A link to Con Edison’s ‘Stewardship Education: Best Practices Guide’-
A valuable educational project on working with students about river awareness and conservation.
When learning about water and it’s influence in the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the Fall of 2016, I frequently thought of water’s symbolic association with emotion. The emotional aspects of our residency has manifested in many ways. We connected with the Dakota women by providing an emotional context for historical events on our Bdote Tour. We learned about the emotional connections of contemporary community in Frogtown when biking with Seitu, observing him interact with friends family and business owners along our bike tour.
Personally, the archetype of water as personal emotional experience was most present in my mind throughout the residency. I believe that our personal emotional responses mirrored the larger curations of the program. As a loving cohort, our sympathetic and empathetic abilities were exhibited during more challenging moments, such as the Bdote tour.
I remember Mona speaking to empathy as obstacle, and held onto this idea throughout the whole residency. I felt this concept greatly illuminated the reality of the head and heart relationship. Sometimes, the head shuts the heart down. Other times, the opposite occurs. And on different occasions, the two realms stalemate, and we are unable to make a decision between the heart and the head.
This continuous meditation was further intensified when Mona shared videos she had created and embedded on the Bdote Tour website. In one video Translation of the Word Mnisota, Chris Mato Numpa provides his take on the translation of Minnesota ‘The land where the water reflects the sky and heavens’. The more common translation is the ‘land of sky blue waters’.” While numpa believes that both interpretations are correct, he prefers the former, and states that “my (translation) will be accurate whether or not it is cloudy or the sun is shining. The water will always still reflect the sky.” (1)
This, to me, spoke to the idea that even when we are experiencing tensions or conflicts between the heart (water) and the head (air), they are still always connected. They always see each other, show each other off as reflections, and communicate with each other.
This brought me peace, and I decided it was a helpful concept to construct a project around. I created a box, painted visceral red and black colors on the outside, and a deep yet calming blue within. I strung lights across the box’s ceiling, added clouds with white paper and chalk, and draped a translucent sheet across the top to create a slightly atmospheric effect. In order to enter this space, one had to lie down and place their head on the ground, inside of the box. They then were told to listen to a recording of water as they spent a few moments inside.
This idea reflected all of the feelings I had been experiencing during an exceptionally “watery” residency. The idea of being someone fixed in one’s own head, contrasted with the idea of a limitless sky. The idea of this “box”, the head, being full of racing ideas (air), contrasted with the sound of water in one’s ears. This sound was meant to remind the participant that while thoughts raced through the head, seemingly stuck in this box, that water is always moving, running inside of us, and around us, and that we can use it for calmness and emotional release. I appreciated this non-dualistic approach to stillness and movement, as air and water are highly mobile elements but the piece did not involve movement on the behalf of the participant. This idea was highlighted by Mona’s video entitled Healing Place:
“Healing and movement go hand in hand, but movement is also about stillness. Paying attention to ourselves first and then others around us, and that includes paying attention to where we are, and where I am standing right now. To know how you are connected or disconnected to this place. I can’t tell someone how sacred mother earth is to them.
Instead of saying ‘Tell me what this means’, try to experience it yourself. Stop your mind and open up your heart. Because I can’t tell someone what spirituality means to them.
Healing and movement go hand in hand, but movement is also about stillness. Paying attention to ourselves first and then others around us, and that includes paying attention to where we are, and where I am standing right now. To know how you are connected or disconnected to this place.” (2)
I felt that this point was very relevant to the work we are doing in the Nomad program, Both on the macro and micro cosmic level. It is important for us to stay mindful of the effects of our emotions and thoughts as we explore new terrains and mindscapes, and transform empathy from an obstacle into a tool for compassion.
Healing Place. Bdote Memory Map. Minnesota Humanities Center and Allie, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. <https://vimeo.com/bdote>.
Translation of the Word Mnisota. Bdote Memory Map. Minnesota Humanities Center and Allie, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. <https://vimeo.com/bdote>.
In part 1, we have touched upon the topic of re-framing our relationship to the “invasive” plant, or the “weed”. We can play a more active role in facilitating a balanced system by learning how to identify these plants, as well as understanding their medicinal and nutritional values.
