the amount we need though. This is our homemade “offering”. We leave the rest of the vegetables in the garden for nature to handle. This might be letting animals eat them, letting them breakdown in the soil, etc. My jar for my visual is filled with soil from my garden. On top, I have placed 2 onion bulbs that were left there through the winter and remain there today. This proves our offering to the land.
If the plants stay in the soil and breakdown on their own, the soil will actually become more fertile with this natural material. This will help the plants we grow the next year. This idea of only taking what we need is often a part of tradition First Nations culture as it is an act of respect towards the land. Although we buy the seeds to plant, we let nature do its thing when it comes to the plants that we don’t end up using. This has always been something that my family has done, and I think that it is a really good thing for animals such as deer, who often take over our gardens and eat the plants.
For my creative journal this week, I focused on an outdoor experience that resonates with me a lot. When I was younger, I went camping with my family quite a bit. We would go for one or two weeks at a time and we often met up with my unlce, aunty, and cousin. We connected with the environment in many ways, like fishing, boating, mini-golfing, sitting on the beach, etc. Although all of these activities are fun for my family and I, we are using the environment to our advantage, and for our own benefit. We are ignorning the fact that this land is claimed by the governmentand trandformed into a provincial park. We are ignoring what it took to make the land what it is, a public campground.
This weeks prompt made me think about how we experiences these encounters so easily because they are based around colonization. We feel entitiled to these places and these parks, but we never question what was taken from others to transforms these lands into places for the colonizers to enjoy.
When you think of camping, one might instantly generalize the term to only emcompass white, middle class families. This idea that only these types of people go camping contributes directly to colonization. But what was that land used for before it was a campground?
This creative journal makes me really reconsider my exeriences when camping. Ho’s article “Traveling with a World of Complexity: Critical Pedagogy of Place and My Decolonizing Encounters” states that there is an “inseparable connection between environmental and social justice issues” (pg 2). This idea that the environment is also realted to social justice issues can be seen in so many ways within society. Relating to camping, the environmental aspect is directly related to the social issues of colonization and how “unclaimed land” can be claimed by the dominant culture or group. This land is then used by the dominant culture, for the dominant culture.
My visual is a map of the river that we took when we went on a canoeing trip from Lumsden to Craven in elementary school. We canoed for 8 hours straight to get to Craven from the river just beside our school in Lumsden. My visual shows two routes to get from one town to the other. The “easy” route is to take the highway. This route is way shorter than the river route which is labeled the “hard” route. The easy route requires no connection to the environment for you to take it. It is a very convenient route and also one that disturbs nature. The hard route on the other hand, brings you closer to nature and this so called idea of “wilderness”. The hard route can contain complications when taking it, making it a more realistic depiction of what it means to be in the wilderness.
It was an adventure, but it was very much following the normative narrative of wilderness. Once we got to Craven, we were to spend the next 2 nights and 3 days camping at the little campground called Craven World in tents. We had to set up our own tents and “rough it” for the next 3 days. Although, it was far from “roughing it”. We did not use nature for anything like food, shelter, or water. We had food made for us in a kitchen, we had tents to sleep in with many sleeping bags and blankets, and basically everything was provided for us. I do not recall engaging in any nature related walks or any sort of education about the land. We had no idea what the land was used for before it was a campground. We just used it in a very Western, modern way. To this day, this is something that I do not know. We did not engage with the land or anything around us in a different light other than our own, which is often the problem with canoe trips and wilderness trips in general.
Newbery’s article “Canoe Pedagogy and Colonial History” offers a very interesting point that can be related to my experience at Craven World. Newbery states “canoe-tripping in wilderness spaces is not and can never be innocent or uncomplicated”. My experience can be described similar to being innocent or uncomplicated. We did not have any complications because we were in this “wilderness” space but used our western knowledge and our western way of living to be in this space. We did not have to figure out what we were going to eat or where we were going to sleep every night. We knew that someone was going to prepare our food for us and we would not have to worry about where we would sleep and how we would withstand the elements of nature as we had our tents and many supplies with us. Wilderness should be a complicated place to be. True canoe trips should offer some sort of complication to really connect one with the environment. A true connection is made when one is able to overcome adversaries using what nature offers effectively.
