In our world at this time, I give thanks for the leadership voices that ground us in innovative ways of thinking and seeing our own power for growing the world better. I thought that this week we could all use a dose of such direction and grounding. With that in mind, please enjoy this BEST OF conversation with Indigenous seed keeper and teacher, Rowen White, and writer and activist Gavin Van Horn. They are voices of reason, relationship, and responsibility to learn from, to lean into, to live up to.
As a gardener and a human in this specific season of the year - a season of communal gathering and thankfulness at the tail end of the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere, this week we celebrate Family, Kin, & Kinship. We are joined in this conversational celebration by Gavin Van Horn and Rowen White sharing with us about a new multi-volume collection of written voices entitled "Kinship Belonging in a World of Relations" out now from the Center for Humans and Nature, based in Chicago.
Gavin is the creative director and executive editor for the Center for Humans and Nature and served as co-editor on the Kinship series with Robin Wall Kimmerer and John Hausdoerffer. Rowen is a seed keeper, a mother, and a farmer from the Mohawk community as well as being a passionate activist for Indigenous seed and food sovereignty. She is the educational director and lead mentor of Sierra Seeds an innovative Indigenous seed bank and land-based educational organization located in Nevada city, California. Rowen is the founder of the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network and her essay "Sky Woman’s Garden" appears in Partners the third volume of the five-volume Kinship series.
Gavin writes of the genesis of this convening of voices:
Three years ago, on a frost-bitten November morning, we gathered with human and more-than-human friends in Northern Illinois. This convening of kindred spirits began the conversations that would eventually become the Kinship series.
During our time together, our group of twenty or so people often sat in a loose circle, listening to unique experiences from all varieties of places. The room was full of joy, wonder, and a laughter that seemed to bubble up spontaneously, reinforcing bonds of kinship and love for this living earth.
Other voices also came into our midst. A participant in the middle of the circle pulled out her phone and gently asked us to listen. The sound of a family of Orcas communicating with one another entered the room. Even those of us who don’t live anywhere near the Pacific Ocean felt deep recognition, made more poignant by the current threats faced by these fellow mammals. They were speaking to one another, yet it felt as though their voices were also reaching through the water to us. Kin.
Later, we ventured outside to stretch our legs and to participate in a soundwalk to attune ourselves to the nearby forest and its aural textures. We paused at a huge Oak whose sprawling crown seemed to cover most of the backyard. We paid our respects. Some of us laid a hand on the tree. All of us breathed, thinking about plant kin who outlive us in age and who gift us with oxygen.
On the basis of this meeting, the initial vision for Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations was one book. Then it grew. New threads were suggested and the web became larger. Soon it was apparent that the web could not be contained by a single volume. We decided to ask, What if we let this book become what it wants to become?
Kinship has thus become a series and we’re thrilled with the outcome. We’d like to express our deep gratitude for our human and more-than-human kin who gathered on that chilly November morning to help bring this ambitious project to such a beautiful result. And we'd also like to thank you—our readers and partners—for supporting us on this journey and for walking down this path with us toward becoming better kin.
Just like all kinds of gardens, these voices raised together in this uplifting series is all about growing together in this world.
You can follow The Center for Humans and Nature's work online at: www.humansandnature.org/ and on Instagram at @humansandnature
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JOIN US again next week, when as our Northern Hemisphere gardens and landscapes settle into whatever their annual dormancy and winter rest might be, we head to the Southern Hemisphere in Conversation with Australia’s Jac Semmler. Her new book SUPER BLOOM gives us so much to dream about in our deep winter sleep. That's next week right here - join us!
Thinking out loud this week:
If there is any place in the world that reminds me of my own belonging in a world of diverse and beautiful family and kindred it is in the garden.
How about you?
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