A cohort member’s Nephew was generous enough to walk me around the town of Killingly to help me identify which plants he and the community have foraged. Not all are considered “foreign” species, however there is a benefit for the Park River Ecosystem if these plants are paid more attention and dealt with properly. Below is a list (not even close to comprehensive to give you an idea of how abundant our plant world is) of what can be found near the Park River, with an accompanying link that can elaborate upon each plant’s uses.
(The study of herbs is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires long and critical study, as well as anecdotal evidence to support the sadly lacking scientific research. Because of this, it requires strength, bravery, and passion to pursue. These links do not serve as the ultimate truth of these plants, but rather as ways to incite curiosity and to encourage further exploration. Nomad 9’s partnership with the Park River Ecosystem plans on further developing and bridging the education of the natural river landscape with its local community in the year to come.)
- Spearmint http://www.motherearthliving.com/healthy-home/natural-cleaning/15-uses-for-mint-zmhz13mazmel
- Mallow https://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/benefits-common-mallow-malva-sylvestris
- Day Lily http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/how-to-sustainably-harvest-daylilies-zbcz1307
- Pokeweed http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/PokeWeed.html
- Nettles http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nettle.html
- Wood/Sheep Sorrel https://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/wood-sorrel
- Yarrow https://wellnessmama.com/7106/yarrow-herb-profile/
- Thistle http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/milk-thistle-therapy
- Autumn Olive http://ouroneacrefarm.com/autumn-olive-jam/
- Milkweed http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/Edible_plants/Milkweed/Milkweed.html
- Mugwort http://thegrownetwork.com/for-the-love-of-mugwort-7-uses-for-mugwort/
- Grape Leaf https://wildplantsihaveeaten.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/grape-leaf-tea
- Raspberry Leaf http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-raspberry-leaf.html
- Kudzu https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/kudzu-benefits.html
- Henbit http://www.ediblewildfood.com/henbit.aspx
- Wild/False Peanut http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/05/07/permaculture-plants-hog-peanut/
- Mullein http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html
- Dandelion https://wellnessmama.com/5680/dandelion-herb-profile/
- Plantain https://wellnessmama.com/5387/plantain-healing-herb/
This is the organization founded and directed by Mary Rickel Pelletier.
See Mary Miss discuss her work in a slide lecture presented to students at the University of Hartford.
A foraging workshop for plants would involve story-telling and identifying plants at river’s bank. It can also be our research result about some spots along the river. We can launch it online and place them in our greenhouse.
Things that can be included:
-Names, characteristics of the plants;
-Usage, recipes, crafts (It can be a workshop including foraging, making, and teaching);
– The relationship with the environment (Natural? Urban? Half? Novel eco-system?);
-The relationship with human activity (Plants that move with a certain group of people, i.e.: Broadleaf Plantain is considered “white man’s footprint”; plants that brought by farming and gardening; personal memories, etc.)
Suggestion for starting our work:
-Take a picture of a spot, identify as many plants as we can based on pictures.
-Search for the information and materials in relation to the above categories.
-Group and analysis of our materials.
Readings and reference:
- Novel ecosystems- https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss2/art12/
- Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the New Ecological World Order by Richard J. Hobbs，Eric S. Higgs，Carol Hall- https://books.google.com/books?id=QgKqKGruEyMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Novel+Ecosystems:+Intervening+in+the+New+Ecological+World+Order&hl=zh-TW&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBs4OPifDUAhXLPT4KHWy7B7QQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=Novel%20Ecosystems%3A%20Intervening%20in%20the%20New%20Ecological%20World%20Order&f=false
- Plants in CT- https://www.ct-botanical-society.org/Plants
- Water treatment related projects, and the idea of turning ‘problems’, ‘invasive’ into resources, it also relates to the idea of novel ecosystems –http://www.spurse.org/what-weve-done/entangled-citizens/
- Good example for physical tools and presentation- http://www.spurse.org/what-weve-done/ocean/
- Another good example for foraging, and the concern about the relationship between humans and the environment- http://www.spurse.org/what-weve-done/eat-your-sidewalk/