Kimmerer’s “Sitting in a Circle” story offers insight to how one would be able to use nature to survive a few days in the wilderness. The story outlines how the cattail marsh that was near where the students and teacher were staying could be used in many different ways to ensure they met all of their needs during their stay. This directly contradicts how my canoe trip was. Although there were probably lots of opportunities to use nature for our stay at Craven World, we did not even attempt to use anything from nature. Nature was not the overall focus of our canoe trip, looking back at it. I wish that we would have been able to analyze nature and be able to use parts of it more engaging throughout our trip.
When reading my classmates letters and poems, I noticed many similarities and differences between mine and theirs. Specifically looking at Ben’s and Natalie’s pieces, there were a few similarities between theirs and mine.
In Natalie’s piece, she refers to looking beyond what humans have done to the Earth and appreciate the natural gifts that the Earth has to offer when she writes “your ability to strip the synthetics, the man-made, the negative and realize that all you need surrounds you”.
This idea of realizing everything that you need is natural is similar to a line in my piece that says “we, the human race, need to experience these feelings more often to truly appreciate the effects that nature has on us and thousands of other species”. The main idea of both of these quotes is that the Earth supplies us with all we need to survive without all of the extras that humans have created. We have the ability to live off of the land rather than constantly creating, consuming, and destroying. The human race needs to be more appreciative of the natural aspects of the Earth rather than just the created aspects. There is more to the Earth and to life than just consuming. The mentality that consuming is essential is the reason that the climate is changing and that parts of the Earth are getting destroyed. We need to create a mentality that supports the survival and prosperity of the Earth.
In Ben’s piece, he states “for the future generations, we need to set the right tone” which is saying that we need to focus on protecting the Earth and the environment to ensure that the future generations will be able to live suitably. This idea is similar to my letter when I stated “we need to rekindle our love and kindness towards nature for us and for future generations”. I think that currently, our society is very focused on “the now” and not focused enough on the future. If we keep producing and consuming, what will be left for our children and our grand-children? Will they get to live the same life and enjoy the same environments that we currently have the opportunity to experience? We need to be focusing on preserving the environment and giving back to the environment as much as we can so that the next generations will be able to sustain themselves properly. This idea of reciprocity is one of the topics that Kimmerer brings up in his book Braiding Sweetgrass. We need to be practicing reciprocity to ensure that the Earth will be sustainable today, and in the future. If we continue to take and not give back, there will soon be nothing to take and the environment will be in dire need. Reciprocity is essential in a world that is focused on consuming.
There are a few differences between Ben’s and Natalie’s pieces in comparison to mine. Natalie’s letter is focused on the kind of person she wants to be. She wants to be a person that respects the Earth and gives back to it. She wants to be a person that is aware of her surroundings and what is naturally offered to her. In Ben’s poem, he is writing about things that he has learned about the environment from a more experienced or more educated person. My letter is a more of a message to the human race as a whole about what we have done and what we need to do to respect the Earth to ensure that we don’t completely destroy it. All three of these ways are demonstrating our knowledge about the environment and what it means to be eco-literate. Although they are conveying generally the same message, they are written differently which is what makes each very unique.
Dear my tree-hugging friends,
We are so grateful to live on this planet that we call Earth. There are so many beautiful sites to see and places to explore. What more could we want? Over the last few decades, people seem to not be pleased enough with all of the amazing things that the Earth has to offer us naturally. They are beginning to oversee the beauty in nature and beginning to be selfish towards the environment.
But have you ever listened to the songs of the birds? Have you ever went outside just to be outside, with no other reason but to embrace the natural beauty of nature? Have you felt the cool winter air on your cheeks and completely acknowledged the loveliness and freshness that it is providing for you? Or the glazing hot sun on your body that has been craving sunlight for months? Have you found a spot in nature and sat there and focused on all of the feelings that you feel while being outside? Have you truly embraced nature in all that it actually offers you?
