We’re switching things up as we head into the holiday season with Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants*+ by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book explores historical teachings and knowledge of plants, remembering a time before we found modern replacements and substitutions for ways we used to use plants in our everyday lives.
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).
Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer 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 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 ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment 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.
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Here’s what you need to do this month:
Get the book. Buy it, borrow it, download and listen to it, read it over your neighbor’s shoulder — we don’t care. But don’t steal the book.
Read the book.
- Week 1: Preface and Part 1: Planting Sweetgrass [pages ix-59] (Twitter chat on 11/2)
- Week 2: Part 2: Tending Sweetgrass [pages 63-117] (Twitter chat on 11/9)
- Week 3: Part 3: Picking Sweetgrass [pages 121-201] (Twitter chat on 11/16)
- Week 4: Part 4: Braiding Sweetgrass [pages 205-300] (Twitter chat on 11/23)
- Week 5: Part 5: Burning Sweetgrass and epilogue [pages 303-384] (Twitter chat on 11/30)
Join the chat (#AgBookClub) on Wednesdays at 8:00pm Central on Twitter. Learn how to participate in a Twitter chat here. While we hope you can participate in our discussion every week, we know that everyone has busy schedules. We always include general questions following the topic(s) of the book that can be answered by anyone, so please don’t hesitate to jump in the Twitter chat if you didn’t have a chance to read the section we’re discussing. We welcome any and all to join the discussion!