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Braiding Sweetgrass Discussion 4 Braiding Sweetgrass

This is a discussion of section 4 of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, “Braiding Sweetgrass.” For the discussion of section 3, go here.

In the Footsteps of Nanabozho: Becoming Indigenous To Place

This story of how the Original Instructions were given to Original Man asks us to interact with the earth in a specific way. The evil twin is Nanabozho’s foil, who gives Nanabozho the task of repairing the destruction the evil twin creates. This idea that we each have the potential for harm and repair is more nuanced than we’ve been taught to see good vs evil.

Question: If you had an evil twin, what would they bring to the earth that you are in the process of repairing?

The Sound of Silverbells

This chapter made me think about how interesting it’s been to watch my kids develop their own beliefs that are so radically different from mine, and how important it’s been for me to allow them to come to their own beliefs without stressing about it.

Questions: What do you know instinctively that your children don’t know? What do they know instinctively that you don’t?

Sitting in a Circle

I love cities. I have lived in cities most of my life, and the countryside feels much more scary to me than cities do. So I identified with Brad in this chapter, and tried to let Wall Kimmerer let the plants teach me, like she did with her students.

Question: Where do you feel most comfortable and free?

Burning Cascade Head

The salmon know, and there are things that we are supposed to know to do in cycles. When our places and cycles are disrupted, we don’t necessarily know how to create new cycles that serve the same purpose as the old ones.

Questions: How do the salmon know when to come and when to stay away?

Can you always go home? What would make it safe for you to go home?

Putting Down Roots

This is the most important chapter in the whole book, to me, because it teaches us how love and tending living things carefully can erase decades of death and destruction and damage. What a lesson about making things whole again, even 100 years later.

Question: Have you ever repaired anything you thought was damaged beyond hope? How?

Umbilicaria: The Belly Button of the World

This is another lesson about reciprocity, and about symbiosis. Can we quiet down to observe the delicate lichen? Can we quiet down to observe reciprocity?

Questions: Have you explored symbiosis with your children? What do they think about it?

Old-Growth Children

This meditation on how to interact with trees teaches us about perseverance and planting for generations. I could smell the fir and cedar as I read the chapter.

Question: Have you used products from trees other than wood?

Witness to the Rain

I just love these meditations on scientific topics that I thought were boring in their usual presentations. She makes the movement and properties of water come alive for all the senses, and feel like a gift she gives us.

Question: What sounds do you associate with water?

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