Cocoon, Vol. 1, Issue 6

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Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn

by Wu Men Hui-k’ai
English version by Stephen Mitchell
Original Language Chinese

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

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Photo: Snowy Day at Earthseed Land Collective, 12-9-18. Zawadi Luna on the bottom left included for perspective.

Cocoon, Vol. 1, Issue 5

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Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue.  We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.  So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.  Now our minds are one.

We are thankful to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life.  She supports our feet as we walk about upon her.  It gives us joy that she will continue to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time.  To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect.  Now our minds are one.  

—The opening paragraphs of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else.  The actual wording of the Thanksgiving Address varies with the speaker.  This text is the widely publicized version of John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993.  

Today, many people across the United States of America gather with their loved ones to offer collective gratitude.  This holiday has some heartbreaking history attached to it (to say the least) and we are currently living through some heartbreaking moments.  Yet somehow, today we can choose to focus on the many gifts this life offers. In particular, the MANY gifts that we have received, and continue to receive the people who were indigenous to this land long before its European ‘discovery’. We are so thankful.   Continue reading

Cocoon, Vol.1, Issue 3

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The land is the real teacher.  All we need as students is mindfulness. Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.  -Robin Wall Kimmerer, from “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants” 

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These tiny flowers refused to go unnoticed on Earthseed Land!  They started arriving a few weeks ago, and now they’ve managed to fully inhabit significant swaths of land.  Erigeron annuus is their formal name, but the children and I refer to them as ‘tiny daisies’.  Once you take the time to notice them, you’ll begin to see them most everywhere: along roads, trails, in fields and even in areas full of waste.

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Robin Wall Kimmerer writes, “Names are the way we humans build relationship, not only with each other but with the living world.”  I struggle with feelings of awe and humility every time I sit to write this blog.  How could I, not formally trained in anything plant-related have anything to say about the natural world?  And yet, there is a deeper longing to reconnect that pushes me forward.  I believe there are some other truths, not found in a university setting that nature bountifully reveals to us. Continue reading

Libélula at Earthseed

We are presented with opportunities to start anew many times in our life. On Earthseed Land this summer I’ve been reminded of this every time a dragonfly zooms across my path. Dragonflies (scientific name Anisoptera, suborder Odonata) are more than just another flying insect. They are magical creatures that experience their lives in two stages: The larval stage when they live inside of water (for up to two years!) and the stage we are most familiar with, occurring after they crawl out of the water, shed their exoskeleton, expand their wings and FLY!

I’ve been so inspired by the dragonflies this summer: their ability to begin again, their magnificent ability to see with their gigantic eyes, and their impressive flying skills. But mostly I’ve been taken by their sheer beauty. So much so, that as I launched a new chapter in my professional career I decided to name my consulting practice Libélula (dragonfly in Spanish) in their honor. In many parts of the world dragonflies symbolize change, often the kind of change that is connected to a growing understanding of the deeper meaning of life. This opportunity to start anew happens both at the individual and the collective level.

At Earthseed we get to remember this every time we gather as a group to celebrate milestones, observe shifts in the season, observe the cycles of the moon and every time we spend time on the land. IMG-0936

Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring. Thanks for dreaming.

Paz, ~Zulayka and Earthseed

All that you touch you change…

 

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2018 began under a blanket of beautiful snow.  For some, this translated into disruptions to the normal flow of life. For others, it meant a welcomed moment of respite and wintry play. On Earthseed, the snow transformed the landscape into something so beautiful that it is almost impossible to capture in a photograph (yet we try). Once again we emulate nature’s cycle:   slowly and in due time awakening towards a year of delightful work in service of our vision.

2017 offered us so many gifts.  Some of these gifts came in the form of opportunities to grow stronger as individuals and as a collective.  Other gifts: in the form of art as we got to experience the Parable of the Sower Opera, the creation of Toshi Reagon (who we had the honor of hosting on Earthseed Land last summer) and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon.  This was an important event for us because we share a source of inspiration for our work: the brilliant Octavia E. Butler.

 

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Our name, Earthseed—is inspired by the decolonized mind and work of a woman who was well ahead of her time.  The future that Ms. Butler depicts is a complex one: bleak circumstances from which there are so many beautiful lessons for us to take to heart:  about what it means to truly be in community with one another, how much we need each other to survive, the resilience of the human spirit, and our ability to heed to the lessons that nature presents us time and time again.  
We see many parallels from Parable to the present we are living now. And in response to circumstances of such despair, we are affirmed in our commitment to plant goodness on this land.  Believing fully that “Kindness eases change. Love quiets fear.” We have so many blessings to be grateful for, so many people invested in seeing this work flourish, and so many dreams yet to realize.

