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”
Fields Full Daisy Fleabane
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.
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. (more…)
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.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring. Thanks for dreaming.
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.
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!
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!
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:
Converting one of our barns into a community gathering space which will host workshops, events and even a community kitchen!
Doing our internal work to strengthen our processes and to articulate fully what living into our values actually looks like.
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.
On June 15th, 2016 Earthseed Land Cooperative purchased a beautiful 12-acre property in Durham County! Additionally, on November 4th we acquired the adjacent 36 acres for a total of 48 acres (33 of which will be conserved as green space!) This land has woods for roaming, fields for growing, and structures that we will transform into community spaces for convening, organizing, celebrating, healing and beyond.
The focus of this crowdfunding campaign is the transformation of one of the barns into a community gathering space on the land. Our goal is to raise $30K within 30 days. Specifically, this seed funding will enable us to: reinforce the structure, install flooring, refurbish the heating system and install weather protection.
The longer-term phase of work will be focused on installing a community kitchen and bathroom, preparing the land for agriculture, herbaculture, walking trails, treehouses for short-term rentals, a bathhouse, as well as space for a limited number of private residences for like-minded folks of color in our community.
The 8 of us have come a long way together in the last 4.5 years, now we need your help to further this collective dream! We welcome your financial support to continue moving this great work forward! Please donate TODAY and forward to anyone else you think may be interested in supporting.
Thanks to some of our great friends, we’ve already raised $4,316 towards our goal! If you want to become a SUSTAINER of Earthseed, you can do so by committing to a monthly amount ($10, $25 or $50). Please visit our website to sign up! We are looking to gain at least 40 sustainers with this campaign!
Donors of $500 and above can be part of our SUNSHINE CIRCLE—early investors in bringing the Earthseed Vision to life! Among other perks, joining the Sunshine Circle will allow you to participate in Earthseed-hosted workshops (about 1/month) for free. To see a list of upcoming workshops, visit our website!
Earthseed’s Mission: To increase the self-determination of ourselves, our communities and generations to come, by providing access to land and structures that enable us to build wealth, foster environmental sustainability and actualize community wellness.
A bit about cooperatives: A cooperative enterprise is based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, as well as accountability and transparency. And, it must operate democratically, according to a set of principles—set by the International Cooperative Alliance—that include open membership, equal voting rights for each member regardless of how much is invested (“one person, one vote”), returns based on use, continuous education, and concern for the community.
My feet feel raw today
Raw from the rock floors and muddy paths they have crossed
The comfort of the keyboard
And the scroll of the screen
Paling in comparison with the alive ruggedness of the land
With its cycle of death and birth
Not in the distance
But right up close
This place is not my home
The land is Not my home
but my womb
Not my womb which to bare fruit
But the womb I crawl inside of to remember from where I came
I am the mama bear
But still there is a place from where I was born
And it isn’t in a hospital
Or a city street
It is from the land
Do you cry when you remember this?
Does your heart shrivel in the knowledge that you aren’t alone?
I have heard it said that we can’t ever return home
But home is a revolving current reaching out to us
We only need to stop
And lie in the tall grass
As the [sunlight] pepper our backs
We stop and stay still
Not in the hope of salvation
But in the knowledge that all that we need is already within us
It comes from the land, too
My body hangs heavy on the earth as it has done a million times before
Abundance raging through me
Reminding me that open space is the only womb I need
Panoramic mountain vistas pulling me out of my shell
Concrete cages me in
I lose myself in its solidness
But when all I can see is meadows, grass and mountain peaks
The freedom of potential that is my birthright slaps me across the face
And I wonder why I ever left
Open space is my womb
To be birthed and to birth my gifts
To see you beyond your limitations of thought and feeling
But instead for the wild animal you are
Open space holds me close, fills me up and lets me go
Open space hold me down, brings me back and spits me out
Where are you reminded that everywhere is home?
Lie down and be still
Let this reminder be your prayer
We are so proud to announce that Earthseed Cooperative* is landing!
Earthseed is about to settle on a beautiful 12-acre property in Durham County! This land has woods for roaming, fields for growing, and structures that we will transform into spaces for retreating, convening, organizing, celebrating and beyond.
We are in a tremendous place of excitement and gratitude. There are so many in our community who have visioned with us, who deeply want us tosucceed in this cooperative enterprise, and to whom we are spiritually accountable. We want to give a deep bow of gratitude to Vivette Jeffries Logan who opened our first “land group” conversation more than 4½ years ago with powerful ceremony and who has been a mentor and supporter ever since.
We are so grateful for the incredible wisdom, resources, love, ritual, and blessing in our community and THIS is a request to keep sending more love blessing and prayers our way.
In particular, we are asking for prayers and energy toward:
COOPERATION: Continued stretching, living, breathing into this work and its application to the nuts and bolts of operations and governance. FINANCING: We have secured preliminary loan approvals (June 15th is our closing date!) and we have some money in the bank. And, there are still many details to figure out! LOVE and LIBERATION: In the face of capitalism, land loss, violence and oppression, we choose livelihood through collaboration, and have dreams of a haven to share with our communities. Please read our fabulous mission, vision and values statement.