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Process and Purpose
Over the course of 10 weeks, participants in the Born Global Philosophy/Ethos internship program reviewed a selection of 11 chapters from "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Each week, via open and unstructured discussions, the Ethics team collected key themes and ideas from the assigned reading that resonated with the larger group. After discussing, synthesizing, and organizing the resonate themes, the team sought to translate the messages into practical guidance.
The purpose of this project is not to present a dogmatic view of what a ‘healed’ relationship between humanity and nature ought to look like. Rather, it is to integrate strategies and principles that when followed, may support the emergence of a healthier human-nature relationship. This is not unlike the process of evolution; from which emerges all the complexity and interconnectedness of life, guided by a set of rules rather than predetermined end goals.
Healing humanity’s relationship with the natural world. This is the central message of Braiding Sweetgrass. The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer is clear, “it is not just the land that is broken, but our relationship to the land” (8).
While related, this is different from healing the natural world directly, which is the purpose of many projects already in progress at Born Global (BG). External to BG, initiatives including terms like “zero-waste”, “sustainability”, “regenerative”, “organic”, “local”, “green”, etc. are becoming the new norm. While greenwashing is a real issue in this space, many projects do indeed hold the potential to repair environmental damage and provide a path to a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive society.
However, questions remain regarding the longevity and ultimate outcome of these initiatives if we attempt only to heal the land without a shift in the underlying value system that has led us to an existence expatriated from the natural world; without healing our relationship to the land. Currently, embedded in a view that humans and nature are separate entities, is the idea of the land as a resource or mechanical provider. Following from this is the belief that we can somehow ‘fix’ what we have broken, and perhaps we can, perhaps we’re on our way. But there is a distinct difference between thinking of ourselves as ‘good mechanics’ and, as Kimmerer suggests, taking on the role of an “ancestral gardener as a co-creator of the good green world” (7).
Healing the land does not necessarily lead to a healthier and lasting relationship with it. On the other hand, healing our relationship makes it much more likely that our endeavours will result in a healthier planet.
Borrowing from the Biomimicry Thinking process, the structure of our outcomes mirrors that of a Nature Technology Summary (NTS). Beginning with the challenge, we ask, “how might we heal humans’ relationship with nature?”. From the selected readings and group discussions we’ve identified (3) possible “strategies” to guide that healing. The (4) “mechanisms” provide specific approaches for how to implement the strategies.
As a result, our team has built a toolkit to help our other teams apply this integration of healing to their projects. Below is a taste of this toolkit.