Thank you for all you have done/do/will do to support Earthseed!

Zulayka and Earthseed

 

“Kindness eases change…”

 

“Kindness eases change.

Love quiets fear.

And a sweet and powerful

Positive obsession

Blunts pain,

Diverts rage,

And engages each of us

In the greatest,

The most intense

Of our chosen struggles.”

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

As 2018 unfolds, I sometimes find myself waiting to breathe; it is as if, in holding my breath, I will be able to press pause and for a brief moment the whirlwind, the noise, the violence both acute and systemic will stop. But I cannot press pause and nothing stops.

And so I take a breath. And with this breath, the noise and pain rushes back in. It hurts to choose breath. I can hear the voices of my elders and my compañerxs reminding me that to breathe is a precious miracle, that the only way out is through, but still it hurts: to breathe into this grief, into this rage, into this struggle…

I spent yesterday with 3 kids, 3 and under. I watched them experience the warm winter sunshine and an open field by stripping off most of their clothing, running, mouths open, voices streaming, to tumble onto the newly turned soil.

My three year old said, “I’m a seed!,” as he plopped his beautiful brown body onto beautiful brown earth. I am a seed. I breathe this in deeply and  I am “re-membered” by a joy that is more ancient and wise than my 38 years. I find the resolve to continue growing the world we want to see; planting seeds of collaboration, of justice, of belonging, of love.

There are so many ways to do this work, so many strategies, so many roles to play… What we know for sure that is that we all deserve to be whole and to belong; that we need each other. What we believe fully that is “Kindness eases change. Love quiets fear.”

We invite you to join us for a day of collective work on the land as we put blueberry bushes in the ground!  Please join us if you can and thank you for all you have done/do/will do to support Earthseed!

coraje y cariño,

Cristina and Earthseed

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Planting Blueberries on Earthseed Land!

WHEN: Saturday, March 3rd, 2pm-5pm

PLEASE RSVP:  earthseedlandcoop@gmail.com

Email with any questions and/or concerns. Dress for dirt and weather. Bring garden gloves if you have them.

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Earthseed ‘Quiet Period’

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On June 15, 2017 Earthseed will be celebrating a one-year anniversary. That’s the day that we signed closing documents on 12 acres of land in Northern Durham.  This was the first of several tremendous leaps of faith we took together—into something that has felt both totally unknown and very familiar. A few months later, Earthseed was signing closing documents for the adjacent 36 acres of land, 33 of which would go under conservation through a partnership with Triangle Land Conservancy.  As a group of black and brown folks in the US South this is significant, with implications and ripple effects beyond what we could have imagined.

The year we’ve spent on this land has reminded us that bringing to life an ‘alternative’ to the status quo requires us to explore new ways of being, of interacting with one another and with the larger system we navigate on a day-to-day basis.  That doing this work requires a significant amount of courage, resilience and commitment.  It also takes patience and perseverance.

One of the more difficult moments of the past year is that one of our members has taken a step back to take some time for reflection and healing. Given that we are a volunteer-led endeavor we need to work within the realistic capacity limits of 7 volunteer members.  We are doing the best we can with what we have. Although we’d love to accommodate all of the wonderful things folks want to host on the land, we need to first make sure that our foundation is strong.

For this reason, for the remainder of 2017, Earthseed will be entering a ‘quiet period’ where we will be focusing our energy on:

  1. Converting one of our barns into a community gathering space which will host workshops, events and even a community kitchen!
  2. Doing our internal work to strengthen our processes and to articulate fully what living into our values actually looks like.
  3. Engaging in a land visioning process in order to create a comprehensive land management plan that will carry us strongly into the future.

This work will take time and some serious effort on our part, yet we are clear that this type of intentional work will lay the groundwork for all of the amazing things that will certainly happen on Earthseed land in the near and distant future. We have not done this on our own, and none of it would have been possible without the tremendous vote of confidence from our individual supporters and organizational partners.  Yet another testament to the power of cooperation and the good that can come from collective efforts.

We recognize that these 48 acres that we are stewarding don’t belong to us, that getting to walk it, sleep on it, play on it, grow on it is a privilege available to too few People of Color in this country.  For these reasons we are grateful for the wildness and expansiveness of this land, for all that this land has held and will continue to hold.  It reminds us, compels us, sustains us, renews us.  We are clear that what we are building here together honors those that came before us and those that will come after us.  The wealth we are building will not merely be measured in financial gain, and the beauty that we are creating is not solely for our enjoyment.  This is for our broader community and for the movements that we are a part of.  This is about liberation.