Everything is a lot right now, y’all. Tending Alive is rooted in the ecological. I see this word used more often lately. I think this is a good time to clarify what I mean when I use it.
To me, ecological is not the same as “organic”. It is not perfect or morally superior way of relating to land. We cannot escape entanglement in systems of resource extraction and power-over. It has impact. If anything, ecological is choosing to stay with a whole lot of trouble*. To me, ecological is relational. It is owning and honoring my story as I also humble myself to the thousands of more-than-human stories unfolding around me. It is to be changed by these stories as I watch, receive, remember, and offer what I genuinely can in return. It is what Donna Haraway* calls “response-ability.” To design an ecological landscape, we begin by listening to the story of the land. A site analysis is one part, but we can’t forget to hollow our bodies and be available to hear the truth. Tell me: Who was and still is displaced from this land? What was taken from this place? What is the dream this place carries? To listen, we will need to slowly resensitize our bodies to ways of knowing beyond the mind. No matter how out-of-tune we’ve become, we are an inextricable part of ecology. We cannot step out of the web of relations. Technically, a pesticide-soaked monoculture and the center of a war zone are still ecological. And still, there are undeniable ways our presence and action can lead to more flourishing and aliveness than others. Tending Alive’s work is oriented to the vision of all people stepping into their birthright as soulful, attuned land stewards. It can be painful to be attuned. I am ripped open witnessing the mass carnage and fear the Arab, Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian people (listed alphabetically) and beyond are experiencing right now. Maybe you are too. There is no separate ecology, no roots that do not thread to the soil of my own body. This is a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. How do we act ecologically in times like this? I don’t know. Lately I’ve been asking myself, how would water flow through this landscape? Fellow bodies of water, it isn't ecological for me to tell you how to think, feel or respond right now. Ecologies are diverse and complex. Multiple truths exist at once. I trust your knowing. As in my consults, classes and more, I am here to walk with you as you remember your unique way of listening with the World and find your next life-giving step. So I ask: What does your rage, grief or numbness alchemize in you? What do your dreams evoke? Which thoughts haunt you? What voices are changing you? How could you listen even wider? How does your watershed feed this? What do the past and future ancestors ask of you? Does the land you live on have any advice? Maybe you will lean in. Listen. Call your representatives over and over. Speak your truth. Grieve. Call for a Ceasefire. Go silent. Go to a religious service. Join a rally or march or blockade. Write. Boycott. Send funds. Call a prayer circle. Do magic. Do nothing. Fundraise. Read and learn. Make art. Raise awareness. Plant in your garden. Listen some more. Sing. Rage. Initiate repair. Offer healing to your people. Unravel layers of Antisemitism and Islamophobia. Talk to people in real life. Check on your friends. Snuggle. Maybe you will rest. Whatever you do, may it be from your embodied truth, and may it be for Life. If you want to know what I’m doing, please ask me. I may share more openly about what I’m up to, but for now I want to encourage you (and me) to listen from within. Stay with the trouble, friends. Resist the seduction of simplification. Remember each others’ humanity. Track supremacy. Be mad. Be soft. Find joy. Keep going, and keep listening. PS. We are a wide web of listening humans. I’d love to share resources. Who are you listening to? Whose voices are changing or even challenging you? Please, post or tag them below.
* The concepts of "staying with the trouble" and "response-ability" are directly from Donna Haraway's book, Staying with the Trouble. I cannot recommend this book enough.
photo credit: Katie Vincent