We are so lucky that we are a part of nature. We are so lucky that we get to experience all that it has to offer us, but we often take it for granted. We, the human race, need to experience these feelings more often to truly appreciate the effects that nature has on us and thousands of other species. Without having a strong connection to nature, we will continue to destroy it until there is nothing left of it.
We need to rekindle our love and kindness towards nature for us and for future generations. Our love will be the start of restoration of our wonderful planet. Our love will be the power that changes the world. Our love will enable us to act better towards each other and the world around us. We need to learn to love everything around us.
There are many simple ways that people can positively impact the issue of climate change. All it takes is the realization that everyone can help the environment, no matter how big or small the gesture may be. I designed my project in a way that would demonstrate a small gesture that would help the environment, but also outline other small things that I can change in my everyday life to help support the environment. To do this, I have used a clothing hanger that is used to hang clothes to dry. This is a gesture that can positively impact the environment because it helps reduce the use of a dryer therefore reducing energy consumption. On this hanger, I have cut out pieces of clothing using cardboard that came from groceries around my house. On the articles of clothing, I have written a way that I can help make a difference in the environment.
All of these things that I have written on my hanger may seem super small and not impactful, but can you imagine if everyone in the world made these changes to their everyday lives? Then you would really see the impacts. But in my opinion, making a difference in the environment shouldn’t be that hard. We just require everyone around the world to have the same ambition and dedication to the cause to really make a difference. Part of the problem is that so many people don’t believe in climate change, or say they don’t believe in climate change for their own personal benefit. This idea was stated in the documentary film, “Before the Flood” where there were many political leaders who said that humans cannot change the climate, despite all of the science and research done. Then looking at “The Paris Agreement”, we see this again as it states that the United States no longer wants to be a member of this agreement. It is clear that the United States government does not see a problem with how much their country contributes to the overarching issue of climate change.
In my opinion, everyone needs to come together to realize what needs to be done, otherwise future generations will not have the same opportunities that we currently have. They will face more severe weather and they will experience a world on the verge of collapse. These people who claim they don’t believe in climate change are being selfish in the fact that they are not taking responsibility for their own actions towards the environment and not seeing how future generations will suffer if we keep treating our environment like garbage.
My visual representation is a collage of pictures that I have taken around my acreage. I am lucky enough to live in an area where there is a lot of wildlife and several different environments to explore. One of the areas around my house is actually a nature conservation area. I have only explored it a couple times in my life, but I wish to go explore it more. Relating to the reading “The Sound of Silverbells” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, I often don’t take the time to connect to my environment like the medical students when they went on their camping trip. Although all of these natural environments are constantly surrounding me, I don’t think I appreciate it as much as I should. Not everyone has the opportunity to live in such a beautiful area of Saskatchewan like I do and not everyone gets the chance to see the things that I see everyday, so I definitely need to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the environment that surrounds me. One thing that I do like to do every once in a while is go for a walk down the roads that connect to my house. I do this by myself and I focus on being diconnected from the online world and even my school work for a short period of time. I think this allows me to connect to my environment a bit more, but I do think that I could appreicate my environment much more than I currently do.
The article “The Creative Journal: A Power Tool for Learning” by William Hammond helped me decide what I wanted to do for this first creative piece. Because I have never done an activity similar to this one, I didn’t really know where to start. Throughout his article, he suggests many things. One thing that he suggests is that “the environmental education journal helps connect the journaler develop a personal connection to the local environment.” This helped me analyze my connection to the environment and how the environment effects my everyday life. It helped me realize that there are so many beautiful sights of the environment that surround me each and every day. Hammond also suggests a few different ideas for creative journals including object and picture collages. I put these two suggestions together to make this super personal idea of the environment and how it has impacted my life, even when I don’t realize it or fully engage with it.