Reciprocity is an exchange with equal benefits for all parties. This is a concept that I am thinking about a lot more these days for a number of reasons but primarily because I'm listening to the book Breading Sweetgrass by biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Learning about Trees and More: Braiding Sweetgrass
Braiding Sweetgrass is a beautifully written thesis featuring her sensibilities as a woman, scientist and a Citizen of the Potawatomi Nation. It has been a delightful, informative experience with almost 4 hours of listening to go. She has a beautiful voice which makes the it even more enjoyable. I am quite sure no actor could imbue her work with the enthusiasm she feels or pronounce the Potawatomi language correctly.
Of the many take-aways from this book is the concept of reciprocity, a theme she repeatedly returns to in her story. We need to nurture behavior that is mutually beneficial. This is where so much of the Native American traditional thought comes into play in the book. She provides many examples of how this happens in the natural world and in traditional cultures.
Her language is so eloquent I will just defer to her. Please listen/read for yourself what I have found to be a very informative, optimistic and encouraging discussion of the current state of affairs in our efforts to nurture environmental stewardship.
Dogwood tree in my backyard.
Reciprocity with Trees: Have You Thanked a Tree Today
What do trees give us and what do we give back? Spring is a great time to think about that. All eyes are on what's happening outdoors.
Thinking about what we get from trees is the easy part.
• filter the air
• provide oxygen
• cool city streets
• save water
• prevent soil erosion
• not to forget, food
• healing as medicine and time in nature
• just for starters....
Please check out this link for a more comprehensive list of benefits from the TreePeople. Here is another reference from North Carolina State University.
How are We Giving Back?
Only take what you need is a philosophy from Kimmerer's heritage that comes up repeatedly in Braiding Sweetgrass. We could harvest trees in a way that ensures their prosperity and continued existence, not just our own prosperity. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course this ideas relates to many more "things" than trees and much more than just "objects" but people too.
Run Outside and Thank a Tree....or At Least Look Out the Window
It's an exciting time for trees and for us as well. The maple outside my studio window and the oak trees in the neighborhood are flowering. You can see the male and female oak flowers at work in this animated short.
Animating Nature & Science
I see a world where the transformative power of art and the creative problem solving of science blossom together. This is possible when we encourage our children to explore science with art and allow them time to imagine and create. Anim8Nature is dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship by exploring science with art and encouraging careful observation of the natural world.
Learn more about Anim8Nature.com on this blog and our website. I have assembled a team of experts to create media, lesson plans and workshops to help students and families explore science with art. We want to spark curiosity and get kids outside as environmental stewards. Join us.